Glenn Beck on my car radio earlier this morning, transcribed from memory so it's a paraphase:
Why is it not a big story when the price of gold shoots up $22 in one hour? You know, I was buying gold back when it was $300 and I believe it was $800 when I started telling you to buy it, and now it's at $1,040, and the way things are going I think this is just the beginning....
Uh, isn't that how a classic stock, or in this case commodity, touting scam works -- someone with a large megaphone buys a stock or commodity at a low price, flogs it ceaselessly to the general public, and then sells out at a huge profit once the price is jacked up to absurdly high level. As Beck himself always says, I'm not accusing anybody, just raising questions :-) -- actually, I do seriously doubt this is a conscious scam that Beck is pulling -- would he have told you (or the authorities) that he bought it at $300 if it was? I do also wonder if he's going to tell his audience when he cashes in, though.
But this is about more than Beck. I've noticed over the last few years that almost every radio talker -- regardless of their ideology -- is getting paid to flog gold. Beck is one of the more blatant examples (there's an ad for 1-866-GOLDLINE, "trusted and used by Glenn Beck" at the top of his Web site) but you'll also hear liberals that I like (Rachel Maddow...sigh), liberals I'm not so big on (Randi Rhodes), a, uh,, er....Michael Smerconish, whatever he is these days, all paid promoters of gold.
I guess that shouldn't be a surprise. After all, a talk radio host, regardless of his or her politics, gets good ratings by whipping up anger -- that leads to greater anxiety, the psychological factor that would cause an investor to run to the safe harbor of gold. There's always a bit of a thin line with radio hosts doing on-air promos, but in this instance you have to wonder when the honest talk about global politics and instability stops and when the paid shilling for the likes of Goldline begins.
At this particular moment, with the dollar weakening deep into the future, you can certainly make the case that gold is a good investment, but when millions of first-time buyers enter a market, that's when we see an absurd bubble, which may now be moving to gold in the wake of dot-coms and then real estate. I wonder what talk-radio fans will think of their favorite hosts when they're the ones holding the bag the next time.
UPDATE: "Gold is still a lousy investment," via the Wall Street Journal. Must have missed that section of Beck's show.
Here's the late Dan Fogelberg, with Tim Weisberg, and the title track for this post: