Panelists discuss gold and precious metals at the Conrad Hotel in Hong Kong
Nobody romanticises about an investment more than a gold bug does. A panel of gold industry players at the AsianInvestor/FinanceAsia Commodities Investment Summit this week could scarcely contain their enthusiasm for precious metals.
“The trend is our friend and we think the gold price is going to keep going in a north-easterly direction,” said Owen Hegarty, vice-chairman of G Resources, sporting a graph showing a gold price rocketing upwards – a line that has to be admitted does look halfway like ‘Shanghai 2008’, ‘Silver 1980’, or ‘Nasdaq 2000’ .
Nobody knows for certain if it's different this time, whether that gold graph will turn south-east or if testosterone can keep it up forever.
“We’re in for a multi-decade growth and strength in commodities,” added Hegarty. “There will be speed bumps on the way, but countries are revving their engines on the super highway of growth.”
Alongside him on the panel was Albert Helmig, president of Hong Kong’s Mercantile Exchange. He noted that in his role he doesn’t actually have an official view on a commodity price’s direction – he being an exchange guy. But he primed the audience with some gritty mining aphorisms about ‘mines being long shovels and short cash’, and the metal price being ‘where fear meets greed’.
“I have a couple of fancy degrees that are worthless on Wall Street. All I care about is price,” he said. “I am a believer in commodity bull-trends and if I’m talking to two guys about where they think the gold price will go, and they say “$2,000 per ounce”, I ask them “do you have a long position?” I’m not interested in talking to the guy who says no.”
Meanwhile, David Quarmby, director of commodity structuring at Standard Chartered Bank, was asked if he could devise a structured product to arbitrage the $400 per ounce implicit valuation of gold in a gold miner’s balance sheet with a $1,700 spot price. He suggested simply selling gold production forward and buying back shares (quite an easy solution really).
While a banker, Quarmby also had a good line from the gold bug's playbook. “A gold mine is just like an ETF waiting to come out. You then refine it, stamp it, put it back underground again -- in a vault.”
The tough job of keeping folks moderate on the gold panel was tackled by moderator Thomas Bispham, Asia-Pacific managing director of Behre Dolbear Group.
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