WTF is an ETF? Investors searching for safe havens hoard ‘paper gold’ in record numbers

WTF is an ETF? Investors searching for safe havens hoard ‘paper gold’ in record numbers In an attempt to secure their assets amid global economic slowdown and recession signals from the US, investors are turning to gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs), accumulating the highest amounts of it since 2013.

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Total known ETF holdings expanded to a six-year record, or 2,424.9 tons, on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported citing its data. The amount is around 1,000 tons higher than the figures of early 2016, when the pile of ETFs was still reeling from post financial crisis lows, standing at 1,425.1 tons.

Gold ETFs are not equal to physical gold, as they are simply backed by the commodity. So they do not actually mean that the buyer owns the precious metal. ETFs trade on an exchange like individual stocks, allowing the investor to benefit from price movements.

The advantage of owning gold ETFs is that they are easy to trade day to day. The disadvantage is that there are more ETFs than there is real gold to back them, so the investment is not guaranteed as opposed to owning the physical metal.

In terms of physical gold, global central banks have been accumulating the commodity since last year, with China and Russia leading the race. Russia’s gold reserves rose by 9 tons in July after Moscow increased its stockpile by more than 18 tons a month earlier, increasing the value of the bullion holdings to a hefty $101.923 billion.

Meanwhile, prices for the precious metal have been surging amid uncertainties over the outcome of the US-China trade war, slowing global growth and yield curve inversion in the US that is historically proven as a recession warning.

Spot gold price almost reached $1,500 on Thursday and the metal is expected to “go ballistic,” according to the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, Peter Schiff. Earlier this month Goldman Sachs forecasted that the price for an ounce of gold will hit $1,600 in six months.

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