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Gold bullion. Photograph by Ulrich Baumgarten — Getty Images

The Price of Gold Just Hit an All-time High

Feb 12, 2016

Gold enthusiasts are having a great month, as the dollar price of the shiny metal has recently hit highs not seen since last year.

But by another measure, gold is having the best run in 150 years.

According to analysis by Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid, gold has never been more expensive, when priced in terms of oil. "We find that the gold price has just hit an all time high at around 44 times the price of oil," Reid writes in a Thursday note to clients. "The previous high of 41 in 1892 has just been exceeded. For perspective the ratio was at 6.6 in June of 2008 and only 12 in May of 2014. The long term average is 15.5."

Reid looked at data on gold and oil prices going all the way back to 1861, making the current record high truly remarkable. The question is, what does this actually say about gold and oil? It probably tells us a bit more about the oil markets, as the downward price movement in oil is highly significant, with the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate roughly 1/4th what it was a year-and-a-half ago. That kind of collapse is unprecedented.

But it also underscores investor skittishness. With uncertainty over the path of global growth, and investors fearing the Fed will have to retreat on its plans on raising interest rates, investors have few good options for storing their excess cash. With government bonds in many cases boasting a negative yield after inflation, yieldless gold doesn't seem like such a bad option.

Another trend to keep in mind: gold buying tends to spike around the Chinese New Year. In previous years, gold prices have spiked in the beginning of the year, around the Lunar New Year holiday, only to fall back down to earth.

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