Gold and the Ides of March
Can the price of gold keep rising? Talk to gold bugs and they will tell you key drivers such as political instability and inflation are bigger issues today than when the yellow metal began the stellar rise that tripled its price in half a decade.
But gold has its critics, and their rebuttal was crystallized by Warren Buffett who said he would rather own "all of the farmland in the United States, 10 Exxon Mobils, plus have $1 trillion of walking-around money" instead of all the gold in the world. In the meantime, gold bugs have been gaining adherents from the world of economics. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, for instance, believes there is increasing evidence that economies do better when pegged to a gold standard, as the US was from 1870 to 1914.
The Economist's Edward George takes a more practical view of gold's rise. He doesn't "...believe the price can fall below U$800/troy oz for long, as over half of current gold mining operations are only profitable at a price of at least US$1,000/troy oz. If the price falls below this level for a long time they will simply stop producing, reducing supply and ultimately driving up the price again."
The rising tide of gold prices has lifted most all the boats in the public markets. Some gold miners, candidly, aren't sure the price is sustainable. Others have delivered huge margins by behaving as though the price of gold hasn't moved, making smart acquisitions, removing hedge and keeping their cost of production down. As we approach the Ides of March it appears gold and gold companies are set to have very interesting 2011.