For more coverage from TheStreet.com Ratings team, check out TheStreet.com Ratings section.

For the five trading days ending Thursday, Oct. 16, the average precious metals fund we track shed 17.0% of its value on an 11.9% drop in the price of gold to $804.60 an ounce.

IAMGold ( IAG) CEO Joe Conway may be predicting $1,000 gold before year-end due to "massive financial market turmoil" and "significant monetary inflation," but the yellow metal is not cooperating.

The problem with the monetary inflation argument is that, even though banks may have money to lend, as we head into a recession there are fewer good credit risk companies and individuals trusted by these institutions to which they can make loans. Also, the Reuters/Jefferies CRB Commodity Price Index is off about 40% since the end of June, which shows a decline in raw material costs.

The "lack of jewelry demand" was cited by John Reade, the head of Metals Strategies for UBS ( UBS), as a reason for the downward pressure on the price of gold. In the largest drop on record, Friday's University of Michigan Survey of Consumer Confidence fell to 57.5 from 70.3 in September. In a recession, struggling consumers, shell-shocked from stock market losses, may be shunning gold jewelry in advance of the prewinter holiday shopping season.

The worst-performing precious metals fund this week is the ProFunds Precious Metals UltraSector ProFund ( PMPIX), which dove 32.60% on 150% leverage to the Dow Jones Precious Metals Index. This index follows U.S. stocks of companies that explore for and extract gold, silver and platinum ore.

Losing more than one-quarter of its net asset value, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF ( GDX) scored the second worst at -26.61% for the period. This exchange-traded fund tracks the Amex Gold Miners Index. While 54.9% of the companies in this index are Canadian, 16.8% South African and just 14.2% U.S.-based, all the holdings are U.S.-traded securities including Barrick Gold ( ABX), Goldcorp ( GG), Newmont Mining ( NEM) and Harmony Gold Mining ( HMY). The worst-performing holding of this fund, Seabridge Gold ( SA), tanked 51% over the short time period.

On the other hand, the portfolio of Midas Fund ( MIDSX), off 25.94%, holds shares of many of the same gold, silver, platinum and other natural resource companies as traded on their home stock exchanges like Toronto, London, New York and Johannesburg.

The president of Midas Funds, Tom Winmill, described the smaller mining shares that rely of credit due to their lack of cash flow as "road kill." The sentiment is shared by Agnico-Eagle Mines' ( AEM) chief financial officer, David Garofalo, who expects the credit freeze to cause bankruptcies among the smaller mining and exploration companies. With a credit line of $600 million and another $110 million in cash as of September, Agnico plans to look for acquisitions in order to target a fivefold increase in precious metals output.

Worst Performing Precious Metals Funds for the Week Ending Thursday, Oct. 16
Fund Ticker Rating Fund Type One-Week Total Return
ProFunds Precious Metals UltraSector ProFund PMPIX E- Open-End -32.60%
Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF GDX D- ETF -26.61%
Midas Fund MIDSX E+ Open-End -25.94%
USAA Precious Metals and Minerals Fund USAGX B- Open-End -24.77%
OCM Mutual Fund - OCM Gold Fund OCMGX C Open-End -23.46%
Van Eck International Investors Gold Fund INIVX C Open-End -23.37%
American Century Global Gold Fund BGEIX C Open-End -22.85%
Rydex Series - Precious Metals Fund RYPMX D- Open-End -22.49%
Evergreen Precious Metals Fund EKWAX C+ Open-End -22.47%
Oppenheimer Gold & Special Minerals Fund OPGSX C+ Open-End -22.42%
Source: Bloomberg & TheStreet.com Ratings

The best-performing Precious Metals table has been omitted as none of the funds in this category generated a positive return this week.

For more information, check out an explanation of our ratings.

Kevin Baker became the senior financial analyst for TSC Ratings upon the August 2006 acquisition of Weiss Ratings by TheStreet.com, covering mutual funds. He joined the Weiss Group in 1997 as a banking and brokerage analyst. In 1999, he created the Weiss Group's first ratings to gauge the level of risk in U.S. equities. Baker received a B.S. degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. with a finance specialization from Nova Southeastern University.

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