Ludwig: So, what’s to recommend this particular new suite of products relative to some of these other contango mitigation strategies that are on the market already?
Rogers: Well, these new indexes have outperformed the others so far. Will they in the future? I don’t know.
Ludwig: Looking ahead to gold in 2013, what is the biggest factor in gold’s continued success? What’s your near-term outlook and longer-term outlook in terms of whether this rally still has legs?
Rogers: I own gold and I own silver. I own all the precious metals, especially gold and silver. I'm not sure I would buy right now. Gold has gone up 12 years in a row, which is extremely unusual for any asset, at least in my experience. I don’t know any asset that’s gone up 12 years without a down year except gold. Gold has had only one decline over 30 percent in those 12 years. That, too, is extremely unusual.
Plus, if you look at the open interest from the CFTC, the speculators have been piling into gold. The number of call options is more than twice the put options. All the signs are that there's too much speculation in gold right now.
I’m not selling, by any stretch. I own it. If it goes down, I’ll buy more. If America bombs Iran, I’ll probably buy more going up. But I own it and, over the longer term, gold is going to go much higher because the world is doing nothing but printing money. And when the world economies get bad again, they're going to print even more money. But I'm not buying now.
Ludwig: As far as gold and silver right now, which do you see as the more prospective of the two precious metals?
Rogers: On a historic basis, silver is cheaper than gold. Gold is down 10 or 15 percent from its all-time high. Silver is down 30 or 40 percent. So I guess I’d rather buy silver than gold. I’m buying neither at the moment. But if I had to, I’d probably buy silver today rather than gold. But again, I’m not buying or selling either.
Ludwig: Now, on the natural gas front, how much thought have you given to this ramping up of production in the States? There's talk about exports. Do you see that as a realistic prospect that the United States will become a gas exporter?
Rogers: I read the same things you do. But what I don’t read much about is the fact that the number of drilling rigs for shale gas has gone down 75 percent in the last 18 months or so. Because it turns out that these wells are very short-lived. They're great for the first 30 days. But by year three or four, they're very expensive to maintain.
Two things come to mind. One is that I presume human ingenuity will solve that problem somehow. But if it’s a geological problem and it cannot be solved, then the gas boom is not quite what we all thought it might be. And I’m told the same applies to the shale oil wells.
Series of blogs will examine how to get rid of a dumb term like ‘smart beta.’
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