Soros calls gold 'the ultimate bubble'

The metal may continue to rise, but 'it's not going to last forever,' the billionaire investor says.

By TheStreet Staff Sep 15, 2010 12:29PM

thestreetBy Glenn Hall, TheStreet


Record gold prices may soon reverse and disappoint bullish investors, said George Soros, the billionaire investor and legendary currency speculator.


"Gold is the ultimate bubble," Soros said at an event in New York sponsored by Reuters. "It is certainly not safe."


Soros expects a repeat of the historical pattern of bull runs in assets like gold ultimately hitting records and then suddenly reversing. Gold is currently the only bull market, Soros said, adding that it may continue to rise but "it's not going to last forever." He said it will be interesting to see if gold declines in the coming weeks.


Already today gold appears to be cooling off after surging to record highs this week.

Gold for December delivery was losing 50 cents to $1,271.20 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold today has traded as high as $1,273.50 and as low as $1,266.80. On Tuesday, gold hit a record intraday high of $1,276.50 an ounce, $10 higher than its previous high set in June.


The popular gold exchange-traded fund SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) is down 31 cents at $123.71, trading near its 52-week high of $125.


While typically used as a haven to store wealth, gold is not the current choice of the Chinese, who are hoarding oil instead, Soros said. Demand for oil from China is at odds with oil producers who may prefer to keep oil in the ground at this point, so the current economic climate also is putting pressure on oil prices as well, Soros said.


The market-leading US Oil Fund (USO) is down 0.9% today at $33.58, near the bottom of its 52-week range between $31 and $42.


Soros summed up his overall assessment of the U.S. economy in one word -- "blah" -- and said he's concerned about the misguided "fiscal rectitude" emerging in the U.S. and Europe. It is too soon to be winding down stimulus efforts and imposing government austerity programs, he said.


The U.S. and European economies will slow down and stagnate without additional stimulus at this point, Soros warned. That could cause a double-dip recession in the U.S., though Soros said he isn't sure that will happen.


Deflationary pressures in the U.S. and globally are the result of the shifting political tide that would prematurely seek to cut deficits and government debt, Soros said, adding that there is no longer pressure from the financial markets.


While Soros isn't opposed to fiscal discipline, he said it is coming too soon because demand has not yet returned. "It's the right policy at the wrong time," he said.


As a result of these pressures, Soros said there are no investments he can recommend that provide any safety.


"This is a period of great uncertainty, so nothing is very safe", he said.


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