Don't listen to the gold-bubble talk

Calling for a ceiling on gold prices makes for better television than investment advice.

By Jim Cramer Oct 5, 2010 8:55AM

jim cramerBy Jim Cramer, TheStreet

 

So gold goes down for a day -- one day -- and suddenly the "I told you so" crowd is everywhere. What determines who is an "I told you so"?

 

First, it is someone who missed the whole run or told you to get out of gold at every tick.

 

Second, it is someone who has described gold as a bubble for at least the past $300.

 

Third, it is someone with a megaphone, either attached to the Web or one of the myriad TV shows that need a story associated with the decline.

 

Fourth, it is someone who does not care one whit about the physical metal and thinks that it can be made in a heartbeat, manufactured, issued and sitting in your vault in a nanosecond. No consideration for the difficulties of finding the stuff taken into account.

Fifth, it is someone who believes there is no natural demand, just speculative demand, and that the people who want it will flip it in a second, typically holders of the SPDR Gold(GLD) ETF.

 

The gravitas of these people always amazes me. First, do I really want to hear from someone who missed the whole rally, when the move was so large and lucrative that anyone should be embarrassed to admit to having missed it? But why not? Have you ever heard an interviewer besides me ask: "Hey, how long have you felt like this? How many dollars did you miss?" And you wonder why people think I am rude on air. Post continues after video:

Second, the propensity to call everything a bubble is actually a work of PR genius. Think about how much mileage Nouriel Roubini has gotten out of his "bubble" call. The fact is that if stocks hadn't gone down and the economy hadn't gone down, the risk/reward would be asymmetrical. He could still come out and say it is all a bubble. In the vernacular, that's called "great TV."

 

The bubble call is a home run. If you get a big decline, you are a genius. If you get nothing or an advance, you are "controversial." Anytime anything is up a lot, if asked, you should pronounce that anything a bubble. It is a no-lose proposition. Of course, if you were wrong every week in, say, an NFL pregame program, you would eventually be kicked off. Not in this game, though. Maybe the NFL is bigger money.

 

Of course, if you actually talk to gold-producing execs, you know the problems they have extracting the metal. It is getting harder and harder to find even though the sky-high price should allow marginal mines to be reopened or should increase the urge to find gold. These forays are happening, but they aren't working well, except in areas that nobody in his right mind wants to go to or where mined gold can easily be confiscated or taxed to the max.

 

Such trifling concerns never enter the equation of the bubble-callers. That requires homework, it requires hands getting dirty, it requires differing from the dogma or the macro view.

I don't blame people for not wanting to do it or thinking they can't do it. I have a TV show, and execs are anxious to come on. They tell me things. But that's easily overlooked by the intelligentsia, which often reviles what I do as "clownish." Like I am Bozo or something. I like being Bozo if it means I get to discover things more easily than others and get to address the micro issues empirically. With apologies to Moby Dick, "Call me Bozo."

 

Finally, I think that when you have the uncertainty we have -- terror alerts, the desire of half a dozen governments to attack Iran, a president widely distrusted by the rich who own gold (rightly or wrongly) -- and you combine that with talk about starting the printing presses and low interest rates that make owning gold vs. bonds a push anyway, people are going to buy gold. That they often do it through an ETF that buys -- or says it buys -- physical gold doesn't matter. Believe me, if coins and bars were convenient, there would be a brisk trade in them. When JPMorgan (JPM)opens a vault for gold, we hear that, too, is a bubble.

 

Bubble, bubble, toil, no trouble.

 

Alas, gold is up nicely today. Good time to haul out even more bubble-callers to sound the caution.

 

As someone who is bullish on gold, I enjoy it. My lightweight, harebrained analysis -- which I have used for $500 worth of gold's rally -- is as stupid and as unrigorous as ever.

 

Hallelujah.

 

At the time of publication, Cramer was long JPMorgan.

 

Jim Cramer is co-founder and chairman of TheStreet. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO.

 

Click here to follow Cramer's Charitable Trust trades.

 

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