The price of gold has risen more than four-fold since 2001 and was up another 24 percent in 2009, hitting an all-time high of $1,228 last December. But it has dropped $100 recently, in tandem with a rally in the U.S. dollar. Gold bugs argue that a growing risk of inflation and questions about how the U.S. will pay off its massive debt means gold could be headed to $5,000 or higher, while skeptics see a golden bubble waiting to burst. Is the great gold rush of the past decade about to end?
Watch out for "gold fever": "Gold is now the world's 'it' investment," says Stephen Gandel in Money, but is gold today the "precious-metal equivalent of Microsoft and Intel circa 1986, or a Miami condo circa 2007?" Given the sharp run-up in prices — from $700 an ounce in late 2008 to $1,200 last month — it looks more like condo option. The various cases for buying gold now are built on straw — "and it's only in fairy tales that one can spin straw into gold."
"Coming down with gold fever"
The rally still has life in it: The most exciting "long-term bull market ever" will end at some point, says Tim Iacono at Seeking Alpha, but it "will take years, and there's no telling how high the gold price may go between now and then." There's "overwhelming evidence" that gold is still a good investment, but if "some people just hate gold," those of us smart enough to invest will be laughing all the way to the bank.
"Money Magazine still hates gold, so buy it"
Gold's a bad gamble: "Gold has been the media darling" for months, says Aaron Katsman in The Jerusalem Post, but "it's actually one of the worst performing metals over the last year." That's because the market has been based on speculation, not fundamentals like supply and demand. Gold's still a "reasonable" hedge against inflation or the U.S. dollar, but you'd be better off with platinum, which — unlike gold — has "surging industrial demand" shoring up its lofty prices.
"Forget about gold: Take a look at platinum"
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