Gold News

Gold Investing: Diversify & Rebalance

Much more than "tradition" to the idea of holding gold as insurance...
LOYAL READERS of our Investor Alert and my blog Frank Talk are no doubt aware that the US Dollar's rising strength has put pressure on commodities such as oil and gold, writes Frank Holmes at US Global Investors.
Gold took a blow in the second half of 2014 as a result of the Dollar's ascent, and sentiment toward the yellow metal right now is less than ideal. But to keep things in perspective, its performance last year far outpaced that of 2013, when it fell 28% – its worst showing since early into President Reagan's first term.
Even though gold lost 0.2% year-over-year, it still leads all major world currencies except for the US Dollar.
In his most recent book, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan convincingly makes the case that gold is indeed money:
"Yet gold has special properties that no other currency, with the possible exception of silver, can claim. For more than two millennia, gold has had virtually unquestioned acceptance as payment. It has never required the credit guarantee of a third party. No questions are raised when gold or direct claims to gold are offered in payment of an obligation; it was the only form of payment, for example, that exporters to Germany would accept as World War II was drawing to a close."
Greenspan goes on to make another astute point. If gold is nothing more than a commodity, then why do most developed countries' central banks see the need to hold the stuff? Wouldn't some other commodity suffice? Diamonds perhaps, or soybeans?
During a Congressional monetary policy meeting in 2011, Texas Representative Ron Paul squared off against then Fed chairman Ben Bernanke over this very topic. When asked why central banks still insist on holding the precious metal in their reserves, Bernanke responded that it was simply tradition.
Tradition, yes, but the reason goes so much deeper than that. Gold has an intrinsic value that transcends its commodity-ness, something that's recognized by nations all over the globe.
For example, we're seeing a trend among European central banks seeking to bring their gold reserves back under their jurisdiction. Although Switzerland recently voted down a referendum that would have done just that, there's talk now that Austria, Belgium and France are interested in shoring up their own gold reserves. The Netherlands and Germany have already brought some of their gold home.
China and India's central banks are in the buying mood. Russia is currently snapping up gold at an astounding rate: 130 tonnes this year alone, up 73% from 2013.
Of course, if you're Russia, buying that much bullion makes perfect sense. When your currency is the worst-performing in the world, you sorely need something in your coffers with greater value, ample liquidity and no credit risk.
For the rest of us, gold remains an exceptional instrument to diversify your portfolio with. Despite its decline midway through the year, its price has remained relatively stable, much more so than oil's. What investors – especially the gold bears – need to remember is that bullion has a 12-month standard deviation of ±18%, meaning that its price action this year is well within normal behavior.
As always, I advocate a 10% weighting in gold: 5% in physical metal, 5% in equities, then rebalance every year.

Frank Holmes is chief executive officer and chief investment officer of US Global Investors Inc., a registered investment adviser managing approximately $4.8 billion in 13 no-load mutual funds and for other advisory clients. A Toronto native, he bought a controlling interest in US Global Investors in 1989, after an accomplished career in Canada's capital markets. His specialized knowledge gives him expertise in resource-based industries and money management.

See the full archive of Frank Holmes.

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