Gold has historically been an excellent hedge against inflation, because its price tends to rise when the cost of living increases. Over the past 50 years investors have seen gold prices soar and the stock market plunge during high-inflation years. This is because when fiat currency loses its purchasing power to inflation, gold tends to be priced in those currency units and thus tends to arise along with everything else. Moreover, gold is seen as a good store of value so people may be encouraged to buy gold when they believe that their local currency is losing value.
Unlike paper currency, coins or other assets, gold has maintained its value throughout the ages. People see gold as a way to pass on and preserve their wealth from one generation to the next. Since ancient times, people have valued the unique properties of the precious metal. Gold doesn't corrode and can be melted over a common flame, making it easy to work with and stamp as a coin. Moreover, gold has a unique and beautiful color, unlike other elements. The atoms in gold are heavier and the electrons move faster, creating absorption of some light; a process which took Einstein's theory of relativity to figure out.
Significance of investment in Gold
Gold retains its value not only in times of financial uncertainty, but in times of geopolitical uncertainty. It is often called the "crisis commodity," because people flee to its relative safety when world tensions rise; during such times, it often outperforms other investments. For example, gold prices experienced some major price movements this year in response to the crisis occurring in the European nation. Its price often rises the most when confidence in governments is low.
In previous years, increased wealth of emerging market economies boosted demand for gold. In many of these countries, gold is intertwined into the culture. In China, where gold bars are a traditional form of saving, the demand for gold has been steadfast. India is the second largest gold-consuming nation in the world; it has many uses there, including jewelry. As such, the Indian wedding season in October is traditionally the time of the year that sees the highest global demand for gold.
The key to diversification is finding investments that are not closely correlated to one another; gold has historically had a negative correlation to stocks and other financial instruments. Recent history bears this out:
- The 1970s was great for gold, but terrible for stocks.
- The 1980s and 1990s were wonderful for stocks, but horrible for gold.
- 2008 saw stocks drop substantially as consumers migrated to gold.
Properly diversified investors combine gold with stocks and bonds in a portfolio to reduce the overall volatility and risk.
Gold should be an important part of a diversified investment portfolio because its price increases in response to events that cause the value of paper investments, such as stocks and bonds, to decline. Although the price of gold can be volatile in the short term, it has always maintained its value over the long term. Through the years, it has served as a hedge against inflation and the erosion of major currencies, and thus is an investment well worth considering.