Gold’s performance at times of geopolitical volatility underscores its potential value as a portfolio diversifier. However, gold has also performed well amid strong equity markets this year as real interest rates fell. But just as there are many “goldbugs” who are enamored by the asset, there are many skeptics who raise legitimate questions about it. We investigate potential merits of adding gold to portfolios below:
From pharaohs to photosynthesis: the industrial and investment case of gold
Interest in gold is as old as civilization itself, with the earliest known usage of the metal dating back to the early Bronze Age (4th millennium BC). Today, demand for the metal continues to come from central banks, investors, jewelers–as well as commercial applications. Scientists have even developed a way of achieving artificial photosynthesis through leveraging gold particles as a catalyst.
Still, a high proportion of annual demand for gold is based solely on investment demand. This can expose the price of the metal to a large amount of speculation. The World Gold Council data suggests that only 59% of demand is for commercial uses; 26% of 2018 gold demand was for investment purposes while another 15% was demanded by central banks.
Three reasons to consider holding gold
Against that backdrop, there are three arguments for holding gold in a portfolio:
1. Historically, gold has been a diversifying compliment to a traditional stock and bond portfolio throughout market cycles. The below matrix illustrates that the correlation between monthly returns of gold and other asset classes has low or negative correlations to other major asset classes.