gold coins

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According to a recent report from Bloomberg, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., the third-largest U.S. life insurer, has been buying gold. This is the first time in its 152-year history that Northwestern has purchased gold.

According to Northwestern CEO Edward Zore, “Gold just seems to make sense; it’s a store of value. In the Depression, gold did very, very well.”

According to Bloomberg, Northwestern has accumulated about $400 million in gold. CEO Zore believes that the price of gold could double “or even rise fivefold” if the economy continues to weaken. “The downside risk is limited, but the upside is large,” Zore said. “We have stocks in our portfolio that lost 95%.” But gold “is not going down to $90.”

Despite the rise in “cash for gold” TV ads and billboards, people are still generally skeptical about buying gold as an investment or hedge against inflation. As I’ve said before, I think gold will be the next bubble as people eventually lose confidence in the dollar and US governments ability to repay its debt.

Check out the increase in the money supply over the past year.

Exploding Money Supply

A lot of you will protest that it hasn’t really increased and that the banks that got the money from the Fed have just given back to the Fed to shore up their reserves. True, and the Fed is paying the banks interest on this money too. But as some point the Fed is going to stop paying interest, and the greedy bankers are going to start lending this money out. The Fed hopes that this money will work its way into the economy in a slow and orderly fashion, so it takes maybe 5-10 years to enter the system and not rush in all of a sudden, because if it did the result would be similar a massive drug overdose. But in smaller amounts, its more palatable with contained inflation. But it will result in inflation nonetheless. And when it does, gold prices are likely to keep on rising.

If you interested in buying gold coins check out my previous posts on gold/silver and coins, as well as my personal list of favorite gold coins.

Today’s guest post comes from Bruce, CEO of Superior Gold.

Last year I wrote an article for Living Off Dividends & Passive Income outlining 10 reasons why gold would break $1000. It was a conservative estimate at the time, which was achieved later in the year. Since then the Dow has touched 6400 points, many major U.S. banks have collapsed and the U.S. economy is searching for sound footing during a recession that may or may not be half way completed.

At the time of my article Gold was around $880 and some good people at LivingOffDividends.com made it seem as though I was predicting an imminent U.S. led invasion of China.

The president of Superior Gold Group thinks I should buy gold? Shocker.

– The Writer’s Coin

Alan Greenspan (Federal Reserve), Jim Cramer (Stock) and Ron Paul (Congressmen) have all recently recommended gold for diversity and protection.

When I invest, I only invest with the long-term in mind, so I’ll never drop any money into gold. It’s too volatile, simply because it relies on the economy and stock market to be in a slump.

– Erick Folgate

I would consider a Dow that swings from 13,000 to 6,500 in 14 months the definition of volatility, but then again I am no stock expert.

These guys have a right to their opinion and I have a right to mine. In the article I mentioned various reasons for Gold’s ascent and those reasons have only strengthened in the past year. Unlike the Wall Street Investment Bankers of now defunct financial powerhouses or Ponzi scheme Billionaires, as the president of the Superior Gold Group I actually have to look at many of my clients face to face. I have a vested interest in making the best analysis of the financial markets so that I can relay them to my clients and guide them into sound financial decisions. On to this year’s predictions:

Gold Prices in 2009

Clearly when you read the charts, government reports or listened to politicians it is clear that the United States and prominent economies around the world are searching for an end to their economic troubles. Gold is headed to $3,000….. or so the Gold bears would love for me to predict so that they can label me a Gold Bug or Gold Zealot ala Harry Dent and his 35,000 Dow projection. I am not in the projection business I am in the wealth protection business.

Any “expert” can make a prediction. At the Superior Gold Group we focus on understanding trends and making conservative projections that allow our clients to maintain a balanced and diversified portfolio that will never consist of 100% exposure of any one single asset class.

Wall Street trained financial planners never discuss physical gold/silver. Real Estate Brokers/Agents never discuss owning physical gold/silver. What they discuss is how this stock or this house will double in X time, but rarely discuss diversity. True diversity is the only way to protect your assets from turbulence and calamity in the markets.

We educate each of our clients on the importance of diversifying their portfolios. You would not believe the amount of American workers and investors that our company has had to console because their IRA and 401(k) are worth 40% less than it was just 18 months ago thanks to a severe deficiency of alternate investment forms.

Why Buy Gold in 2009?

One takes a position in Gold/Silver for many reasons. Just like any other investment, one size never fits all. We have recommended that our clients purchase Gold for wealth protection. Historically, the price of gold “does not change”. In reality, gold remains a constant price in relation to the currency it is compared to. In other words as the dollar gets weaker, the price of gold goes up. The inverse is true as well, but consider this; In 1932, the price of gold was roughly $20 for an ounce of gold. Today that same gold ounce sells for $925 (3/17/09). Gold is the hedge against inflation for your portfolio.

So the decision to own gold is really simple. If you believe that the U.S. Economy is growing, real estate prices are stable and your retirement account is performing smoothly, DON’T BUY GOLD. However, if you like me and countless financial strategist have loudly predicted that economic recovery is years in the making, protect your Portfolio today by taking a position in Gold of at least 10% of your total exposure.

– Bruce Sands.

The first question you’re probably asking is whether gold is a good investment to begin with. Take a look at the performance of gold prices over the past 5 years versus the stock market.

gold_prices_vs_dow_jones_5_years

[Updated on June 2011] As you can see, gold is up more than 250% since 2005, while the Dow Jones Industrial Index is up about 15% for the same period.  In fact, gold has been the best performing investment for the past decade.

Of course, the best time to buy gold was few years ago, but its still not too late.

The Federal Reserve is doing its best to devalue the US Dollar (buying $600 Billion in US Treasuries will do that). As the dollar, and other currencies continue to drop in value, gold prices will continue to rise.

So how does one invest in gold?

It isn’t difficult and there are 3 main ways:

  1. I like buying gold coins. You can choose between collectible and bullion gold coins.  As the price of gold has increased, the spreads on the collectible coins have increased as well. Check out this list of my favorite gold coins. You can also buy gold bars, but the coins are more interesting and are likely to appreciate more as gold awareness increases.
  2. You can also buy the Gold ETF (GLD).
  3. You can also buy the Gold Miners ETF (GDX). I’ve also invested in this. Gold doesn’t offer any yield, so I periodically sell covered calls against this position to generate some income. Since gold stocks are incredibly volatile, the calls haven’t expired in the money yet. (which means they expire worthless and I get the keep the premium).

So whats your favorite gold investment?

May be I’ve been posting too much doom and gloom in the recent past. Do I really think we’re on the cusp of a global financial meltdown? No, I do not. But Telegraph does. Here’s an excerpt from an article which says the meltdown has already started:

If mishandled by the world policy establishment, this debacle is big enough to shatter the fragile banking systems of Western Europe and set off round two of our financial Götterdämmerung.

Austria’s finance minister Josef Pröll made frantic efforts last week to put together a €150bn rescue for the ex-Soviet bloc. Well he might. His banks have lent €230bn to the region, equal to 70pc of Austria’s GDP.

“A failure rate of 10pc would lead to the collapse of the Austrian financial sector,” reported Der Standard in Vienna. Unfortunately, that is about to happen.

Europeon banks may face write-downs of $25 Trillion dollars! In compaison, Nouriel Roubini’s estimate of $1.8 Trillion in write-downs for US banks seems like chump change.

Whether it takes months, or just weeks, the world is going to discover that Europe’s financial system is sunk, and that there is no EU Federal Reserve yet ready to act as a lender of last resort or to flood the markets with emergency stimulus.

Under a “Taylor Rule” analysis, the European Central Bank already needs to cut rates to zero and then purchase bonds and Pfandbriefe on a huge scale. It is constrained by geopolitics – a German-Dutch veto – and the Maastricht Treaty.

But I digress. It is East Europe that is blowing up right now.

The sums needed are beyond the limits of the IMF, which has already bailed out Hungary, Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, Iceland, and Pakistan – and Turkey next – and is fast exhausting its own $200bn (€155bn) reserve. We are nearing the point where the IMF may have to print money for the world, using arcane powers to issue Special Drawing Rights.

This doesn’t sound very encouraging. If there was ever a time to start investing in gold coins, it’s now! If you can’t afford gold, you might want to consider silver coins. Silver prices have been on a tear over the past 3 months. The graph’s been up linearly over 40%!

Looks like I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for gold. For the first time ever, annual demand for gold exceeded $100 billion! According to the WSJ:

Demand for gold surpassed $100 billion last year for the first time ever, amid increased industrial and jewelry consumption and investors’ purchase of the metal as a safe haven, the World Gold Council reported Wednesday.

Gold demand — including jewelry consumption, industrial demand and identifiable investments such as bars, gold coins and gold exchange-traded funds — hit $102 billion in 2008, up 29% from a year ago.

In tonnage terms, gold demand rose 4% to 3,659 tons, the WGC said. Gold holdings in SPDR Gold Shares, the largest gold exchange-traded fund, rose to 1,008.80 tons Tuesday, surpassing the 1,000 ton level for the first time, according to the latest data from the fund. The total was up more than 200 tons from a month ago.

Gold is now about $26 below its all-time high above $1,003 an ounce, hit in March 2008. Talk of “gunning for the $1,000 level” should keep buyers at the helm, said Jon Nadler, senior analyst at Kitco Bullion Dealers.

Helping gold prices hold firm Wednesday was more gloomy news from the U.S. economy.

Doesn’t seem like the market has any faith in Obama’s economic recovery plan. Gold and silver prices have spiked and the stock market’s declined.

Here’s an excellent video starring Peter Schiff.  He predicts that the US Dollar will be the next bubble to burst. As a corrollary, I think gold will be the next bubble. The dollar collapse seems unlikely, you say? Well he did predict the collapse of the housing market 4 years ago and was met with wide-spread ridicule.

Like I’ve been saying for ages, make sure you buy some gold coinsSilver coins aren’t bad either.

As a follow-up to my previous 2 posts on gold, here’s a news article about the Australian Perth Mint suspending orders for gold bullion until January. Apparently having it’s workers slog 7 days a week isn’t enough to meet demand!

FEARS of the unknown long-term effects from the global financial crisis have sparked a new gold rush.

With retail and wholesale clients around the world stocking up on the precious metal, the Perth Mint has been forced to suspend orders.

As the World Gold Council reported that the dollar demand for gold reached a quarterly record of $US32 billion ($50.73 billion) in the third quarter, industry insiders said the race to secure physical gold had reached an intensity that had never been witnessed before.

Perth Mint sales and marketing director Ron Currie said the unprecedented demand had forced the Mint to cease orders until January, with staff working seven days a week, 24-hour days, over three shifts to meet orders.

He said Europe was leading the demand, with Russia, Ukraine, Middle East and US all buying — making up 80 per cent of its sales. One European client purchased 30,000 ounces for $33 million.

“We have never seen this before and are working right at capacity. And we are seeing it from clients in the shop buying one ounce, right up to 30,000 ounces from overseas clients,” Mr Currie said.

Robert Jaggard, manager of bullion and rare coins dealer Jaggards, said business had picked up strongly and he expected it to increase further.

“All around the world there has been a heavy run on physical gold and there is a shortage of supply,” he said.

Mr Jaggard, who has been dealing in gold for 40 years and is an agent for the Perth Mint, said some clients were buying up to $1million worth of gold, paying a premium above the spot price.

Late yesterday afternoon, spot gold in Sydney was trading at $US747.30 an ounce, up $US8.15 on Thursday’s local close.

“Professional business people who have previously bought small amounts now want more gold because they are suffering in other markets,” Mr Jaggard said.

At a conference this week in Munich, delegates were lined up 30-deep to purchase physical gold. And reports out of the Middle East suggested that there had been unprecedented gold buying in Saudi Arabia during the first half of November, with an estimated $US3.5 billion purchased in recent weeks.

The World Gold Council, releasing its global demand trends yesterday, said identifiable investment demand, which incorporates demand for gold through exchange-traded funds and bars and coins, was the biggest contributor to overall demand during the quarter. It was up to $US10.7 billion, double last year’s levels.

The figures showed retail investment demand rose 121 per cent to 232 tonnes in the third quarter, with strong bar and coin buying reported in Swiss, German and US markets.

The quarter also witnessed widespread reports of gold shortages among bullion dealers across the globe, as investors searched for a haven. Overall, quarter three saw Europe reach an all-time record 51 tonnes of bar and coin buying. France became a net investor in gold for the first time since the early 1980s.

World Gold Council chief executive James Burton said gold’s universal role as a store of value had shone through during the quarter, helping attract investors and consumers to all forms of gold ownership.

“The rise in demand for gold bars and coins has been impressive,” he said.

Demand in India, the largest market for gold, recovered during the third quarter, encouraged by lower gold prices, a good monsoon and the onset of the festive season. At 250 tonnes, total consumer demand was 31 per cent higher than the same period last year. In value terms, demand hit the record quarterly sum of $US5 billion.

Here’s the link.

So there’s a surge in demand, but no spike in prices that’s usually associated with shortages!

I’ve been an avid collector of gold and silver coins and have been following the prices for a years.

Gold is supposed to have a negative correlation with the stock market. This year has proved otherwise. Of course, as we’ve seen repeatedly in the past, all asset classes correlate to the downside.

Gold which peaked at $1030/oz earlier this year, has been trading in the $700 range for a few months. There has been a flight to safety, which for most people means buying US Treasuries. Indeed, the flight has been so large that it has pushed the yields down to absurdly low levels. The yield on the 3-month Treasury was almost zero at 0.4% and the 10 year is 3.52%. (The yield on the S&P500 was 3.55% this week, higher than the 10 year Treasuries rate for the first time since 1958).

The way that demand affects interest rates is that as people clamor for T-bills, they push up the prices for these bonds. Since the bonds pay out a fixed interest rate, the effective yield (also called yield-to-maturity or YTM) drops. So it’s the demand for stability in the current globally volatile economic environment that is pushing up bond prices and pushing down yields to almost nothing.

On the flip side, prices for a product fall as the demand drops off. So we’d expect the decrease in demand for gold as the cause of it’s low price. However, there have been several news reports stating that demand for gold is 50% higher than it was last year.

Demand For Gold Hits A Record Even As Institutions Head For Exits (November 19th, 2008)

The US Government Mint had to suspended retail selling gold coins and silver eagles earlier this year, and the Perth Mint just announced suspending production of gold coins.

So even though there is an increased demand for Gold, the prices haven’t been increasing proportionately. There have been several articles speculating on the reason for this.

According to:

The Disconnect Between Supply and Demand in Gold & Silver Markets (August 18th, 2008)

Obviously, enough people are willing to pay for gold and silver, at the previous $978 and $19.50 per troy ounce price, because the U.S. Mint could not source enough metal at those price, and had to suspend coin production.

This proves that people are more than willing to fork over, in whatever currency they are using, the previous prices for gold and silver, in such quantities, that a shortage was already existing, before the price collapse, especially in the silver market.  It is true that people in poorer countries like India, might have back on their consumption.

But, while they were cutting back, demand and consumption of gold in North America, including Canada and the USA, was soaring.  For example, before it suspended production of bullion coins, due to shortages, the U.S. Mint’s statistics show that it was printing 2.5 times as many gold coins, and almost 4 times as many silver bullion coins, this year, compared to last year.  Gold and silver bullion, in bar form, was also flying off North American retail shelves.

Bottom line: Enough people were buying, when the price was high, to exhaust the supply. Basic economics says that, in a free market, this means the price must rise.

Seems like somethings fishy in Denmark! The author further adds that

We have a disconnect between reality markets and fantasy markets.  The COMEX and London Metals Exchange are fantasy markets controlled by the big bullion banks.  They must be engaged in market manipulation, because nothing can explain a big price collapse, in the midst of widespread shortages and robust demand.  A group of big financial institutions, deeply enmeshed in the global trading system, and heavily involved in the gold and silver market, must be deliberately inducing temporary panic, for their own purposes.  These malevolent characters will eventually be able to buy back their short positions at low prices, and, possibly, also, even collect a significant long position.

I definitely think the prices are being manipulated, even though I’m not entirely sure why. One thing I do know is that you cannot manipulate prices indefinitely. Especially in the face of rising demand. Here’s an interesting snippet from the Standard.

(The Standard, Nov 14) Hong Kong: The mainland is seriously considering a plan to diversify more of its massive foreign-exchange reserves into gold, a person familiar with the situation told The Standard.

China’s fears about the long-term viability of parking most of its reserves in US government bonds were triggered by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s US$700 billion (HK$5.46 trillion) bailout plan, which may make the US budget deficit balloon to well over US$1 trillion this fiscal year.

The United States holds 8,133.5 tonnes of gold reserves valued at US$188.23 billion. China holds gold reserves of just 600 tonnes, worth only US$13.89 billion.

Beijing’s reserves could easily go up to 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes, Tanrich Futures senior vice president Colleen Chow Yin-shan said.

That article was published last week when gold was trading under $720/oz. Since then, its jumped to almost $800/oz, with most of the move occurring yesterday.

Gold Prices for November 21, 2008

The bright green line is yesterday’s movement. Gold moved from under $750 to nearly $800. Looks like gold has become strongly correlated to the stock market after all!

I think the price of gold will continue to rise over the long term. It’s just a matter of how long it takes.

China just released a 10 Kilo Gold Coin to commemorate the 2008 Olympics that are currently being held in Beijing. 10 kilos of .9999 Fine gold is a staggering 321 ounces, more than 22 pounds and its more than a half foot in diameter! Not only is it the largest gold coin, it’s the rarest as well: Only 29 have been struck for the entire world and all have been sold.

This spectacular museum piece is housed in an exotic African Blackwood presentation case, which is crowned with a 35 pound carved stone dragon. The coin is legal tender with a face value of 100,000 Yuan and is Proof struck, which means it has an ultra-high relief, frosted design set against a flawless mirror background.

A company in the US is currently selling it for a whopping $1 million! That’s right One Million Dollars!! Considering that it contains 321 ounces, and each ounce sells for $960, that means its worth about $308,000. Charging $1 million for it is a bit too steep a premium, but considering that there are only 29 in existence, I can see the lure of owning something rare appealing to many people. Especially those people with a lot of money and not enough places to spend it! If I had a million bucks to spend on gold, I’d buy the 100 Kilo Canadian Maple Leaf instead. And this coin cotains .99999 pure gold!

But since I don’t have a million dollars lying around, I’d rather keep on buying my 200 year old Napoleon 1st French gold coins for under $500 each! I don’t know if the Chinese will be minting any more of these Olympic gold coins, but I’m positive Napoleon 1st is definitely done minting his collection! I already have several of these, and they’re really quite spetacular.