Offshore Capitalist

Gold – Backgrounder

Perhaps no other market in the world has the universal appeal of the gold market. For centuries, gold has been coveted for its unique blend of rarity, beauty, and near indestructibility. Nations have embraced gold as a store of wealth and a medium of international exchange; individuals have sought to possess gold as insurance against the day-to-day uncertainties of paper money.

Gold futures contracts are also valuable trading tools for commercial producers and users of the metal. Commercial concentrations of gold are found in widely distributed areas: in association with ores of copper and lead, in quartz veins, in the gravel of stream beds, and with pyrites iron sulfide. Seawater contains astonishing quantities of gold, but its recovery is not economical.

The greatest early surge in gold refining followed the first voyage of Columbus. From 1492 to 1600, Central and South America and the Caribbean islands contributed significant quantities of gold to world commerce. Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, and Hispaniola contributed 61% of the world’s newfound gold during the 17th century. In the 18th century, they supplied 80%.

Following the California gold discovery of 1848, North America became the world’s major gold supplier; from 1850 to 1875, more gold was discovered than in the previous 350 years. By 1890, the gold fields of Alaska and the Yukon were the principal sources of supply and, shortly afterwards, discoveries in the African Transvaal indicated deposits that exceeded even these. Today, the principal gold producing countries include South Africa, the United States, Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, and Russia.

The United States first assigned a formal monetary role for gold in 1792, when Congress put the nation’s currency on a bimetallic standard, backing it with gold and silver.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, most nations were forced to sever their currency from gold in an attempt to stabilize their economies.

Gold formally reentered the world’s monetary system in 1944, when the Bretton Woods agreement fixed all the world’s paper currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar which in turn was tied to gold. The agreement was in force until 1971, when President Nixon effectively cancelled it by ending the convertibility of the dollar into gold.

Today, gold prices float freely in accordance with supply and demand, responding quickly to political and economic events.

Gold is a vital industrial commodity. It is an excellent conductor of electricity, is extremely resistant to corrosion, and is one of the most chemically stable of the elements, making it critically important in electronics and other high-tech applications.

A broad cross-section of companies in the gold industry, from mining companies to fabricators of finished products, can use gold futures (eg COMEX Gold) and options contracts to hedge their price risk. Furthermore, gold has traditionally had a role in investment strategies, and gold futures and options can be found in investors’ portfolios.

via NYMEX.com: COMEX Gold.

Related posts:

  1. The Price Of Gold
  2. 5 Year Gold Price Chart
  3. United State Mint Suspends Production Of Non-Mandated Gold Coins To Meet Demand
  4. The IMF’s strictly limited gold sales approved
  5. Gold is the world’s only safe currency
  6. China Gold Demand May Double Within Decade, WGC Says
  7. Gold is not luring Warren Buffett
  8. Economist: Dollar decline is overblown
  9. China Gold Consumption
  10. China won’t sell dollars to buy gold
  11. India buys half of IMF’s gold for sale
  12. Harrods reports strong sales of gold with the 100 gram bar the most popular
  13. An ETF for tracking the VIX index
  14. Gold Fundamentals Remain Strong – WGC
  15. A fund with a focus on gold equity
  • Welcome to Offshore Capitalist

    Do dramatic financial headlines every day drive you crazy? Forget them! Drop by Offshore Capitalist every now and then to catch the useful stuff.