JoeTaxpayer's Blog JoeTaxpayer Older Articles
A word or two about Gold
Gold advocates offer gold as a hedge against inflation risk by stating "in 1920 a man could buy a suit with a $20 bill or $20 gold coin. But in 2006, $20 won't buy a shirt, and a gold coin, now worth over $500 will buy a suit."
I would suggest that invested in stocks, the market has seen an average return of over 12% during that time. At 12%, your money will double every 6 years. Over 86 years, that's more than 14 doublings, or over 17,000 times your investment, $340,000 for your $20 bill. While the claim that gold kept up with inflation, and somehow 'retained' the value that the dollar did not may be true, in the long term, it's clearly not the investment of choice.
Take a look now at the two charts above (you may click on them to enlarge). In 1979, gold was about $200, and the Dow, under 1000. The Dow index has now passed 12,000 (and we've ignored 27 years of dividends, which at 3% would further double your returns, i.e. 24 times your investment.) How long before gold reaches $4800? It would seem to me that gold is hardly worth persuing as an investment. If you think gold will rise, a gold mining mutual fund will beat the metal over time. In the end, there are very brief periods where gold may very well outperform stocks or bonds, but it's a suckers' game, trying to pick both the right time to buy and then choosing to get out before the next crash. I welcome any alternate view on this subject. See my market timing article for why this comment doesn't apply to stocks.

continued