Big Shift in Gold Demand

Yesterday we discussed how the landscape of gold mine production has changed over the past 40 years. (Read “South Africa’s Incredibly Shrinking Gold Production” now.) Today, we focus on the other half of the economic model—gold demand’s big shift from the West to the East.

In 1970, according to the latest World Gold Council (WGC) report, half of the world’s gold was purchased in two regions—North America and Europe. Ten years later, that figure jumped all the way to 68 percent during a period of high inflation, a weak economy and spiking gold prices. At the same time, China and India (broadly represented in the chart as East Asia and Indian Sub continent) saw their combined share of gold demand diminish from 35 percent to 15 percent.

Since 1980, there’s been a slow transition in demand, with the Asian tiger clawing its way back. In 1990, East Asia and the Indian Sub continent demanded 40 percent of the world’s total gold; by 2000, demand rose to about 50 percent, and today, the two areas devour roughly 68 percent of the world’s gold.

Jewelry has been a major driver of the shift from west to east, says the WGC as the countries in the east spend their rising discretionary income on gold purchases. The WGC anticipates this level of demand will remain strong in the East, given the ongoing trend of urbanization, rise of the middle class and high savings rates in India and China.

Read more about gold demand in this part of the world in 3 Drivers, 2 Months, 1 Gold Rally?

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About Frank Holmes 263 Articles

Affiliation: U.S. Global Investors

Frank Holmes is CEO and chief investment officer of U.S. Global Investors, Inc., which manages a diversified family of mutual funds and hedge funds specializing in natural resources, emerging markets and infrastructure.

The company’s funds have earned more than two dozen Lipper Fund Awards and certificates since 2000. The Global Resources Fund (PSPFX) was Lipper’s top-performing global natural resources fund in 2010. In 2009, the World Precious Minerals Fund (UNWPX) was Lipper’s top-performing gold fund, the second time in four years for that achievement. In addition, both funds received 2007 and 2008 Lipper Fund Awards as the best overall funds in their respective categories.

Mr. Holmes was 2006 mining fund manager of the year for Mining Journal, a leading publication for the global resources industry, and he is co-author of “The Goldwatcher: Demystifying Gold Investing.”

He is also an advisor to the International Crisis Group, which works to resolve global conflict, and the William J. Clinton Foundation on sustainable development in nations with resource-based economies.

Mr. Holmes is a much-sought-after conference speaker and a regular commentator on financial television. He has been profiled by Fortune, Barron’s, The Financial Times and other publications.

Visit: U.S. Global Investors

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