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A 30 Year History of The Price of Gold

If you ask if the price of gold is going to go up or down, don’t be surprised if you get the answer “yes”. Gold has always had its peaks and valleys. In just the past three months the price of an ounce of gold went from $1,339.00 on July 11th to $1,190 on October 3rd. As of this writing it is back up to about $1,250 per ounce.

While the price of gold varies widely now, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, from the early 1800s through 1919, the average price of gold only went up or down by a few cents. Back then it was less than $19 an ounce. The price remained stable between 1920 and 1971, when it only rose from about $20 an ounce to $40 an ounce. While it moved up only $20 an ounce in those 50 years, it then rose $270 an ounce over the next 14 years.

We pick up our closer look at the price of gold some 30 years ago in 1985.

1985: AIDS was one of the biggest items in the news in the mid-1980s. Ronald Reagan was president and the Stock Exchange closed for a day due to Hurricane Gloria. The price of a gallon of gas was $1.09 and a ticket to see a first run movie was $2.75. The average price of gold for the year was $317 per ounce.

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1990: The decade began with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the United States launching Operation Desert Shield. General Motor’s introduced its Saturn car brand. A gallon of gas in 1990 averaged $1.34 per gallon and the average price of gold edged up to just over $383 an ounce.

1995: This was the year the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was destroyed by a truck bomb. Javascript is introduced to the internet and a postage stamp was 32 cents. The average price of an ounce of gold remains remarkably stable averaging $383 an ounce, just like it did five years earlier.

2000: Time Warner and America Online merge and the Summer Olympics are held in Australia. Hillary Clinton gets elected as a Senator from New York. A gallon of gas is $1.26 and eggs are 89 cents a dozen. Gold drops to $279 per ounce. But things would change beginning the following year for us all, on September 11th, 2001.

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2005: In the years immediately following 9/11, the price of gold began to increase at an accelerated rate, along with other prices. Gas was now $3.18 per ounce, partly due to Hurricane Katrina’s devastating strike in New Orleans. Gold is now averaging $444 an ounce.

2010: Five years after Hurricane Katrina, another disaster hits the Gulf Coast, this time a man-made one. This was the year of the BP Gulf Oil Spill. The price of gold has really taken off now, reaching an average of $1,224 an ounce, almost tripling over the previous five years.

Today: Today’s gold price is remarkably similar to that of 2010, but what a trip it has taken since then. The price rose quickly after 2010, peaking at around $2,000 an ounce in mid-2011. It stayed in the high teens until dropping, and staying, below $1,400 an ounce in the summer of 2013.

While many of us remember the extremes in gold prices over the last few years, the metal has been relatively stable, especially when adjusting for inflation. Is gold going up or down? The answer is probably “yes”.

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