Gold good for the long haul

“There is room for bulls and bears, but pigs get slaughtered,” said Peter Munk, the legendary founder and CEO of Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold producer. This is his admonition to worshipers of the barbaric relic hoping for a quick super spike to $2,000 or $5,000 an ounce.

Since 2003 gold has tripled from $300 to $1,000, outperforming every asset class in every currency, and he has no problem with it backing and filling here in a long term uptrend. The fundamentals look great, as the world is running out of the yellow metal.

The industry used to be run by demand from the Indian wedding season. The current economic stress has made the country a net exporter of gold for the first time. Global jewelry demand is at a 20 year low. With the help of satellites, the world is pretty well mapped out, so there will be no more surprise Californias or Klondikes found. The only untapped reserves are in the Andes at 13,000 feet, or in countries too dangerous to visit.

The cost of extraction has also doubled in ten years to $400/ounce, driven by labor, fuel, trucks, and environmental mitigation. Gold will only go down when the US government turns off its printing presses. With record stimulus packages in place, there is a fat chance of that happening in this lifetime.

Ultimately, the price of gold is a barometer of fear, which will not be in short supply in the new era we are facing.

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