Jack Farchy reports for the Financial Times that Barack Obama’s re-election has sent demand for gold coins soaring: “The US Mint’s sales of American Eagles, one of the most popular gold coins, leapt 131 per cent in November, hitting their highest level in more than two years.”
The irony of gold buyers is that while yellowish metal has a reputation as a conservative investment, it’s basically the most purely speculative investment you can make. There’s no way I can think of that you can even conceptualize what the fundamentals of gold are or are supposed to be. People who think they need a hedge against inflation should buy Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities—bonds whose payoff is indexed to the inflation rate. Current TIPS prices indicate a market expectation of inflation that runs a bit below 2 percent on average over the long term. If you think that’s wrong and we’ll experience even moderate inflation, then you’ll make a ton of money buying TIPS and being proved right. Alternatively, this isn’t 1944, and it’s extremely simple to invest in foreign currency if you think Australian or Norwegian or Brazilian money will retain its value better than the U.S. dollar.