The largest demand for gold is in jewelry and investments. Gold is known as a
metal that is easily used and has many industrial applications. Since gold is so durable and
luxurious, many people invest in jewelry, stocks, and gold bonds. Considering the fact that
gold is considered a world-wide valuable good, many economies have gold reserves to
help protect themselves in times of need. Nevertheless, factors of supply and demand have
contributed to the decrease of the price of gold, which has reached an all time low since
1978. This reduction has raised many concerns in the United States having them weigh the
different factors of the price, supply and demand, and consumption that may be affecting
The price change commands attention since gold serves to indicate price stability
or inflation. Although, inflation is not as threatening in the United States because it is
more industrialized, the bigger fear is facing deflation with our countries gold currency.
Gold averaged 294 dollars per ounce in 1998, when at one time the prices were in the mid
$400-500 per ounce. Due to fact that gold prices have been so low, Central Banks have
threatened to sell their gold inventories fearing that gold is no longer considered the
ultimate store of value. Regardless, prices have continued to fluctuate in both directions
throughout the year, but it is important to weigh the different variables that are having an
There are different factors associated with the supply and demand which have
caused prices to decrease. First of all, the record low prices in the past year has caused
investors to participate less causing prices to be determined largely on golds own supply
and demand fundamentals and the economic environment. The supply of gold declined by
less than 2% during 1998. The price reduction started to impact the mine production by
slowing the rate of manufacture growth by the end of 1998. When prices began to
weaken, this caused many mines to shut down, leaving low grade ore in the ground. This
alone is effecting the mine output and the cost to produce more gold.
On the other hand, the sales of gold jewelry are increasing at a record pace, since
the economy is strong, there are low gold prices, rising consumption rates, the emergence
of new discount chains, television shopping, and electronic chains (Haubrich, Joseph). The
growing demand for gold jewelry helped push gold usage in the United Sates to a first
time report of 428.4 metric tons in 1998, which is an 18% increase. Since consumption
has been driven in the United States, our economy is expanding and consumers are
spending more. During the past year, according to the JCK national poll, over 150
independent jewelers support the figures. They found that two-thirds of respondents
(68%) said they had a sales increase over the past year, while the other two out of five
(38%) claimed to have sales gains of 20% or more. Over all, the immediate gain for
jewelry retail due to the lower prices was a 15 % increase.
Using the statistics from the Commodity Price Index, for the last 12 months in
1998, it is evident that the second half of the years prices fluctuated. In the first part of
1998, the gold price ranged from $295.90 – 297.49, although it peaked in April reaching
to $308.40, which was the highest for the year. The price increase was due to higher
demand of consumers and the expansion in investments during that time period, in spite of
the fact, prices did not continue to remain as high for the remainder of the year. In fact,
the following month of May, dropped another $9.01, having the rate of gold at $299.39.
As for the second half of the year, prices still dropped but managed to stay in the low
$290s making retailers prosperous.
Regardless consumers were happy with the lower prices, many investors and
miners have been struggling to feel the same towards the lower rate. Stocks have lost over
90% percent of their investments in gold and have many investors wondering if the value
of gold is depreciating. Miners too, are worried about the lower prices considering they
have been the major producers of gold in the past and in future markets. The idea that
central banks have discussed to sell partial amounts of their gold reserves has investors
worried with hopes that demand will not continue to decrease.
When evaluating the prices for the beginning of 1999, they have continued to be
unsteady and low, although there is hope for an optimistic future foe higher gold prices.
The price continues to range in the mid $250-290s since gold is rather abundant even
though other nations released some of their reserves and placed it on the market. This
crude rate has caused some miners to be temporarily out of work and stocks are still very
low. The gold prices of April, averaged approximately $250 per ounce, and have remained
in that range the next three months.
According to The Economist, the price of gold reported to increase at $260 per
ounce in August. Even though, more gold has been placed on the market the demand had
increased in the past month due to agreements and regulations placed to control the
amount of gold being released on the market. Having a better understanding with what
may happen in the future investors remain optimistic. By the end of September, prices
made a positive change showing a first mark in the 300s, reaching a high of $315 per
ounce. Thereafter, prices in the month of October extended as high as $327 per ounce and
having November prices fluctuating in the lower 300s. These price trends are stirring
some interest to investors and stock markets with hopes that gold will continue to have
In a memorable essay, Milton Friedman wrote that millions of people all over the
world regard gold as money, if not the only true money (Haubrich, Joseph). This is
one main reason why the price of gold commands attention especially since it is an
indicator of price stability and the possibility of inflation. Gold is also used as a
commodity, used in jewelry and by industry. It is important that details of supply and
demand do not affect the price its price. It is essential to keep in mind the different
outcomes the country may face from the mobility in the price of gold.