|»5 Minute Wrap Up by Equitymaster|
On This Day - 28 JANUARY 2012
The most irresponsible statement on gold by a CEO?
In this issue:
Apparently, the CEO in question has expressed concern over huge amounts of productive savings moving into unproductive avenues such as gold. "Can India afford the luxury of such a huge part of our discretionary savings going out of productive use?", he is believed to have said.
Indeed, gold's so called unproductive property has become the favourite stick of gold critics to beat the gold supporters with. But this logic does sound a bit hollow to us. Gold is an asset and just like any other asset class, is a medium used by people to park their savings. It is certainly not the case that a person who earlier used to save 30% of his income would now start saving 50% of it if he invests in gold. The proportion of income that will be saved will remain the same before gold investing as after it. So, how does it matter if he invests the same in gold or any other asset class such as stocks or real estate? And tomorrow, if the person needs to dip into his savings to meet some unexpected expenditure, he will certainly come to the market and sell his gold holdings. And this saving and spending pattern of his will remain the same regardless of the asset class that he invests in. Does this make gold unproductive and dissimilar to other assets? We certainly don't think so.
May be the CEO knows something that we don't? But as far as we are concerned there is nothing wrong in gold being part of one's savings. Infact, the fact that gold is still so misunderstood by even the most well read people is the reason one should buy more of it as it shows that the gold bull run still has a long way to go. Having said that, gold should be reasonable part of one's long term portfolio and one should not go overboard. No matter how good the outlook.
Let's look at some of these indicators. China's imports from Japan have declined by 16.2% in December. The Shanghai Container Freight Index and the Baltic Dry Index has seen a substantial fall in freight rates, the latter especially on account of a weak Chinese demand for iron ore. Chinese electricity use has dipped from a YoY growth rate of 8.9% in September to 7.7% in December. Also, residential investment has been contracting. So the only factor that explains the high GDP growth is too much credit. This has gone beyond the limits of safety; an increase of 100% of GDP in five years, or twice US credit growth from 2002-2007 and will not be sustainable beyond a point.
Also, the notion that China's high savings rate and low consumption will come to its rescue is a false one. China's consumption rate is low because wages are low as the economy has focused so much on investment that a distortion has been created. Indeed, this then proves that GDP numbers emanating from the country have to be looked hard at and taken with a pinch of salt.
Though we appreciate Caterpillar's optimistic spirit, their global outlook for 2012 seems more like a wishlist. On second thoughts it isn't so surprising. We often tend to view the world in a way that would serve our own purpose. Many a big financial and economic disasters could have been averted if only people learnt to see things as they were instead of seeing just what they want to see.
The Indian stock markets were up by 3% during the week. This was largely due to the CRR cut by the central bank during the week. The investors are hopeful that this rate cut would help revive the Indian economy. Also, encouraging results by a few corporates despite the gloomy economic scenario helped the markets register gains for the fourth straight week. Amongst the other world markets, all ended the week in the green except for France (down by 0.1%) and US (down by 0.5%).
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