What Do Americans Think About Gold?

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Precious metals have been relatively quiet this week. After posting its best weekly gain in two months, gold is trading slightly lower at about $1,650 per ounce. Meanwhile, silver is trading near $30.50 per ounce. Gold and silver are currently taking a pause, but have been in a bull market for more than a decade and apparently Americans are taking notice.

According to a recent Gallup poll, gold leads four other types of investments when Americans were asked to pick the best long-term investment. The poll found that 28 percent of Americans view gold as the best investment vehicle for the long-term, compared to 20 percent selecting real estate. Paper assets such as stocks and savings accounts were tied for third place with 19 percent, as bonds finished last with only 8 percent. The new findings were part of Gallup’s April update of its annual Economy and Personal Finance poll.

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Although gold prices have declined from their nominal highs made last year, the safe-haven metal still remains the top pick. Gallup explains, “Investing in gold has gained in popularity in recent years as low interest rates have made traditional savings instruments less attractive, and instability in the stock and real estate markets has undermined the mass appeal of those options. Meanwhile, the rising trajectory of the price of gold over the past several years apparently offers more of the returns and stability investors seek. Although gold prices dipped in the last quarter of 2011 after hitting an all-time high of $1,924 per ounce in September, and have yet to fully recover, more Americans continue to consider gold the best long-term investment among the major options available to consumers.”

While the Gallup poll findings may raise red flags for contrarian investors, the percentage of Americans that viewed gold as the best investment actually declined 6 percent from last year. Furthermore, what Americans say and do are completely two different things. Gold ownership still remains low by historical standards and according to sales by the United States Mint, there is no rush to buy American Gold Eagles, the most popular bullion coin in the country. In April, the U.S. Mint sold 19,000 American Gold Eagles, the lowest monthly amount since 2008. For the first four months of 2012, the U.S. Mint sold 181,000 Gold Eagles, compared to 358,000 sold in 2011. Furthermore, gold held in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold backed ETF, recently fell to a three month low of 1,274.09 tonnes.

Even though short-term volatility and a lack of understanding may scare many Americans away from investing in gold and silver, the fundamental reasons for owning either precious metal have not changed. In a world of uncertainty, gold and silver can still be used to diversify and preserve wealth.

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Disclosure: Long EXK, AG, HL, PHYS

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