Gold holdings 'useless': panellist

Gold holdings are “useless” and a “remnant from the past”, according to Michael Hart, head of FX strategy at Roubini Global Economics

In a web seminar on Monday, Michael Hart, the head of FX strategy at Roubini Global Economics, slammed gold holdings as "useless" and a "remnant from the past".

He said that during the crisis "no-one was looking for gold."

Countered with the argument that gold was an excellent source of dollar liquidity for central banks during crisis periods, he argued that the public needed to "wake up and disassociate itself from the idea that gold has some intrinsic value".

"You can make tooth fillings from it, or wear it around your neck, but you cannot use it much in production, you cannot consume it," he said. "Its value arises because you think it has value. I don't think it ought to play a great role in the financial system."

Others on the panel, who convened to look at the issues surrounding official sector reserve management, saw a slightly different future for gold. "Gold is a very interesting asset class. It generally performs well during a period of crisis," said Gary Smith, head of the official sector group at BNP Paribas.

However, he warned that investing in the precious metal had its own perils.

"It's a very public investment," Smith said. "People may not know what price you paid for a treasury bond or an agency bond and what price it is currently marked to market at, but with gold, everybody will know what you do, at what price and when you exited."

The third member of the panel, Luděk Niedermayer, former vice-governor of Czech National Bank, confessed to having changed his position on gold somewhat.

"Each crisis is different, it could be that asset classes that did not perform well this time, perform well next time. I am less sceptical about gold these days. The good performance of gold is linked to the decline in trust of central banks as the managers of inflation and the value of currency. Many central banks are trying to drive the value of currencies lower, so efforts to find an asset that cannot be manipulated that way increase."

Click here to view the webseminar

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