Skip to main content

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Roanoke, Va. on July 25, 2016.CARLO ALLEGRI/Reuters

Deep mysteries lie in the region above Donald Trump's shoulders.

Whether it's his plan to wall off Mexico or his mistaken – but repeated – assertion that Americans are the most heavily taxed people on earth or simply his aerodynamic orange pompadour, vast expanses of what emerges from his cranium defy rational explanation.

Like the summit of Everest, the topmost storey of The Donald is a region where it's easy for unwary trekkers to become disoriented by the abyss around them, so let's keep a respectful distance and content ourselves with asking what investors should do to navigate the next few months – or perhaps even years – of Trumpery.

Granted, Mr. Trump's bid for the White House still looks like a long shot. But given the lack of enthusiasm surrounding Hillary Clinton, the race may well tighten in coming weeks. If so, many people will suddenly turn to imagining what life might be like under President Trump.

In fact, some market strategists have already been pondering how to profit from just that scenario. One idea? Buy gold.

The yellow metal could soar from its current $1,320 (U.S.) an ounce and hit $1,850 during a Trump presidency, says Georgette Boele of ABN Amro.

She regards a Trump victory as unlikely but, if the real estate tycoon were elected, "we expect his policies will be inward looking and will weaken the fundamentals of the U.S. economy. In addition, his rhetoric and possibly policy actions could create domestic and international uncertainty."

She sees a much more moderate rise to around $1,650 an ounce if the Democrats prevail. The risk in either scenario is that inflation could take off, requiring the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates. Higher rates would put a damper on gold speculation by tempting savers to put their money into bonds and savings accounts instead of precious metals.

If the interest-rate danger puts you off gold, one possibility would be to veer in the opposite direction. Instead of gold's glamour, you might want to gamble on thermal coal's retro chic.

The fuel has provided nothing but grief for investors in recent years. Competition from low-cost natural gas and tough new environmental regulations in the United States have forced much of the U.S. coal industry to file for bankruptcy protection.

"Obama's war on coal is killing American jobs, making us more energy dependent on our enemies & creating a great business disadvantage," Mr. Trump tweeted in 2014. He continues to insist that his administration would restore the industry to health.

If so, investors in Consol Energy Inc. may profit. It's one of the few U.S. coal producers to weather the industry's collapse, in large part because it also produces natural gas. Any easing of environmental restrictions around coal would boost its ability to make money.

Chinese politics could provide an additional boost for thermal coal in international markets. Beijing recently ordered coal mines across the country to slash their output in a bid to support prices and keep producers in operation, Anthony Yuen of Citigroup writes in a report published on Monday.

As a result of China's moves and other factors, "seaborne thermal coal demand may stay more robust than expected in the next few years," Mr. Yuen says.

Even so, coal is anything but a sure thing. A shift in Chinese politics could reverse the recent cuts. Closer to home, Mr. Trump may be unable to revive the industry given competition from natural gas. But if you're looking for a way to bet on the tycoon's continued rise, you can start thinking of coal as a grimy but effective lottery ticket.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

Follow the author of this article:

Check Following for new articles

Interact with The Globe