The bullion bull run is strong as investors flock to gold and silver as a safe haven from the turmoil in the Middle East. On Thursday, the spot price of gold and silver hit an all time high in Mumbai, India's largest bullion market.
I caught up with George Milling-Stanley,Managing Director of Government Affairs at the World Gold Council, to talk about what some of my contacts are calling "a golden wave of opportunity."
LL: The swings in gold offers a chance for investors to cash out some gains. Just look at SPDR Gold Trust, the largest physical gold exchange-traded fund—it reported a five-metric-ton redemption at the end of Tuesday. What is your advice to gold bugs?
GMS: The gold price rose over 20 percent in 2010 and some gold investors have recently changed how they allocate a portion of their portfolios to gold. One of the advantages of the gold market is that it allows investors to move from physical products, to exchange traded funds, to options, equities and futures quite freely.
Additionally, there will always be a speculative element to the market and we’ll see tactical trading activity as with any other asset class.
It is also worth bearing in mind that ETFs, including SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) make up a small portion of the overall demand for gold and are most popular in Western markets. In our latest Gold Demand Trends report we highlighted the fact that demand for bars, coins and jewellery was very strong in Asia, the Middle East and Far East markets. The overall message is that gold remains a very popular investment in all its forms.
LL: Are you seeing similar trends in the run up of gold as we saw in 2008 when oil was in the 140's?
GMS: The more than five-fold increase in the price of gold over the past decade has been gradual and sustained, interrupted occasionally by periods of exceptional volatility. Throughout the ten year period the price of gold has shown no indications of moving exponentially or parabolically as oil did before its peak.
Gold is the precious metal and is less sensitive to the business cycle or rising prices in commodities such as oil or silver which are more closely connected to business and manufacturing activity. There is no real connection between gold and oil so any comparison of trading patterns is purely anecdotal.
LL: Bullion bull run continues as tensions in the Middle East heighten. How would you characterize this market right now?
GMS: As an executive of the World Gold Council I am legally prohibited from offering price predictions. The current bull market of more than 10 years has been driven by many factors including robust internal market dynamics, currency movements, inflationary expectations, as well as geopolitical tensions.
Further, gold has no counter-party risk and no credit risk and is accepted as a high quality, liquid asset all around the world. That said, gold is a recognized store of value which has been in the past and is currently attractive in this time of economic and geopolitical stress.
LL: "Chindia" as many call it on Wall Street is one source of gold demand. Are you worried with the rising price of oil could that impact both China and India's economy which could impact Gold?
China and India are two separate and distinct gold markets with India generating slightly more demand than China. The fact that we now have two major gold consuming countries as a source of demand offers geographic diversity in addition to the sectoral diversity of the gold market that comes from jewellery, investment, Central Banks and technological demand for gold.
Whether or not the price of oil rises or falls, both India and China have strong intrinsic characteristics that will be supportive of the gold market. In India for example, the country has a deep cultural and religious connection with gold.
While in China, citizens were somewhat constrained when it came to owning gold up until just a few years ago when the government there began liberalizing the market and expanding access. Today, the government there is encouraging its citizens, who have increasing amounts of discretionary income, to purchase gold.
The World Gold Council played a major role in liberalization over the years and its involvement continues through a partnership with China’s Industrial and Commercial Bank (ICBC) which has recently brought new investment products to market including gold accumulation accounts and a new gold gift bar called “Only Gold”.
LL: It is wedding season in India which is also a bullish driver for the yellow metal.
GMS: Gold plays a central role in Indian weddings as friends and relatives offer gold to the bride and groom to help them begin accumulating wealth. Most often the gold comes in the form of jewellery which in India is purchased both for adornment as well as a store of wealth.
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A Senior Talent Producer at CNBC, and author of "Thriving in the New Economy:Lessons from Today's Top Business Minds."