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Is Gold the New “Black?”

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Remember the phrase “bite me.” That was one of the most cool vernacular zingers back in 1980 (also the year I graduated from high school). You know what else was super popular in 1980? The video game Pac Man, which was instantly and insanely popular with people of all ages. Impressive were those who could get to level five or six before being consumed by the villains.

As crazy popular as Pac Man was, it took 19 years for it to be mastered and all 255 levels completed by a 33-year-old male (go figure) in a game that took six hours of continuous play.

Simultaneously, precious metals were mania-style popular as well. Gold touched an all-time high price last year, hitting $1,889 per ounce on Aug. 11, 2011. But compared to its lofty price in 1980 of $850, that’s cheap. Factoring in for “inflation adjusted” prices in 1980, gold’s’ relative price in 1980 would be equivalent in today’s dollars of $2,472. So while gold may be gaining more popularity in these nerve-racking economic times, it still hasn’t kept up with the basic level of inflation. Think about the cost of the “basics” in 1980: gallon of milk = $1.60; postage stamp = 15 cents; gallon of gasoline = $1.30; a movie ticket = $3; and a Disneyland Park pass = $7.50.

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Today in 2012, a one-day pass to Disneyland is $90.53; a gallon of milk or gasoline cost nearly $4, and a ticket to see a 3D movie in Dallas will set you back $15. And because we needn’t get too depressed over price increases; I’ll avoid mentioning the cost comparisons of education (tuition) health care and prescriptions. So while gold has increased from its price in 1980, its really only doubled compared to its price today. Yet, the cost of food, energy, education, health care and entertainment have all increased thrice-fold or more since “Valley Girls,” Michael J. Fox and shoulder pads were popular.

In many ways, gold’s glitter has definitely been tarnished. Advising your clients about saving for their future and retirement income then must include protection from the eroding purchasing power of their dollars. In that regard…

  • Gold really hasn’t done a great job.
  • It’s not very liquid.
  • Recently, buying or selling gold puts you on the Feds radar screen for potential money laundering abuses, which is an automatic introduction to your local IRS auditor/agent if their suspicion is triggered.

The solution for “liquid,” reliable and dependable cash flow always seem to bring us back to equities or equity-index based investments, like annuities. All that glitters surely is not gold. Timeless security of one’s money is just as popular now as it was in 1980. Tread carefully and keep it simple for yourself and your clients. Game over.