Gold

Investing in Gold: What to Expect from Prices Before 2013

It's been a down week for gold prices, reaching one-month lows, but on Thursday, things began to turn around for the precious metal.

Due to short-covering in anticipation of Friday's employment numbers and comments from European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi raising expectations for an interest rate cut, Comex February gold rose $8 an ounce to $1,701.80.

Gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) also had a good day on Thursday as they hit record highs of 76.133 million ounces.

Peter Spina, president of Goldseek.com said to Investor's Business Daily of Thursday's levels, "If gold does remain around these levels for the near term (several months), this remains a very healthy gold market, which will set the tone for the next move up."

After the November U.S. jobs report, which had been expected to be skewed from Superstorm Sandy, came out better-than-expected on Friday, gold went above $1,700 again. Expectations for Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) easing fell a bit.

Until the Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 FOMC meeting ends, investors are expected to hit the sidelines.

At next week's meeting, FOMC members will decide what to do with "Operation Twist" as it comes to an end. Many think they will extend it, plus implement a "QE4."

This would be good for the precious metals markets. But gold prices are affected by much more than the FOMC.



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How to Buy Gold: Don't Miss the Yellow Metal's Next Move Up

With experts predicting rising gold prices for at least the next year, it's no surprise that more and more investors want to know how to buy gold.

According to the facts and figures cited last week by Money Morning Global Resources Specialist Peter Krauth, 2013 should be a banner year for gold. Krauth projects prices for the primary precious metal could easily climb from the current $1,704 an ounce to $2,200 - or even more - a one-year gain in excess of 25%.

That means every serious investor should have at least some gold in their portfolio.

That raises two immediate questions:
1) What are the best vehicles for investing in gold; and,
2) What are the best ways to buy the yellow metal?

For each investor, the best approach to how to buy gold depends on your goals and expectations.

How to Buy Gold

If you're worried global political and economic tensions will intensify, then holding the actual physical metal is your best choice.

Possible flash points include strife in the Middle East, a meltdown in the Eurozone debt crisis, a continued slowing of China's growth rate and, of course, the U.S. fiscal cliff crisis, which could plunge America and perhaps the world economy back into recession - or worse.

Under such conditions, purists feel holding physical gold provides the only truly effective hedge against almost certain declines in the value of the dollar and other fiat currencies - declines that could be amplified by sharp reversals in global financial markets.

For smaller investors, how to buy gold in physical form typically means buying gold bullion bars, rounds (unadorned coin-shaped pieces) or minted gold bullion coins.

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Why Gold Prices Will Soar After the Dec. 12 FOMC Meeting

Gold prices will start another epic run beginning Dec. 12 - the day the Federal Reserve will double down on QE3 at its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.

Decisions made at the Dec. 12 FOMC meeting could add as much as $2.2 trillion to the Fed's balance sheet over the next two years, which will turbocharge gold prices, silver prices and oil prices.

The FOMC is the select group within the Fed that sets monetary policy, such as interest rates and the bond-buying programs known as quantitative easing, or QE.

That the Fed will dramatically increase QE3, which launched in September with the monthly purchase of $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS), at the Dec. 12 FOMC meeting is almost a given; it practically has no choice. QE3.

But the real issue at the Dec. 12 FOMC meeting will be what to do about the Dec. 31 expiration of the Operation Twist program. In Operation Twist, the Fed sells about $45 billion of short-term Treasuries each month and uses the proceeds to buy long-term Treasuries.

The Fed probably would opt to extend Operation Twist - which has not added to the Fed's balance sheet as QE1, QE2 and QE3 have -- except that it is starting to run low on short-term securities to sell.

Yet the Fed committed in October to extending its easing policies as long as necessary to bring down unemployment and aid the U.S. economy. Its only option is to convert Operation Twist to a conventional bond-buying program - effectively doubling its QE3 money-printing.

"Our baseline expectation is a continuation of the current pace of asset purchases of $85 billion per month on an open-ended basis, which would imply that the current $45 billion per month in [Operation] Twist-financed Treasury purchases is replaced by $45 billion per month in QE-financed Treasury purchases," Jan Hatzius of Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) said of the likely actions at the Dec. 12 FOMC meeting.



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Will Fiscal Cliff Talks Push Gold Prices to $1,800?

Washington appears closer to making a deal to avert the looming fiscal cliff. But the longer investors have to wait for a deal, the more likely gold prices will rise.

Why Brazil Will Keep Buying Gold – and Driving Up the Price

Money Morning Global Resources Specialist Peter Krauth stated in his 2013 gold price forecast that the yellow metal was headed to $2,200 an ounce next year, with one of the main price drivers being the increased rate at which central banks are buying gold.

As a group, central banks will have bought about 500 tons of gold this year, the most in more than 40 years. More large purchases are expected in 2013.

Foremost amongst the gold buyers are the central banks of emerging economies around the globe. Recent years have seen purchases by Russia, South Korea, Mexico, India and, as most believe, China.

Another country joining the party, or in this case the carnival, is Brazil.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Brazil raised its gold reserves for the second month in a row in October. Brazil made its first significant gold purchase in more than a decade in September. It expanded its gold holdings by a hefty 17.2 tons last month to 52.5 tons.

This is the largest amount of gold Brazil has held in more than 11 years, since January 2001.

So why is Brazil jumping aboard the bandwagon now and buying gold at a record pace?

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2013 Gold Price Forecast: Expect Gold to Deliver Another Record-Setting Year

No two bull markets are ever the same, and gold is no exception.

During the last secular gold bull market in the 1970s, gold rose from $35 in 1968 all the way to $200 by late 1974.

Then the unthinkable happened. Between late 1974 and mid-1976, gold prices were cut in half, dropping from about $200 to $100.

At the time, many gold investors sold out in disgust, never to return.

But then a funny thing occurred. Gold prices started to climb again, rising from $100 in mid-1976 all the way to $800 by January 1980.

And anyone who was fortunate enough to own gold at $35 earned better than 20 times their investment in just 12 years.

Twenty-one years later, a new bull market began. Since 2001, gold has consistently performed in what now appears to be a record-setting run.

2013 gold price forecast

In fact, since 2001 the average return on gold is now just shy of 18% annually over the last 11 years.

I know of no other major asset that has turned in this kind of performance -- ever. This rise in gold prices is simply unmatched.

This is what a stealth bull market looks like, one that I fully expect will keep powering on.

Now, let's have a look at where gold prices might be headed in 2013...

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The Ultimate Gift for Your Gold Lover and 5 Other Amazing Consumer Trends

Package gift small Last weekend marked the official start of the holiday shopping season in the U.S., so for the next month, consumers will be enticed with daily deals on the latest fads, such as one-cup coffee makers, tablets, flat screens and cashmere sweaters.

According to the latest survey from the Consumer Electronic Association, about 60 percent of adults plan to shop in stores or online during the holiday weekend, with the average person indicating they'll fork over $218 for gifts and merchandise from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.

This is a sharp increase from 2011, where shoppers said they'd spend $159.



For the ultimate gold lover on your shopping list, one amazing purchase you can nab is a Christmas tree complete with Disney characters and gold leaf ribbons made of 88 pounds of pure gold from a jewelry store in Tokyo, according to Reuters.

The ornamental tree will set you back $4.2 million, but there's also a smaller version available for $243,000.

But that's not the only thing that has grabbed my attention this holiday season. Here are 5 other amazing consumer trends that are happening around the world.

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Billionaires Buying Gold Bullish for the Yellow Metal

When billionaire investors are buying gold, it probably means prices for the yellow metal are headed higher.

Three well-known billionaire investors - George Soros, John Paulsen and Julian Robertson - have been adding heavily to their gold holdings this year.

Gold buying by some of the world's most successful investors is a strong argument that gold prices, despite their impressive rise over the past several years, still have a long way to go.

The precious metal is expected to enjoy its 12th straight year of increases in 2013. So far this year, gold prices are up about 10%.

Forecasters see gold rising each quarter in 2013, ending at $1,925 an ounce in the last quarter, or 11% higher than current prices, according to Bloomberg.

While gold prices haven't moved much lately, investors need to stay focused on the long term.

On Tuesday, December gold futures on the Comex fell $8.50 (0.5%) to $1,725.9 an ounce. This came after remarks by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that the looming fiscal cliff could threaten the U.S. economy.

Of course, such minor bumps haven't kept the smart money - billionaire investors -- from buying gold.

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Why China's Buying Gold

With gold prices on track to log a 12th consecutive annual gain, China is beginning to take a fresh shine to the yellow metal.

Now China's buying gold in an attempt to play catch up with the United States and other influential nations, the London Bullion Market Association reports.

At a recent conference in Hong Kong, Chairman David Gornall told the association's conference, "When comparing China to the U.S., it would seem that in China, gold asset allocation can only go in one direction. The country has only 2% of its reserves in the form of gold compared with the U.S. at 75%."

Other developed countries, including Germany, Italy and France, maintain a gold reserve in excess of 70%. Meanwhile, China's share lags, data from the World Gold Council reveals, trailing at a paltry 2%.

Since 2009, The People's Bank of China has not disclosed any changes to its gold holdings. At that time, the bank noted its stash had risen by 76% to some 1,054 tons. Its cache is set to swell again as the country, facing an economic slowdown from a plethora of lethargic international markets, gets defensive.

The spike in gold imports to China, via Hong Kong, reveals new significant accumulations of the commodity. Chinese imports of the precious metal totaled 69.7 metric tons in September, a striking 22% increase from a year ago.

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Why Obama's Victory Means Higher Gold Prices

Our recent story on the secret return to the gold standard drew an interesting response from Money Morning reader John B., which I've paraphrased below.

In response to the article, John wrote:

"All this talk about buying gold. Where is the gold going to come from? No one seems to be selling. And what about all the scamming that's going on in the gold market these days?"

Here's the thing: John essentially agrees with the case we made for gold - he just doesn't realize it.

And with President Barack Obama's successful re-election, the case for higher gold prices got even stronger - overnight.

Let me give you seven reasons that gold prices are destined to head much higher in the next several years. Let's call it the Obama "baker's half-dozen" case for gold:

  1. The Central Banker Effect: Official statistics, which some observers dispute (I'll get to that in a minute), say that the world's central banks have become net buyers of gold for the first time in nearly a quarter century. If that's the case, that's clearly bullish for gold. At the very least, we're not going to see any big selling.
  2. The Central Banker Effect (Part Deux): Although we referred to the "Secret Gold Standard" to underscore the point that central banks were returning to the gold market, we made clear this wasn't a literal return to a Bretton Woods-style "gold standard." There's not enough gold in the world to support such a move - which is why Capital Economics Chief Economist Julian Jessop recently estimated that a return to the gold standard would cause the price of the yellow metal to spike to $10,000 an ounce. There's an important lesson here: If central banks are hoarding gold, prices can't help but go higher - gold standard or not.

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By The 2016 Election Gold Could Be $3700 an Ounce

It's now two years and two billion dollars later...

And in many ways, we're right back where we started with the same President, and a house divided.

For investors, all the uncertainty this situation brings to the fiscal cliff and its impending tax increases and spending cuts are likely to fuel plenty of volatility for the next several months.

Yesterday's almost 300 point drop on the Dow and a 7% pop in the VIX are good examples of this.

We can also expect Ben Bernanke to be in place until at least early 2014. The only change I expect from the Fed now is more frequent and still larger easing campaigns, as well as potentially extending low rates, again, beyond mid-2015. Even if Bernanke is replaced, I expect only more of the same seriously misguided policies.

In fact, just yesterday San Francisco Fed President John Williams hinted that the most recent QE3 bond buying program could well exceed $600 billion.

So what does all of this mean to investors in hard assets--particularly those with holdings in gold and silver?



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The Secret Return to the "Gold Standard"

Although it happened more than 40 years ago, many Americans still rue the day back in 1971 when U.S. President Richard M. Nixon effectively took this country off the so-called "gold standard."

Under a true gold standard, paper notes are "convertible" into pre-determined, fixed quantities of the "yellow metal."

What actually happened back in 1971 was that President Nixon - facing huge budget and trade deficits, and a plunging dollar - enacted a series of economic moves, including the unilateral cancellation of the direct convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold.

By slamming the "gold window" shut, Nixon also brought down the curtain on the existing Bretton Woods system of global financial exchange.

The fallout was immediate, creating a situation that financial historians still refer to as the "Nixon Shock."

Proponents of the gold standard say the real damage is still being wrought: That decision four decades ago led directly to the uncertainty, volatility and irresponsibility that we see in the U.S. economy and global financial markets today.

Whether you agree or not is a topic for another time.

But what I'm here to tell you today is that the world's central banks have quietly - almost secretly - returned the world to a new version of the gold standard.

Back in 2010, the world's central banks became net buyers of gold for the first time since 1988. Buying ramped last year and net purchases exceeded 455 metric tons (tonnes). That was the largest net purchase since 1964.

But the world's central bankers will handily eclipse the 2011 totals here in 2012: They will purchase a projected 493 metric tons this year as they expand reserves to diversify away from the U.S. dollar and protect their countries' economies against inflation, Thomson Reuters GFMS said.

And GFMS said you can expect central banks "to remain a significant gold buyer for some time to come."

Real Asset Returns Editor Peter Krauth told me he completely agrees with that assessment.

As Peter explained: "You can see their thinking, Bill ... you can see them saying: "We have enough of all these fiat currencies in our bank reserves - now we want something that's going to counter those holdings, that's a valuable asset and that has all the right fundamentals in place.' And that asset is gold."

We're seeing the results of this "new gold standard" in the marketplace...



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How Helicopter Ben Helps Jobs and, Inadvertently, Gold Prices

The world's central bank leaders continue to spike the monetary punch bowl, with investors imbibing on gold once again.

This flurry of gold buying prompts many curious investors and doubting media to ask me two questions: 1) How can demand for gold and gold stocks continue; and 2) How high can gold prices go?

To answer these questions, we need to look at the intentions behind the economic and political decision-making across several developed countries, analyze the causes, the effects, and the possible ramifications.

For example, one of the most debated topics today is America's ongoing unemployment situation.

Job loss has affected the lives and pocketbooks of millions of Americans and our friends and families, culminating to a center-stage position in the election this year. All eyes turn to President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to explain how each intends to create jobs.

During the two years following the Great Recession, Americans lost jobs at a similar rate to the employment losses during the Great Depression and in Finland after 1991. But two years after the crisis, U.S. employment losses stopped and reversed direction.

Compare this to the situations in Norway, Spain, Finland and Sweden, each of which had prolonged unemployment.

After Norway's financial crisis in 1987, it took 8.5 years to return to the country's employment peak. It took 13 years for Spain's employment to return to its 1997 peak. For Finland and Sweden, it took more than 17 years following their 1991 peaks.

Although the job losses in the U.S. don't seem as dismal, "Helicopter" Ben Bernanke wants to avoid Europe's and Japan's catastrophic situations.

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If You're Investing in Gold, Singapore Just Became More Important to You

Singapore recently made a huge step forward in establishing itself as one of the biggest players in the global market for investing in gold.

The Asian city's government repealed a 7% tax on gold and silver effective Oct.1. Now investors can store their gold in Singapore without costly value-added taxes.

Singapore hopes the move will help the region morph into a precious metals trading market like London and Zurich.

"It seems a little unfair to put a sales tax on what is essentially money. The removal of the GST on gold will allow Singapore to better compete with Hong Kong and other bullion trading centers in the region," Nick Trevethan, a senior commodity strategist at ANZ in Singapore told Reuters.

Singapore currently controls roughly 2% of global gold demand and aims to grow that share to some 10% to 15% over the next five to 10 years.

The market expansion is expected to increase global demand for gold and silver bars and coins in the fourth quarter of 2012. An influx of precious metal traders to Singapore is also expected, with more commodity offices and bullion storage facilities to follow.

Anticipating the opportunity, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) opened a precious metals vault in the city in 2010.

"I think this is really going to change the landscape in Singapore," a gold dealer told Asia One Business. "A lot of companies will find the incentive to start operations in Singapore. This news is going to draw attention to Singapore as a safer place to park funds."

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Bill Gross, the Ring of Fire, and Gold Prices

Thank Bill Gross for adding some muscle this week to the already strong rally for gold prices.

That's because Gross, the Pacific Investment Management Co. (PIMCO) founder and co-chief investment officer, released his October 2012 investment outlook Tuesday that came with a warning for the U.S. and investors.

Gross said that U.S. fiscal problems have put the country in a "Ring of Fire" that'll burn investors if they aren't protected by gold and real assets.

Gross warned that recent studies have concluded that "[T]he U.S. balance sheet, its deficit and its "fiscal gap' is in flames and that its fire department is apparently asleep at the station house."

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