It was a tough week for gold and silver, though precious metals had plenty of company to the downside as equities were also down on the week and the month. Take a couple weeks off for vacation and it seems like the whole investing world goes crazy.
Gold closed out last week at $1713.40, down $2.12 on the day. Silver was off $0.31 to $32.29, bringing the silver/gold ratio to 53.
During my hiatus I also ran across stories of panic in some circles in the wake of the election with people stockpiling gold, silver, ammunition and canned food. In one of those stories a couple went to the extreme of turning all their free cash into silver, including their kid’s trust fund, in anticipation of what they think will be an impending economic collapse. Let me say this as plainly as I can: Don’t do that. If you’re turning your children’s college trust fund into any commodity, you have moved beyond prudent precaution to the edge of sanity.
It might be helpful to consider what would economic collapse really look like. There is no standard definition for economic collapse, but most people picture it as a period of severe, prolonged depression accompanied by soaring unemployment, hyperinflation, high rates of bankruptcy, and a breakdown in normal commerce. The U.S. experienced just such a scenario during the Great Depression and more recently in the great meltdown of 2008.
During both those times the engine of the economy that we call the credit markets seized up and came to a grinding halt. In 2008 companies like GE, yes General Electric, could not borrow money to make payroll.
Even during those crisis times commerce did not stop completely and social order remained more or less intact. You did not see grocery stores putting up signs saying they would only accept gold and silver or deals being transacted in commodities, although there was one supermodel who insisted on being paid in euros. The police stayed on the job, prisons continued to function and grocery stores stayed open.
That’s because in times of crisis the government can print virtually unlimited supplies of currency and that’s exactly what the Federal Reserve did. Money flowed like a fountain and while that certainly impacted the long-term value of our currency, it kept the economy moving along; it was wounded, but more or less intact.
It is sound investing to have a percentage of your wealth in gold and silver, and it’s prudent to have emergency supplies of food, along with a generator and source of clean water in case of natural disaster. But don’t let irrational fear lead you to turn your home into an armed bunker or your kid’s college fund into silver.
Let’s face it; if we’re down to trading for food and holding off hordes of starving peasants with an M-16, then we are no longer the United States of America anyway. We’re some kind of collection of armed tribes on the order of a Mad Max movie. In that situation silver isn’t going to help you much as so few people keep any on hand. If it comes to that, then the best resource you’ll have for survival will be the collective action of you and your neighbors.
If you’re out there alone with a supply of food, it’s only a matter of time before a gang that’s better armed comes by and takes it from you. Without the support of friends and neighbors, none of us will survive very long and if we did manage to hang on it would be a pretty gruesome experience.
Chris Poindexter, Senior Writer, National Gold Group, Inc