India is “always ready to absorb the redundant bullion of the West and to save Europe from the more violent disturbances to her price level. If a time comes when Indians learn to divert their hoards into the channels of productive industry, they will have the money market of the world at their mercy”. That was John Maynard Keynes in 1913. Try explaining the white man’s ‘barbarous relic’ to the camel driver in Jaisalmer who wears his life’s investments on his person. He can at least physically protect them, in sharp contradistinction to the New York widow who sees her savings disappear into an eddy of collateralised debt obligations. Highway robbery is not exactly unknown on Wall Street.
Call it oriental fatalism, but the Hindu knows that when financial armageddon comes — and come it will — the last man standing will be holding a pot of gold in his hand. Foreign news reports of Indian women queuing up to sell gold whenever it peaks, as now, just don’t get it. Indians are hardwired to never sell gold. They may not buy it if the price is high, but sell they never will. One western investor cottoned on to this philosophy. As it happens, Warren Buffett has remained the world’s second richest man for the better part of his adult life.
To the next wit waiting to write an obituary for gold, we Indians can only quote Auric Goldfinger: “Choose your next witticism carefully Mr Bond, it may be your last.”