Gold is to China as paper currency is to US

Gold buying is up in China. Paper currency is on the rise in the United States because of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing.

By , Guest blogger

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    A sales assistant puts back a gold Buddha-shaped pendant after showing to a customer at Caibai Ornaments store in Beijing Dec. 2, 2010. While China and the rest of Asia is buying gold, those in the West are selling it.
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Big drop in gold yesterday – down $23. Oil fell hard too. Otherwise not much action…

We’d still like to see a deep decline in the gold price. Too many people are getting onto gold. Most of them have no idea of what they are doing. Like readers of MONEY magazine, they’re buying the yellow metal as a speculation. Most likely they’re going to lose money. Almost everyone who speculates on gold loses money. Don’t ask us why. It’s just one of those Iron Laws of investing.

Gold goes up for 10 years straight. Speculators notice. They jump on board. And then the train runs off the tracks.

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That’s just the way it works.

Besides, remember that this Great Correction is not over yet…not by a long shot. It has barely begun to correct the excesses of the Bubble Era. A quarter of all homeowners are said to be underwater on their mortgages – that still needs to be sorted out. And the whole financial industry – with the collusion of the Fed – is sitting on trillions of dollars’ worth of mortgage backed securities, pretending that they are good credits.

There are still major bankruptcies ahead…and deflation of assets prices. And in all the sturm and drang of it, the price of gold could go down too.

But if you’re acquiring gold, you have some powerful competition. As nations become rich and powerful, they accumulate gold. Those that are getting weak and poor give it up. Here’s The Financial Times with the latest news:

Traders said that gold sales to China had jumped 30-50 per cent since Christmas, driving the cost of kilo bars in Hong Kong more than $3 per ounce above the market price of gold, the highest level since 2008 and an indication of the tightness in the physical market.

“Physical demand has rocketed in China at the start of the year,” said Walter de Wet, head of commodities research at Standard Bank.

The wave of Asian buying has propped up gold prices at about $1,360 a Troy ounce, traders and analysts said.

The metal’s price has dropped 4.6 per cent from its December record price of $1,430.95, trading at $1,364.10 on Friday, as optimism about prospects for US growth has led western investors to turn their attention away from gold to other commodities and equities. “We have a balanced situation where one part of the world is buying and the other part is selling,” said a senior trader in Hong Kong. Chinese and Indian investors are increasingly turning to gold to protect savings against sharply rising food prices.

Investor buying of gold bars jumped 80 per cent to a record 144 tonnes last year in India, according to GFMS, the precious metals consultancy, while across east Asia bar hoarding was up 125 per cent at a 15-year high.

Asians build their holdings of gold. Americans add to their supplies of paper money. The Fed is adding some $600 billion of it in the first half of the year. And it is already considering what to do next.

How about this: stop. Admit that you’ve been a fool. Renounce QE, Keynes and the devil too. And all their works.

But that’s not going to happen. Because liquidity masks insolvency; and inflation disguises deflation.

The feds are providing liquidity and inflating the money supply with the only thing they have left – paper money. And as long as the money flows…they can pretend that everything is okay. Things are quiet. Everybody is happy. Confident.

“…experience suggests that quiet periods do not extend indefinitely,” wrote Reinhart and Rogoff in their history of monetary crack-ups.

Meanwhile, smart investors are buying gold…and hoping the price falls so they can buy more.

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