Lessons From Warren Buffett

Lessons From Warren Buffett: There Is Nothing Special About Gold as an Inflation Hedge

Whenever inflation kicks up, gold always gets touted as an inflation hedge. However, Warren Buffett is quick to point out that there is nothing special about gold in that regard, and, most importantly, that he always prefers productive assets to non-productive assets.

“People, historically, have felt that was the first refuge from a currency that was going to decline in value. But, so is a barrel of oil. So is an acre of land. So is a piece of Coca-Cola. So is See’s Candy,” Warren Buffett noted at the 2005 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. “See’s candy, if the dollar goes down fifty percent, we will be selling See’s candy for double the present price. We’ll be getting the same real price for See’s candy. People will work the same number of minutes or hours per week in order to buy a pound or two-pound box of the candy. So we would much prefer some asset that is going to be useful whether the currency is worth what it is today, or ten percent of what it is today, or whether people are using seashells in order to transact business. Because people will go on eating and they’ll go on drinking and doing various things. And their preferences will translate, in real dollars, into more or less the same economics for us. And we would not trade the ownership of those kind of assets for us for a hunk of yellow metal, which has very little real utility except for people who are looking to flee from the dollar and, in our view, really haven’t thought through the consequences of what fleeing would — where they should flee… My dad was a huge gold enthusiast. So I sat around the dinner table…We sat around listening to the virtues of gold, and that was in, we’ll say, 1940. And gold, at that time, was $35 an ounce. And we would’ve had some storage and insurance costs. And, you know, here it is, 65 years later. World wars, nuclear bombs, all kinds of things. And the compound rate from $35 to a little over $400, less those expenses, is not something that causes me to salivate.”

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© 2022 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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