By Associated Press
If you thought the “Brexit” vote was scary, check out the full-page newspaper ad that recently appeared in the New York Times recounting all the horrors in the present tense, as if they were still unfolding: The vote “topples” the British government, “crushes” the pound and “wipes away” billions in stock market wealth.
Then came the purpose behind all the panicky prose.
“Buy Gold Now!”
Investors have done just that, pushing up the price of the metal to a two-year high.
The ad was from a company selling gold coins that is run by Philip Diehl, a coin expert in Austin, Texas. “Phones have been ringing off the hook,” said Diehl of the reaction to Brexit. Gold is “a way of protecting wealth. It's like auto insurance or house insurance.”
But before joining the rush, experts warn, beware that assets marketed as conservative and safe bought in a panic can sometimes wallop investors.
A quarter of a century ago, money poured into “world income funds” that bet on seemingly conservative short-term government debt. And after the 2008 financial crisis, index annuities were pitched as a way of betting on stock indexes with no risk of loss, a big draw after the U.S. market had lost half its value in a little over a year.
All these seemingly safe products slammed investors with high fees or kept them from accessing their money or socked them with outright losses.
“Fear is a good thing,” said Barbara Roper, a director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America. “Fear mongering is not.”
Gold has been a trusted storehouse of wealth and means of exchange for centuries, of course, but lately it's been jumping around like a risky biotechnology stock. It soared during the financial crisis, fell in the four years through the end of last year, then began climbing sharply in recent months.
On Monday, gold hit $1,366 an ounce, up 28% since the start of the year.
Diehl thinks it will continue to rise because of...