Tag Archive: precious metal

May 30

Bitcoins V.S. Gold & Silver – Which one is Better OR Are they the Same

Gold bullion vault Bitcoins V.S. Gold & Silver   Which one is Better OR Are they the Same

Plenty of people still have a difficult time wrapping their heads around what bitcoin is or why it even has value, especially as the virtual cryptocurrency continues to scale record heights. How isn’t this a Ponzi scheme, many have wondered?

A good way to look at it is to compare it to gold. What gives a shiny metal that doesn’t have a whole lot of real utility–outside of jewelry and limited industrial use–any kind of real world value?

The only reason gold has value is because one day, way back when, long before recorded history, society simply decided that this yellowish precious metal should represent “money.” From that day forward–as that idea spread virally across the globe (or at least the small part of the planet then settled by homo sapiens)–gold came to be worth something in the eyes of the people.

Uninscribed Lydian gold coins Bitcoins V.S. Gold & Silver   Which one is Better OR Are they the Same

Uninscribed Lydian coins made from electrum, a naturally occurring gold and
silver alloy, 6th century BCE. The first gold coins of the Grecian age were struck
in Lydia around 700 BC.

As a representative (and thus store) of value, it became a universal intermediary between goods and services. This was the natural, inevitable economic evolution of the barter system. As it retained its value over time–and eventually throughout human history–gold gained cultural credibility. That’s the quick and easy answer.

Why the chemical element Au? There’s its obvious aesthetic qualities. But gold’s longevity comes from scarcity; its limited quantities were never able to keep up with demand. Since the beginning of human history, a total of 171,300 tonnes of gold have been mined.

As the human economy evolved, we’d eventually transition from gold to paper money, but up until the end of World War II, gold remained a fundamental piece of the financial system in the form of the gold standard, by which governments pegged the value of their printed currencies to amount of gold they owned.

After the war, the gold standard was partially abandoned with the establishment of Bretton Woods, yet the world system remained implicitly tied to it even as countries adopted the U.S. dollar as their reserve currency, being that the U.S. promised to maintain the price of gold at $35.

Then in 1971, due to the financial strains of the Vietnam War, President Nixon ended the direct convertibility of the dollar to gold, thus establishing the U.S. as a fiat currency, money that was backed only by the credibility of the U.S. government. No longer elementally linked to the modern economy, gold still kept its value as an investment asset, given its historic credibility and cultural relevance. Today, one ounce of gold is worth over $1600.

Bitcoin, in its present form, has a stark resemblance to gold. Both are backed by no one. Both are, relative to fiat currency, inconvenient for day to day use. Your gold coins or bitcoins (yet) won’t do much good at the grocery store. Both lack intrinsic value. If the apocalypse arrived tomorrow, your gold and BTC won’t help you survive against the zombies. Both have value only because society has confidence that they will maintain said value over time.

Bitcoin, of course, has been around only since 2009, so it doesn’t have the same kind of long term credibility. But the supply of bitcoins, like gold, are also constrained, built into its elegant mathematical model. There’s hard limit of 21 million bitcoins to be mined, which is predetermined to be reached during the year 2140. So as bitcoin demand and adoption continue to outpace its supply, its price will increase in lockstep.

So why bitcoin? Because bitcoin is gold on steroids, designed for a society that lives through the internet. Bitcoin is designed with the ideals of the contemporary cyber movement in mind: decentralization, peer to peer, cryptography. Easily transferable in ones and zeros, it’s a storage of value for a virtual society. As a payment system, it’s a temporal store of money that can be easily sent across the globe securely and speedily without counterparty risk. No matter the price of bitcoin, these benefits will always give it purpose. With bitcoin trading over $60, its market capitalization is approaching $700 million.

bitcoin chart Bitcoins V.S. Gold & Silver   Which one is Better OR Are they the Same

The benefits of this model are clear. Given its self-contained nature, it eliminates the need for inherent human interference. There’s no need for a central bank because bitcoin self-regulates. Certain aspects of it are, of course, vulnerable, such as mining, as well as security. Every month, it seems, we hear a new report of a hacked bitcoin wallet. Millions have been lost since 2011.

Yet these issues are self-correcting over time given bitcoin’s incentivization dynamics. Security of data and money is a concern that predates bitcoin and even currency; better practices and technologies can help prevent theft. And it wouldn’t make sense for any one entity, for instance, to attempt to monopolize mining, except to destroy it. After all, this part of the system is somewhat transparent, and bitcoin’s value will be retained in the degree that it is decentralized. If one entity controlled the world’s bitcoin output, it wouldn’t be worth very much, so trying to take over bitcoin doesn’t make financial sense.

Even destroying it poses problems, tantamount to eliminating the world’s gold supply. It’s possible that certain governments or companies even could attempt to cripple it, either through regulation or attacks on the system, yet destroying it completely, for now, seems out of the question. We have to look no further than BitTorrent. Despite years of assaults from the likes of Hollywood, the RIAA, and U.S. government, torrenting continues to drive the majority of internet traffic.

And as long as bitcoin survives, it will rebound. As long as it exists, it will grow. So ignore the warnings of hype and talk of a bubble, in the long run, it’s all more or less irrelevant. The value of bitcoin could crash again, like it did in the summer of 2011. Or it could keep skyrocketing. Whatever happens, neither gold nor bitcoin are going anywhere anytime soon. In the end, that’s all that really matters.

UPDATE: Heres charts for bitcoin and gold since the Nixon Shock. (via reddit)

gold charts Bitcoins V.S. Gold & Silver   Which one is Better OR Are they the Same

Jan 26

Gold Climbing Back to $2,000 on News that Federal Reserve Vows to Keep Rates Low & Home Sales Fall

Oil rose to near $100 a barrel Thursday in Asia after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would keep interest rates at record lows at least until 2014 to help jump-start the world’s biggest economy.

As we suspected yesterday, crude oil prices edged higher after an overtly dovish FOMC announcement sank the US Dollar. The move higher was muted by a pickup in inventories however, where the weekly build more than doubled expectations. Looking ahead, a mixed set of US economic data is ahead, with expectations calling for a slowdown in Durable Goods Orders but improvements on the composite Leading Indicators index and New Home Sales. However, the earnings calendar may prove most market-moving as a hefty dollop of industrials report results, with traders particularly interested in guidance from the likes of Caterpillar Inc as a proxy gauge of the global business cycle (and thereby oil demand prospects).

The U.S. central bank, which has kept its benchmark interest rate near zero for three years, said Wednesday that it doesn’t plan to raise the rate before late 2014.

That caused the dollar to turn lower against major currencies, which makes dollar-priced oil less expensive for holders of other currencies.

“That would mean the U.S. dollar would continue to be cheap versus other currencies, and there is typically an inverse correlation between the value of the dollar and commodity pricing,” said Victor Shum, an energy analyst at consultancy Purvin & Gertz in Singapore.

The median sales price for a new home fell 2.5 percent to $210,300 last month, the biggest drop in four months. Compared to December last year, the median price was down 12.8 percent.

There were a record low 157,000 new homes on the market last month and at December’s sales pace, it would take 6.1 months to clear them, up from 6.0 months in November.

Spot Gold (NY Close): $1710.57 // +44.90 // +2.70% 

Not surprisingly, gold soared after the Federal Reserve extended its pledge to keep interest rates at “exceptionally low” levels to the end of 2014 from the previously promised mid-2013. With the central bank determined to keep borrowing costs near-zero for the foreseeable future and recent US economic data pointing to a pickup in activity, inflation expectations are understandably climbing and boosting demand for the yellow metal as a store-of-value hedge. Indeed, the 2-year breakeven rate – a measure of inflation expectations derived from bond yields – soared to the highest in nearly 7 months after the FOMC outcome crossed the wires.

Spot Silver (NY Close): $33.16 // +1.12 // +3.49%

As with gold, silver prices soared higher after the dovish FOMC outcome stoked future inflation bets, with more of the same seemingly likely ahead. Likewise in line with its more expensive counterpart, the spotlight now turns to US economic data to see if positive momentum resumes or falters, with the latter scenario likely to defuse what will otherwise almost certainly amount to another major advance for precious metals. Prices are testing resistance in the 38.78-33.30 region, with break higher exposing 35.30. Near-term support lines up at 31.04.

Aug 25

India is World’s Biggest Consumers of Gold Say Imports of Gold May Reach Record 1,000 Tons

Gold imports by India, the world’s biggest consumer, may reach a record this year as investors seek a haven against inflation and volatility in stock markets, a traders’ group said.

Imports may be between 950 metric tons and 1,000 tons this year, Prithviraj Kothari, president of the Bombay Bullion Association, told reporters at a gold conference in Kovalam in south India. Consumption in India rose to a record 963.1 tons last year, driving bullion imports to the highest ever at 958 tons, according to the World Gold Council.

Rising Indian imports may help extend a 30 percent rally in gold prices to a record that’s made the precious metal the second-best performer on the Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 raw materials this year. Bullion is heading for its 11th annual gain as Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis and concern that the U.S. economy may be slowing spur demand for a haven.

“The equity market is volatile and property prices are too high, driving people toward gold as an investment,” Kothari said. “The rains have been good so far, so we can expect good demand for festival season this year.”

Purchases by India, the world’s biggest user, surged 60 percent to 267 tons in the three months ended June 30, from 167 tons a year earlier, the producer-funded council said on Aug. 18. Investment demand jumped 78 percent to 108.5 tons, the second-highest quarter on record, it said.

Central Banks

Gold may top $2,000 an ounce by the end of this year as central banks’ purchases and a stalling economy boosts the appeal of the precious metal as a haven, Kothari said.

“Gold may rise to $2,000 or more by 2011 end if the global economy remains the same,” he said. “Central banks are also buying gold, which is positive.”

Holdings in exchange-traded products touched a record on Aug. 8, and central banks are adding to their reserves for the first time in a generation. George Soros, the billionaire investor, cut his holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust in the second quarter as prices rallied, while billionaire John Paulson maintained the largest stake, according to regulatory filings this week.

Global holdings of gold by governments and official institutions such as the International Monetary Fund stood at 30,684 tons last month, according to the World Gold Council. Central banks added 155 tons valued at about $8.18 billion to reserves in the first five months of the year and will be net buyers next year, according to the council.

The precious metal prices may be headed for a drop to $1,725 an ounce as early as next month, according to Jeffrey Rhodes, chief executive officer at INTL Commodities LLC.

beprepared 600x150 India is World’s Biggest Consumers of Gold Say Imports of Gold May Reach Record 1,000 Tons