Last week was a wild ride that saw gold swing $85 between its high and low prices, but still managed to end the week higher.
Most of the excitement can be traced to the ongoing debt situation in Europe and the almost inexplicable behavior of the Greeks, who can’t seem to take yes for an answer. The volatility of the situation and potential ramifications on this side of the Atlantic sent the euro into a tailspin against the dollar, initially knocking commodities down a peg early in the week, only to see prices recover by Friday.
All the fear, fuss, and anguish has been caused by a country roughly the size of Louisiana. We could spend time trying to figure out how the global economy became so intertwined that one fiscally irresponsible country could wipe 100s of billions in value from equity markets and cause tidal wave ripples in the global economy, but it might be more productive to focus on the reality we have to live with for the immediate future.
Greece is not the only country in trouble over there, Italy is also on the brink. If Greece can cause turbulence in global markets, it’s only the warm up act compared to Italy. On top of that you can pile Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. A backlog of bad news waiting to rip through markets which will inevitably come to a boil at the most inconvenient time.
So this is the payoff for the highly touted globalization strategy that was supposed to bring jobs and prosperity: Greece sneezes and your 401(k) catches a cold. Removing barriers to trade really didn’t benefit average Americans much at all, but it did bleed jobs overseas and hammer what’s left of the middle class.
Where does that leave you as a small investor? Right now I see more reasons than ever to stay defensive in your investments. Stay in cash, liquid investments, and use sudden dips in gold and silver prices as a buying opportunities to add to your supply.
As I’ve mentioned many times before, you’re not buying gold and silver as a growth investment. There have been many times in recent history when gold has lost value; you can’t look at the last ten years and assume that trend is going to continue indefinitely. But it really doesn’t matter because you’re buying gold and silver to hold on to the intrinsic value, not the current relative value.
The long-term strategy is that gold and silver will be worth something when you take it out of the safe. You can’t make the same assumption about cash. In fact, it’s almost a certainty that the cash you put in the safe will be worth less when you take it out than when you put it in.