Why the Price of Gold goes up in a Struggling Economy

Posted by Bill Bonner - The Daily Reckoning

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09/16/10 Las Vegas, Nevada – We’re not exactly in Las Vegas. Not yet. But we’re on our way. Yesterday, we had a funeral in Paris. Today, we have a speech to give in Las Vegas.

This is not the way we planned it. It’s just the way things work out.

Yesterday was a bit of a letdown. After having hit a new record high on Tuesday, gold decided to take it easy on Wednesday. The price slid $3.

Stocks, meanwhile, showed a little progress. Not much.

So we still have no clear trend. We wait. We wait.

For a while it looks like the next leg down has finally begun. Then, it looks like we’re in for another rally.

The only sure thing, so far, is that gold goes up. Even that is not really sure…but it is surer than just about everything else.

Our dear readers who bought gold back in 1999 have made about 4 times their money. This year alone it is up 15% – a very respectable return. Most of that has come as a result of paper currencies going down. Investors are buying gold to protect themselves.

They may also be getting a little insurance from a much more serious level of inflation which many think is coming. We think it is coming too. But in our view it looked like it would be awhile before it showed up. We’re in a major de-leveraging. You don’t get the normal cost-push or demand-pull inflation in a de-leveraging cycle. You get something else…something much more violent and dangerous.

But, heck, we wouldn’t rule out anything.

We made money on gold over the last 10 years simply because gold was cheap when we bought it. We were betting on regression to the mean. Nine times out of ten, when you bet on regression to the mean, you’ll make money.

Can you make money buying gold now? Yes, but now you’re betting on a different phenomenon. Actually, to hear the analysts tell the story, you’ve still got a good chance of making money. If the economy picks up, inflation will likely pick up too – ergo, higher gold prices.

If the economy sinks into deflation, gold still goes up. Why? Because deflation is sure to bring worry, doubt, and trouble.

Then, there are those who think we’re headed to hyperinflation. If so, you ain’t seen nothing yet as far as gold is concerned. The price could get to $5,000 an ounce…and beyond.

What do we think? Well, we agree with them all, more or less. The best bet is probably that we’ll stay in a Japan-like trance for a while longer. This is not necessarily good for gold. And not necessarily bad. Most likely, the yellow metal will meander around…generally headed upwards.

On the other hand, who knows?

The trouble with this market is that there are too many people who think they know. Many are saying that gold is a “can’t lose” investment. Maybe they’re right. But we don’t like the sound of it.

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning


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