“People are using gold as a cheap hedge against sovereign debt uncertainty,” says Fred Taylor, co-founder and principal of Northstar Investment Advisors. “We still don’t know what will happen with the euro or the entire ECB for that matter. It depends on the flight to safety and on the reason your clients are buying gold. Gold and money markets are returning about the same, so if they’re buying it for insurance and as part of a larger asset allocation strategy, it might not be a bad idea. If the markets drop another 2,000 points, they’ve won. If the opposite happens and the market rallies, who cares? They’ve still got the hard asset. But if you’re buying gold strictly on the hope the price will rise, that’s a very dangerous way to invest.”
However, one legendary investor isn’t so bullish on the win-win gold scenario Taylor describes. Advisor Perspectives details a speech that GMO’s Jeremy Grantham delivered recently to the CFA Institute. The investor and fund manager respected for his ability to spot and exploit guaranteed that the current bull market in gold will end. His proof, according to Bob Huebscher of Advisor Perspectives: Grantham bought some–for his own account–at the end of last week.
Huebscher said Grantham’s tongue-in-cheek comment was part of a discussion about relative value in various segments of the market. Grantham, the chairman of the Boston-based investment firm Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo (GMO), spoke at the CFA Institute annual conference in Boston, where he delivered the keynote address.
Whomever you’re inclined to believe, it’s clear investors are flocking. Reuters reported on May 28 that SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, reported its holdings had leapt by more than 30 tons to a record 1,267.3 tons on Tuesday–its biggest one-day inflow since February of 2009.