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Taking Stock: Greater fool theory governs price of gold

Malcolm Berko: Gold has not been a particularly good long-term investment.
By Malcolm Berko Published: July 14, 2013

However, the official U.S. government price didn't change again until 1972, when it was raised to $38 an ounce. In 1974, while Richard Nixon was occupying what was then called the Nut House, it went to $42.22. Last year, gold traded above $1,700 an ounce but subsequently has fallen to the $1,300 to $1,400 level.

As I mentioned in a column last year, gold has been a poor investment. Since 1935, when you could have bought all the gold you wanted at $35 an ounce, its compounded annual return has been just 5 percent. I can't knowledgeably advise you, because I have no feel where the price of gold will be when you hang up your tools in 2030.

But I will tell you that Morgan may not be your best gold source. Those lads at Morgan have spent a king's ransom in media advertising to get their name in front of the public as the nation's premier gold source.

Then they spent a queen's ransom designing, printing and mailing their beautiful multipage color brochures. Then they spent a prince's ransom furnishing a beautiful suite of offices in Irvine, Calif., equipped with phone banks, furniture — including desks, credenzas, etc. — computers and copy machines. Next, they spent a lord's ransom on payroll, filling their offices with a support staff of lads, lasses and techies.

Then they hired and trained a sales staff to respond to your inquiry, and they pay those boys a duke's ransom each time they close a sale. All this stuff (and I've not included rent, legal, accounting, insurance, utilities or executive salaries) is called overhead, and it is a lot of money and built in to the cost of the gold they sell you.

So I doubt Morgan can sell you an ounce of gold for less than the jeweler whose shop has been on Main Street for 31 years.

Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775, or email him at


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