Warren Buffett, the world’s most famous and richest investor, wrote the following in his annual letter to his stockholder:
“Today the world’s gold stock is about 170,000 metric tons. If all of this gold were melded together, it would form a cube of about 68 feet per side. (Picture it fitting comfortably within a baseball infield.) At $1,750 per ounce — gold’s price as I write this — its value would be about $9.6 trillion. Call this cube pile A.
“Let’s now create a pile B costing an equal amount. For that, we could buy all U.S. cropland (400 million acres with output of about $200 billion annually), plus 16 Exxon Mobils (the world’s most profitable company, one earning more than $40 billion annually). After these purchases, we would have about $1 trillion left over for walking-around money (no sense feeling strapped after this buying binge). Can you imagine an investor with $9.6 trillion selecting pile A over pile B?”
Steve Beck’s has some interesting points in his answer to this in an article at Marketwatch.com.
“To explore this question, simply exchange gold for cash in this comparison. Would it be wise to own a huge $9.6 trillion pile of cash over $9.6 trillion in diversified corporate value? The answer is the same, no. The wise investor would select the diversification and compounding of corporate productivity every time. What can cash do for you other than sit there, produce nothing and deflate at an historic rate of approximately 3% a year.
Should you then draw a conclusion that cash does not belong in your portfolio? Obviously not. Even Buffett himself would acknowledge that cash, stocks and bonds are fundamental building blocks of a portfolio. Cash is useful on several levels including liquidity, security, fixed value, and simplicity, to name a few. Therefore, although you may not want your entire portfolio to consist of one asset class, you may in fact want some of that asset class represented in a globally diversified account.”
Read the whole story here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/buffett-rebuffs-gold-but-inflation-says-buy-2012-02-29