Send this article to a friend:


Why Gold? Why Now?
James Rickards

Despite the Wall Street happy talk about the Federal Reserve winning the battle against inflation, that battle has not been won.

Headline CPI (the kind Americans actually pay, not constructs like “core” and “super-core”) was 3.4% in December. That compares to 3.1% in November and 3.0% last June (the January numbers will come out tomorrow).

In other words, inflation is not gone and may even be on the rise with higher oil prices lately due to geopolitical concerns. The Fed will not raise rates, but they will not be quick to cut them given continued inflation.

Inflation has a way of sneaking up on investors in small increments and can do a lot of damage before investors see it for what it is. Sure, 3.4% inflation is a lot better than 9% inflation.

But a 3.4% inflation rate cuts the value of a dollar in half in 21 years and half again in another 21 years. That’s a 75% dollar devaluation in just 42 years or the course of a typical career from age 23 to age 65.

(By the way, I’ll be live tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. ET as part of the Zero Hedge debate series on the future of the U.S. dollar. If you want to check it out, go here to learn how.)

That’s one of the main reasons I recommend gold. Gold is priced in dollars. Inflation means the dollar is worth less in terms of purchasing power. That means it takes more dollars to buy gold, so the dollar price of gold goes up.

What you may lose in the rest of your portfolio in terms of dollar purchasing power is made up in part or all from the profits you make on the higher dollar price of gold. Owning gold will protect you from the ravages of inflation. You’ll have your inflation protection in place 24/7 and won’t be caught off-guard.

Get Diversified!

Geopolitical conflicts and political turmoil often result in unforeseen consequences. These consequences can include supply chain disruptions, economic sanctions, asset seizures and freezes, bond defaults, bank failures and inflation. Oil prices can spike if key waterways are closed, or a vessel is sunk.

Economic sanctions and financial warfare can cause recession or a banking crisis almost overnight. Assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate and alternative investments can be adversely affected by such changes without warning.

Gold tends to be insulated from such shocks because there is no issuer, no creditor and no country involved. It’s just gold. That means you can hold it safely and wait out the turmoil without adverse effects.

Gold prices do not correlate closely to stock prices. Gold and stocks are driven by separate factors. That makes gold a good diversification asset for portfolios that are heavily in stocks. When a portfolio is highly diversified, it can produce higher expected returns without adding risk.

The difficult part is finding asset classes that really are diversified. Buying 50 different stocks is not diversification since you only have one asset class — stocks — and the behavior of various shares will be highly correlated in times of stress. Gold is genuinely diversified from stocks and will improve portfolio returns.

Golden Tailwinds

Gold prices have been trending higher lately with some volatility along the way. Gold hit an interim bottom of $1,831 per ounce on Oct. 5, 2023, and then rallied to $2,089 per ounce on Dec. 1, close to an all-time high.

Gold retreated slightly and then hit another high of $2,093 on Dec. 27. The rally from Oct. 5 to Dec. 27 was a 14% gain in just under three months. That’s an excellent performance.

Today, gold is around $2,033 per ounce, still close to the recent highs. These trends toward higher prices have been driven by lower interest rates; continued inflation; geopolitical concerns about the Middle East; and continued buying by central banks, especially Russia and China.

All those trends will continue. One of the principal drivers of the gold price rally is the steep decline in interest rates in recent months. The interest rate (expressed as a yield-to-maturity) on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note plunged from around 5.0% to 4.0% in a matter of weeks at the end of 2023.



James G. Rickards is the editor of Strategic Intelligence. He is an American lawyer, economist, and investment banker with 35 years of experience working in capital markets on Wall Street. He was the principal negotiator of the rescue of Long-Term Capital Management L.P. (LTCM) by the U.S Federal Reserve in 1998. His clients include institutional investors and government directorates. His work is regularly featured in the Financial Times, Evening Standard, New York Times, The Telegraph, and Washington Post, and he is frequently a guest on BBC, RTE Irish National Radio, CNN, NPR, CSPAN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox, and The Wall Street Journal. He has contributed as an advisor on capital markets to the U.S. intelligence community, and at the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon. Rickards is the author of The New Case for Gold (April 2016), and three New York Times best sellers, The Death of Money (2014), Currency Wars (2011), The Road to Ruin (2016) from Penguin Random House.

Send this article to a friend: