NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Gold prices have been in free-fall ever since the government announced a better-than-anticipated November jobs data last week.

And as the US economy continues to recover, there is rising speculation that the Fed will soon hike up interest rates -- which is what's lending value to the dollar and putting downward pressure on gold.

Gold prices extended their decline for a second straight session Monday as the dollar continued to rise. Gold delivery for February fell $26.20 to $1,143.30 at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange while trading as high as $1,162.50 and as low as $1,136.10. Just two days before, on Wednesday, gold hit an all-time high of above $1,200 an ounce as the dollar dove against other currencies.

Given this fact, it only seems logical to consider that perhaps gold is not necessarily the best place to put your money. In fact, based on TheStreet's calculations, it seems that gold would have to rise and stay at significantly higher levels than the current one in order to beat the earnings that an investor would accrue in his or her interest-bearing savings and checking accounts -- even at the measly savings rates today.

Suppose, or example, you deposited $10,000 in a 0.221% interest-bearing savings account today, the rate that appears on bankingMyway.com. Excluding monthly contributions, and including an annual interest compounded monthly, you would end up with $10,223. Similarly, you would accrue $10,135 after ten years in an 0.134% interest-bearing checking account.

It isn't an awful amount of money saved after ten years, but consider this: it seems like much more work to hold onto the gold that you buy today with the hope that it will, at the very minimum, be worth $1,188 an ounce in ten years. That's how much the gold needs to be worth for you to earn at least as much as what you would get from your savings account. And it would have to hit at least $1,178 an ounce to be on par with your checking account.

Indeed, it appears that the odds against a rise in gold prices are limited, if we are indeed on a trajectory towards a series of earlier-than-expected interest rate hikes in response to signs of a U.S. economic recovery. Many are convinced that the Fed could soon pull back on its easy-money lending, economic stimulus policies, which have kept interest rates at a near-zero.

Of course, wealthy hedge fund managers like

John Paulson

and

David Einhorn

may beg to disagree with these views, having recently jumped on the gold bandwagon and taken huge positions in a gold. Paulson is launching a gold-focused hedge fund in January. He's putting $250 million of his own money into it.

Gold mining stocks are up in early afternoon trading.

Barrick Gold

TST Recommends

(ABX)

stock has advanced 0.2% to $42.90, while rival

Newmont Mining

(NEM) - Get Report

has risen 0.8% to $52.80.

Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold

(FCX) - Get Report

has added 0.8% to $80.50 and

Yamana Gold

(AUY) - Get Report

has risen 0.1% to $13.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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