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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Mar-18 > Bitten by the bug

Bitten by the bug

It’s still the ultimate asset

Gold may no longer back currencies but it has lost none of its allure. Astronomers recently added fresh lustre when they revealed that colliding neutron stars—as well as supernovae—are the universe’s gold factories. Less exotically, the disclosure that $300bn is tucked away in vaults in and around London appealed to our inner gold bug. But does it make any sense to invest in gold?

Even when the gold standard prevailed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the case for investing in the precious metal was weak. Gold was certainly a store of value. But the very backing of currencies by gold ensured price stability anyway. And if prices were stable it made better sense to secure yield rather than to hold an inert hoard of gold. In Jane Austen’s novels, written while Britain was off gold during the Napoleonic wars, it was income such as Darcy’s £10,000 a year rather than piles of guineas that was seductive.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s March issue: A series of writers turn their thoughts to the developing war over words in the UK and the US. Lionel Shriver, Afua Hirsch, Simon Lancaster, Hugh Tomlinson, Tom Clark and two students ask if free expression is truly compromised? What’s really going on in our universities? And what do voters think? Elsewhere in the issue: Michael Ignatieff questions why today’s left-wing leaders can’t live up to the high mark set by FDR, Sameer Rahim shows how western powers have been trying to dictate what Islam should be, and Mary Beard asks “How do we look?” as our perceptions of what is beautiful have changes over the centuries.