The Inbox: Your Latest Questions, Answered

Before I get to reader emails, here are a few fascinating facts about our interconnected digital world.

According to the research firm Radicati Group, more than half of the world’s population used email in 2023. The number of worldwide email users is expected to grow to more than 5 billion by the end of 2024. The total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day currently exceeds 347 billion.

Let’s face it, several billion of those emails sent every year are utterly worthless. The world is awash with digital detritus.

In contrast are the reader emails that I find in my inbox. Generally speaking, most of your electronic letters are informative, well-reasoned, and worthwhile. Let’s get to a few recent and notable emails from readers.

Investing in Bullion (Without the Bull)

One reader expressed an interest in buying physical gold and pointed out his misgivings about gold-linked exchange-traded funds (ETFs):

“Gold ETFs can be good investments, but they confer many risks. For example, you must rely on a counterparty to make good on your investment. If the fund’s management, structure or chain of custody break down during a crisis, your money is at risk.” — Thomas H.

The chances of those events occurring are scant. What’s more, I prefer owning gold mining stocks to actual gold. However, Tom raises an interesting point. The major motivation for owning gold is protection from risk, but a gold ETF or mining stock is part of the financial system you’re trying to hedge against.

Today’s worsening investment dangers make it worth considering the purchase of physical bullion. Gold prices have been on a tear and I think they have further to run, especially as geopolitical risk spreads and we face a chaotic U.S. presidential election in 2024.

Why physical gold? Here are three key reasons:

1) The yellow metal maintains its intrinsic value despite a government’s ability to back its currency. If your country’s currency implodes, you’ll still be able to spend your physical gold.

2) Gold is universally accepted around the world, without the need to convert it into the local currency. It can be bartered anyplace at any time.

3) If there’s ever an economic crisis and banks freeze individual accounts, a physical gold investment can always be accessed.

Gold is a classic safe haven and this year is likely to be turbulent. However, the conditions that are favorable for gold will prove fatal for overvalued stocks that are looking for a trigger to tumble.

Gold also is a time-tested hedge against inflation, which has been falling but remains a threat.

The U.S. consumer price index (CPI) for January, released last Tuesday, came in hotter than expected. Year-over-year, headline inflation stood at 3.1%, slightly lower than the previous month’s 3.4% but surpassing forecasts of 2.9%.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose by 3.9%, consistent with the previous month but surpassing predictions of 3.7%. In the wake of the CPI report, stocks sold off.

Remember, diversification is crucial to any investment strategy. As a fraught 2024 unfolds, consider re-balancing your portfolio to accommodate the likely economic, business, and market volatility ahead. You can hedge your bets, with physical bullion.

Consider these six reputable dealers:

American Precious Metals Exchange. Based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, APMEX carries a broad selection of pre-1933 classic U.S. gold coins.

Asset Strategies International. Headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, ASI also offers convenient options for you to store gold beyond U.S. borders.

Camino Coin. Based in Burlingame, California, Camino has been in business for more than a century.

David Hall Rare Coins. Based in Newport Beach, California, and in business since 1977, DHRC deals in gem-quality coins, including gold rarities. The firm can assist you in building collections that make an enjoyable hobby.

EverBank. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, EverBank traces its origins to the 1960s. In 2006, Everbank started offering vaulted gold online to private investors.

Kitco. With offices in New York, Montreal, and Hong Kong, this Canada-based company buys and sells precious metals such as gold, copper, and silver. It also operates a website for gold news, commentary, and market information.

The Retirement Crisis

“As I approach 65, with divorce and some poor deals, I do not have what I feel I need to retire. I would like to build up my savings, despite knowing there are no sure things. I would like some advice to start good saving right away. Even with no guarantees, I’d like to try! Thanks for listening.” — Dr. Malcolm M.

You’re not alone in your predicament. Statistics show that most Americans will outlive their retirement savings.

According to a recent report from the World Economic Forum, American workers are woefully unprepared for retirement, with the average 65-year-old saving enough to cover less than a decade of costs.

The average U.S. man faces a savings gap of 8.3 years, while women, who live longer, face a gap of 10.9 years. The report found that the U.S. will have the world’s largest savings shortfall at $137 trillion by 2050.

Now, the good news: The experts at Investing Daily can enhance your financial security, so you don’t have to worry about going broke in your senior years. By following our advice, you can gain greater peace of mind.

You can start by watching my video presentation How to Cope With The Retirement Crisis. Click here to watch.

The Race to Implement Artificial Intelligence

Please advise on a rebalancing strategy for 2024. You have consistently recommended companies geared toward advanced technology, especially artificial intelligence. What’s the best way to profit from AI?” Faith F.

The implementation of AI technology is a megatrend that will make proactive investors rich. There are several ETFs that seek to leverage AI, but there are caveats with this approach.

For starters, to profit from the global implementation of AI, you’re better off taking a targeted approach with individual stocks, rather than a broad-brush fund approach.

We’ve put together a list of the top three AI stocks for 2024 to buy now. For details, click here.

John Persinos is the editorial director of Investing Daily.

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This article previously appeared on Investing Daily.