Gold loses some of its shine

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From the treasures of Midas to Goldfinger’s raid on Fort Knox, gold has always mesmerized humankind. But how much is there and why did it vary so much in worth in the last few decades? Ed Prior from the “BBC” discusses recent estimates and Nathaniel Popper from the “New York Times” explains why gold is losing its luster.
All gold ever mined in human history is still in existence but experts differ on the amount unearthed. Thomson Reuters GFMS give in their yearly Gold survey 171.300 tons as their last assessment and thereby come close to James Turk, the founder of Gold Money, with 155.244 tons. All this gold melted together would make up a cube with sides of less than 21 meters. The Gold Standard Institute, however, argues that about 2.5 million tons of gold were mined in human history, a speculative number taking into account illegal trading and that much of it is hidden in vaults. At least for now, the gold rush of the last decade seems to be over. The price rallied over 650% from 1999 to 2011 but since then lost over 15%. Gold has been seen as a safe haven during the recession, but the recovering economies together with the high price level reached dampen further demand.
Gold has always been the prototype for riches based on scarce resources. This is however also the problem. Only in economic bad times gold can reach the status of a reserve currency. In good times the demand for producing jewelry remains limited and the high price level reached motivated many industrial users successfully to look for cheaper substitutes. The quantities used in technological products are often so small nowadays that recycling is not economical. In consequence, for the first time in history humankind consumes gold which may again lead to higher prices some day.