On the Cash: Gold, Bitcoin & Different Thematic Investments



On the Cash: Gold, Bitcoin & Different Thematic Investments (June 12, 2024)

How ought to you concentrate on thematic investing? What place does Gold or Bitcoin, or nations like India and Japan have in your portfolio? Jan van Eck is CEO of Van Eck Funds, which oversees $75 billion in ETFs, discusses methods to add a further thematic funding to your core holdings.

Full transcript beneath.


About this week’s visitor:

Jan van Eck, CEO of Van Eck Funds. For more information, see:

Private Bio


Masters in Enterprise





Discover the entire earlier On the Cash episodes right here, and within the MiB feed on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify, and Bloomberg.




TRANSCRIPT: ATM Gold, Bitcoin & Different Thematic Investments


Barry Ritholtz:  Plainly yearly, a special funding theme bubbles to the floor. This yr, it’s synthetic intelligence. Final yr, it was the metaverse. Earlier than that, it was fracking in oil, gold, bitcoin, work your means again by historical past. Each on occasion, a special concept catches traders’ consideration due to the efficiency of the underlying belongings.

I’m Barry Ritholtz, and on immediately’s version of At The Cash, We’re going to debate methods to have interaction with thematic investing. To assist us unpack all of this and what it means on your portfolio, let’s herald Jan Van Eck. He’s the CEO of Van Eck Funds, which manages about 100 billion in shopper belongings.

So, let’s begin out with the fundamentals. What’s thematic investing?

Jan Van Eck: I’d say it’s actually a specialised a part of the market, proper? It could possibly be a gaggle of shares, it could possibly be a gaggle of, uh, it could possibly be a rustic, it could possibly be an trade, a really, very targeted a part of the market.

Barry Ritholtz: So let me provide you with an amazing instance of thematic investing. Again in 1968, your dad started one of many very first gold funds in the USA. Proper earlier than that Seventies growth. Inform us a little bit bit about gold as a thematic funding.

Jan Van Eck: We name ourselves macro traders as a result of we wish to look outdoors of the context of the monetary markets. Have a look at politics, economics and know-how and say, okay, what’s, The chance that’s going to come back alongside which may not be priced in or the danger.

So sure, the emblematic factor, uh, for our agency was, uh, the beginning of a gold fund, though gold had been fastened towards the greenback for the whole lot of U. S. historical past.

Barry Ritholtz: You had been assured till the decoupling that your return was going to be precisely zero.

Jan Van Eck: Precisely zero, proper, no upside.

Barry Ritholtz: So your father clearly was anticipating Nixon ultimately going off the gold customary and severing that fastened price for gold.

Jan Van Eck: Simply, like, possibly spending immediately. Again then, spending on social applications, the conflict, the Vietnam Battle.

Barry Ritholtz: You had the Battle on Poverty, the nice program below Johnson, after which Vietnam spending was fairly substantial. Yeah

Jan Van Eck: Precisely. And so the concept is, all proper, what’s, once more, a multi-year theme, proper – It appears very exhausting to select quarter to quarter – that’s in there if you happen to take a look at the larger world, nevertheless it’s not priced into the monetary markets. And he mentioned, pay attention, in historical past, gold has been the hedge. It’s been the way in which to play inflation.

So if I’m proper, and also you by no means know what the long run is, however you decide your situations and, That’s the way in which to go. And the great thing about that, you realize, that it’s exhausting to overlook, however within the 70s, gold shares, and gold firms went up like Bitcoin does immediately as a result of the prices of manufacturing didn’t go up within the 70s for oil, metals, and, and gold.

In order that was the, and the shares had been like choices.

Barry Ritholtz: So the theme within the 70s was the decoupling going off the gold customary and all this extra spending. for gold. What’s the theme within the 2020s for gold?

Jan Van Eck: Properly, I feel it’s a query of the, are we returned to irresponsible authorities insurance policies? And there’s additionally one other overlay, which is that it was actually large for the USA to grab Russian reserves after their invasion of Ukraine.

As a result of the response has been different nations are frightened that the USA does the identical factor. In order that they’ve been shopping for gold of their international central banks at a price that you simply actually haven’t seen for many years.

Barry Ritholtz: I do know China has been an enormous purchaser of gold lately. Is China anticipating the U. S. seizing their belongings? That may be an act of conflict.

Jan Van Eck: In the event that they invade Taiwan, I imply, they’ve stopped shopping for authorities bonds and so they’ve been elevated gold. They haven’t been type of the largest consumers, however –

Barry Ritholtz: Who has been?

Jan Van Eck: You understand, you have got nations, uh, India has been a constant purchaser, um, quite a lot of central banks like Jap European banks. So it’s, it’s a little bit little bit of a mishmash, however, however. However the level is, you realize, your query, is gold type of one thing that you simply need to have as a thematic funding immediately? I’d say completely sure, due to the U. S. authorities spending at 7 p.c of GDP.  If we inflate our means out of it, proper, if we purchase all that debt, then individuals are not going to love the greenback and gold’s going to go up.

Barry Ritholtz: You talked about Bitcoin.  Let’s discuss cryptocurrencies and DeFi. As a theme, with Bitcoin at 50, 000, 60, 000, how a lot upside is in Bitcoin? And what different elements of crypto are or will not be interesting?

Jan Van Eck: Let’s concentrate on Bitcoin. Like I mentioned earlier than, there’s two know-how tendencies of our lifetime, proper? The Web and AI. Web lastly got here up with an asset. Proper? It didn’t have an asset. It didn’t have its personal gold. So I simply take a look at Bitcoin as its personal gold for the Web. Web gold.

Barry Ritholtz: It’s Web gold.

Jan Van Eck: A query is, is one thing else going to leapfrog Bitcoin’s reputation? I imply, it’s extraordinarily unlikely.

300 million folks personal it. About, you realize, Near 1,000,000 folks use the Bitcoin community each month. So I, I simply don’t see that occuring. So if that’s the case, I say, pay attention, in the long run, bitcoin’s gonna be half the worth of gold. I dunno, younger folks prefer it, proper? They purchase it somewhat than gold. If you happen to take a look at, the exercise in developed markets, it’s Bitcoin greater than gold. Southeast Asia is extra gold.

So I simply say, look, we’re in the course of a multi-year pattern the place this factor, sooner or later, Bitcoin goes to be boring. I would like like folks to actually perceive that. Then in 5 years, Bitcoin goes to be boring. It should have performed its factor. It should have emerged instead. It’s type of like silver immediately. It’s an accompaniment to gold.

Barry Ritholtz: There are actually hundreds of different. Cash to cite Businessweek, “rhymes with bitcoins” – of all the remainder of the cash on the market, the one one which appeared to have had any actual endurance is Ethereum. How do you take a look at ETH relative to Bitcoin? Is {that a} one two? Are these the 2 winners? Or what else ought to we be interested by within the crypto area?

Jan Van Eck: I imply separate Bitcoin as I mentioned. The remainder of these items is software program investing. I feel it’s, you realize, mystifying to name it crypto and all this different stuff. It’s software program.

After which the query is, is any of this software program, which is open supply, so that you and I might copy it immediately, is, does any of it have any worth? Are folks paying to make use of this software program? If you happen to ask that query, there are solely about 30 to 50 software program protocols the place individuals are truly paying.

It’s such as you’re saying, it’s a subsequent digital belongings change, uh, or it’s a social community or the bunch of various issues for none of them is the utilization above the ten million individual quantity.  It’s, it’s a giant choice as as to whether any of that stuff shall be of worth. I’ll totally grant that.


Barry Ritholtz: It’s an answer seeking an issue, however the upside is that if an issue is recognized that crypto solves, it’s doubtlessly a multi-trillion greenback sector of the economic system.

Jan Van Eck: I’ve two, two issues. Primary, final yr was tremendous essential as a result of the prices of utilizing blockchains grew to become predictable. Like, you realize, how the Bitcoin that grew to become extra and cheaper, fuel charges on Ethereum. That’s just like the worst factor. That’s like filling up your automotive. It prices 50 every week, after which you must pay $600. You’re like, I’m by no means going to make use of that. No actual enterprise goes to make use of that. Proper. That was fastened in 2023.

Barry Ritholtz: Do to the final coin being mined or the halving, Or one thing else completely.

Jan Van Eck: It’s both Solana or Avalanche, that are fastened by way of very low charges, or what they name Layer 2s. Don’t fear in regards to the know-how, however the level is, this database software program resolution now grew to become worth predictable.

And the second level I’d make to traders which can be possibly skeptical, there’s one thing referred to as stablecoins. Which, proper, these are tokens that observe the worth of the greenback. The rate of buying and selling of secure cash final yr was 10 trillion {dollars}. The identical because the Visa community. Now, that’s a curiosity, however I ask you to suppose, what if that goes up 5x? What if folks continually are in your cellphone begin utilizing secure cash versus {dollars}? It’s potential. It might not matter to most individuals, however I’m simply saying if you happen to comply with that area, that could be a affordable situation for twenty-four and 25.

Barry Ritholtz: And I do know various folks have mentioned, “Why are you paying charges to MasterCard or Visa?” And my reply is, as a result of if it will get stolen, they cowl me for every part over 50 bucks. I don’t have to fret about my password being hacked to my Bitcoin. So there are nonetheless some rising pains on the crypto facet. However ultimately disintermediating the massive banks and the massive monetary gamers that’s the potential upside for crypto and DeFi.

Jan Van Eck: 100%. A multi-year thematic, if you’ll, type of improvement.

Barry Ritholtz: So to sum up, look so as to add themes which can be complementary to your core portfolio. You possibly can think about AI or India or gold and even Bitcoin as an add on to your long run funding. I’m Barry Ritholtz.

You’ve been listening to Bloomberg’s At The Cash.




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