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Gold ETFs or Physical Gold? Hidden Dangers In GLD

by Mark O’Byrne, Gold Core:

by Olivier Garret on Forbes

Gold ETFs are rising in popularity due to their convenience. They’re easy to trade, there’s no need to store anything, and no one is going to break into your house to steal your GLD shares.

But there are a lot of hidden dangers inherent in the structure and operation of gold ETFs that few investors are aware of—and these risks are more pronounced than ever, as the threat of another financial crisis is always around the corner.

Considering the public’s waning trust in the banking system, many investors find themselves wondering how GLD stacks up to owning the real thing. When you look at both assets more closely, it’s clear that gold ETFs and gold bullion are very different investments.

Why GLD Is Not the Same as Gold

SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), the largest, most popular gold ETF, is an investment fund that holds physical gold to back its shares. The share price tracks the price of gold, and it trades like a stock, but the vast majority of investors don’t have a claim on the underlying gold.

The reason for this is that you can only request physical delivery of metal if you own a minimum of 100,000 GLD shares (most investors don’t: at $1,000 gold, 100,000 shares is more than a million dollars). Even if you do own enough shares, the GLD ETF reserves the right to settle your delivery request in cash.

So why is GLD appealing to investors if you never actually own any gold?

For one, the fund is both convenient and low cost. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to invest in the direction of the gold price, GLD is ideal.

The other advantage is you can employ leverage with options, which can be risky, but it’s something you can’t do with gold bullion. If you’re an investor who doesn’t plan to take delivery and you’re comfortable with a higher degree of risk, GLD can be a good way to gain exposure to the price of gold.

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