When is a good time to buy gold?

If you search the web for information on when and how to buy gold and in what format you will get a wealth of advice on both the indicators and how to get the best return on your investment.  You may also see warnings from fake coins, tungsten in gold bars to loss of value on resale as dealers take there cut.  More of this later as there are certainly pitfalls that are easily avoided.

You may be driven to gloom and despair when you come across many hypotheses on the dangers of Fiat currency, whereby central banks are printing money and devaluing currencies be that USD, GBP or the Euro. You will certainly not be comforted by articles on Sovereign Debt £1.4 trillion coming up in the UK, the greater and more dangerous debts of the US, Japan, and the current difficulties with Greece, Italy,  Spain and Portugal in the Euro zone. We have already seen the collapse of Iceland and some former eastern European countries and Ireland on the brink (UK citizens who hold money in our Post Office should be aware that this is directly with the Bank of Ireland who is now 1.9 billion in debt). If you delve further you will see more political manoeuvring in the East and Russia, where there is a drive to move away from the USD as the reserve currency, additionally China has a long term strategy for financial domination. You may be forgiven for feeling that the world as we know it will come to a halt as you listen to many experts predicting an inevitable systemic crisis that would make  2008 pale into insignificance and global contagion would cause capitalism itself to collapse.

I am not saying we should ignore those warnings, far from it but the optimist would have some faith that the western world could stabilise, otherwise we will not be concerned with gold and money but food and weapons, and yes you will find that advice already common amongst the growing number of survivalists in the USA.  There will no doubt be rocky roads to follow, financial difficulties, pressures on currencies, but currency is not money.  There is no doubt that many people will be looking for a safe haven, an insurance policy and the only world wide respected haven is gold.  This gold must not be in the form stocks, un allocated gold at a bank or certificates but physical gold which is tangible either held secured at your residence or in a vault where you own it.  Even the survivalists after the guns and ammo recognise that a stash of gold coins would be necessary as a medium to exchange for supplies.

I would say that the majority of investors are optimistic enough to believe that we will overcome a financial crisis to a greater or lesser extent and not be plunged back into the third world. There is no doubt that we are in an investor “safe haven” and even the most optimistic are and should be hedging by diversifying part of their portfolio into gold.  We in the UK have always believed in our currency otherwise we would be part of the Euro zone, we have not been successfully invaded for almost 1000 years hence we have no country wide safe haven investment history. Twenty two miles across the channel, our nearest neighbour France, following a century of invasion, dramatic devaluation understand the safe haven that gold provides.  Families have survived through crisis because they put their wealth into gold napoleons and today French citizens have 3000 tonnes held privately in gold coins. Should a new crisis occur then many French families will be able to ride out the storm whereas hardly any in the UK would be in a similar position. There is a lesson to be learned here.

I have researched long and hard and think I understand the drivers, the risks the patterns.  The case for owning gold is clear but investors will always be looking for Return On Investment so clearly the timing of buying and selling is essential.  We saw in December 2009 the gold spot touch $1227 per ounce and is now holding around $1100. Where will it go is the big question and what are the drivers and is their anything to be gleaned historically or seasonally.

Let’s take a look at the drivers that keep the price low:

  • The West has become complacent and does not have the level fear of financial crisis that it perceived a few months ago. The truth is that we are not out of the crisis the economy is recovering very slowly and is very volatile and we have the £1.4 trillion sovereign debt to face
  • The West although no longer fearing a crisis is still tightening is belt and there is not the money around to spend particularly on jewellery. People are taking note of the volatility, companies who have vacancies are fearful of taking on new staff and unemployment is still a huge issue
  • The USD has been relatively strong recently and as we al know a strong dollar weakens the gold price. Interestingly the GBP and Euro price has risen from the all time high dollar spot price due to weakening exchange rates.
  • India’s private demand dropped in 2009 as people did not buy as much jewelry due to the high price although India’s central bank bought 200 Tonnes off the IMF to back its international commitments
  • China is now the largest consumer and the greatest producer of gold but is playing a very political game as it is determined to increase its reserves and shed dollar assets but it does not want to do anything to increase the price of gold or weaken the dollar while it holds $2 trillion of dollar assets
  • It is believed if demand continues at the current rate it will not overstretch supply.

What will drive the price up?

  • At some point inflation will incur and the dollar will weaken as more money is printed
  • It is likely that there will be another financial crisis that will send all the gold bugs scuttling to protect their wealth
  • China, Russia and India will take up any slack in demand particularly China who want to increase their gold reserve but also have encouraged their citizens to save gold
  • Central banks do not find holding foreign currencies attractive so they can only turn to gold
  • There is a finite supply of gold all that has been produce in the world to date would fit in a 20m cube. It is more difficult and costly to mine and the ability to supply is falling off.

The new drive will come from the East as their central banks diversify from dollar assets and the new found prosperity of their consumers will lead to purchase of gold for jewellery and investment. Eastern currencies will appreciate as the dollar losses its status thus driving up the price in dollars over a period of time.

When is gold bought and sold?

  • Seasonally – Over the last 30 years the gold price has been at lowest with remarkable consistence in the northern hemisphere summer as European jewellery fabricators and customers are on vacation with the biggest drive in the fourth quarter. This coincides with harvest and wedding festivals in the East. On average throughout this period gold bought in summer turned profitable by the end of the year. Professionals tend to sell at the beginning of the year.
  • Historically – Gold has reached a high in cycles followed by quite severe corrections and periods of consolidation. In fact in the last several years gold’s peak highs have followed a super cycle of around 22 months.  Gold reached its famous high in 1980 at $850 which equates to around $2200 when adjusted for inflation so there is a very strong argument that gold still has a long way to go before it reaches its previous high and now we have in addition Russia, China and India as major players. Bearing in mind that cycles constrict and expand please look at the chart below where the next predicted super cycle high will be around 21 months from the high in December 2009 and that will be Q4 2011 and this also coincides with the seasonal trend.


When to buy and when to sell:

All the indicators point a period of consolidation, both seasonally and historically gold should reach a 2010 low in July to August probably $1050 – $1060 and that is probably the time to buy. Do not expect  an immediate significant rise but the trends show that there will be an increase towards the end of the year and probably another period of consolidation in early 2011 so time to hold your nerve.  Late in 2011 the seasonal and the super cycle trends combine and we shall reach the next peak. Conservatively that would be in excess of $1300 but many experts are expecting the next peak to be $1500 or higher. If you are a speculator you may want to take your profit now but if you consider your gold to be your insurance policy then you will hold on to it. If you are in the later category then you will hold your gold until there is a stabilisation and that would not happen until we stop printing currency and take our contractory medicine. See the article on When should we sell gold for more details

What to buy and how?

I mentioned in the opening paragraph that there are pitfalls to avoid and it is not too difficult. Apart from fakes, which can easily be avoided by using reputable sources and not trusting to buying through private individuals through auction site, everything else is designed to take away you profit.


  • Investment gold(1) to avoid VAT
  • Investment gold to include in your SIPP so the UK government will pay you back 20% or 40% depending on your income tax bracket
  • Legal tender gold coins(Sovereigns and Britannias) to avoid Capital Gains Tax on profit
  • From a reputable source


  • Dealers or companies that charge a high premium
  • Proof coins that can have a premium of almost twice the gold value
  • Any gold coins that demand a high initial premium
  • Numismatic coins as they are best left to the experts in that field
  • Large bars that are difficult to liquidate
  • Removing your gold from the professional system as it immediately depreciates by 10-15%
souverain-elizabethII-avers (1)

Sovereign Elizabeth II Obverse

Buying gold bullion is good because the premium is low but we would recommend gold investment coins and in particular semi numismatic coins can attract a premium differential over the gold price particularly in times of crisis. Coins have greater liquidity than bullion bars which can be difficult to split.There is  quite a choice  and that may be appropriate to the country in which you live. The Krugerand is one of the oldest and well known bullion coins and can be purchased with little premium over a bullion bar. In the UK, the British sovereign is in my opinion is the best investment,  “safe haven” and emergency coin in the world and can be bought at very little premium from the right source with added attraction of owning a beautiful historic coin with aesthetic value.

There is clearly a case for a platform that enables the discerning investor to incorporate the factors that removes the risk and reduces purchase premium and commissions to the minimum. This mechanism did not exist until a unique platform was developed to enable the buying and selling of gold in real time with best prices and secure storage,  in France in 2008  The  UK website is currently under development and will be available very soon.

(1) Investment gold is

(a) gold of a purity not less than 995 thousandths that is in the form of a bar, or a  wafer, of a weight accepted by bullion markets or:

(b) a gold coin minted after 1800 that:

¨ is of a purity of not less than 900 thousandths

¨ is, or has been, legal tender in its country of origin; and

¨ is of a description of a coin that is normally sold at a price that does not exceed 180% of the open market value of the gold contained in the coin; or:

(c)  an investment coin as specified in Notice 701/21A Investment gold coins.

Maurice Hall

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One Response to “When is a good time to buy gold?”

  1. krankenkasse kosten Says:

    I thought about investing in gold about 10 years ago, now I am still thinking why I didn’t. There would have been quite a lot of money to make with gold bought to the right time. So now I am stuck with some crapy shares.

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"For a mountaineer, the important things are the effort, the posture and the muscles. The rope that holds him serves no purpose when everything works but it gives him a sense of security. In the same way, all gold does is ensure confidence; it's a safe haven."