8 Becomes 88: Tipper's Point

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". . .the desire to own the metal is gaining each and every day among large and small investors."

So when will gold's price again surpass $1,000 an ounce, then ratchet toward the $3,000 mark, or $100 per gram? I am fond of Malcolm Gladwell's notion of tipping points. The genealogy of a tipping point for gold can be traced back to the late 1990s, when no more than eight people on the planet believed in the precious metal enough to be accumulating coins and bars. Why in the world buy gold for $250 an ounce when you could spend $250 on a share of two of Broadcom? In times of low inflation and increasing worker output, ordinary folks trade in hard assets for paper.

As we now know, the eight who took the opportunity to accumulate rock over paper grew to 80, then 800, 888, 8,888 and 88,888. Today, the number of individuals who bought the metal—on their own—for investment purposes is probably close to 88 million. In a world of 6 billion people, that's not such a big number; yet the number is close to a tipping point in the Gladwell sense of the term. And as the lineage of tipping points always shows, the tip is piqued. The numbers double and double again, in SIZE.

The case for an imminent rise of bullion prices grows stronger each day. I am not here and now going to repeat the econ-reflation theories, the gold as money rationale or the central bank quantitative distortions of central banks. It is enough in this January 2009, to say simply that the desire to own the metal is gaining each and every day among large and small investors. Given the inflation-adjusted high for bullion is approximately $2,650 an ounce in that January 1981, long ago, that mark and more seems irrefutable.

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