In this Tuesday Oct. 9, 2012 photo, technician prepares 1 Kg gold bars of 995.0 purity to pack for delivery at the Emirates Gold company in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. • AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili
Gold is often seen as a fear index. Prices rise considerably amid national economic jitters.
But not this time.
The threat of U.S. default on its national debt in recent days hasn't halted a slow downward trajectory of gold prices. It's a surprisingly mild reaction to the deadlock in Washington, as bullion prices might be expected to benefit from the huge uncertainty related to a possible U.S. default if Congress fails to raise the U.S. debt limit by Oct. 17.
Gold prices as of Wednesday afternoon were around $1,322-an-ounce, according to goldprice.org. That's a small slide from Tuesday's trading. Over the past year gold prices are down almost $450-an-ounce, a whopping 25% drop.
Gold prices have a long history of rising during tough economic times. Whether it's the terrorist attacks of 9/11 or the financial collapse of 2008, investors moved to gold in size. And easier-to-buy forms of the glimmering commodity, SPDR Gold Shares ETF - certificates of ownership - have allowed a massive amount of money to easily move in to gold.
Prices peaked around the 2008 economic collapse, reaching highs, indexed for inflation, not seeing since the Jimmy Carter-era days of stagflation.
Former Rep. Ron Paul, a longtime advocate for return to the gold standard, predicted in August that the shiny metal was headed back up in price. "I think what's going to happen to gold, it's going to explode when they realize that the economy is going down, that we're really in a recession," the libertarian Texas Republican told Yahoo! Finance.
Paul, a three-time presidential candidate, maintained it's the safest investment. During Paul's House tenure he regularly held more than $1 million in physical gold, according to his congressional financial disclosure forms at the time.
In his August interview Ron Paul said a rise in gold prices are inevitable due to malfeasance by the Federal Reserve in monetary policy. "[The Fed] took a dollar and eliminated 98% of its purchasing power and they're doing that more rapidly than ever but it just hasn't been fully discounted. When it is, gold is going to be much, much higher."