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September 09, 2011

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Keith

Except that a broken clock is right twice a dad!
Gold is a bad long term investment but all Investments can be bad in a future finite period of time. You can make or lose money by any procedure rational and irrational. Some people will be right by mere luck and gain in any area of life. Uncertainty prevents a perfectly rational calculation in most areas of life. So we flip a coin. There is no point lamenting the fact as no one can do anything about it. It is probably good for society that people undertake irrational ventures which is why the propensity exists in the population. Like evolution more generally the individual members of the population may not gain or even die out. But the whole may gain a reproductive advantage. It is the difficulty of understanding the law governed basis of selective pressure that makes evolution a hard idea to discover. Red in tooth and claw and devoid of moral merit. Automatic and world mastering as gravity. You are not good or clever just the working prototype of evolution by natural selection; soon to be replaced by a better prototype.

Jim

Are you feeling slightly piqued that you missed out on the gold boom?

And are you the sole judge of what is rational and what isn't?

Charles Wheeler

"The man who, who a few years ago expected hyperinflation and/or full-blown debt crises in the UK and US would have piled into gold and made a packet by now - much more, in fact, that the less idiotic investor who took a more cautious position."

Perhaps he was simply making a rational assessment of other's irrationality - based on past behaviour during economic crises? Which may not be so idiotic.

How anyone could look at the accelerating levels of debt and not see it was a road to disaster (aside from those who stood to gain from the suspension of disbelief) is the real mystery.

chris

Jim - I'm not piqued at missing out at all. I miss tons of opportunities. It's the counterpart of not losing very much in other senses.
It is obvious that anyone who expected hyperinflation/UK debt crisis was not only wrong, but irrational.
@ Charles - there were/are lots of good rational reasons to buy gold, anticipation of others' idiocy being just one. I'm NOT thinking of all gold investors here, merely those who bought for those stupid reasons.

Jim

"It is obvious that anyone who expected hyperinflation/UK debt crisis was not only wrong, but irrational."

Wrong (so far) maybe, but only irrational in your opinion. Not irrational in mine. Hence my question as to whether you consider yourself the sole arbiter of what is rational or not.

Can hyperinflation NEVER happen in the UK? If it can happen (even if in your opinion the likelihood is very low) why is it irrational if someone considers it more likely than you do?

Tom Addison

"We will then give too much credence to the idiotic investor who over-weighted gold for barmy reasons, to the boss who won promotion by being irrationally overconfident, to the politician who won power by unreflectingly articulating the prejudices and idiocies of his colleagues and the public, or to the novelist or entrepreneur who just got lucky."

Spot on, can't stand it when reporters think that the people who know most about the jobs markets are chief executives at large companies, rather than labour market economists.

Worshipping the successful to make out that anyone can "make it" and all that as well.

Keith

Hyperinflation is a very remote possibility in any Nation and usually only happens in the aftermath of defeat in a large war. To think it could happen in the UK in the near future is irrational and stupid, a myth put about to help sell gold to the gullible and provide spurious arguments for reactionary economic policies. Also there is a reason why Gold and other metals are not used in daily commerce, they are very inconvenient to use. If hyperinflation did happen here and wiped out the value of fiat money a new fiat money would eventually replace our existing currency and you would have to convert your Gold bars or certificates in to the new paper money to buy food and other goods. The owner of Gold silver etc would have no power to control the exchange rate in advance so the future utility of the gold is uncertain. In a crisis severe enough to produce hyperinflation the political situation would be disorderly and so the state might just confiscate your Gold as happens under authoritarian Governments frequently. To suppose social break down bad enough to require abandoning fiat money is to suppose the total unreliability of all economic value. There is no hedge against that open to any private citizen.

Jim

@Keith: the owner of a gold coin has held an easily portable, readily acceptable form of wealth for thousands of years. The pound has been around for a few hundred years and currently buys a fraction of what it could even a few decades ago(having lost most of its value since no longer being backed by gold).

Gold may not be the perfect store of value, but it never goes to zero. Whereas the history of fiat currencies is littered with paper money that is worthless today.

You can keep your notes and I'll keep my gold, deal?

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