Skip to main content

Gold and gasoline real to me

As I drove to work this morning I spotted the gasoline station sign proclaiming that a gallon of gasoline is $3.139.

The gas price has been declining since summer and each step lower brings a smile to my face.

Today’s price, though, has gone through a mental trip wire of mine. I am able to reach into my memory and pull out a few observations.

The first one is the deep shock that seared my memory when gasoline first hit this particular level. I was driving to the airport to go to Germany in September of 2005. I passed a gas station and saw the new price: $3.159.

This was not long after Hurricane Katrina had clobbered New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and things were crazy.

That was over nine years ago. Put another way, as of today the price of gasoline has not risen in over nine years.

That sounds crazy with my memories of $4.259 gas in July of 2008 and nearly $4 gas not all that many months ago, but it is still a true statement.

With all of the fluctuations, gasoline is at virtually the same price point registered more than nine years ago, providing relief to average people’s budgets.

Viewed from the perspective of a gold investor, the news is far better.

Back when I was heading to the airport I should have been calling Pat Heller or any other dealer in gold bullion coins.

One ounce of gold was $455. This morning it is $1,253.80. Ka-ching. That’s a 276 percent profit.

Put another way, an ounce of gold on that fateful day in 2005 could buy 144 gallons of gas. Today, it can buy 399 gallons.

That’s not only preservation of purchasing power, it is accumulating more of it. That’s what advocates of gold ownership point out to persuade others of the importance of the precious metal.

We all know gold is nowhere near its all-time high of $1,888 an ounce, but that is not the point.

It is still doing the job it is supposed to do. Anyone who had owned the metal in this stretch of time can get more of a commodity that has a direct impact on his daily life. It is relevant.

It is both fun and interesting to pick out historical data points like 1934 when gold was set at $35 an ounce, or Aug. 15, 1971, when that ceased being the official price. Other writers even like to go back to 1913 to point out the U.S. dollar is worth roughly one of that year’s cents.

All true, all interesting, all useful, but not part of the reality of my life.

The year 2005 was part of my life. So is today. Facts about gold in this period resonate more with me than history.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."