Why are Gold prices skyrocketing? Is it a good time to buy?

Why were Gold Prices Sky-Rocketing? And Is it a Good time to Enter?

After the gold prices crossed Rs. 50,000 for 10g after 9 years period since 2011 in India, there seems to be no stop to how high the prices can go. The gold prices touched Rs.58,100 for 10g in Bangalore as of 7th August. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise because commodities like gold have always had exceeding demand in India. Especially after considering that India is one of the world’s largest consumer second only to China.

However, the increase seems unrealistic in times of pandemic where every investment seems to have suffered, only gold seems to have found its biggest boom. In the three year period from September 2016 to October 2019, gold saw an increase of 25% in its value. But along with the increasing troubles of 2020 in the midst of a pandemic the value of gold has already shot up 37.8% or by Rs. 15,240 with 5 more months to go.

Today, we take a look at the scenario finding possible reasons for the boom and also discuss if investing now is a good idea.

The Indian Gold Market

It would be rare to find a market in India that has consistently been in demand such as that of Indian Gold. There have been many jokes that have passed on claiming that the gold available in households is more than sufficient to cover all the deficits and debt that our country faces. But when we look at the following figures these statements may not be exaggerated. Indian households have piled up as much as 25000 tonnes of gold. To put things in perspective that alone would amount to Rs. 145.25 lakh crores in today’s rates. India’s central bank the RBI, on the other hand, has a total holding of 653.01 tonnes of gold. That too after buying additional 40.45 tonnes of gold in the current year. 

The figures in the households are the ones that have been accounted for. It does not include gold smuggled into the country which stands approximately at around 120-200 tonnes every year. After observing these figures it may not come as a surprise that India accounts for 25% of the world’s total physical gold demand worldwide. 

Why is there an increase in Gold Price?

For many Indians, gold has always been the favorite investment instrument traditionally apart from the land. Despite this, a significant portion is still placed in liquid assets like cash, stocks, etc. In the times of a pandemic, individuals are seeking shelter for their savings in an investment that doesn’t necessarily provide great returns but at least maintains its value and provides liquidity. This has led to the demand for gold skyrocketing to new heights.  

Now we take a look at some other factors that have lead to this increase in demand.

1. Scarcity

As you may already know that gold is scarce because all gold is mined. Over time however mining for more gold has become difficult and due to its characteristics, it is safe to say most of the gold is recycled and put back into circulation. But luckily enough this gold cannot be consumed like other commodities. Enabling it to keep its value since time immemorial keeping up with the rising population. Another factor that adds to its scarcity due to its lack of consumption is what happens after the commodity is bought.

Gold, after it is bought, is taken out of the market for long periods of time only to be kept in a drawer or bank locker taking it out of the market for years. But these factors like scarcity, inability to consume, etc, have always existed. Then why have the prices increased now?

These factors have always existed at lower prices only because the increasing demand has always been checked with adequate supply. In order to limit the spread of the virus most countries had to resort to a lockdown. This has had adverse effects on not only mining but also a lack of shipments. As per some estimates, the global demand for gold is 1000 tonnes more than the supply. This rise in demand as mentioned earlier has been due to people’s search for a secure asset.

2. Culture

gold india

The demand for gold also has its roots in humans’ desire for beauty. Demand for gold in India is interwoven with culture, tradition. This is primarily because of the dependence of marriages and other functions on gold. According to a study by the World Gold Council, Indian consumers view gold as both an investment and an adornment. When asked why they bought gold, almost 77 percent of respondents cited the safety of investment as a factor, while just over half cited adornment as a rationale behind their purchase of gold.

3. Geopolitical Factors.

People search for a safe haven like gold extends to periods of geopolitical tension like war. This is the reason why crisis situations like wars have a negative impact on almost all asset classes. But when it comes to gold it has a positive impact. This increase in the price of gold was earlier also noticed during the Korean nuclear crisis. Similar trends are noticed due to tensions between India-China and US-China.

4. Exchange Rates

It has been observed that a weakened US Dollar also leads to a rise in gold rates. The same is noticed in the current situation.

5. Limited Influence by Big Market Movers.

increasing gold prices Limited Influence by Big Market Movers

In stock markets, it is the FII and DII’s that are termed as market movers. This is because of their ability to influence market trends due to top huge capital in possession. In the Gold market, it is the central banks that have a significant influence. This is because almost every central bank keeps reserves in the form of investment in gold. When an economy is performing well and the RBI has sufficient foreign reserves it will want to get rid of gold.

Because gold does not generate any return and a booming market will provide a better return if the money is invested elsewhere. But in this scenario, the other investors as well will not want to invest in gold as they too would prefer to earn returns. Hence central banks are caught on the wrong side of the trade leading to a fall in the value of gold.

 But however, the influence the central banks like RBI have is limited. This is because of the Washington Agreement. This agreement, however, is not binding and is more like a gentleman’s agreement. According to it, central banks will not sell more than 400 metric tons a year. Limiting the influence of central banks even if they want to benefit from high prices.

In Closing: Should you Invest in Gold now?

Predicting Investments is always tricky due to the uncertainties present. Most of us may have already noted the effects of economic turmoil on gold and decided to invest in the future if we are faced with a similar scenario. But that doesn’t help today, does it? In order to help you take better decisions, let us take a look at previous gold rate highs.

In Closing: Should you Invest in Gold now?

If you notice in the above chart you’ll be able to see that the Gold rates boomed in the 1980s as well. But a person investing in such a high would only reap the benefits almost 3 decades later post 2008. Similarly, a person who invested in 2011 is reaping some minimal positive benefits in 2020. Hence considering this if investments were made in gold say in early 2020 is a completely different story than investing now.

However, it is also best to take a look at the forecasts predicted by analysts. Analysts, however, have been bullish and have predicted that gold prices could go up to Rs. 65,000 for 10g in the next 18-24 months. But it is necessary to note that these estimates depend on a period that COVID-19 will take a while more to be controlled. Also, public vaccine availability is not anticipated for at least months to come. 

From the above arguments, it shows that when the investment is made on a long term perspective there may be other alternatives that provide better results in the same time frame. However, investing for short periods completely depends on one’s estimates for COVID control or vaccine availability oy unavailability.

Also read: [Update] COVID-19 Vaccine: When can we expect it to be ready?

getting-smart with investment in gold

Getting Smart With Investment in Gold.

Gold Investment Quotes by Famous Investors:

“If ever there was an area in which to do the exact opposite of that which government and the media urge you to do, that area is the purchasing of gold.”— Robert Ringer

“People view gold as emotional, but when they demythologize it, when they look at it for what it is and the opportunity it represents, they are going to say ‘We really should own some of that’. The question will then change to ‘Where do we get the gold’?” – Thomas Kaplan (Over $2 Billion Invested in Gold)

Do you know that India Ranks 1 in the highest gold jewellery consumption in the world? India and China account for 44% gold jewelry consumption globally.

This alone proves that the Indian men and women are highly interested in buying gold jewelry. Further, gold is also treated as a sign of royalty in India. However, when it comes to investing in gold, now a day, people do not consider it as a good option. With the increase in the paper assets, the gold investment is slightly fading away.

Moreover, most of the investors think that investment in gold is not as rewarding compared to stocks, bonds, and real estates.

Here is what Warren Buffet used to say about gold:

“(Gold) gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.”

“I have no views as to where it will be, but the one thing I can tell you is it won’t do anything between now and then except look at you. Whereas, you know, Coca-Cola (KO) will be making money, and I think Wells Fargo (WFC) will be making a lot of money, and there will be a lot — and it’s a lot — it’s a lot better to have a goose that keeps laying eggs than a goose that just sits there and eats insurance and storage and a few things like that.

“You could take all the gold that’s ever been mined, and it would fill a cube 67 feet in each direction. For what it’s worth at current gold prices, you could buy — not some — all of the farmland in the United States. Plus, you could buy 10 Exxon Mobils (XOM), plus have $1 trillion of walking-around money. Or you could have a big cube of metal. Which would you take? Which is going to produce more value?”

Also Read: Why Buffett thinks investing in gold is stupid

However, being born in a middle-class family, and listening to my mother continuously talking about the jewellery & rising prices of gold, I differ a little with Warren Buffet’s idea of investing in gold.

Gold has been used as a currency for over centuries in this world. Gold is assumed to be first found in Egypt in 3000 BC. However, gold started acting as a currency only since 560 BC. Nevertheless, gold is one of such rare items which has consistently been in the market and used to buy/exchange items.

I believe that everyone should have a small portion of his portfolio invested in gold. There are various reasons why I believe this, however there are few main points:

Why should you Invest in Gold?

1. Gold has high liquidity:

No matter which part of the country you live in, gold can easily be converted in cash and readily be bought and sold. However, such option is not available with other paper assets like stocks and bonds or physical assets like real estates. Further, there is no or minimal paperwork required in gold investment.

2. Gold preserves wealth:

Here is a chart showing the upwards trend of gold over the last few centuries.

gold investment trade brains

Source: http://goldprice.org/gold-price-india.html

From the year 2006 to 2011, gold has given a return of 29% per annum. Further, if we consider long term, it has given a return of 10% per annum. Overall, gold will preserve your wealth if you hold it for a long-term duration.

3. Hedge against inflation:
Gold acts a great investment to protect your money from inflation. Over the past couple of years, as the purchasing power of Rupee is declining; on the contrary, the price of gold is consistently increasing.

4. Portfolio Diversification:
Gold acts as a great asset for diversification. As gold has a negative correlation with other asset types like stocks bonds etc, gold moves in the opposite direction than these assets. Let me explain this with an example:

Here is a chart of SENSEX over the past few years.

In the above chart, please notice that when the SENSEX was sharply falling in 2008-09, the prices of the gold kept skyrocketing during this duration. Hence, if you had diversified your portfolio with gold investment, you wouldn’t have faced so much loss compared to concentrated investment in stocks.

In short, gold investment can help investors to avoid financial disasters.

Also read: 6 Reasons Why Most People Lose Money in Stock Market

Apart from the above four reasons, there are few other reasons also which favors gold investment.

For example, in the 21st century, every country has a different currency. Nevertheless, gold can act a commonly acceptable asset anywhere in the world. Further, it’s much beneficial to keep a gold in your pocket than a currency which is not acceptable.

In addition, gold is also a great investment to pass on to your next generation who might not have such luxuries to find gold in abundance.

How to invest in Gold in India?

Now that you have understood the importance of gold investment, I would like to highlight the simple ways by which you can invest in gold in India.

Typically, there are two ways to invest in gold:

1. Physical Gold Investment:

  • Jewellery Buying:

gold investment in jewellery

This is the old and conventional way of gold investment. You might have seen the jewellery of your mother, sister or other members of the family, which is the best example of gold investment through jewelry. Although these pieces of jewellery act more like ornaments, still they are worth considering as an investment.

The pros of buying gold jewelry are its easy feasibility along with zero paperwork.

However, there are also few cons while investing in gold jewelry.  For example, first of all, you need to pay the making charges (10-20% of total cost) along with the price of the original gold. Second, when you will sell the jewelry, the buyer will not consider the making charge. In addition, he will also demand a purchase discount (5-10%). Lastly, there is a high risk of theft and burglary in storing gold jewelry.

  • Gold Coins and Bars:

gold investment in bars and coins

These are a better option for gold investment compared to buying jewelry. There are no making charges involved here. You can buy or sell the gold coins and bars from any Jewellery shops. Further, some banks also sell them.

One of the biggest benefits of investing in physical gold assets is that you won’t need to open an account to start investing. No demat or trading account is required for this type of gold investment, unlike paper assets like stocks or bonds.

2. Paper Gold Investment Options:

  • Gold ETF:

gold investment by gold etf

ETF stands for Exchange traded funds. Gold ETF is a type of mutual fund which invests in gold and units of this mutual funds scheme is listed on the stock exchange.

You can invest in Gold ETF through a demat account. However, this type of investment of gold involves assets management and brokerage charges. Brokerage fee for gold ETF is around 0.25-0.5% and the fund management charges are approximately 0.5-1%.

Because of these charges, the returns on Gold ETF are less than the actual increased value of gold. Gold ETF is directly proportional to the price movement of gold and is not affected by market fluctuations.

  • Equity-based Gold funds:

This type of gold investment involves investing in companies related to mining, extracting and marketing of gold. Market fluctuations affect equity-based gold funds. Further, equity-based gold funds are susceptible to different risks like gold price risk and equity-based risks.

The biggest benefit of paper gold investment options is that there is no risk of theft or burglary here; as compared to physical gold.

How much to invest in Gold?

The portfolio allocation for gold investment varies for different investors according to their investment strategies. In general, small investors should keep 5-10% of their portfolio invested in gold. Gold doesn’t give an as high return as stocks or real estate. Nevertheless, gold investment will help to mitigate the risks in your portfolio.

How to start investing in Gold online?

You can buy gold ETF or gold fund online just like a mutual fund. However, you need to research carefully about the different ETF’s available. Here is the list of few gold ETF schemes available in India:

  1. Birla Sun Life Gold ETF
  2. Goldman Sachs Gold ETF
  3. SBI Gold ETF
  4. IDBI Gold ETF
  5. R*Shares Gold ETF
  6. Axis Gold ETF
  7. Kotak Gold ETF
  8. ICICI Prudential Gold ETF

Also read: Top 10 Gold ETFs in India

That’s all. I hope this post on ‘Getting smart with Investment in Gold’ is useful to the readers. Further, please comment below your opinion about investment in gold.

Is Gold Investment good for a small investor?