When Zombies Buy Gold
Last week it looked like the feds’ efforts to reflate the US economy might be working. Gold was hitting one new high after another. Stocks were going up too.
The Dow rose nearly 200 points on Friday. Gold hit $1,300…but couldn’t close at that level. When trading came to an end gold was $2 short of the $1,300 mark.
What’s up? It’s hard to know. If gold is going up, analysts reasoned, it must mean something. What? The obvious explanation is that inflation is coming.
So the advisors told their clients to buy gold. The economy must be improving they said. The recession ended more than a year ago. The recovery hasn’t been as strong as anyone wanted. But there must be a recovery underway…and it must mean that inflation and gold will go up.
We’re sitting in a JetBlue airplane as we write…heading back up to Baltimore. Each seat has a TV screen on the back of it. A few years ago, you could get away from TV by getting on an airplane. Now, there it is right in front to you…
…which is all part of the creeping zombification of the US. Music plays all the time. It’s in cars. It’s in shopping malls. Some people even listen to it when they work. It’s like prison…or the Orwellian future…where noise is blared out 24 hours a day, so you never have a chance to think.
And now there are all the Blackberries, iPhones, iPads…to say nothing of regular cellphones and portable computers.
And then, there’s TV. You go to a bar. In addition to the music, there’s often a TV screen.
With all these sources of distraction people don’t have any time to think. Who has time to wonder how the dollar has any value at all? Who worries that those pieces of paper could go the way of all trash…to the dump? Who thinks about it at all? Not many people…
Instead, most people go through the day like zombies – watching TV…listening to someone else’s music…surfing the Internet…chatting…schmoozing…distracting themselves…
The passengers on the plane act like zombies…watching other zombies on TV…listening to music…reading airport novels….
Then, on the screen in front of us, there’s a fellow selling…gold! He’s the second one we’ve seen. “Should you own gold,” is the caption on the screen. A man named Scott Carter is advising customers to buy the yellow metal. Apparently, his company has been in the business for 50 years…
Hmmm… This is something new. The last time we saw gold on TV was an ad for a fellow who was BUYING gold. “Got gold? You can get CASH” was last year’s ad. The advertiser told viewers that they should take advantage of high gold prices to get rid of their unwanted jewelry…exchanging it for cold, hard cash.
Only the cash wasn’t all that hard, after all. That was about a year ago. And today, the cash is worth about 20% less than the gold.
But who cares? We’re talking zombies here. Who cares what happens to them?
When the zombies start buying gold, though, the bull market enters its last stage. Ordinary people do not own gold now. They do not understand that the financial system is in jeopardy. And they cannot imagine that the dollar is not a safe place for their wealth.
As for inflation, they’re for it. They have mortgages to pay. And for many of them, those mortgages are higher than the value of their houses. They’d like to see their debts reduced, by inflation.
They’d like to see their assets lifted up by inflation too. And their earnings.
Okay… Inflationary increases are not “real”. The real value of the assets doesn’t increase, just because nominal prices go up. But the zombies don’t know that.