Gold Essay

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The article discusses the popularity of gold as an investment. Gold prices hit $1,400 per ounce in November, 2010. Signs of a mania for goldabound, including as the emergence of gold vending machines in Abu Dhabi and Germany, the strong performance of gold-mining stocks, and large purchases of gold by hedge-fund moguls John Paulson and George Soros. Brien Lundin, publisher of the "Gold Newsletter," says greed and fear motivate people to buy gold. Former U.S. Representative Dick Armey says gold's rise has been fueled by the depreciation of the U.S. dollar. HEDGE FUNDS, PROSPECTORS, EVEN FOLKS WITH A DRAWERFUL OF OLD JEWELRY--THEY'RE ALL CATCHING IT. A DISPATCH FROM THE ZONE OF CONTAGION. I'M STANDING IN A STREAM IN UPSTATE New York shoveling dirt into a bucket. Danny Miller, a 58-year-old retired industrial engineer, shows me how to scatter the dirt into a sluice propped against rocks in shallow water. He dumps the residue from the sluice into a green plastic pan and shakes it, looking for "color." "I almost thought I saw a little piece of gold," says Danny, who heads the New York chapter of the Gold Prospector's Association of America. "Boy, I thought I saw a speck there for a second." Danny, there is no gold in your pan. There's no more than a few specks in this whole damn stream. In fact, all the unmined gold in the entire state of New York would probably fit into that one-ounce vial your buddy Zeke gave me before we headed into the woods. Worse, you explained all these dismal facts to me before I flew all the way to Syracuse, then drove another hour to meet you and seven other members of this nutty little club at a firehouse in West Eaton, N.Y. A giant American flag hung on the wall near the pool table as club member Kenneth Roman, 64, told the group that so far he has found exactly four specks--"about a quarter the size of fly poop." Then you reminded us that

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