Saint Gabriel sponsored this year’s Precious Metals and Investment Symposium. The conference was attended by both gold industry professionals as well as cryptocurrency enthusiasts. We heard their views on gold and cryptocurrency as well as their potential synergies. This article outlines Saint Gabriel’s view.
For many investors, gold seems to have lost some of its lustre. Even though gold has been the premier medium of exchange and demarcation of value for all of recorded history, some are beginning to question the future of gold. Is gold still in business?
The short answer is, “YES!”. Gold is still a critical commodity and an important part of a balanced investment portfolio – whether it be for Central Banks or private investors.
In addition to direct investment in physical gold, trillions of dollars (USD) are poured annually into corporate transactions directly related to gold – including M&A, IPO’s, equity raisings, debt funding and joint ventures.
What is the Purpose of Gold Today?
Today, gold continues to hold intrinsic value. Gold also continues to hold a cultural and emotional significance as a symbol of wealth and value. Part of this fascination is traditional. We all learn from a young age that gold is valuable. But, the value of gold is also largely based on the chemistry of gold and its rarity. It is rare, but not so rare that it’s impossible to find and it is stable and durable. Gold doesn’t rust, and it is not shrinking from radioactive decay. Gold is also not toxic like many other elements.
Today, gold is barely used as currency, or even as the backing of a currency. Instead, it is mostly used as material and an investment hedge. Gold is an important component in a variety of different industries including jewellery and aerospace. Gold may go up and down in value, but it has never become worthless.
Will Cryptocurrency Steal Gold’s Thunder?
While gold continues to languish below the psychologically important $1,300 US per ounce threshold, cryptocurrencies had a dismal year, with the prices of well known digital tokens including bitcoin and ethereum plummeting. The knock on virtual currency: it has failed to take off with the masses as the regulators have increased scrutiny and retailers haven’t embraced it as a payment method.
Many investors, speculators, and commentators are beginning to wonder if cryptocurrencies are stealing gold’s thunder.
The problem with this question is it is imprecise. In the short-term, it is certainly possible that money that would be flowing into gold is instead flowing into cryptocurrencies. But, at the moment, we cannot know for sure. It seems likely that some investors are anxious to ride the cryptocurrency wave as long as they can, and they may not be putting as much money into gold.
However, over the long-term, it is almost inconceivable that cryptocurrencies will steal gold’s thunder. Gold is a physical commodity with a real-world demand curve. Over time, the demand for gold will increase as industries that depend on it continue to expand.
A certain set of investors will always put money into gold to use as a hedge against inflation and volatility, the very things cryptocurrencies currently embody.
Gold is universally accepted as a medium of exchange. However, cryptocurrencies still face technological, cultural, and regulatory barriers to widespread acceptance. Most cryptocurrencies aren’t useful unless you want to invest in cryptocurrencies. A cryptocurrency is only as useful as its network effects. They are far from being a satisfactory medium of exchange between institutions, consumers, and governments.
Does Gold Have a Future?
Cryptocurrencies will probably be with us for the foreseeable future. But, individual cryptocurrencies will inevitably disappear. They will zero-out.
“If you’re trying to figure out where to store your life savings, traditional assets are still your safest bet,” Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, 19 Feb 2018
Gold will also always have a future, but gold will never zero out. Because gold is in demand, exists in the real world, is rare and relatively stable, and is tied into the culture and history of the human race, it will always be valuable and worth investing in.
Additionally, gold is still a much sought-after material for many industries.
Who are the Gold Consumers?
Gold is used in many different industries. The biggest industrial consumers of gold, by percentage of global gold demand, are:
Bars and coins 25.29%
Heavy Industries 6.52%
Medical & Dental 1.24%
The top ten largest gold consuming countries in the world are:
- United States
- Saudi Arabia
The current price is low. But, that is a function of gold being a commodity, and subject to supply and demand. The current low price is not permanent. Just as the price did not stay forever at its record highs from several years ago, it will recover from its current period of underperforming prices.
In the next few years, many gold investors will be celebrating their patience and foresight while many crypto investors will be moaning about the disappearance of one or more high-profile cryptocurrencies.
© Saint Gabriel Pty Ltd (‘Saint Gabriel’) and any related bodies corporate that are involved in the document’s creation. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of information provided, neither Saint Gabriel nor its third-party providers accept responsibility for any inaccuracy or for investment decisions by any person on the basis of the information included. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Saint Gabriel does not guarantee the performance of any investment. Any general advice has been prepared without reference to your investment objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the advice in light of these matters and if applicable, the relevant disclosure document before making any decision to invest.