The big news in the monetary metals is that Warren Buffett—famed disliker of gold—sold bank stocks to buy gold mining shares.
What’s interesting to us is not that we think he has any special powers to predict the gold price. After all, he famously bet on silver, and lost.
What’s interesting is that he understands, intuitively, that owning a piece of gold is not an investment.
He may have been disingenuous in his dismissals of gold, which he did to defend the regime of irredeemable paper. However, he has a point. A lump of metal does not produce anything.
And unless he has suddenly changed his views, his buying a gold mining stock indicates that he now thinks that it’s better to own a metal that produces nothing—and of course, loses nothing—than to own stocks. Or at least bank stocks.
Yes, we know that he did not buy gold metal. He bought a company that he expects to be geared toward the Gold price.
And Here’s Why
We won’t opine on Barrick shares, but we note that Buffet is not alone in expecting that a lump of metal will outperform stocks. Or, to put this in clearer, starker terms: stocks will fall when measured in gold (but perhaps not, when measured in dollars).
Buffet is indeed shorting, if not the economy, then at least commercial banks, investment banks, and credit card companies. He compares them to a cube of gold—and finds them wanting.
We Fully Agree, Warren
We hope that our message to the gold community may be heard above the din of people cheering. It is not good when business prospects are bad, and doubly not good when the prospects of banks are bad. We are not asking anyone to shed a tear for banks.
We are looking through the banks to the slow-motion train wreck that is real estate.
Residential, commercial, retail, restaurant and hotel are all going to experience massive defaults by borrowers. Including the loans that financed those glorious and hip interiors.
We are also looking through the banks to the liability side. Most people think of a bank’s liabilities as money. Banks borrow from everyone, to make loans. If those loans go bad, then that puts stress on the bank’s ability to repay.
Now we see that Warren Buffett, who knows the finance business well, and who has invested in it for decades, is running away from it. And we expect many others to be running too.
About the Author:
Keith Weiner is the founder of the Gold Standard Institute USA in Phoenix, Arizona, and CEO of precious metals investment company Monetary Metals. He also created DiamondWare, a technology company that he sold to Nortel Networks in 2008.