Whatever about buying the glittery stuff, storing it under your bed is never a good idea. If, however, you are smart about how you buy it and where you put it and when you sell it, gold can make sense, particularly if you like roller coasters. Yesterday,(at time of writing this article) an ounce of gold on the New York Stock Exchange cost $1,600 which is undoubtedly high
However some commentators say it could reach $2,000 According to some (admittedly fairly unreliable) information often used by pop economists, at the time of Julius Caesar, a good quality toga cost an ounce of gold. By that reckoning, an ounce of gold should probably cost the same as a good quality man’s suit today – or anywhere between €800 and €1,200.
The reality, however, is that gold has no actual value and is only worth what people are willing to pay for it. In 2007, more than 80 per cent of the demand for gold was for jewellery and industrial use, while less than 20 per cent of demand was from investors. By 2009, this had changed dramatically. Investment demand had risen to 43 per cent of the total.
Gold certificates are popular. You may not get your hands on the gold, but you do have a cert asserting that you own gold, the most commonly traded certs come from the Perth Mint which are guaranteed by the Australian government and are triple-A rated.
Allocated and unallocated accounts are also a way to buy gold. The former sees actual gold with your name on it stored in a vault owned and managed by a recognised bullion dealer. Storage and insurance fees are charged which do eat into reserves.
With unallocated account, you don’t get a specific hunk of gold bullion so there is no storage or insurance charges, but then again, you don’t have the gold either – just the promise of it.
Gold stocks are not gold either but shares in companies looking for the stuff can be a very shrewd investment if things go well-or a very stupid one if things go badly. When gold price rises, profits of mining company do too, as does their share price. Be warned, however, that gold shares are volatile and high risk. If you don’t want to select individual shares, you can spread the risk by investing in collective investment funds which specialise in gold mining companies. You can chose from mutual funds, open-ended investment companies, closed-end funds, unit trusts. There are also gold futures which trade on international exchanges. And exchange traded funds (ETFs) which are a popular way of incorporating gold into a personal investment portfolio.
Older and rare coins can also be bought but not just for their precious metal content but their rarity and their historical or aesthetic appeal. They sell for more than regular coins because of the added rarity factor. The most widely traded older coin is the British Gold Sovereign Callum MacPherson works with Investec in London, and while he reluctant to crystal-ball gaze, he is not against the idea of investing in gold – particularly if gold only forms part of an investment portfolio.
“It is worth what people will pay for it and it does have scope to go higher. There is a lot of risk still in the global economy and any problems are very likely to push gold higher,” he says. Warren Buffett is one of the world’s wealthiest men and knows a thing or two about making money. He doesn’t like gold. He has famously said it “gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.” As always the choice is yours.