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Gold Running in Short Supply

Eric Sprott founded Sprott Asset Management in 2001 and has over $5 billion in assets under management. He has been an outspoken gold bull since 2000 and warned that the bursting of the Nasdaq bubble was the start of a long-term deflationary trend that is playing out. I met him last week in Toronto.

First of two parts

EJ: You've been one of the biggest gold proponents. Where's the price per ounce of gold going?

ES: I don't have a good price target. We get involved in themes that play out for a long time. Interest rates and reported inflation started going down in the 1980s. No one dreamed of buying gold in 2000. You were an idiot talking about it. I was initially attracted to it because I thought there was a physical shortage then. There still is.

Central governments were selling gold 10 years ago. This put a burden on a very small market. Today, central governments are buying, the miners are unhedged, you have big gold ETFs, you have coin sales going crazy. Some central banks are even telling their people to buy gold.

I've got to believe that a physical shortage will manifest itself somewhere soon. There's only 162,000 tons of it out there -- and I don't know anyone selling it. Someone's going to try to buy a bar of gold sometime and it won't be there.

My partner, John Embry, went into gold many years ago because he thought it would become a substitute for fiat currencies. Governments are printing money and, sooner or later, people will realize that it's better to own gold than any bank deposits. This theme is obviously massively playing out as we speak. You look at the quantitative easing (QE) programs, budget deficits. The global fiscal irresponsibility plays into the hands of the gold owner. More people will figure it out and they'll go there.

We now have large investors -- John Paulson, to name one -- putting their money into gold. If everyone started putting 5% of their portfolios in gold, there wouldn't be enough. I'm convinced the upside for gold is still quite positive. When I see some projections for $2,000, $3,000, or $5,000 per ounce, none of them bothers me. We don't know where the price will go but it will be the inverse of QE. The more they print, the more it will go up.

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