Why invest in gold

There are lots of things that could go wrong in the world. Ed Bowsher looks at how gold provides an insurance policy against disasters and crises.

We live in an uncertain world. There are lots of things that could go wrong, both financial and political.

If that worries you, you could consider investing some of your portfolio in gold.

In this video, Ed Bowsher looks at how gold provides an insurance policy against disasters and crises.

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And just think about the ultimate crisis of the last 20 or 30 years. I'm talking about 9/11, that was a massive crisis, and gold then went on a really strong run for the next decade basically as people saw it as a safe haven when there was a lot of uncertainty in the world.

Also, gold can be a good safe haven after an economic crisis. Again, the gold price went up a long way after the big financial crash of 2008.

The point is that when other investments are falling in value, gold often rises and I think there's quite a few potential flashpoints around the world that could lead to another political or economic crisis.

We've got Ukraine. We all know about Ukraine, it could easily get worse.

Then there is Korea. In North Korea, you've got a young, inexperienced dictator who is probably not a 100% sane. That could easily spiral into a crisis, or even a war.

And then we look at Syria. Across the Middle East, we've got a huge amount of tension between the Sunni and the Shia Muslim population. Al Qaeda is in the mix on the Sunni side.

Then you've got Israel, which is understandably nervous about its security.

You've got all of those issues, all of that uncertainty in the pot that could easily spiral out of control into a war or a major crisis.

Then I think there's the issue of climate change. When you think about the floods that we've had in Britain this winter or the major storms we've seen in the US over the last two or three years, there's a decent chance those severe weather events were caused by climate change.

And if you think climate change is a serious issue like I do, then there's a real chance that we'll get more of these severe weather events that could lead to water shortages, migration of populations, and so we could see a serious political and economic crisis there.

Once again gold will be a great asset to hold under those circumstances. Now, I'm sure some of you out there think I'm wrong about climate change, it's not a real problem, it's not going to cause major upsets for the human race.

Maybe you're right. If you are, that's great news for all of us, but it's still worth buying gold, because there is enough of a potential crisis out there to make gold a decent investment.

I mean, let's think about the Eurozone. Fine, we've got more stability now in the eurozone than we had two or three years ago, but the reality is, we've still got the high inflation, high unemployment in Spain, Portugal and Greece.

The main banks in the eurozone, most of them still have pretty poor balance sheets that need a lot of repair work. And of course, overall, the whole philosophy, the whole idea of the euro is plain nuts, so that means there's a real chance we could see another eurozone crisis which could trigger more economic problems. Once again, gold would be a great place to be if that happens.

Let's just think about the financial system across the developed world. There's too much debt, both private and public, too many banks still are fairly weak that could easily produce another 2008-style financial crisis.

Moving on, let's think about inflation and deflation. A lot of people think inflation is really going to take off at some point in the next five years - really as a result of all the money-printing we've had since 2008.

Now, personally I'm not convinced by that argument. I suspect we won't see high inflation. I'm not ruling it out completely, but I just suspect it probably won't happen.

But if you think it's likely to happen, then gold is a great place to be. When inflation soared in '79 and 1980, gold performed really well as an asset and went to an all-time high. And as I say, I'm not completely ruling out high inflation, and if we get that, I'll be glad I've put some money into gold.

And the funny thing is, gold also often performs well when you see deflation - if you see prices falling across the economy for more than a month or two. Back in the 1930s in the Great Recession, we saw some real deflation and gold performed pretty well relative to other investment assets.

A lot of people think deflation could be a serious problem over the next decade. They point out what's happened in Japan over the last 20 years and they think Europe is particularly prone to potential bouts of deflation.

Now, the sort of bad scenario for gold when we look at inflation and deflation is a continuation of where we are now, which is pretty low inflation across the developed world. Most countries are in the zone of one to 3%. There's a serious chance that will persist for years to come. If that happens, OK. Not so good for the gold price.

But I'm not suggesting you put your whole portfolio into gold. I'm just suggesting some of your portfolio can go into gold as an insurance policy, and anyway, you're not just ensuring against high inflation or deflation, you're also insuring against all these other issues I've already spoken about.

And fundamentally, the attraction here is that gold has always been seen as a good store of value by many human beings.

That's why in MoneyWeek, we say you should at least consider putting some of your portfolio into gold as an insurance policy - somewhere between five and 20%, depending on your age, depending on how convinced you are by the gold story, depending on your attitude to risk. But it makes sense to at least have some money in gold.

You may now be wondering, well how do I go about it, how do I invest in gold?

If that's the case, take a look at my video, The lowdown on gold, part one.

We're going to be doing loads more on gold over the next few months going into the summer. There'll be more videos, more articles, some other stuff too, so keep an eye out for that.

But until my next video, good luck with your investing.

Ed has been a private investor since the mid-90s and has worked as a financial journalist since 2000. He's been employed by several investment websites including Citywire, breakingviews and The Motley Fool, where he was UK editor.


Ed mainly invests in technology shares, pharmaceuticals and smaller companies. He's also a big fan of investment trusts.


Away from work, Ed is a keen theatre goer and loves all things Canadian.


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