Commodities

James Mackintosh

Amid the post-Bernanke rubble, there are probably a few people sparing time from hedging their interest rate risk to look for bargains.

Look no further: the gold miners are cheap! I mean, really cheap. Gold has tumbled a long way from its peak, but miners have fallen much further – and are now trading at an extraordinarily low multiple of the gold price. This chart shows the ratio of the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners index of small miners, and of the Arca Gold Bugs index of larger miners, to the gold price.

Miners and gold

Larger miners are now the cheapest relative to gold they’ve been since the aftermath of the dotcom bubble, when they proved a serious bargain. The index of junior miners only started in 2004, but their prices are testing the low relative to gold reached after Lehman Brothers collapsed – after which they offered some of the best returns of any stocks anywhere. 

James Mackintosh

Spandau Ballet’s 1983 anthem Gold could be the national anthem for the world’s inflationistas.

Always believe in your soul
You’ve got the power to know
You’re indestructible
Always believe in, because you are
Gold! GOLD 

James Mackintosh

Gold prices can be volatile

The argument for a gold standard is simple: it stops the ravages of political interference with the currency. A dollar was worth the same in 1933 as it had been a century earlier, with $20.67 buying one ounce of gold. The example almost every supporter of gold comes up with is that at the start of the 19th century an ounce of gold would buy a very nice men’s suit, as it would at the end of the century; it still will.

There’s no doubt that doing away with paper money stops politicians abusing it, printing money to fund their favourite spending schemes and, in extreme cases, destroying the currency and the economy altogether. 

John Authers

What should we believe about China? That is the topic of today’s Note video with James Kynge, principal of the FT’s China research service, China Confidential. Uncertainty currently roils both China’s economics and its politics.

Plainly it is hard to spin the abrupt and unexplained disappearance of prospective premier Xi Jinping in any way that is positive. He is supposedly about to become the world’s second most powerful man – we still do not even know the date for the Congress that will approve that appointment, but it is due next month – and yet he has suddenly disappeared from public life. The news overnight (after we recorded the video) that he was named in a list of dignitaries expressing condolences to the family of a deceased , removes some of the more alarming explanations for his absence, but speculation about his health continues. The continued refusal to provide any official explanation for his absence is a classic example of Chinese opacity.