The only serious declines this week were in precious metals and gold stocks. The largest gains were once again in Bitcoin, which rose 11.7% to a new all-time high of 32.7 grams, so that 1 BTC can now buy more than one ounce of gold. Gold stocks again fell more than any other asset-class, dropping 5.1% to close at 4.9 grams. The Dow Jones Industrials were headline news again, as the the Dow broke through the 21,000 mark as measured in US Dollars. More on the Dow and Bitcoin stories below.
This week saw government-issued currencies, bonds, and major stock indexes all lower. Commodities were mixed, with precious metals higher, while food and energy were lower. The week's biggest winner was once again Bitcoin, which gained 8.1%. Gold stocks also rose, with the HUI gaining 2.0%. The largest losses were in coffee and copper, down 6.4% and 5.0% respectively.
Click through for more details and additional commentary on Bitcoin and its relationship to gold.
Things stabilized a bit this week, with mixed results for most asset classes as investors sorted through the debris of the coming political sea-change in the US. The largest swings were in commodities, with silver the week's biggest loser, down 9.3%, and cotton and crude oil the week's biggest winners, up 7.9% and 7.5% respectively.
This week saw rallies in Coffee and Cotton, and a decline in Copper and long term bonds.
Bitcoin continues to hold at a fairly high level despite the failure of Mt Gox, once the largest Bitcoin exchange, but recently marginalized by problems with withdrawals of bitcoins and government currencies. It will be interesting to see what the underlying causes of these difficulties turn out to be – fraud, technical difficulties, hacker attacks, or something else entirely. In the meantime, the rest of the world's exchanges continue to operate smoothly. One of the key advantages of Bitcoin is that the users act as their own banks: there is no need to trust third parties to hold your money! By keeping your funds in your own wallet, you eliminate the risk of a third part failure like that of Mt. Gox.
Bitcoin ended the week up 51.8% at 1,392 mg, after setting another record high every day this week. The latest round of panic buying seems to have been triggered by the partial bank account confiscation plan announced in Cyprus. The realization that their money is no longer safe in banks has spooked investors across Europe, but especially in Spain, where downloads of Bitcoin software have skyrocketed. Because Bitcoin has such a small market cap, currently about 15,800 kg, and trades less than 200 kg each day, it doesn't take much money moving in (or out) to swing the price, so we should expect continued volatility in the near future.
There has never been a better time to switch to gold. By that I mean to choose gold as your unit of account, your personal money. To hold your savings in gold. To measure your investment returns in gold. To keep your books in gold. In fact, it's not just a "good idea", it is vital to your future!
Although nobody wants to use the "N" word, more and more economists, including Nobel Prize winners, are saying that this is really our only choice. Of course it will only be "temporary". Maybe it will be "partial". But any way you slice it, it will be ugly. Thanks to a tip from Seeker Blog editor Steve Darden, I recently came across a great opinion piece in the Financial Times called "To Save the Banks We Must Stand Up to the Bankers". In this article, Peter Boone, a researcher at the London School of Economics and Simon Johnson, former IMF chief economist, and professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, give us the following memorable quote: