The Thing with Gold

Equity has a human face behind it. Gold does not.

The human face with its human mind is capable of the best and the worst, the highest and the lowest.

The intelligent investor selects Equity with benevolent and diligent human faces and minds behind it to garner multibagger returns.

Gold is a metal. Period. It doesn’t have a brain. It is not able to find a way around inflation. Its prices fluctuate as per demand and supply. In times of uncertainty, it goes up and up. In times of economic and financial stability, it goes down and down. The net result of Gold’s price fluctuations over the past 100 years has been a 1% annually compounded return, adjusted for inflation.

What you should not expect from Gold is more than a 2- or 3-bagger return over the medium term. If things go really sour for world economy, you might get a 5- or even a 10 bagger return (looking at a kind of a doomsday scenario). If you are hoping for anything more from Gold, dream on.

2-, 3-, 5- and even 10-bagger returns are quite common in Equity over the medium term, and over the long-term, there’s no limit. Wipro’s been a 300,000-bagger over 25 years. There are hundreds of examples of 1000-baggers, and thousands of examples of 20+-baggers in Equity. Meanwhile, over the long-term, Gold goes back to the median.

Why Equity behaves like this is because of the human capital behind Equity. We’ll go into the details of this some other time.

Bottomline remains that, realistically speaking, Gold functions best as a hedge. In case 80% of our portfolio goes for a toss, that 20% which is in Gold for example can save the portfolio with its 5-bagger return.

If we enter Gold with the desire to make a killing, we either have unrealistic expectations, or we need to play Gold futures or Gold Equity. These have their own nuances, about which, again, we’ll talk another day.


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