“The Real Price of Gold”
January 25, 2009 by Martha Rooks
The price of gold slipped slightly last week, which is in stark contrast to what the so-called “experts” said to expect long term. Analysts at Morgan Stanley and UBS said Wednesday they expect gold prices to trade higher in 2009, benefiting from some safe-haven buying as well as long-term concerns about inflation.
One expert said that he expected gold to see $900 per ounce this year and $1000 by 2010. That’s exciting, if you’ve already bought extensively. It’s a little frightening, if you’re sitting on the sidelines. And for all of us, it’s confusing, isn’t it?
While all of this is going on, the venerable National Geographic Magazine has a cover story on gold in this month’s issue. It’s titled “The Real Price of Gold.”
I’ve always thought that the National Geographic writers tell a good story; this one doesn’t miss the mark. It begins with the story of a Peruvian man who risks life and health to work in a gold mine high in the mountainous area of his homeland. He works for free for 30 days of the month and in return, on the 31st day of that month, he’s “paid” by being allowed to mine all the rock and ore that he can carry out in four hours.
The work is back-breaking. Other miners have died of cave-ins, toxic gases, and poorly controlled explosions. But this miner continues, sure in the idea that someday, his luck will change and the mountain will give him some of her treasure.
The article is fascinating reading about the metal that has fascinated man since time began. Wars have been fought, lives taken, and religions built around items made from gold. Think about it: gold is not vital to our survival. It’s only value is whatever value we attach to it.
Gold has a unique place in man’s life, down through the ages. Pharaohs liked being buried in it, modern man uses it to symbolize commitment and to make replacement teeth. But throughout, we have defined wealth and status using gold. We have used it to adorn our bodies and our homes. We have made it the standard to be attained.
The article is interesting. It’s something that every person who is interested in gold as jewelry or as an investment should read. And let me leave you with one thought that I gleaned from its pages.
“Gold has always had this kind of magic,” says Peter L. Bernstein, author of The Power of Gold. “But it’s never been clear if we have gold—or gold has us.”
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