Rod Dreher

The New York Times reports that scary times are turning people into goldbugs. Excerpt:

And gold bugs, often dismissed as crackpots who hoard gold bars in the basement, are finally having their day.
“I just think you’re in a world where a lot of chickens are coming home to roost,” said John Hathaway, manager of the Tocqueville Gold fund. “Gold is an escape hatch.”
The most visible new gold enthusiasts range from the Fox News commentator Glenn Beck on the right to the financier George Soros on the left, with even some sober-minded Wall Street types developing a case of gold fever. While their language may differ, they share a fundamental view that the age-old refuge of gold is relevant again, especially as other assets like stocks and national currencies show signs of weakness.
Now, individual investors are following their example around the world. The United States Mint is running short of gold coins, and the South African mint increased Krugerrand production by 50 percent late last month, to its highest level in 25 years, on brisk European demand.


Daniel J. Arbess, who manages more than $2 billion in Perella Weinberg’s Xerion fund, is another new gold lover. A few years ago, he said, he would not have taken a second look at gold as an investment. But now Mr. Arbess, a Harvard Law graduate and a generally conservative investor, is very serious about gold.
Spiraling deficits in the United States, Japan and Britain are unsustainable, he said, and could eventually hurt confidence in what are called “fiat currencies” — paper money not backed by gold, including the United States dollar.
“Indebted countries may soon be forced to choose among three politically difficult alternatives: sharp cuts in expenditures, debt default or printing money to pay off debt,” he said, with the last option the most likely outcome. Gold, he said, is a logical hedge against this risk, because firing up the printing presses ignites inflation.

I find this all fascinating, in the same way I find watching sharks in an aquarium fascinating, but it’s meaningful to me only as a sign of how dangerous the economic situation is. If you have people like Soros moving to gold, that’s a psychological signal that there is a pretty large disturbance in the Force. But look, who has an extra $1,250 lying around to invest in a gold coin? Soros does. Glenn Beck does. John Paulson does. Your Working Boy doesn’t — though I suppose I could contact the guy who manages our portfolio and ask him to move some of our relatively meager stock holdings into gold. That would require a leap of faith, though. Funny, you would think that somebody as focused on the potential for economic disaster as I am would find it easy to put my money where my mouth is. But I don’t. I am so temperamentally conservative. Like most people, I am like Larkin’s rabbit:

You may have thought things would come right again
If you could only keep quite still and wait.

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