Monday, November 03, 2008
In the shocker of all shockers, Money Magazine and Wall Street Journal financial writer Jason Zweig didn't bash gold as an investment after being provided with the perfect opportunity to do so when he recently appeared on the PBS Nightly Business Report.
For many, many months (perhaps years) Mr. Zweig has dismissed the yellow metal as a relic of history, better suited to a period back before governments and central banks had tamed economic cycles and eliminated financial crises.
Apparently, recent events have changed his view. If not completely, at least a little bit.
When asked by Susie Gharab "why gold doesn't always glitter", here came the reply:
With stock markets being blown to bits worldwide, should you move your money into the safe haven of gold? Many investors are doing just that, but there are a few things you should know first. Gold is supposed to go up when stocks and the U.S. dollar go down. It's also supposed to glow more brightly when the economy goes dim.Knowing what he'd written on the subject (I've had a file full of anti-gold comments by Jason but have never gotten around to writing up anything on the subject) it seemed sure that "the lesson here" was going to be that the yellow metal was as useless as ever, but it wasn't.
But just look at what has happened lately. Let's say you bought gold in March, when you were worried about the exploding U.S. budget deficit, the erosion of the dollar and the collapse of the global financial system. Many pundits were predicting that gold would go to $2,000 per ounce. You paid just $1,000 an ounce.
Since March, two of America's top five investment banks have gone under. The Dow has lost roughly a third of its value. Housing prices have continued to plummet and the government has committed roughly $1 trillion to bail out the financial system. Every one of your fears has come true, and then some. So is gold at $2,000 an ounce yet? Far from it.
Gold is now trading well below where it did in March. The lesson here is that you can be 100 percent right and still lose money if you pay too much for an investment in the first place. The best time to buy gold is not when everyone is going ga-ga over it, but when nobody wants it. Nothing can be trendy and a safe haven at the same time. I'm Jason Zweig.
The lesson was to buy low ... interesting.
And that part about "you can be 100 percent right" ... even more interesting.
Mr. Zweig is also known for having provided the excellent commentary for revised editions of Benjamin Graham's classic The Intelligent Investor.