Animation: How Billionaire Investors Are Protecting Their Wealth
It can take a lifetime to build a fortune of Buffett or Dalio sized proportions.
But, as all billionaires know, there is always risk present in the market – and even though a catastrophic geopolitical or financial event is very unlikely, it is important to be prepared for anything.
How Billionaires Protect Their Wealth
Today’s animation comes to us from Sprott Physical Bullion Trusts, and it shows the worries that are keeping billionaires up at night, and how they are positioning themselves to preserve wealth in any market environment.
Let’s take a closer look at the actions that these billionaires are taking, and why they are so concerned in the first place.
The Cash Misconception
Most billionaires are surprisingly cash poor on a relative basis. The average billionaire only holds 1% of their net worth in liquid assets like cash because the vast majority of their fortunes are usually tied up in business interests, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other financial assets.
Wealth is not stagnant, and the portfolios of these billionaires will move along with the health of the economy and markets. This can either make their wealth flourish – or any market crash could damage their entire fortune.
For this reason, billionaires are very concerned about market fluctuations, and they actively seek ways to protect their wealth even in the wake of a catastrophic geopolitical, economic, or monetary event.
How Billionaires are Positioned
In two earlier infographics, we outlined the current geopolitical risks that have elite investors worried, as well as the types of market risks that could materialize.
Keeping the above points in mind, billionaire investors are positioning their portfolios accordingly.
By accumulating massive amounts of cash in Berkshire Hathaway, value investor Warren Buffett has preserved his optionality. If a downturn hits the market, he can deploy the cash and get assets at bottom barrel prices. (Sidenote: see the size and scope of the vast Warren Buffett Empire)
The billionaire founder of Greenlight Capital believes that financial repression and monetary debasement employed by central bankers can be neutralized with gold.
Paul Tudor Jones
The reclusive hedge fund manager, who called the 1987 crash, is being very careful in choosing the assets he holds. He has observed bonds are the most expensive they’ve ever been by virtually any metric – and has joked that he’d rather hold a burning chunk of coal than a U.S. Treasury bond.
The founder of the world’s largest hedge fund is adamant that 5-10% of a portfolio should currently be held in gold. Not surprisingly, in November 2017, Bridgewater loaded up on its gold holdings by 525%.
No matter the size of your investment portfolio, it’s worth studying how the world’s most elite investors are protecting their fortunes. By hedging against big events and diversifying their investment portfolios to include safe havens, they maximize their chances for success in any investment environment.
Charted: 30 Years of Central Bank Gold Demand
Globally, central banks bought a record 1,136 tonnes of gold in 2022. How has central bank gold demand changed over the last three decades?
30 Years of Central Bank Gold Demand
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Did you know that nearly one-fifth of all the gold ever mined is held by central banks?
Besides investors and jewelry consumers, central banks are a major source of gold demand. In fact, in 2022, central banks snapped up gold at the fastest pace since 1967.
However, the record gold purchases of 2022 are in stark contrast to the 1990s and early 2000s, when central banks were net sellers of gold.
The above infographic uses data from the World Gold Council to show 30 years of central bank gold demand, highlighting how official attitudes toward gold have changed in the last 30 years.
Why Do Central Banks Buy Gold?
Gold plays an important role in the financial reserves of numerous nations. Here are three of the reasons why central banks hold gold:
- Balancing foreign exchange reserves
Central banks have long held gold as part of their reserves to manage risk from currency holdings and to promote stability during economic turmoil.
- Hedging against fiat currencies
Gold offers a hedge against the eroding purchasing power of currencies (mainly the U.S. dollar) due to inflation.
- Diversifying portfolios
Gold has an inverse correlation with the U.S. dollar. When the dollar falls in value, gold prices tend to rise, protecting central banks from volatility.
The Switch from Selling to Buying
In the 1990s and early 2000s, central banks were net sellers of gold.
There were several reasons behind the selling, including good macroeconomic conditions and a downward trend in gold prices. Due to strong economic growth, gold’s safe-haven properties were less valuable, and low returns made it unattractive as an investment.
Central bank attitudes toward gold started changing following the 1997 Asian financial crisis and then later, the 2007–08 financial crisis. Since 2010, central banks have been net buyers of gold on an annual basis.
Here’s a look at the 10 largest official buyers of gold from the end of 1999 to end of 2021:
|Rank||Country||Amount of |
Gold Bought (tonnes)
|#7||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||180||3%|
The top 10 official buyers of gold between end-1999 and end-2021 represent 84% of all the gold bought by central banks during this period.
Russia and China—arguably the United States’ top geopolitical rivals—have been the largest gold buyers over the last two decades. Russia, in particular, accelerated its gold purchases after being hit by Western sanctions following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Interestingly, the majority of nations on the above list are emerging economies. These countries have likely been stockpiling gold to hedge against financial and geopolitical risks affecting currencies, primarily the U.S. dollar.
Meanwhile, European nations including Switzerland, France, Netherlands, and the UK were the largest sellers of gold between 1999 and 2021, under the Central Bank Gold Agreement (CBGA) framework.
Which Central Banks Bought Gold in 2022?
In 2022, central banks bought a record 1,136 tonnes of gold, worth around $70 billion.
|Country||2022 Gold Purchases (tonnes)||% of Total|
Türkiye, experiencing 86% year-over-year inflation as of October 2022, was the largest buyer, adding 148 tonnes to its reserves. China continued its gold-buying spree with 62 tonnes added in the months of November and December, amid rising geopolitical tensions with the United States.
Overall, emerging markets continued the trend that started in the 2000s, accounting for the bulk of gold purchases. Meanwhile, a significant two-thirds, or 741 tonnes of official gold purchases were unreported in 2022.
According to analysts, unreported gold purchases are likely to have come from countries like China and Russia, who are looking to de-dollarize global trade to circumvent Western sanctions.
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