TheStreet.com approached CEOs at several of the top gold companies with the question: 'Will gold retain its lofty perch as an asset class?'
Here are their responses:
Goldcorp CEO Chuck Jeannes: "I do. I think it's been re-emphasized to investors who perhaps forgot over the last few years that gold is a safe haven investment. It is an alternative currency, and it protects wealth in times of financial distress, and that's a lesson that I don't think will be lost anytime soon."
Randgold Resources CEO Mark Bristow: "I think real assets are [here]to stay for some time because our politicians have done a damn good job at destroying the value of paper money."
International Tower Hill CEO Jeff Pontius: "Yes, the biggest threat probably to gold is that there won't be enough of it ... the gold market is actually a very small part of the economic picture and when we look at the entire gold market together, a small move in gold could see huge buying demand."
NovaGold CEO Rick Van Nieuwenhuys: "Absolutely I think it's ... still very under-owned by the average person ... wealthy individuals and fund managers are starting to migrate to it. We see that at this conference, at BMO. There're a lot of new faces who, for the first time have said, 'Geez, maybe I should own some gold.' I think this is just beginning, the interest in gold, and I think it is here for some time yet."
Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland: "Absolutely, gold has certainly regained its status as a safe haven investment for funds. Certainly at this conference ... we're seeing probably about 50 per cent of investors are new investors who want to get into the gold space and want to learn about the sector and want to work out how best they can diversify their investments into gold. Ten years ago, you didn't see that."
Harmony Gold CEO Graham Briggs: "It always does. It's a great commodity, and it's a currency. It has really proved itself as a currency and a good investment, and people continue to buy gold."
Agnico-Eagle CEO Sean Boyd: "I think it will because it's still not on a lot of radar screens, and people have, I think, a mistaken view that if they like gold they have to hate everything else, that's certainly not the case now. I think gold is increasingly becoming looked at as a more monetary asset and that's why there are more investors here. They are trying to [find]the companies, the equities and how they get leverage than just an ETF, because they don't have to come to the conference to buy the ETF, so they are obviously here at the conference to see how they can get more leverage in the gold space."
AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani: "Absolutely, I think most portfolio managers made a very serious mistake in the last few years in excluding gold in their portfolio. ... I think with China, India, the way the world looks at gold, the way it's performed through the recent crisis that you really can't afford to not have gold in your portfolio."
Barrick Gold CEO Aaron Regent: "Absolutely, I think if anything, what's happened in the last couple of years, gold has continued to reassert itself in global monetary affairs. You're seeing serious economists, like the head of the World Bank, for example, talk about gold within the context of an independent measurement of the value of currencies and a measurement of what's happened with inflation or deflation in different countries. You're seeing central banks who have gone from being net sellers of gold in the last 20 years to now, in the last two years, they've been net purchasers of gold.
JPMorgan announced gold can be used as collateral, so you're really seeing gold reassert itself back into the fold as a global monetary asset. I think there was a period of time where it was being viewed as a barbarous relic, but I think the psychology around gold and the interest in gold has changed dramatically.
Most recently, it was just announced a couple of days ago that the Chinese again have bought 300 tons of gold, and you can also see gold within countries like India and China ramp up gold demand [and it]is growing quite rapidly. So I think gold is being recognized as a monetary asset, and is a great store of value, and so as a result, its appeal as an investment has increased quite significantly, and I think that will continue."
Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen: "I do. I mean currently we've got a lot of sovereign credit issues with governments and fiat money, so people are looking for stable other forms of wealth. Right now, paper money isn't that stable; the exchange rates are very volatile; there's a great deal of impetus for countries to reduce the value of their currency so they can maintain their competitiveness ... [so]you've got volatile paper currencies and gold is the most."