The 2019 Gold Rush
The 2019 Gold Rush By Rodney Johnson for Economy and Markets
One side of my family has held a reunion every few years for more than four decades. It’s a big, raucous event filled with lots of food, many half-true stories about the past, and copious amounts of alcohol.
In other words, it’s a not-to-be-missed event.
Hosting responsibilities transferred from one sibling at the oldest generation to the next, and then moved down a level. My relatives are spread across the nation. So, we’ve held the reunion in Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, California, Texas, and Florida. Last week we gathered in Colorado, descending on Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort just outside of Salida.
We enjoyed the springs and pools, and many of us went kayaking, hiking, and riding ATVs. But there was one activity that caught my attention more than others.
This year, the Centennial State has experienced a boom in panning for gold.
Grabbing a plastic or metal sluice and standing in 55-degree creek water has been a thing in Colorado since gold and silver were found there in the 1800s. But this year, things are different. Over the past winter, the state received more than 160% of the average snowfall from 1981 through 2010, which was followed by a wet spring. The resulting runoff has closed attractions like the creek bed hot springs at our mountain retreat. It’s also moved boulders and sediment that has been in place for hundreds if not thousands of years.
As the rocks have shifted, whatever was underneath has become exposed. In some cases, that includes gold.
I didn’t see anyone show up with gold nuggets, or claim they’d found riches, but there’s no doubt that many of the visitors trolling the mountains were keeping a weather eye for the shiny stuff.
Banking On Gold
After spending almost eight years in purgatory, bouncing between $1,100 and $1,300, gold finally broke out to the upside a few weeks ago, climbing through $1,400 and – despite a brief downturn Tuesday morning– now sits comfortably around $1,500. Gold enthusiasts (who are not to be confused with insects) are starting to feel a bit more confident. But their benefactor isn’t the weather, it’s the coordinated efforts of central banks around the world.