When I interviewed Forbes Magazine publisher and former Republican Presidential contender, Steve Forbes recently in Nashville, gold was trading under $2,000 per ounce. It has dipped as low as $1,930 in the month since then but when I interviewed him and the co-authors (Nathan Lewis and Elizabeth Ames) of his fine book “Inflation” my first question had to do with his role as “Merlin the Magician” in the musical “Camelot” at Freedom Fest: I asked the “magic man” to predict the price of gold.
His quick answer is that gold would start the new year over $2,000 and “could well reach $2,400 in 2024 or soon thereafter,” especially if the economy doesn’t improve. Upon continued questioning, he said gold could make it to $2,500 if “the good side” doesn’t win the 2024 elections. If the wrong side wins, he could make a case that the deficits will increase faster and the Federal Reserve will buy more bonds again, which could trigger another rise in massive deficit spending and the inevitable inflation.
As if on cue, gold is already soaring well above $2,000 once again and it is closing in on its all-time high of $2,067, set on August 6, 2020. Also, silver is back over $23 an ounce, so “Merlin” is already working his magic.
The World Gold Council’s (WGC) latest report shows rising demand, especially from central banks, including a record 800 metric tons in the first nine months of 2023. Silver is rising too, for different reasons. Industrial demand is expected to reach an all-time high this year. Despite a slowing global economy, demand for silver in hot sectors like photovoltaic cells is soaring.
I also asked Forbes how he would advise a young person just getting started in gold, and he answered: “As a young person, I’d put money into a 401K, IRA or whatever, and then leave it alone. In terms of buying gold, you can start buying a coin here and there, but don’t try to trade it, because over time they’ll go up. You want that insurance policy. I don’t call it investing in gold. I call gold an insurance policy from the follies of government leaders, which can treat currencies very badly. Gold is an insurance policy.”
Our closing question was whether he sees $3,000 or $4,000 gold, and he said, “at some point, yes.”
Merlin the Magician has spoken!
Don’t Buy A Pig in A Poke
As I have stressed for years, it is extremely important to know your precious metals dealer and ensure that they are respected in the industry, is involved in professional numismatic organizations like the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) or the National Coin and Bullion Association (NCBA) and has received recognition for their commitment to the hobby. Too many times I hear about people who fell for someone’s “too good to be true” advertising tactics or sales pitches and now they are out hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
We recently had a dealer, who cherry-picked his web reviews and proclaimed to be one of the most trusted in the business, but in reality, he was shipping sealed monster boxes purportedly containing 500 American Silver Eagles that were actually filled with packing and dumbbells. He told his clients not to open the boxes upon receipt because it would help increase the value when they were resold. I say, “Don’t buy a pig in a poke.” He has now pleaded guilty in federal court and is awaiting sentencing for his crimes.
Remember, as I like to say, “there is no Santa Claus in numismatics.” A coin dealer who claims they can sell you bullion at below the spot price is either going to make up the difference in exorbitant prices elsewhere or they are misleading you. Whether you use my company or another dealer, make sure they are reputable and trustworthy.
Historical Coin Flip Reveals How Gold Holds Its Value Over Past Century
Recently, I was honored to flip the coin before the start of a college football game between the Lamar University Cardinals and the McNeese State University Cowboys. The game was held in my hometown and marked the 100th anniversary of Lamar University.
I chose to use one of my own coins for the historic moment – a 1923 $20 Saint Gaudens gold coin that I later donated to the school. The coin is in ‘almost uncirculated’ condition and has a slight numismatic premium above its $1,900 gold value of about $200, so the total value of the coin 100 years after it was minted is about $2,100. I
thought about what that $20 gold coin would have purchased in 1923 and then what it would buy in 2023 and what impact it would have on a student attending Lamar University.
In 1923, three $20 gold coins would have paid tuition for a semester, including books – a total of about $60 back then. The same amount of value a person would have received had they used three $20 paper notes in 1923. However, in today’s dollars, as gold has increased in price to about $2,000 an ounce over the past century, those same three $20 gold coins would also pay the cost of tuition for a semester, along with books – about $6,000.
This analogy is further proof that gold has held its value as Steve Forbes describes in his book, “Inflation.” Unfortunately, three $20 bills have not. Today, those paper notes might buy only one or, maybe two, books needed by students.