Gold may be the asset that inspires the most enthusiasm among all investments.
On one side are those who are dubious about gold, such as Ritzholtz Wealth Management’s CEO, Josh Brown.
He said on the podcast The Indicator from Planet Money that “gold is becoming rather obsolete.
“Many younger investors who want an autonomous, government-free store of wealth migrate away from gold and toward cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.”
He said that the performance of gold has been “embarrassing.”
Jim Grant, the originator of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, is among those who have an optimistic outlook on gold.
He said in Barron’s that “gold is a store of value since it is unlikely to ever be exchanged for nothing, not even in millennia.
Gold speaks for itself.
One glance reveals its value.
With cryptocurrencies, you do not need a computer server, power outlet, or instruction manual.”
This book examines the advantages of owning gold, the performance of the precious metal, and the best strategies to invest in gold.
Why Invest In Gold
There are three basic motives for gold ownership:
Gold as an Inflation Hedge
Gold has climbed by an average of 5.7% each year since the late 1960s, according to Ned Davis Research.
This performance is well above the rate of inflation, which is why many people keep gold as a hedge against inflation.
However, gold has had lengthy periods when it has lagged behind inflation.
An investor who purchased gold in 1980, when the price per ounce was close to $1,900 in current dollars, has lost money after adjusting for inflation.
The difficulty with owning gold as a hedge against inflation is its erratic returns.
In certain years, gold outperforms inflation, while in others it lags behind.
Claude B. Erb and Campell R. Harvey investigated the historical performance of gold as an inflation hedge and published their results in The Gold Dilemma.
They concluded, “If gold were an ideal short-term inflation hedge, then its actual price should be constant and display no real price variation.”
Erb and Harvey provided the example of a Brazilian investor who purchased gold as an inflation hedge in 1980.
Over the following 20 years, the average annual inflation rate in Brazil was almost 250%.
What did gold yield during this period?
On a real basis, gold declined by 70%, as measured by the Brazilian real.
Gold fared better than Brazilian real-denominated currency, which lost over 100 percent of its value.
Gold reached its cyclical high in 1980; therefore, it was not a very effective inflation hedge.
Inflation-indexed bonds, such as Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) and Series I Savings Bonds, are superior inflation hedges due to their direct correlation with inflation.
This useful reference contains information on investing in inflation-indexed bonds.
In this tutorial, you may also understand what causes inflation and how to defend yourself from it.
Gold as a Place of Safety
A safehaven asset is an asset that performs well when geopolitical risk spikes, causing riskier assets such as equities to decline in value.
During times of instability, the safe-haven asset’s price should be steady or rising.
Gold’s performance as a safe-haven asset has been inconsistent.
During times of economic and political unrest, the price of gold has sometimes gone up and sometimes gone down.
Additionally, a safe haven asset must be available.
At times, gold has been unlawful to own, such as for the majority of the twentieth century in the United States.
Governments have also seized gold, causing its owners to conceal it or attempt to smuggle it out of the nation.
A benefit of gold is that it is indestructible.
Gold is not destructible.
Since aeons ago, people have prized its beauty and resilience.
Although the price of gold is subject to large fluctuations, its lengthy ownership history implies that it will always be in demand as a safe-haven asset.
Gold is Under-Owned
Individuals and organisations hold gold for a third reason: they feel the precious metal is underowned.
Under-owned indicates that future demand will increase if there is a decline in trust in governments and central banks.
Slightly less than 200,000 metric tonnes of gold are present on the globe.
According to the World Gold Council, over half of gold is used in jewelry.
Just over 20% of the gold supply is owned privately by investors.
Central banks and governments own a little less than 20%.
For 2019, the World Gold Council estimates that gold production will grow by 2% to 4,8 metric tonnes, while demand will decrease by 1% to 4,4 metric tonnes.
In order for the price of gold to grow, demand for gold must increase, especially among investors.
Warren Buffett said in the 2011 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Letter, “What drives most gold buyers is the idea that the number of scared people will grow.”
What do investors in gold fear?
The central banks’ unorthodox approach to money, like being willing to buy non-investment-grade assets, will cause people to lose faith in fiat currencies, which will cause them to lose value compared to gold.
Investors are also concerned that excessive government and corporate debt may cause interest rates to remain so low that other asset classes, such as gold, will become more appealing.
Gold does not provide a return, so when interest rates are high, there is a cost associated with storing it.
When switching from bonds to gold, investors lose revenue.
When interest rates are low or negative, the argument for gold is stronger since the opportunity cost is lower.
Founder of hedge funds and author Ray Dalio remarked, “I believe that the current paradigm will likely collapse when real interest rate returns are driven so low that investors holding debt will no longer want to keep it and will begin to shift to what they see as a better investment.
“The asset that will likely perform the best will be gold, which does well when the value of money depreciates and internal and international conflicts are considerable.”
Jim Grant wrote, “The price of gold is proportional to global confidence in central banks.
“If you believe anything may go amiss with the globe in terms of the supremacy of central banks, you may choose to purchase gold.”
Gold is a Speculation
Gold generates no revenue, making it impossible to calculate its exact price.
Gold is neither too expensive nor too inexpensive.
It is valued at whatever price people and organisations are willing to pay.
In my book, Money for the Rest of Us: 10 Questions to Master Successful Investing, I explain how to distinguish between a wager, an investment, and a speculation.
An investment is an asset with a positive projected return, often due to a component that generates income, such as dividends, interest, or rent.
A speculation is an asset for which it is uncertain whether the expected return will be positive or negative.
Something that has a negative anticipated return is a gamble.
Gold is a speculative investment since there is no income and substantial debate about its future return, as indicated by Josh Brown and Jim Grant’s remarks at the opening of this article.
Speculations do not cause damage.
As a result, investors should devote less capital to speculation than to more conventional income-generating assets such as stocks, bonds, and real estate.
Gold may be included in a portfolio since it gives exposure to one of the world’s oldest real assets.
Gold’s unpredictable price has not always made it the most effective inflation hedge or safe haven.
Nevertheless, the rarity, durability, and beauty of gold give some confidence that people and organisations will continue to esteem it over the next few decades.
I hold roughly 5% of my net worth in gold because I think it will beat inflation and serve as a safe haven over the long run, despite experiencing extended periods of underperformance.
In 2020, gold clearly surpassed inflation and the majority of asset classes, as its return in U.S. dollar terms exceeded 20%.
How to Invest In Gold
There are five major methods to get gold:
- Physical gold coins or bars
- Gold ETFs and Trusts
- Gold futures
- Gold mining stocks
- Gold jewellery
How to Invest in Physical Gold Coins and Bars
Buying gold coins or bars is the most rewarding method of possessing gold.
This enables you to enjoy the splendour of gold.
to experience the heft and durability of gold.
The difficulty of holding actual gold coins or bars is determining where to keep them.
Numerous investors keep their gold in home safes.
Others keep their gold in a bank safe deposit box.
Paying a custodian or depository to keep the actual gold is another alternative.
Annual storage costs at a depository range between 0.12% and 0.50% of the gold’s worth.
OneGold is an example of a gold-holding custodian.
For gold storage, it costs 0.12% per year.
The form and weight of gold bars and gold coins distinguish them from gold coins.
Gold bars may be struck in higher weights than gold coins.
Investors in gold should constantly analyse the gold content of the items they are purchasing.
Some gold coins and bars have 99.9% pure gold, whereas others, such as the American Eagle, contain just 91% gold.
The majority of gold coins are one ounce or one-half ounce coins, such as the American Eagle and Canadian Maple Leaf.
Investors may acquire gold coins individually or in tubes containing at least 20 coins.
Due to their collectable appeal, gold coins typically sell for more than the price of the gold they contain.
When purchasing physical gold from a dealer, an investor will pay a premium above the price of gold in the spot market.
This premium normally runs between 1% and 5% and comprises the dealer’s profit and handling expenses.
During times of significant physical gold demand, gold coins may trade for a 10% or more premium above the gold spot price.
APMEX’s website was used to acquire the actual gold coins in my possession.
The gold was overnighted by APMEX and came in a huge cushioned plastic box resembling a battery case.
Additionally, investors may sell their gold coins and bars to a dealer such as APMEX.
The dealer will pay less for gold than the current price.
Buying gold ETFs
The easiest method to acquire gold is via gold ETFs such as the iShares Gold Trust (IAU), the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), and the SPDR Gold MiniShares Trust (GLDM).
These ETFs are often purchased and sold commission-free via a broker.
ETFs are public, indirect, pooled investment vehicles.
In this article, you may learn more about various investment vehicles.
A gold ETF Trust investment reflects a fractional stake in the trust’s assets.
These gold trusts hold gold that is stored with a custodian.
The expenditure ratios of the trusts range from 0.18% to 0.4% annually to cover management fees and other administrative expenses.
With an expense ratio of 0.18%, the SPDR Gold MiniShares Trust (GLDM) has the lowest cost percentage among gold ETF trusts.
ETFs are traded on an exchange, therefore their prices may fluctuate from their net asset value.
The same holds true for a gold ETF.
These exchange-traded funds may trade at a premium or discount to their net asset value.
The net asset value, or NAV, of an exchange-traded fund is determined by taking the value of the ETF’s assets, including cash, deducting any liabilities or debts the ETF may have, and dividing by the number of outstanding shares.
Authorized participants, who are institutional investors, engage directly with the gold trust sponsor to exchange baskets of ETF shares for gold and vice versa in order to maintain the price of the gold ETF near its net asset value.
The disadvantage of holding gold through an ETF is that the investment remains connected to the financial markets.
It is impossible to obtain the actual gold.
If the financial markets are closed for whatever reason, investors cannot sell their gold trust shares.
A gold ETF trust investment is essentially a paper asset whose performance is connected to gold.
Nonetheless, investing in an ETF trust is the easiest method for the majority of investors to get exposure to gold.
While the majority of my gold is in the form of real coins, I also have shares of the iShares Gold ETF (IAU).
Buying Gold Futures
A gold futures contract is a futures agreement to purchase or sell gold.
A speculator purchases or “goes long” on a futures contract if she anticipates a price increase for gold.
If she predicts gold’s price will decline, she sells or “shorts” the futures contract.
Using gold futures contracts, investors may get exposure to gold without investing a significant amount of cash.
Therefore, the holdings are highly leveraged and susceptible to volatility.
To open a position in one gold futures contract, a speculator in the E-micro gold futures contract, for example, just has to deposit roughly $1,000 into a margin account.
The size of the contract is 10 troy ounces.
All gold is measured in troy ounces as opposed to standard ounces.
A troy ounce is 31.1 grammes as opposed to 28.35 grammes for a standard ounce.
If the price of gold per troy ounce is $1,700, then the contract value is $17,000.
Gains and losses are added to or removed from the margin balance when the price of gold futures swings.
Typically, the gold futures contract is priced higher than the spot price, which is the current price of gold.
To generate a profit when purchasing gold futures, the spot price must be greater than the futures price at the moment the investor entered the contract.
The majority of participants in the gold futures market liquidate their positions prior to the expiration of the contract.
Owners of E-micro gold futures have the option to take physical delivery.
The sponsor of the contract, Comex, will not ship a 10-ounce gold bar to settle the deal.
Instead, Comex will provide the owner of the futures contract with an “accumulated certificate of exchange,” which represents a 10% stake in a 100 troy ounce gold bar held in the form of a COMEX gold warrant.
The advantageous tax treatment is one benefit of investing in gold futures contracts as opposed to owning real gold or a gold ETF.
Gains on gold futures contracts are subject to a tax rate of 60% on long-term capital gains and a tax rate of 40% on short-term taxable gains.
This combined tax rate is lower for many people than the 28% collectable tax rate.
Most people will find it easier to make long-term investments in gold through an ETF, but those who want to bet on gold’s short-term price fluctuations may use gold futures contracts.
Investing in Gold Mining Stocks and Funds
According to the components of the MSCI ACWI Select Gold Miners IMI Index, there are a little under forty publicly listed gold mining firms that get the bulk of their income from gold mining.
Profitable gold mining firms are those whose production costs are less than the spot price of gold.
John Hathaway, portfolio manager of the Sprott Gold Equity Fund, estimates that these production expenses average $1000 per ounce.
As gold mining requires fuel-intensive heavy equipment, the oil price adds to these production costs.
Since 1974, according to data compiled by Ned Davis Research, gold mining stocks have underperformed the general price of gold by 1.5% every year.
Since 2009, gold miners have lagged the price of gold on an annualised basis, but they have excelled during the previous two years.
Individual gold mining stocks are available to investors, as are ETFs and actively managed gold mining mutual funds.
Given the historical underperformance of gold miners relative to the price appreciation of gold bullion, investors are generally better off investing directly in gold unless they deem gold mining equities to be considerably undervalued.
Additionally, individuals may invest in gold by purchasing gold jewelry. This is the least effective technique for investing in gold, since the cost of the jewellery often exceeds the metal’s worth. In order to pay the jewellery designer and jeweller, a large markup is used.
There are several options for individuals to invest in gold. The choice of gold vehicle is contingent on the investor’s time horizon and motivation for holding gold. Those who fear economic and political turmoil may opt to acquire actual gold since it is not connected to the financial markets like paper assets. Due to leverage and advantageous tax treatment, gold futures may appeal to traders with a shorter-term emphasis. Individuals who are looking for the easiest method to purchase gold can consider investing in a gold ETF. Active investors who love to investigate particular firms may opt to acquire gold mining stocks.