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Thursday, January 31, 2013


How does the price of oil compare with gold and platinum?  Here is a time chart showing how many barrels of oil an ounce of gold can purchase:

Petroleum today is almost $98/barrel, while gold ended at $1662/ounce, close to platinum at $1672.  Thus, the ratio is 17, just below what you see on the above chart.

Gold and platinum were both around $300/ounce in 1998 when the real price of oil was at an all-time low of around $11/barrel.

Here are the historic prices of gold and platinum:

In 2008 platinum skyrocketed to just under $2200/ounce because demand exceeded supply, caused by an economic boom, electricity shortage in South Africa and other issues there.  Gold went through this peak in 1980 after the second energy crisis and almost reached  $2200 on an inflation adjusted basis:

This oil/gold ratio, of course, makes no sense in this analysis, because in 2008, when gold meandered around $300/ounce, oil whipsawed between  $145 and $38, or a rough ratio from 2 to 8.

I've been watching platinum because fuel cell electrodes use this metal.  If this market takes off, who knows where this commodity will go.  The driving factor today is South Africa, form where comes 80% of this material.  First there is the political factor, but more importantly today, labor strife.

So should you invest in gold or platinum today?  No, you missed out on that opportunity during the period of the previous presidential election campaign in 2008.  If you see this ratio with oil drop to 10 or single digits, then, perhaps.  But life is not that simple, for gold will shoot up when anything like a recession or depression looms, but oil will then  sink, too, for there will then be a lowered demand.


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