Investors are buying gold as a safe-haven metal as Covid-19 wreaks havoc on the global economy. Photo: iStock

The yellow metal generates no cash, grows no crops, provides no shelter and supplies no useful service. It hasn’t been official money for decades, says Brett Arends, of Market Watch.

It isn’t any kind of “safe haven” because it always seems to be crashing or booming or crashing again.

But here’s the funny thing: It’s been going up. Big time. And for none of the usual reasons.

China and Russia have been stockpiling gold, helping to propel the precious metal to its highest level in more than six years, Fox Business reported.

The People’s Bank of China has added about 100 tons of gold to its reserves since December. Russia has bought 106 tons of the precious metal this year.

“They can read the writing on the wall,” Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff told FOX Business, adding that the two countries are “preparing for the world where the dollar is no longer the reserve currency.”

China’s gold reserves now stand at more than 1,950 tons. Russia has more than 2,200 tons, and has the fifth-largest stockpile by country.

Beijing’s gold purchases, which amount to 100 tons since December, come as it has been less aggressively buying Treasuries amid the US-China trade war. In June, China fell behind Japan as the world’s largest holder of US debt, a title it had held since May 2017.

Meanwhile, Russia has more than quadrupled its reserves over the past decade amid its promise to break its reliance on the US dollar.

Russia’s central bank has bought 106 tons so far this year.

Trade war uncertainty and worries about the health of the global economy have helped propel gold prices to their highest level in six years. The precious metal is up almost 18% this year and last month hit $1,550 an ounce for the first time since April 2013.

“Prices of precious metals look set to remain elevated, but their recent rally looks overdone,” wrote commodities analysts at the London-based Capital Economics. The firm sees gold hovering around $1,500 an ounce for the rest of the year.

And there’s an obvious reason for China to buy gold, according to Market Watch.

It wants to break up the global hegemony of the US dollar — the hegemony that former French President Charles de Gaulle called America’s “exorbitant privilege.” It wants to make its own currency, the renminbi, a world player. Gold reserves should add to world confidence in the Chinese currency.

Do China and Russia really need piles of this arcane yellow metal to break the US dollar’s stranglehold on the world’s financial system?

Can’t they just issue new currency backed by their economic output, as Europe did when it launched the euro 20 years ago?

Maybe, or maybe not. But that seems to be the way they’re betting.

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