In the past several months, there’s been a very popular – and very wrong – thing to say about owning gold. I hear it a lot from inexperienced media analysts, bloggers, and money managers who spend little time living in the “real world.”
Here’s what they’re saying: “Gold is way too popular now… It’s near the end of its bull market.” The recommended “action to take” is to cash in your gold profits and move on to something different.
I can tell you that taking this advice is a big mistake. Anyone who believes gold is too popular with the mainstream public simply doesn’t know who the mainstream public is… and they don’t understand how bull markets end.
Sure… gold is up big since it broke out to a new high in September. In just over two months, it has climbed from $950 an ounce to $1,100 an ounce.
Gold is also enjoying a lot of mainstream press these days. Six years ago, when I would tell someone I was placing a significant portion of my net worth in gold, they’d look at me like I was crazy. Now, they nod and say, “I heard something about gold the other day on TV.”
Ask 100 people on the street if they own gold. See what they say. I guarantee you the average person on the street is going to look at you like you asked him which airline offers nonstop flights to Venus.
He’s going to have no idea what you are talking about. He’s heard about gold on the news a few times, but he can’t tell you why gold is rising, who is buying it, or why it is the best form of money mankind has ever found.
Gold is divisible, portable, lasting, consistent the world ’round, useful in industry… and most important gold cannot be created out of thin air by a government. In other words, you actually have to work and save in order to build a gold hoard. You can’t “Bernanke” your way to real gold wealth.
The people who realize this – like billionaire hedge-fund manager John Paulson and super investor Chris Weber – are getting more publicity now than they were six years ago. But it’s nowhere near enough publicity for a seasoned investor to say, “Gold is too popular.”
When a bull market gets too popular, it looks like tech stocks did back in 1999. This was when everybody and his brother bragged at the office Christmas party about making a fortune in Cisco or Microsoft. It was when schoolteachers, personal trainers, and cab drivers suddenly became tech stock experts. Folks knew what “bandwidth,” “routers,” and “e-commerce” meant. Only when an asset enjoys that sort of widespread attention can you say it’s too popular.
I can’t say that about gold right now… not after talking with friends who do not invest… not after talking with friends and acquaintances. The public still has no idea what “bullion” really is… or how the government’s reckless “tax and spend” behavior is clobbering our currency.
There could come a time when almost everyone you know is trading gold stocks like they did tech stocks in 1999… or discussing the virtues of gold as a form of savings. But few people do this now.
Which means that, while the gold market can be overbought in the very short term, the real, long-term move in gold has much farther to run.