Fact: The spot gold price, the price you pay if you want immediate delivery, reached $462.70 an ounce today. It has not been that high since June 1988 -- when Ronald Reagan was president and the Netherlands was ready to become the second country to connect to the Internet.
Analysis: As always, there are optimists and pessimists. Let's run the gold news past one of each.
Optimist: "Gold is at a 17-year high!"
Pessimist: "After 17 years, what do you have? A zero percentage move. Fantastic! That's the best example of dead money I've seen."
Optimist: "The NYSE's list of biggest percentage gainers today is loaded with gold stocks. Harmony Gold
Pessimist: "Must be a stock pickers' market. I notice Yamana Gold
Optimist: "Central bank sales are dwindling. In fact, the rumor is that Argentina's central bank might increase gold reserves to serve as an inflation hedge and to protect against a financial crisis. Then there is Hurricane Katrina and the possibility that its impact will ignite inflation in the U.S. again. Oh, and don't forget that the high price of oil might plunge the U.S. into a recession."
Pessimist: "And you call me a pessimist?"
Optimist: "We'll get through it! Just think of your wife's jewelry as the investment."
More analysis: Gold bottomed out at $254.20 an ounce in 1999. While today's $462.70 sounds like a meteoric rise, it works out to slightly more than 10% a year since then.
To understand why gold-mining companies have soared, consider this: Last quarter, Newmont Mining
The current gold price is fueling strong free cash flow and high expectations for miners. For example, Barrick
There is no guarantee that gold prices will remain at current levels (or higher), or that miners will use their free cash to reduce debt. But these companies are attracting attention because they are, at today's prices, cash-generating machines. So maybe its time to resurrect a gold rush after all.
More Golden Books, er, articles:
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