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The Golden Dilemma

Author

Listed:
  • Claude B. Erb
  • Campbell R. Harvey

Abstract

While gold objects have existed for thousands of years, gold's role in diversified portfolios is not well understood. We critically examine popular stories such as 'gold is an inflation hedge'. We show that gold may be an effective hedge if the investment horizon is measured in centuries. Over practical investment horizons, gold is an unreliable inflation hedge. We also explore valuation. The real price of gold is currently high compared to history. In the past, when the real price of gold was above average, subsequent real gold returns have been below average consistent with mean reversion. On the demand side, we focus on the official gold holdings of many countries. If prominent emerging markets increase their gold holdings to average per capita or per GDP holdings of developed countries, the real price of gold may rise even further from today's elevated levels. In the end, investors face a golden dilemma: 1) embrace a view that 'those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it' and the purchasing power of gold is likely to revert to its mean or 2) embrace a view that the emergence of new markets represent a structural change and 'this time is different'.

Suggested Citation

  • Claude B. Erb & Campbell R. Harvey, 2013. "The Golden Dilemma," NBER Working Papers 18706, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18706 Note: AP IFM
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dirk G. Baur & Brian M. Lucey, 2010. "Is Gold a Hedge or a Safe Haven? An Analysis of Stocks, Bonds and Gold," The Financial Review, Eastern Finance Association, vol. 45(2), pages 217-229, May.
    2. Roll, Richard, 1977. "A critique of the asset pricing theory's tests Part I: On past and potential testability of the theory," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 129-176, March.
    3. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 2001. "Valuation Ratios and the Long-Run Stock Market Outlook: An Update," NBER Working Papers 8221, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Burton G. Malkiel, 2003. "The Efficient Market Hypothesis and Its Critics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 59-82, Winter.
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    7. repec:pri:cepsud:91malkiel is not listed on IDEAS
    8. French, Kenneth R., 1983. "A comparison of futures and forward prices," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 311-342, November.
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    12. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1987. "Commodity Futures Prices: Some Evidence on Forecast Power, Premiums,and the Theory of Storage," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(1), pages 55-73, January.
    13. Pukthuanthong, Kuntara & Roll, Richard, 2011. "Gold and the Dollar (and the Euro, Pound, and Yen)," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 2070-2083, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Value of gold: is this time really different?
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-02-08 21:20:00
    2. Placer son argent dans l'or, un bon investissment ?
      by trenault@economiematin.fr (Captain Economics) in Economie Matin on 2013-07-18 21:10:11
    3. In gold we trust?
      by David Andolfatto in MacroMania on 2013-12-25 02:06:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bampinas, Georgios & Panagiotidis, Theodore, 2015. "Are gold and silver a hedge against inflation? A two century perspective," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 267-276.
    2. Liu, Jingting, 2016. "Covered in Gold: Examining gold consumption by middle class consumers in emerging markets," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 739-747.
    3. Arnold, Stephan & Auer, Benjamin R., 2015. "What do scientists know about inflation hedging?," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 187-214.
    4. Malliaris, A.G. & Malliaris, Mary, 2015. "What drives gold returns? A decision tree analysis," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 45-53.
    5. Fengler, Matthias R. & Gisler, Katja I.M., 2015. "A variance spillover analysis without covariances: What do we miss?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 174-195.
    6. O'Connor, Fergal A. & Lucey, Brian M. & Batten, Jonathan A. & Baur, Dirk G., 2015. "The financial economics of gold — A survey," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 186-205.
    7. Bredin, Don & Conlon, Thomas & Potì, Valerio, 2017. "The price of shelter - Downside risk reduction with precious metals," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 48-58.
    8. Bredin, Don & Conlon, Thomas & Potì, Valerio, 2015. "Does gold glitter in the long-run? Gold as a hedge and safe haven across time and investment horizon," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 320-328.
    9. Joachim Klement, 2014. "Facts and Fantasies about Gold," Journal of Risk & Control, Risk Market Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 1-12.
    10. Smales, Lee A., 2015. "Asymmetric volatility response to news sentiment in gold futures," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 161-172.
    11. Seth J. Kopchak, 2016. "The regime-switching risk premium in the gold futures market," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 40(3), pages 472-491, July.
    12. Batten, Jonathan A. & Ciner, Cetin & Lucey, Brian M, 2014. "On the economic determinants of the gold–inflation relation," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 101-108.
    13. Klement, Joachim, 2015. "Facts and Fantasies about Gold," MPRA Paper 64590, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • N20 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - General, International, or Comparative

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