Billionaire Fund Manager Thomas Kaplan on Gold

C/O of GATA, here are some of Thomas Kaplan’s thoughts on Gold. Pay special attention to the bold:

Even today, as the gold rally has reached the 10-year mark (following a 20-year bear market), the metal represents a mere 0.6 per cent of total global financial assets (stocks, bonds and cash). This is near the all-time low (0.3 per cent) reached in 2001, and significantly below the 3 per cent it accounted for in 1980 and the 4.8 per cent it was in 1968.

However, there are changes afoot. After a lengthy absence, some asset managers and central bankers are readmitting gold back into the group of prudent asset classes. Assessing the devastation of financial industry and government balance sheets, fiduciaries have been reminded that one of the principal reasons to hold gold — that it is the only major financial asset that does not represent someone else’s obligation to repay — is not the arcane concept it once appeared.

I believe the renewed appreciation of risk management is in its infancy and that gold, like stocks and bonds, will recover its relatively small, but significant historical position in the world’s investment funds. Considering the tiny size of the gold market, the implications of a potential return of gold into the world’s largest portfolios are enormous. For, unlike stocks and bonds, whose supply can increase to meet demand, there is not enough gold to go around at today’s prices.

According to International Strategy and Investment Group (ISI), if gold ownership rose from 0.6 per cent of total financial assets to only 1.2 per cent, still less than half its 1980s level, this would equate to an additional 26,000 tonnes, or 16 per cent of aggregate gold worldwide. This represents 10 years’ worth of current production.

Is such a momentous development likely? I suggest it is more likely than not, as the metal is set up for a “perfect storm” from a supply/demand standpoint. At a time when mining companies can barely find enough gold to replace their reserves and production growth is anaemic, central banks have not only stopped selling their gold but are now aligning with investors to accumulate it.

As it dawns on the wider market that the bull market in gold is real, the impact on gold mining equities will probably be dramatic. Until recently, in spite of their theoretical leverage, miners have lagged behind the metal’s performance. This should not be so surprising. As most analysts haven’t changed the long-term pricing of their cash-flow models to reflect a sustained bull market in gold, the shares have underperformed amid assumptions that are outmoded.

This disconnect is similar to the experience of energy equities in the early 2000s. Even as oil surged, it was not until investors accepted that oil might not stay low forever and started to factor in higher prices that the equities were revalued. With the total market capitalisation of all gold mining companies only fractionally higher than that of Apple, any move by investors to capture the inherent leverage of these equities could drive stock prices substantially higher.

Source: GATA