2016 has been an economic outlier of a year, and many Western currencies appear to be steadily failing against the silent $8 trillion beast that is the gold market.
Have those late night scare infomercials on Fox News finally gotten through to the frightened middle class mainstream consciousness? Are we a nation of apocalyptic gold coin hoarders now? DO IT FOR YOUR FAMILY, PROTECT YOUR WEALTH NOW, the TV blares at 11pm on a Tuesday.
Well, that's not quite what is driving this one, in my view. Famous progressive investor George Soros has jumped heavily into gold companies & concerns in 2016, leading a pack of billionaires this year who appear to have caught an appetite for the yellow metal.
The Soros family are also among some of the prominent financial backers of BitGold and its publicly traded parent company Goldmoney, an Internet-oriented financial services platform with more than $2 billion in precious metals deposits under its stewardship. (Full disclosure: Earlier in the year, I did some freelance consulting for BitGold.)
Is Soros crazy, or is gold making a comeback? And why now? Well, the math is clear on the first question, at least:
Against the mighty US Dollar, gold is up 17.68% over the past year. You'd be hard pressed to find any premium online savings accounts that pay near 1% per year these days, for comparison's sake. (And gold being up 116% over the past ten years against the US Dollar paints an even darker, if gradual, economic story.)
And against the beleaguered Pound Sterling, gold is up 41%, and up a troubling 209% over a ten year span.
Against the euro, gold is up 17% over the past year, and up about 150% over the past ten years.
Maybe old Soros has returned from retirement for one last killer score, as free floating fiat currency markets crumble before our eyes, leaving only gold and definitely maybe a few stylish cryptocurrencies breathing.
It's hard to notice, given the time scales involved - a year isn't overnight, ten years certainly isn't overnight.
And yet I can remember clearly what I was doing a year ago, and had all my money been in US Dollars or euros from then until now, I'd have in relative terms far less of it today versus had I put it into gold, or into Bitcoin, for that matter.
It doesn't feel too painful yet to fiat holders, but the math is clear: it just may be gold's world again, sooner rather than later.