The Illusion of the Intrinsic Value of Precious Metals
I am obviously not an economist but I have some thoughts about the consensus reality of gold and precious metals. As we’ve all noticed, in light of the problems with the dollar, there’s been a greatly increased interest in various precious metals. Gold has hit highs around $1,400 per ounce, as of this writing.
Of course I understand that people make a lot of money trading gold, precious metals, etc. Nonetheless, while we are told that the gold and/or silver standard is superior to the dollar, which is only printed money with no intrinsic value and nothing to back it, the value of gold is still reported in terms of…the dollar, i.e. some form of currency.
But is there really any intrinsic value to gold, other than what we, again, agree to give it?
All sorts of arguments can certainly be made about the historical precedents, the almost universal agreement about gold’s value, and the usefulness of precious metals in various industries, etc. But since we’re ultimately talking about intrinsic value, which may become ever more important as financial and other conditions deteriorate even more, let’s look at some questions pertaining to the end game here, again from the viewpoint of a non-economist:
You can’t eat dollar bills but…can you eat gold?
I’m certainly not the first person to point this out. If, during times of great adversity and want, someone has the loaf of bread you very badly need, and you have gold, how much do you think it will cost you for the loaf of the very scarce bread…if they are willing to sell it?
If you have a sack of gold, and another person has some water, meat, milk, or seeds, etc. to trade for the bread, who do you think will walk away with the loaf?
What does this mean, where are we really heading?
At the time of this writing, the store shelves are still well stocked in many places in the industrialized world. However disruptions in deliveries of food, water and other goods (even fuel and electricity) is hampered in some places because of unexpectedly severe weather, which is – and will continue to be – getting worse in other places as well. So we best note the inevitable questions before the realities they suggest are actually upon us.
What happens if the weather continues to be problematic, not only for food delivery but also for the growing of crops? Is that such a farfetched consideration at this point? And what about the manmade related food destruction?
How practical and sensible is all this?
How many people, proportionate to the population own gold and other precious metals now? How likely is it that the metals will become universally accepted in trade for goods and services? What happens when those people without precious metals, and possibly with limited or no amounts of devalued cash, become aware of who does have gold, silver, etc?
So, what is the intrinsic value of precious metals? Should the time come when scarcities in truly life essential goods and services becomes widespread, will there be a breaking point, a time when all that glitters really isn’t of value anymore? Is it really wise to adhere to the “it can’t happen here” point of view? For what it’s worth, there are even questions about the existence of some of the metals that people think they own.
About our mutual agreements.
It’s not that I don’t understand the game that’s been played for millennia, based on mutual agreements as to what something is worth. It’s just that we’re entering a new time that will bring unprecedented changes and challenges to all of us…sooner or later. I do know that we are definitely on our way, that we have passed the point of no return in the most crucial areas pertaining to human survival.
So can we expect all agreements – which were necessary in the first place to try to create a perceived intrinsic value to these things – to hold? I suggest that lots of things will be up for grabs, in time and under certain conditions.
It’s all gambling anyway.
All of the isms, capitalism, socialism, etc., and the concept of the “free market”, etc., are a form of gambling and manipulation, and only as good a bet as the moral, ethical strength and values of the human beings that create and maintain these systems. The market, free or otherwise, is still only a human creation and all the talk about it “corrects itself”, etc., is only as good and reliable as the human beings who are really the essence of it. If people don’t correct themselves, rein in their greed and power hunger then don’t look for some “market” to do it for them. And when certain pressures are exerted beyond tolerance, then a breakdown has to, and will, occur.
Of course people try to create and support systems that they think are good and beneficial, at least for them. Some people have broader, more universal goals and philosophies, some narrower. But the time of reckoning comes when all things are put to the test, including the seemingly untouchable precious metals markets.
What’s the best investment you can make now?
My best answer would be, in addition to all of the essentials of life (food, water, clothing, shelter, etc.) for yourself and family, it would be find ways of becoming useful to your fellow man. By that I mean finding ways to cooperate with like-minded people, as well as being willing to assist anyone else in need, as long as it’s not at the expense of your own survival.
This can be viewed as another opportunity to stop looking to outside authorities (for anything other than – hopefully – providing specific necessary services), to stop venerating celebrities, sports stars, etc. Essentially we can start to see each other as being of equal value in the grand scheme of things. Of course there will always be those who reveal themselves to be undesirable characters, etc., from whom we can withdraw without having to try to force unrealistic, idealistic relationships and associations.
Interesting but don’t count on it.
As a final note, should the information at this site be accurate – and I am in no position – to say that it is – it would certainly change the perceived value of gold and platinum. If someone can actually “manufacture” the substances, virtually at will, that would have a huge impact on numerous aspects of society, some quite positive, i.e. the elimination of the need to be mining the metals, etc. Don’t hold your breath quite yet though.