Hard Assets Heresy: Talking Down Gold

Includes: DGP, GLD
by: Hard Assets Investor

By Brad Zigler

You don't go to a conference on hard asset investing to talk down gold. You just don't. You'll make lots of enemies.

The enemy, by the hundreds, was lying in wait for Dennis Gartman, editor of The Gartman Letter, when he strode into a ballroom at the New York Hard Assets Conference Tuesday. Gartman seemed ready to defend his recent apostasy (see "A Gold Bull Stops Running"). Gartman, you'll recall, abandoned gold in late April, claiming the bull market had been broken.

His talk started darkly. Upon an introduction to polite clapping, Gartman intoned, "Save your applause. You may regret it later."

Plainly, he wasn't out to make friends. "Write this down," he said. "Buy things that are going up. Sell things that are going down. Most of you won't do that. You'll buy things only to see them go down. And when they do, you'll buy more. As a consequence, you'll fail miserably."

Invoking John Maynard Keynes' warning ("The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent"), Gartman added his own corollary: "The market will return to rationality as soon as you are insolvent."

Funny line. But there was something else funny about Gartman's speech. He never actually mentioned gold. Everyone, of course, knew what he was talking about. That 800-pound gorilla sat glumly front and center in the room awaiting the question-and-answer period. But gold was never mentioned. Copper? Yes. Gartman remains bullish. Corn? Yup; bullish again. And crude oil, too. But not gold.

Gartman consumed his time on stage so well that there wasn't even time for questions. He got to beat up gold without even invoking its name.

Smart man. He finished his speech and was then hustled out of the ballroom by handlers.

I wasn't so smart. In my talk, I mentioned gold by name. Not only that, I highlighted a half-dozen gold mining stocks featured at the conference and how they can be hedged with the new generation of exchange-traded gold notes. Boy, that got the argumentative juices flowing. I got an earful of questions shot at me.

You'd think I would have learned a thing or two from Dennis Gartman. I must be a slow learner.

Want to see what prompted all the questions?

We'll post my presentation, "Hedging Gold's Volatility," here on HardAssetsInvestor.com shortly.

In the meantime, take a look at the current offering of exchange-traded products and see if you can find the ideal hedge instrument:

Exchange-Traded Gold Products (February 28 - May 5, 2008)