Nathan Lewis

Most serious gold investors follow a basic principle: that gold is stable in value. Changes in the “gold price” represent changes in the currency being compared to gold, while gold itself is essentially inert.

This is why gold was used as a monetary foundation for literally thousands of years. You want money to be stable in value. The simplest way to accomplish this was to link it to gold. Today, we summarize this quality by saying that “gold is money.”

From this we can see immediately, that if gold doesn’t change in value – at least not very much – then it can never be in a “bubble.” There may be a time when many people are desperate to trade their paper money for gold, but that is because their paper money is collapsing in value. It has nothing to do with gold.

Let’s take a look at some of the great gold bull markets of the last hundred years:

  • From 1920 to 1923, the price of gold in German marks rose from 160/oz. to 48 trillion/oz.
  • From 1945 to 1950, the price of gold in Japanese yen rose from 140/oz. to 12,600/oz.
  • From 1948 to 1967, the price of gold in Brazilian cruzeiros went from 648/oz. to 94,500/oz.
  • From 1970 to 1980, the price of gold in US dollars went from 35/oz. to 850/oz.
  • From 1982 to 1990, the price of gold in Mexican pesos went from 8,000/oz. to 1,025,000/oz.
  • From 1989 to 2000, the price of gold in Russian rubles went from 1,600/oz. to 8,120,000/oz.

Each of these situations was an episode of paper currency depreciation. Today is no different. The rising dollar/euro/yen gold price is simply a reflection of the Keynesian “easy money” policies popular around the world today.

We can also see that, if gold remains stable in value, then the supply/demand considerations that affect industrial commodities do not affect gold, which is a monetary commodity. This is why gold is used as money. If its value was affected by industrial supply/demand factors, we would not be able to use it as money.

Thus, “jewelry demand” or “peak gold,” or any other such factor, has little meaningful effect on gold’s value. Day-to-day money flows will affect the price at which currencies trade vs. gold, but this ultimately affects the currency in question, not gold.

None of these historical “gold bull markets” resulted from jewelry demand or mining supply.

Any attempt to attach a valuation to gold is mostly a waste of time. Concepts like the “inflation-adjusted gold price” or the “gold/oil ratio,” or a ratio of outstanding debt or currency to a quantity of gold bullion, are a distraction. An item that doesn’t change value is never cheap or dear. That’s what “gold is money” means.

The “price of gold” may reach five thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, a million, or a billion dollars per ounce. The gold bubble-callers will be frothing at the mouth, until they finally have the realization that there was never a bubble in gold, but only a crash in paper money.

Gold is money. Always has been. Probably always will be. This time it’s different? I don’t think so.

Regards,

Nathan Lewis
for The Daily Reckoning

Nathan Lewis

Nathan Lewis was formerly the chief international economist of a leading economic forecasting firm. He now works for an asset management company based in New York. Lewis has written for the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal Asia, the Japan Times, Pravda, and authored Gold: The Once and Future Money.

Recent Articles

Bill Bonner
Why the Government Views You As Collateral Damage

Bill Bonner

The economist Milton Friedman didn't go far enough when he said, "Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it." In fact, as Bill Bonner explains, those same good intentions are often used as pavement on a road that leads to a rather ominous and fiery destination. Read on...


Your Chance to Cash In on a Massive Infrastructure Overhaul

Josh Grasmick

Since the Internet boom of the 1990s, Internet infrastructure has not had a major upgrade in carrying capacity. Now, for the first time in more than a decade, an immense spending cycle is about to be set in motion, and it's aimed at upgrading those "old pipes." Josh Grasmick explains how you can get in on the ground floor of this investment trend...


Laissez Faire
How Bitcoin Can Simplify Your Dinner Plans

Jeffrey Tucker

The best use of a new technology is to solve an old problem you never gave much thought to. It's these problems that become so common, people naturally come to accept them. Now Bitcoin is doing just that, by helping to solve some of the simplest (and most common) problems people face... like splitting a dinner bill. Jeffrey Tucker explains...


Get Ready for Coal’s Big Comeback

Greg Guenthner

Over the past three years, few investments have performed worse than coal. Investors hate it because coal stocks bring them nothing but pain. Environmentalists hate coal because it pollutes. And the list goes on. But recent price action suggests that some of those attitudes might be changing. Greg Guenthner explains...


Bill Bonner
An Easy Way to Avoid Pig-Headed Mistakes

Bill Bonner

Taken individually, most people perform relatively well in their daily lives. They get up, drive to work and interact with various other people, largely without incident. But when big groups of people get together, they can be incredibly pig-headed, demanding "action" when the best course of action would simply be inaction. And before you know it, chaos ensues. Bill Bonner explains...