The spot price of gold has fallen more than 20% from its all-time high, reached in March of 2008. But if you think that means demand has declined, think again.
Gold demand has in fact exploded, and not just here and there. Everywhere. Around the world, customers have been queuing up to strip coin shops’ shelves bare. Mints have been running 24/7 and still have been forced to ration coin shipments to their dealers. ETF vaults are bulging.
Now, the World Gold Council has confirmed the trend with hard numbers for the third quarter of this year. In a page-and-a-half press release summarizing 3Q2008 activity, the WGC had to use the word “record” ten times. Some highlights:
- Dollar demand for gold in Q3 was a record US$32 billion, 45% higher than the previous record, set in 2Q2008.
- Identifiable investment demand, which incorporates demand for gold through exchange-traded funds (ETFs), bars and coins, rose to $10.7 billion (12.3 million ounces), double year-earlier levels.
- Retail investment demand rose 121% to 7.5 million ounces, with strong bar and coin buying in the Swiss, German, and U.S. markets. Europe as a whole saw an all-time record 1.64 million ounces of bar and coin buying. France became a net investor in gold for the first time since the early 1980s.
- Gold ETFs posted a record quarterly inflow of 4.8 million ounces in Q3. After the collapse of Lehman Brothers in late September, ETF inflows shot higher by an unprecedented 3.6 million ounces in only five days.
- Demand for gold jewelry hit a record $18 billion. Leading the way was India, which witnessed a rise of 65% in dollar value (1.3 million ounces) compared with 3Q2007. The Middle East, Indonesia, and China all experienced increases of more than 40% in value or 10% in weight, year over year.
At the same time that demand is setting records, supply has been unable to keep pace, falling 9.7% from year-earlier levels, the WGC reported. The drop was largely due to inaction on the part of central banks, which have increasingly shut their vault doors.
Heavy demand, declining supply… small wonder that gold prices have remained near record highs in most of the world’s currencies; that dealers have been marking up coins by 10% or even 15% (when they can get them); and that one-ounce coins still fetch bids close to $1,000 on eBay.
When will the spot price in U.S. dollars, which is set by the futures market, catch up? No one knows. But it will.
The world’s hunger for gold will only grow into a future awash in fiat currency. Gold is the ultimate and, at day’s end, the only safe haven from the kind of currency destruction that is being visited upon the dollar, the euro, even the renminbi, as governments everywhere desperately try to stave off a deflationary depression the only way they know how: by turning on the printing press.
We are in a period of intense monetary inflation. It will be followed, inevitably, by a long period of price inflation. People will be desperate to preserve the buying power of their dollars, euros, etc., and they will turn to the one thing capable of doing just that. Gold.
As gold rises, it will lift the shares of selected mining companies with it. The ones that prosper the most will be those that have positioned themselves to survive the credit crisis -- by stockpiling cash, keeping production costs down, and locking up borrowed money on favorable terms.
Companies that have failed to do this will go under, unable to get credit in a frozen market. That will both diminish competition and further curb supply, and those that properly planned ahead will rake in enormous profits as gold goes through the roof. Or more likely, as Casey Research founder Doug Casey puts it, gold “heads to the moon.”
But which are the companies poised to profit the most? The ones we cover in our monthly newsletter for conservative investors, BIG GOLD.
We are dedicated to bringing you the information that will allow you profitably to pick your way through the present economic minefield. We search the world of producing gold miners, to find the best of the best. We pinpoint the investments that will not only hold on through a market downturn, but will rebound spectacularly as the commodities market recovers, which it must.
In addition, we bring subscribers the best ways to invest in physical gold, including where to find coins and bars at affordable prices in times of extreme scarcity -- like right now, when mints are not minting, most dealers are out of stock, and those still taking orders are charging exorbitant premiums.
While we specialize in producing companies, we also cover such alternative gold investments as ETFs, mutual funds, royalty companies, and closed-end funds. We strive to find what’s best for you. And we answer your specific questions, each month in our BIG GOLD Responds section.
The elaborate world financial structure that has been erected over the past two decades created a humongous bubble that has now popped. What will come in the aftermath of this cataclysm cannot be foreseen, but it will be different. One thing is for certain, though, gold has been money, in all times and places, for thousands of years. The people of the world are already returning to it as the sole store of value, and that’s a trend that will accelerate in the coming years. You can count on it.
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