Monday, February 13 2012
Please find below some words of wisdom from Warren Buffet. He can explain investor principles better than most. In this instance he discusses investing in Gold and the potential for it to be a bubble. You could apply the principles to any defensive asset class in my view. Of course Buffet does not always get his timing right but it is significant that he wants to put his view on the line at this point.We also acknowledge that we have held this view for a while which has caused us to miss a run in Gold.
Buffet on Gold
The second major category of investments involves assets that will never produce anything, but that are purchased in the buyer’s hope that someone else — who also knows that the assets will be forever unproductive — will pay more for them in the future. Tulips, of all things, briefly became a favorite of such buyers in the 17th century.
This type of investment requires an expanding pool of buyers, who, in turn, are enticed because they believe the buying pool will expand still further. Owners are not inspired by what the asset itself can produce — it will remain lifeless forever — but rather by the belief that others will desire it even more avidly in the future.
The major asset in this category is gold, currently a huge favorite of investors who fear almost all other assets, especially paper money (of whose value, as noted, they are right to be fearful). Gold, however, has two significant shortcomings, being neither of much use nor procreative. True, gold has some industrial and decorative utility, but the demand for these purposes is both limited and incapable of soaking up new production.
Meanwhile, if you own one ounce of gold for an eternity, you will still own one ounce at its end. What motivates most gold purchasers is their belief that the ranks of the fearful will grow.
During the past decade that belief has proved correct. Beyond that, the rising price has on its own generated additional buying enthusiasm, attracting purchasers who see the rise as validating an investment thesis. As “bandwagon” investors join any party, they create their own truth — for a while.
Over the past 15 years, both Internet stocks and houses have demonstrated the extraordinary excesses that can be created by combining an initially sensible thesis with well-publicized rising prices. In these bubbles, an army of originally skeptical investors succumbed to the “proof “ delivered by the market, and the pool of buyers — for a time — expanded sufficiently to keep the bandwagon rolling. But bubbles blown large enough inevitably pop. And then the old proverb is confirmed once again: “What the wise man does in the beginning, the fool does in the end.”
The website is owned and operated by DNR AFSL Pty Ltd (AFSL 301658) (“Dalton Nicol Reid”) having its registered office at Level 14, 388 Queen Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000.
The content of this website is intended for Australian residents only (RG 162.44).
* Whilst perhaps not strictly an Internet Discussion Site (“IDS”) as defined in Regulatory Guideline RG 162 as investors and or other third parties are unable to leave comments on the site, the information on this site is so provided being mindful of the requirements and intended purposes of RG 162 and Consultation Paper 104.
Information about ASIC IDS guidelines and other relevant information about investing may be obtained from the ASIC website at:
Not Investment Advice
Postings are, at best, general information, not professional investment advice prepared by taking into account any individual circumstances and needs of particular investors.Therefore, before acting on the basis of what is said in a posting, you should:
- consider consulting a licensed adviser (ASIC’™s website at www.asic.gov.au has a list of licensed advisers); and
- visit ASIC’™s consumer website at www.fido.gov.au for general guidance about investing.
Dalton Nicol Reid, its associated entities, and directors and staff, may hold positions in companies, or the debt or derivative securities of companies, either on their own account or for the portfolios of investors, that are the subjects of postings on this website.
Dalton Nicol Reid is a member of FOS (https://www.fos.org.au/centric/home_page.jsp) which is an ASIC approved external complaints resolution scheme (RG 162.46).
The information posted on this site by Dalton Nicol Reid will be maintained and kept by Dalton Nicol Reid consistent with the requirement of RG 162.62 and* Consultation Paper 104* for a minimum of two years and may be made available to ASIC.
Accuracy and Currency of Information
Dalton Nicol Reid, its officers, employees, agents and associates believe that the information and material provided on this web site is correct at the time of compilation but do not warrant the accuracy or currency of that information and material. You should carefully check the date of compilation of the information and material (where relevant) to determine its currency. Save for statutory liability which cannot be excluded, Dalton Nicol Reid, its officers, employees, agents and associates disclaim all responsibility for any loss or damage which any person may suffer from reliance on the information and material on this web site or any opinion, conclusion or recommendation in the information and material whether the loss or damage is caused by any fault or negligence on the part of Dalton Nicol Reid (including its officers, employees, agents and associates) or otherwise.
Loss or Damage to your Systems
Dalton Nicol Reid will not be liable for any loss or damage from any cause to your system or web site, or to people linking to this material from your web site, caused by or in connection with the use or link to this material. Any such loss or damage will be your responsibility. Dalton Nicol Reid advises you to take your own precautions in relation to protecting your system or web site from malfunction or viruses.
Copyright in all the material, works, software, design, text, graphics and code contained on or used to produce the web site and in the information and material and in its arrangement or layout, is owned or licensed by Dalton Nicol Reid or its associates unless otherwise indicated. Other than as permitted below, your use of anything in which Dalton Nicol Reid or its associates own copyright is governed by the copyright laws of Australia and its international treaties with other countries.
You are permitted to save or print a copy of the web site solely for your own information, research or study, but only if you do not modify the copy and you include the copyright notice “© Dalton Nicol Reid Pty Ltd. ” on the copy. You may not copy, publish, distribute, create works from or commercially exploit the content of this web site for any other purpose.
Today the world’s gold stock is about 170,000 metric tons. If all of this gold were melded together, it would form a cube of about 68 feet per side. (Picture it fitting comfortably within a baseball infield.) At $1,750 per ounce — gold’s price as I write this — its value would be about $9.6 trillion. Call this cube pile A.
Let’s now create a pile B costing an equal amount. For that, we could buy all U.S. cropland (400 million acres with output of about $200 billion annually), plus 16 Exxon Mobils (the world’s most profitable company, one earning more than $40 billion annually). After these purchases, we would have about $1 trillion left over for walking-around money (no sense feeling strapped after this buying binge). Can you imagine an investor with $9.6 trillion selecting pile A over pile B? Beyond the staggering valuation given the existing stock of gold, current prices make today’s annual production of gold command about $160 billion. Buyers — whether jewelry and industrial users, frightened individuals, or speculators – must continually absorb this additional supply to merely maintain an equilibrium at present prices.
A century from now the 400 million acres of farmland will have produced staggering amounts of corn, wheat, cotton, and other crops — and will continue to produce that valuable bounty, whatever the currency may be. Exxon Mobil (XOM) will probably have delivered trillions of dollars in dividends to its owners and will also hold assets worth many more trillions (and, remember, you get 16 Exxons). The 170,000 tons of gold will be unchanged in size and still incapable of producing anything. You can fondle the cube, but it will not respond.
Admittedly, when people a century from now are fearful, it’s likely many will still rush to gold. I’m confident, however, that the $9.6 trillion current valuation of pile A will compound over the century at a rate far inferior to that achieved by pile B.
Our first two categories (bonds and gold) enjoy maximum popularity at peaks of fear: Terror over economic collapse drives individuals to currency-based assets, most particularly U.S. obligations, and fear of currency collapse fosters movement to sterile assets such as gold. We heard “cash is king” in late 2008, just when cash should have been deployed rather than held. Similarly, we heard “cash is trash” in the early 1980s just when fixed-dollar investments were at their most attractive level in memory. On those occasions, investors who required a supportive crowd paid dearly for that comfort.