NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Wall Street has been calling gold a bubble since 2005, when prices hit $500. Some naysayers remained negative even as gold rose 30% in the past 12 months.Despite gold's latest run, it was still a laggard compared to other commodities -- the precious metal didn't even place in the top half in 2010. Against a basket of 14 commodities that includes everything from aluminum to wheat, gold's 29.5% return placed it eighth. Palladium took the top spot, with a 97% return, followed by silver, with 83%. Natural gas dropped 21%, the worst-performing commodity of the basket. There are two main drivers of gold demand: What I call the fear trade and the love trade. Fear trade: The fear trade is what you often hear about from the media and the gloom-and-doomers. The fear trade is driven by negative real interest rates -- where inflation is greater than the nominal interest rate -- and deficit spending. Whenever you have negative real interest rates coupled with increased deficit spending, gold tends to rise in that country's currency. In the U.S., we're in the middle of an extended period of negative real interest rates that will likely last through the year. The Federal Reserve is acutely aware that if interest rates should spike, it would be catastrophic for the economic recovery. Looking back over the past 400 years, there has been a major currency or credit crisis every decade and, historically, it takes about four years to heal from the contraction. The U.S. economy is on the road to recovery. However, the elevated number of home foreclosures and high unemployment make it unlikely the Fed will risk a relapse by raising interest rates any time soon. The government is also unlikely to cut spending or welfare support during the healing process. As for deficit spending, we still have an oversized government, creating regulatory traffic jams for business development and hurdles for economic trade.