Inflation Puts Bitcoin and Gold to the Test As Safe Havens for Investors
By Daren Fonda
Bitcoin’s high volatility and ailing price make it increasingly hard to accept it as more than a speculative bet. Economic fallout from Europe should benefit gold far more than Bitcoin.
The story that Bitcoin was “digital gold” always looked flimsy. The threads holding it together frayed further as war broke out. Actual gold is proving its mettle, while Bitcoin is withering on the digital vine.
Both gold and Bitcoin are perceived as a “store or value” against inflation. Each benefits from scarcity. If governments depreciate their currencies by running up debts and printing money, the story goes, Bitcoin could serve as a bulwark against inflation and loss of purchasing power—even taking some of gold’s market share.
Yet Bitcoin’s high volatility and ailing price make it increasingly hard to accept it as more than a speculative bet. It tumbled 10% on the day that Russia invaded Ukraine. Gold futures, in contrast, rose to $1,976 an ounce, their highest level since late 2020. The precious metal is ahead 3% this year, while Bitcoin remains 43% below ita peak price last November. Ever a safe harbor, gold next may go sideways. Price gains from a crisis often fade quickly. RBC Capital Markets’ “high scenario” for gold is only $2,000 through 2023, up just 4% from recent prices.
Still, economic fallout from Europe should benefit gold far more than Bitcoin. Two ways to track the metal’s price are the VanEck Gold Miners exchange-traded fund (ticker: GDX), holding a basket of mining stocks, and the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD), a fund that aims to track the spot price. The former provides dividend income with a 1.6% yield. The latter is a bet that gold’s days aren’t nearly as numbered as Bitcoin’s advocates believe.
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