Brian Lund-originally published Feb 5, 2015 Lesson: Think for yourself.
Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news. Nobody wants to crush people’s dreams. But in the world of investing, cold, hard facts, not dreams, are what make you money. And the fact of the matter is, historically speaking, buying gold is the worst possible investment you can make.
I am very sensitive to the fact that what I just said has probably caused some readers to go apoplectic, and for that I apologize. I know that I will never convince the gold bugs, inflation hawks or doomsday preppers of this thesis, nor my own personal position that gold will eventually be worthless. But for the rest of you, let me lay out the case to avoid gold as an investment.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
In his seminal book “Stocks for the Long Run,” renowned economics professor Jeremy Siegel looked at the long-term performance of various asset classes in terms of purchasing power — their monetary wealth adjusted for the effect of inflation.
With a $1 investment each in stocks, bonds, T-bills and gold, beginning in 1802 and ending in 2006, Siegel calculated what those assets would then be worth.
Stocks were the big winners, growing the initial dollar investment into $755,163. Bonds and T-bills trailed dramatically, returning only $1,083 and $301 respectively. But the big surprise was in how badly gold fared during that time, only growing to $1.95.
An Inefficient Investment Vehicle
In addition to its miserable historical performance, gold also has many other failings as an investment, not least of which are the cumbersome and inefficient options available to own it and the prevalence of less than reputable salespeople in the precious metals space.
Owning physical gold in the form of bullion has many drawbacks. Wide bid and ask prices on physical gold ensure that the moment you purchase it you are already underwater on your investment. In addition, shipping costs for the heavy metal will further add to your cost basis.
Once you get your gold, you then have to decide how to store it. Keeping it at home exposes it to the risk of theft, fire or natural disaster. Taking it to the bank requires the rental of a safe deposit box, the cost of which will eat into your profit as well.
Firms will store your physical gold on site, but they charge for the service, and the idea of having your yellow treasure held by someone somewhere else, commingled with that of others, is not very appealing.
Enter the Modern World
Ultimately, gold is a legacy investment vehicle from a time before mass communications, ease of global travel, and the internet. It no longer is the default store of value that it once was, and financial and technological advances have made it an investment best suited for collectors and hobbyists, but certainly not for serious investors.
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Editor: Too bad gold isn’t an investment but just money.
Misconceptions about gold S&D
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