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A New Reason Gold Stocks Will Soar

By Jeff Clark, Casey Research

There are a number of reasons why many of us believe gold stocks will shoot for the moon before this bull market is over – they’ve done so many times in the past… the gold price still has a long way to climb… and producers are generating record revenue and profits. But I think there’s another reason why gold stocks will soar – one that hasn’t dawned on many in the industry yet.

The premise for my theory first lies in how gold itself is viewed. Some investors see gold as strictly a commodity or the infamous “barbarous relic.” This group sees no compelling reason to buy the metal and so own little to none. Others view it as a play on a rising asset or because of supply and demand imbalances; they buy while those reasons are positive and sell when they turn negative. Still others view gold as a store of value, an alternative currency, or a hedge against inflation; they tend to buy and hold.

Ask yourself why you own gold. Is it because it’s just another asset that offers diversification? Are you buying because it’s going up and someone like Doug Casey thinks it will continue doing so? Or is it due to a genuine concern about the dilution of your currency, both now and in the future?

What’s interesting to note is the shift in the number of investors wanting exposure to gold. Many who ignored it a decade ago are now buying. Those who started buying, say, five years ago, continue purchasing it today in spite of paying twice what they paid then. Slowly but surely, it’s becoming more important to more people. To wit, increasing numbers of investors are viewing gold as a must-own asset.

So, what happens when it becomes a must-own asset to a substantial majority instead of a small minority? Sure, the price will rise, probably parabolically, but putting aside speculation on the price of gold for now, have you thought about what happens if you have trouble finding any actual, physical gold to buy?

I think what many bullion dealers warned of regarding supply in last month’s BIG GOLD could come true. Andy Schectman of Miles Franklin insisted that the bullion market “will ultimately be defined by complete lack of available supply.” Border Gold’s Michael Levy cautioned, “If an overwhelming loss of confidence in the US unfolds, the demand for physical gold and silver will far outweigh all known inventories.” And Mike Maloney of GoldSilver.com warned that if shortages develop, “physical bullion coins and bars might become unobtainable regardless of price.”

Here’s a trend to consider. The following chart shows the growth in the world’s population vs. the total supply of gold from around the world. By this I mean new supply from mines, not the existing holdings of refined gold of various sorts held by governments, institutions, and individuals around the world.

(Click on image to enlarge)

The population of planet Earth has grown roughly 15% just since the year 2000, while the new supply of gold from all sources (mining, scrap, de-hedging) has fallen 4.2%. The rate of growth in the world’s population last year was 1.1%; while this is roughly similar to the increase in annual mine production for 2011, the trend right now is clearly for the growth in population to surpass the global supply of gold coming to market.

At the same time, demand keeps growing. China imported 3.3 million ounces of gold last November – and total global mining production outside China is just 6.4 million ounces per month. Gold bullion held by the world’s central banks is at a six-year high – but it’s roughly 15% below the amount they held in 1980 and has fallen in half as a percent of their total reserves.

Silver supply and demand paints an even starker picture: last year, for the first time in history, sales of silver Eagle and Maple Leaf coins surpassed domestic production in both the US and Canada. Throw in the fact that by most estimates less than 5% of the US population owns any gold or silver and you can see how precarious the situation is. A supply squeeze is not out of the question – rather it is coming to look more and more likely with each passing month.

This is great for gold owners and speculators, but it has further implications: As increasing numbers of people view gold as a must-own asset, and as supply is not keeping up with demand, where is the next logical place for investors to turn to get exposure?

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