My Precious (Metal)
By David Futrelle

(MONEY Magazine) – >>In November the price of gold poked its nose above the $400 mark for the first time in nearly eight years. Hard-core goldbugs--those stubborn souls who have stuck with it through thick and thin (mostly thin) for the past 20 years--should be dancing in the streets, right? You don't know goldbugs, a subspecies of investor happy only when everything is going to hell.

These are people who still hold a grudge against Richard Nixon for taking us off the gold standard in 1971--people who are only now getting over their disappointment that Y2K didn't return humankind to the dark ages (leaving them safe and happy with cellars full of gold bars and canned food).

On the various goldbug message boards online, regulars natter ominously about the evils of "fiat" money and the hyperinflation of Weimar Germany. Despite gold's recent rally, some remain convinced that a cabal of international bankers is conspiring to keep their precious metal down.

But the old-schoolers have been joined lately by some truly strange bedfellows: hot-money freaks who love gold only because it's going up. "The Gold Train Is Leaving the Station! ALL ABOARD!!!" one hyperactive fan cries out on a Yahoo Finance message board. "Gold to the Moon Alice!!!!!!" shouts another. Replace the word gold with, say, Cisco, and you'd think it was 1999 all over again.

Not everyone who invests in gold is a crotchety conspiracy theorist or an itchy day-trader wannabe. Less fervent fans can offer perfectly logical reasons why gold could keep rising if the U.S. dollar weakens. But the presence of so much certifiable lunacy can't help but make anyone who is not a true believer think twice about trading in their debased paper money for gold. With friends like these, gold doesn't need enemies--real or imaginary. --DAVID FUTRELLE