It's Not Surprising That Gold (XAU) Is Topping The Headlines Again

It's Not Surprising That Gold (XAU) Is Topping The Headlines Again


As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, it is worth being better prepared for a possible crisis. Does that mean it pays to have some gold up your sleeve?

I have to confess something. I always laughed at preppers (aka survivalists) – people who spend their entire lives stockpiling beans and ammo in preparation for the highly unlikely doomsday scenarios. C’mon, who would take these freaks seriously? Well, as the pandemic and supply crisis showed us, we all should.

When most people scrambled for masks and hand sanitizers, preppers laughed. When most people fought epic battles for toilet paper and something to eat to survive the Great Lockdown, preppers laughed. When most people were confronted with surging inflation and supply shortages of different products, preppers laughed. When most people panicked upon hearing about energy blackouts, preppers laughed. It seems that mocked preppers got the last laugh, after all.

Hence, the COVID-19 epidemic made it clear that the world is not a paradise flowing with milk and honey and that bad things do really happen, so we should be more prepared for possible calamities, even if they look like remote possibilities. For example, experts now point out the threat of cyberattacks, and just last month, Kazakhstan’s government turned off the internet nationwide, depriving its citizens of access to their bank accounts.

The problem is, of course, that crises always seem highly unlikely until they occur. Meanwhile, historical cases are too distant and abstract for us, and we tend to think that “this time is different”, or that “we’ll make it through somehow.” Perhaps you will, but it’s much easier when you are prepared. When other people panic, you don’t, because you have made your preparation and have a clear plan of action.

You see, the issue is not if the crisis hits, but when. It’s just a matter of time, even the government suggests storing at least a several-day supply of non-perishable food. However, the problem is that when things are going well, people don’t think about preparing. Why should we worry and spoil the fun? Let’s drink like tomorrow never comes! Maybe the problem will somehow disappear by itself, and if it doesn’t, we’ll deal with it later.

I got it, but how does it all relate to gold? Well, quite simply. Owning gold is a part of preparing for the worst. This is because gold is the store of value that appreciates when confidence in fiat money declines. It’s also a safe-haven asset, which shines during financial crises when asset prices generally decline. The best example may be the Great Recession or 2020 economic crisis when gold performed much better than the S&P 500 Index, as the chart below shows.

Should We Prepare For the Worst and Buy Some Gold? - 1

You can also think of gold as a portfolio insurance policy or a hedge against tail risks. A house fire is not very likely, but it’s generally smart to have insurance, you know, just in case. Similarly, the collapse of the financial markets and the great plunge of asset prices are not of great probability (although the Great Depression, late 2008, and early 2020 show that they are clearly possible), but it’s nice to have a portfolio diversifier that is not afraid of black swans.

Should We Prepare For the Worst and Buy Some Gold? - 2

In a sense, the whole issue boils down to individual responsibility. Do you take responsibility for your life and for being prepared for different scenarios, or do you count on other people, the government, or simply luck, magically thinking that everything always goes well? To be clear, being prepared doesn’t equal being pessimistic – it’s rather about being realistic and hoping for the best, but planning for the worst.

However, there are two important caveats to consider before exchanging all of your paper currency for gold coins. First, you shouldn’t conflate holding gold as insurance with gold as an investment asset. When you want protection, you’re not interested in price trends. There might be a bear market, but gold would still fulfill its hedging role. This is also why you shouldn’t own more than about 5-10% of your whole portfolio in precious metals (as insurance, you can invest more in gold as an investment or as a part of your trading strategy).

Second, don’t treat gold as a panacea for all possible disasters. It all depends on what you are preparing for. If you expect power outages, buy batteries, power banks, and think about alternate sources of energy. Precious metals won’t power your home. If you fear a zombie apocalypse (who doesn’t?), flamethrowers and rifles seem to be better weapons than gold bars (although large ones can serve quite well). If you can’t wait for a nuclear explosion (who can?), you will need a proper shelter with uncontaminated food rather than shiny metal (pun intended). It’s possible that in such a post-apocalyptic world, people would initially return to a commodity-based standard rather than the gold standard. It all depends on the particular conditions and how deeply the civilization would devolve.

Hence, don’t be scared by dodgy people and false advertising into buying gold because of imminent hyperinflation, the total collapse of the financial system, nuclear greetings from Kim Jong-Un, or another calamity. The role of gold is not to rescue you from all kinds of troubles, but to be insurance that pays off during economic crises.

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Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care.

Arkadiusz Sieron

Arkadiusz Sieron

Hi, my name is Arkadiusz Sieroń. Call me a liar, but I am writing about the precious metals thanks to Arthur Laffer, Alan Greenspan, John Keynes and Fredrich Hayek. Really! Would you like to know how these economists, some of whom have been dead for a long time, triggered my adventure with gold? When I was in high school, I took part in the Entrepreneurship Olympic, one of the biggest thematic competitions for pupils from secondary schools. During my preparations, I studied an academic textbook, in which I came across a Laffer curve. Eureka! If the tax revenues are the same at low and high tax rates, the government should lower them! I did not win the competition, but I achieved much more. I decided to become an economist! And I loved the idea of small government and economic freedom since that very moment. After graduating from high school, I moved to the capital. I was very excited, as I started to study economics at the best economics university in the country. However, the professors disappointed me very quickly. Why? They all were statists, supporting extensive government intervention and fiat currencies. Gold? It is a barbarous relic! Have you not read Lord Keynes? I was very depressed. I even considered giving up my studies in economics and enrolling in the Philosophy Faculty! You can see now that I was really desperate. When I was contemplating nothingness and vanity of vanities, a few of my classmates lent me a handful of fascinating books, such as Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman. I also discovered the publications of the Austrian economists who supported the idea of the gold standard. It sounded crazy in the 21th century, but it was inspiring. I rediscovered the sense of studying economics. I continued my studies and one day I read these words: “Gold and economic freedom are inseparable”. Try guess who wrote them. Don’t give up, try once again. Don’t know? Alan Greenspan. Shocking, right? This is a quote from his “Gold and Economic Freedom”, an article published in 1966. Several years before he became the Fed Chair, and several more before the real estate bubble, that he helped to pump, up burst. Quite ironic, don’t you think? Both his essay and the Great Recession (and the accompanying bull market) motivated me to study investment portfolio management and the precious metals. I became a certified Investment Adviser very soon and I started to work for the biggest pension fund in the country. My corporate career seemed to be very promising. However, I quickly discovered that the company invested most of the participants’ funds into Treasuries or shares of the big state companies. And they didn’t even want to hear about investing in precious metals. I quit. I found a shelter at the university, as a Ph.D. candidate and – after a defense of my thesis about certain negative consequences of inflation (i.e. the Cantillon effect) – as an Assistant Professor. I was finally free to study economics, freedom, and gold. The more I read about gold, the more I was terrified. Most of the so-called experts who write about the precious metals, don’t have any idea about the subject they discuss. They treat gold as a mere commodity. Or they claim that gold is either worthless as it does not bring any yield or that its price should always rise. I was really let down by the state of understanding of the gold market among the analysts and investors. But I could not do too much. Until the sun shined down on me. I got a job offer at Sunshine Profits. I didn’t hesitate a second and accepted it, although many professors discouraged me: “You are a scholar, focus on science and do not write silly newsletters about bullion" -they advised me. But I did not listen to them, as they clearly didn’t understand the nature of gold. It is not a barbarous relic, it is the longest used money in history, and a clinking witness of human civilization. Gold is the asset, which used to serve as the safe- haven and portfolio diversifier for investors from the entire world for years. I wanted to study its properties and to share with my knowledge with people who do not have time for that. I wanted to help investors to better understand fundamentals of the gold market and improve their investment decisions. I’m happy that I can do that at Sunshine Profits. I’m really proud to be a member of our team and provide investors with high quality investment analyses about the gold market.