Commodities Largely Flat

Posted: Dec 19, 2012 12:01 AM

Commodities were largely flat to slightly higher Tuesday as the market continues to drift sideways in the face of economic numbers that are overall positive. 

Gold was up $1.39 to $1,698.49 and silver was up $0.15 to $32.40, for a silver/gold ratio of 52.4. 

Industrial commodities are mostly higher by small margins including platinum and crude oil, while palladium and copper are trading lower. 

While flat markets tend to annoy big traders, it shouldn’t be causing retail traders any grief.  This is a great opportunity to add to your collection at last year’s prices.  When silver slips to the $32 range I start paying attention to sales and start swinging by my local precious metals dealer to just say hello and look over the stock. 

The reason wild gyrations in price should not bother retail traders is because you’re not buying gold and silver as growth investments.  Gold will never pay a dividend and you’ll never open your safe and find your silver had a two-for-one split.  What you will find is the troy ounce of gold you put in the safe five years ago is still a troy ounce of gold and still maintains some relative value in relation to currency. 

That’s why you don’t put all of your wealth in precious metals.  Think of it like ballast in the hold of a ship, a weight of stability that smooths out the ups and downs of your cash savings.  Gold and silver are hard assets, just like real estate is a hard asset.  The difference is you can’t put real estate in your safe. 

Property, even vacant land, has costs associated with maintenance and taxes.  Developed land with a structure has a higher tax rate, requires more maintenance, plus insurance.  Collectively those are called ancillary costs and they reduce the overall margin.  In most cases real estate, unless it’s commercial property, loses value when measured against inflation when you count the ancillary costs.  People think they’re making money if they get more back from a house than they paid for it, but when you figure in the transaction and ancillary costs, most of the time real estate is a loser. 

The value in precious metals is that once you pay the dealer margin, there are no ancillary costs unless you pay someone to store it for you.  When it’s in your safe it’s not being taxed and your broker can’t make money trading it or loaning it out for short sales.  The gold and silver in your safe are out of reach of government and Wall Street shenanigans, free to find their own level relative to currency.  That value relative to cash is where gold and silver truly shine. 

Chris Poindexter, Senior Writer, National Gold Group, Inc