You may have seen in the news recently that a Californian couple discovered eight tin cans buried on their land that were full of gold coins, whilst they were out walking with their dog. Once they had got all of the coins out and cleaned them up they found that they were dated from 1847 to 1894 and after having the coins valued it turned out that in total they were worth about $10 million. What a fantastic wind fall for the couple, who not surprisingly are staying anonymous; if for no better reason than to make sure that hoards of treasure hunters don’t descend on their land. It’s a great story not all of which we will probably ever know; such as who were the people who buried the coins in the first place? What was their motivation for burying them? What stopped them coming back to dig them up later?
For just about as long as people have formed more complex social structures we have used gold as jewellery as a display of wealth and then as a store of value. The reason that it is used in this way is that it doesn’t corrode, is in relatively short supply and relatively difficult to get hold of. It has also been used in the past to peg the value of paper currency too, though not anymore. An obvious disadvantage of this tends to be that money and therefore power is then vested in the hands of the people that have gold not those that don’t.
Also what has happened this week is that the UK Stock Market has hit its highest value since December 1999. Surely that’s good news and it means that the economy is doing well; as the stock market’s value is supposed to represent the prospect of future income from shares or maybe the shares are just over valued, again. In addition this week you may have seen that one of the World’s largest Bitcoin exchanges Mount Gox in Japan has unexpectedly closed, some people have lost their Bitcoins as a result and others have seen the value of their Bitcoins fluctuate erratically. For those of you who don’t know Bitcoin is an alternative currency largely used for online transactions. A bit like gold you can “mine” it but unlike gold the “mining” is done on your computer by solving mathematical algorithms with downloadable software.
All of this raises in my mind the question, where is the best place to store value, gold, paper currency, shares, Bitcoins or hard useable assets? All of these probably have their uses and it depends on how much you are investing and for how long. For me though the best place to invest some of your hard earned cash is in yourself. This is what I have been doing over the past few years and particularly in the last twelve months. If I grow, if I learn, if I develop then it matters not what happens to the relative value of what we use to price transactions or to store wealth. The knowledge between my ears will always remain and will enable me to create what I want in my life. On a final note – this week one of our graduates was on Dragons Den on the BBC. She didn’t get any investment from the Dragons but she has taken this project a long way to this point through her own self-belief, dedication and hard work. Be it this project or another she will be successful and you can too, do what she did, invest in yourself.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”