What’s More Important: Price Per Ounce or Ounces Owned?

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by: Jeff Clark

In a recent conversation with a fellow gold analyst, he was emphatic that the price one pays for physical gold should be ignored. “What’s far more important,” he insisted, “is how many ounces I own in relation to the total value of my assets.”

Building a core position in gold bullion is a smart goal, to be sure, and a strategy Casey Research has been advising for years. However, ignoring the price you pay for gold could be seen as foolhardy; sure, it’s insurance, but isn’t price part of the consideration when you shop for insurance?

So, who’s right?

The World Gold Council just released their 2009 annual report on gold trends. From the densely populated pages of interesting data, there’s one compelling tidbit I gleaned that may shed some light on the buying behavior of gold investors.

Overall investment in gold was 7% higher in 2009 than 2008. This is significant when you consider that demand in the fourth quarter of 2008 – during one of the worst financial meltdowns in history – was so great that shortages of physical metal abounded everywhere. And yet investors bought more gold in 2009 when investor fear about global financial uncertainty was subdued.

Further, 2009 total funds invested in all forms of gold exceeded 2008 by 20%, and the average price was 11.6% higher. In other words, investors were buying gold even though the price wasn’t necessarily “low.” To be sure, that’s a broad statement. But the fact remains that year-on-year, more gold was purchased at higher prices when the markets were less scary, than when the price was lower and Hank Paulson was on CNBC every 15 minutes pontificating on how to save America’s financial system.

This isn’t to suggest one shouldn’t pay attention to price.

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