The Gold Report: Robert, you presented a paper at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada conference that focused on, among other things, the uses of gold as a monetary asset. Please tell our readers about that.
Robert Cohen: Gold is quintessentially a monetary asset. Many people believe it is the most ideal monetary asset on the planet, given that the world's other monetary assets are fiat currencies that can be expanded at the whim of a government.
Every ounce of gold ever produced is still kicking around on the surface, a total of about 160,000 tons. Half of that may be in the banking system. Miners produce about 2,500 tons a year. So only a very tiny expansion of liquid gold accrues every year, especially compared to the global liquidity created by printing money.
Imagine that we could remove currency from the world. We would have to think about hard assets such as real estate, oil, primary and precious metals relative to how one has performed with respect to another. If you do that, you see that since 1971 the average gold-to-oil ratio has been about 16.5 barrels of oil per ounce of gold. If you had been paying the gas station attendant in gold every time you filled up, you would have paid the same amount in gold for the last 40 years without noticing any price inflation. ...