Why Is Gold Worth It?
Even the most bullish investors agree that gold serves as an important hedge in your portfolio. Gold has traditionally been considered a good investment in times of inflation. In more recent times, the price of gold has not tracked inflation very closely, but it is still an asset class that doesn’t correlate stock market, meaning that if stocks go down, there is a good chance that gold will help to stabilize your investment portfolio. Thus, gold is an important way to diversify your portfolio.
Another purpose of gold is to serve as a crisis source of real money, in the rare event that hyperinflation makes paper currency valueless or even if a Mad Max scenario occurs and mankind is left to barter real goods and precious metals. This is exceedingly unlikely, but so is the possibility of a global pandemic—and we already know how that is panning out.
Today, there are many ways to invest in gold, and the primary two are through gold exchange traded funds (EFTs) or physical gold bars or coins. In my opinion, it is a good idea to buy both for different purposes.
Gold ETFs, such as GLD, IAU, or SGOL, can be bought through any online broker. These purport to be backed by real physical bullion, but that doesn’t mean you can call up your broker in a time of crisis and get your ETF exchanged for real gold. Instead, when you buy a gold ETF, you are simply betting on the price of gold going up over an extended period of time—not on full-scale civilizational collapse. The advantage of gold ETFs is that they are easy to purchase, don’t have many added costs other than a small expense ratio, and you don’t have to store them or worry about them getting lost or stolen.
Physical gold, on the other hand, is what the doomsdayers say you should buy if you really want to get into gold. However, you don’t need to buy gold simply for an end-of-the-world scenario. As previously mentioned, gold is a good part of a balanced portfolio even if the world doesn’t end. Nevertheless, having some amount of physical gold as an insurance policy is not a bad idea, because there is always a chance that civilization will collapse and your gold will come in handy—even if it’s just a temporary collapse.
Within the category of physical gold, there are bars and coins. Since most people buy physical gold because they think it will one day be traded, coins are preferable to bars. Coins are also considered tender worth some value in certain countries.
Physical gold, it should be noted, can cost a lot more than the actual price per ounce. Even at online brokers, you can pay a hefty additional fee, and you won’t get that money back when you sell either. For this reason, you shouldn’t plan on actively trading your physical gold and you should buy when prices over spot are reasonable.
Since gold serves multiple purposes, it makes sense to own some gold ETFs in your IRA or brokerage account as part of your investment portfolio. Likewise, it’s not a bad idea to have some physical gold in your safe for times of dire crisis.