A weaker-than-expected jobs report in the U.S. has seen the price of gold soar once again. Gold’s surge and paper currency’s weakness may be related to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s plans to shift up to $6.3 billion in U.S. dollars, euros and pounds sterling to banks in China, Russia and Brazil, and to repatriate almost all of Venezuela’s gold reserves held abroad. The plan was announced last month on the heels of steps to nationalize the nation’s gold mining industry, ostensibly taken to combat illegal mining.
Venezuelan officials have argued that a weakening U.S. dollar, and the United States’ and European debt crises were contributing factors in the decision.
In all likelihood, Chavez, ill and often characterized as being paranoid, is acting out desperation. But whatever his real motives, his plans are yet another indicator that in the current climate, metals can trump paper as a global currency and store of value.