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Gold’s historic undervaluation versus oil

Commodities / Gold and Silver 2011 Apr 04, 2011 - 03:47 PM GMT

By: Michael_J_Kosares

Commodities

The Wikileaks/Financial Times revelations on significant gold buying interest in the Middle East — notably Iran’s central bank, Jordan’s central bank and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund — brought to mind the story of Saudi Arabia’s King Ibn Saud and his sale of oil concessions to the major oil companies. In payment he received 35,000 British sovereigns — a coin many of you hold in your own sovereign wealth fund. The good king understood the difference between the value of gold and the value of a paper promise.


At the time (1933), the British sovereign’s value stood at $8.24 each, or $288,365 for the lot. The price of oil was about 85¢ a barrel, and a British sovereign could buy about ten barrels.

Today those same sovereigns would bring a little less than $12 million at melt value ($338.00 each) and a barrel of oil is selling for about $115. Thus, a British sovereign can buy a little under three barrels of oil — a statistic which gives you an inkling of gold’s current undervaluation.

For gold to buy the same amount of oil now that it did in 1933, the price would have to go to nearly $5000 per ounce — an interesting calculation for those who think gold is overvalued and in a bubble.

In the gold market where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If members within one class of investors — e.g., central banks, sovereign wealth funds or hedge funds — you can be assured that other members of that same group are similarly involved. Recent activity within the hedge fund industry with respect to gold is exemplary. It follows then that if Iran, Qatar and Jordan — themselves threatened by the popular Pan-Arabic uprisings — are acting on their interest in gold, can Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait be far behind?

If so, they will join several nation states and a bevy of hedge and sovereign wealth funds in the pursuit. The problem they will encounter is an old one. There simply is not enough physical gold available at any given point in time to satisfy the needs of any one of these major players, let alone all of them. All of this, of course, will resolve itself in the price for which the metal sells.

I note with interest that Barclays Bank — one of the five members of the London Gold Fix and an institution well-situated to experience first-hand the interest in physical metal — has predicted a top price for 2011 of $1620 per ounce. Predictions by other Fix members are equally bullish. Scotia-Mocatta predicts a high range of $1500 to $1600 with a possibility of a spike higher. Deutsche Bank is predicting $1511 per ounce for 2011 and $2000 per ounce for 2012. Both Societe General and HSBC, the two remaining members, are calling for a top-end price of $1550 per ounce. These bullion banks are in a better position than most to ascertain the sources of physical demand, and they know better than anyone the extent of global interest among key players. By the way Goldman Sachs, though not a member of the Fix, is still widely monitored for its opinion on gold. It has set a price objective of $1690 per ounce for 2011.

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By Michael J. Kosares
Michael J. Kosares , founder and president
USAGOLD - Centennial Precious Metals, Denver

Michael Kosares has over 30 years experience in the gold business, and is the author of The ABCs of Gold Investing: How to Protect and Build Your Wealth with Gold, and numerous magazine and internet articles and essays. He is frequently interviewed in the financial press and is well-known for his on-going commentary on the gold market and its economic, political and financial underpinnings.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in commentary e do not constitute an offer to buy or sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any precious metals product, nor should they be viewed in any way as investment advice or advice to buy, sell or hold. Centennial Precious Metals, Inc. recommends the purchase of physical precious metals for asset preservation purposes, not speculation. Utilization of these opinions for speculative purposes is neither suggested nor advised. Commentary is strictly for educational purposes, and as such USAGOLD - Centennial Precious Metals does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of the information found here.

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