Gold: The World's Friend for 5,000 Years

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Recently by Frank Holmes: Managing Expectations: Why Gold Should Thrive

     

Facebook’s highly anticipated initial public offering today helped the company raise $16 billion, a record for tech IPOs. It’s refreshing to see investor excitement rally around the stock, as the U.S. needs innovative businesses to thrive and attract capital. However, as behavioral finance warns, be cautious of a herd mentality.

Last November, the IPO deal of the day was Groupon. On the first day of trading, shares rose to a high of $31 from an initial offering price of $20.

By Thanksgiving, the stock had fallen below the IPO price, and only a few months later, uncertainty popped up around the company’s accounting methods and financial controls. The stock fell further, with the market devaluing Groupon by about 50 percent in only six months. How’s that for a group buy?

It’s interesting to note that the value of Groupon’s stock has lost more than $13 billion since the peak on the first trading day through April 30. For comparison, if you look at the total net assets in Lipper’s precious metals mutual fund peer category, assets fell $8.3 billion over the same timeframe. Investors lost more than $5 billion more in one tech stock alone than in all of the precious metals funds combined.

Gold – A Reality Check

Investors have “defriended” gold recently in favor of the dollar, as Greek and French voters rejected austerity measures. Greeks have been responding to their escalating debt issues for a while by steadily pulling money from overnight deposits. I often say, money goes where it is best treated, and these deposits will need to find a safe haven.

It’s not only Greece the market is worried about, says BCA Research. In a special report aptly named, “In Case of Emergency Grexit,” the firm says there’s extra pressure on Spain and Italy, “which imminently needs a large bailout of its banking system.” The 10-year yields for each country have reached 6 percent today, and while there are funds to sufficiently cover Spain, there aren’t enough funds for Italy, too, says BCA.

So if the European Union (EU) stops the flow of bailout funds, Greece, unable to pay wages, would invoke social unrest, according to BCA.

More importantly, without funds from the EU, Greece would default on its bonds. Looking at what the country owes this year alone, $1 to $7.6 billion is due each month, says BCA. The European Central Bank would then most likely stop providing funds to Greek banks, causing more individuals to pull money. “With deposit flight, and no injections from the ECB, the banks would be bust and Greece would be hemorrhaging money,” says BCA.

It’s also important to look at the investors of Greek debt. According to the London Evening Standard earlier this year, French banks are the largest holders of Greek government bonds and private-sector debt in the eurozone, with $47.9 billion exposure to Greece.

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Frank Holmes is chief executive officer and chief investment officer of U.S. Global Investors Inc. The company is a registered investment adviser that manages approximately $4.8 billion in 13 no-load mutual funds and for other advisory clients. A Toronto native, he bought a controlling interest in U.S. Global Investors in 1989, after an accomplished career in Canada's capital markets. His specialized knowledge gives him expertise in resource-based industries and money management.

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