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News & ResearchThe World Gold Council on Portfolio Diversification

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Why invest

Gold is often considered a foundation asset within any long term savings or investment portfolio. For centuries, particularly during times of financial stress and the resulting 'flight to quality', investors have sought to protect their capital in assets that offer safer stores of value. A potent wealth preserver, gold's stability remains as compelling as ever for today's investor.

As one of the few financial assets that do not rely on an issuer's promise to pay, gold offers refuge from widespread default risk. It can offer investors a way to manage the risk of extreme movements in the value of other asset classes.

A number of compelling reasons underpin the widespread renewal of interest in gold as an asset class:

Portfolio diversification

Most investment portfolios primarily hold traditional financial assets such as stocks and bonds. Diversifying your portfolio can offer added protection against fluctuations in the value of any single asset or group of assets. Risk factors that may affect the gold price are quite different in nature from those that affect other assets. Portfolios containing gold are generally considered to be more robust and less volatile than those that do not.

Inflation hedge

Market cycles come and go, but over the long term, gold has retained its purchasing power. Gold's value, in terms of the real goods and services that it can buy, has remained remarkably stable for centuries. In contrast, the purchasing power of many currencies has generally declined, due for the most part to the rising price of goods and services. Hence investors often rely on gold to counter the effects of inflation and currency fluctuations.

Currency hedge

Gold is employed as a hedge against fluctuations in currencies, particularly the US dollar. If the world's main trading currency appreciates, the dollar gold price generally falls. On the other hand, a fall in the dollar relative to the other main currencies generally produces a rise in the gold price. For this reason, gold has consistently proved to be one of the most effective assets in protecting against dollar weakness.

Risk management

Gold is significantly less volatile than most commodities and many equity indices. It tends to behave more like a currency. Assets with low volatility may help to reduce overall risk in your portfolio, and may add a beneficial effect on expected returns. Gold can also help to manage risk more effectively as it can protect against infrequent or unlikely but consequential negative events, often referred to as "tail risks."

Demand and supply

The price of gold tracks the shifting balance of supply and demand. Demand for gold has shown sustained growth over the past decade, due at least in part to rising income levels in key markets. At the same time, long lead times and rising production costs have not resulted in a meaningful increase in gold mining output since 2001. These supply and demand factors have laid foundations for gold's most positive long-term outlook in over a quarter of a century.

Tuesday October 22, 2013 by Robin Newbould