From an edition of TGIF 2 Minutes in early March 2020….
As we continue to watch both from the sidelines and the interior of the Coronavirus tragedy, there exist lessons learned and lessons yet to be learned. Mistakes made past and present. In looking at history and researching the aftermath of past global tragedies there is evidence of subsequent innovations along with lucky breaks that surpass the imagination.
Gold is a fascinating asset and concept. From Egyptian Pharaohs to Sir Isaac Newton to the “Nixon Shock” in the 1970’s, gold has been part of the story. Oh, and by the way, its price has risen over 35% so far in 2020.
Over the years there have been reasons (and not) for an investor to buy gold. One of the “catches” is that gold can be an extremely volatile asset, depending on the global economic cycle, level of interest rates and expectations for inflation. Another catch is that there are multiple ways for an investor to buy gold. Among these ways is to purchase gold in its physical form and insure and store it (expensive) or to purchase gold jewelry or gold wristwatches (also expensive but much simpler). OR, gold can be purchased in a non-physical form through gold futures contracts or via an exchange traded fund, or ETF, like the super-widely held SPDR Gold Trust whose trade symbol is GLD. The GLD trades like a stock and may be the closest way to own gold without having actual possession of the gold bars or coins.
Exogenous Threats. These types of threats or risk factors come from an external place and affect markets – unexpectedly. Already in 2020, only 38 days into the year, the US and global markets have been presented with at least three major exogenous threats:
Brexit becoming abruptly final
A US Impeachment trial
A viral epidemic, the unnamed Coronavirus in China (and now spreading to other countries too)
(Bonus 4th threat) US-China and US-World trade policy
One look at the headlines this week and it may leave us lamenting the end of a life “well-lived” by an American icon …or shaking our heads in disgust at a major figure in sports (and the end of a different kind of life well-lived). All this amidst US markets that continue to go UP, UP, UP leaving investors happy, perhaps carefree and with a sense of confidence in their portfolios and savings.