Foreign Demand May Support The Price Of Gold

by: Rolf Norfolk

I start with an entertaining and informative investor newsletter: David Collum's annual personal investment report, which is worth reading in full. The prose is very sparky and the scorn and indignation laid on good and thick.

For the impatient, I can report that he begins by describing his own asset allocation:

With rebalancing achieved only by directing my savings, I changed nothing in my portfolio year over year. The total portfolio as of 12/31/11 is as follows:

  • Precious Metals et al.: 53%

  • Energy: 14%

  • Cash Equiv (short duration): 30%

  • Other: 3%

... which tells you where he stands in the bull/bear debate.

Now, here's a sweet little piece of possible future villainy:

[The Chinese] are rumored to have 1,000 tons of gold with a target of 8,000 tons. How do they buy 7,000 tons? They bid for it like everybody else. Chinese citizens have been encouraged to save using gold (a defacto gold standard and covert accumulation). Although the gold bugs in the US occasionally discuss confiscation, I think the Chinese proletariat are the ones being set up.

That is so nasty and cynical that it seems almost inevitable.

And easy:

7,000 metric tonnes of gold at current prices ($50,290.84 per kilo at time of writing) is worth a shade over $352 billion.

This IMF report from 2010 (fig. 3, p. 27) estimates Chinese household net savings at some 15% of GDP, and World Bank data estimates GDP in 2010 to be the equivalent of US $5.88 trillion. So the dollar equivalent of Chinese net household savings is around $882 billion.

So if Chinese convert merely 40% of their personal cash to gold (which David Collum seems to have done already), the target will be met. Theoretically, it's doable today. Meanwhile I still see not just one, but a number of shops offering to buy gold in my neighborhood. Perhaps the gold is heading East, like the copper wiring from our railway signals and the wrought iron manhole covers from our streets.

It's not just China that's importing gold, of course; Indians (for example) save a third of their income in gold.

So it seems to me that the gold price won't crash back to the levels of some years ago.

DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash (and index-linked National Savings Certificates), and missing all those day-trading opportunities.