The price of gold topped $1,000 per ounce this past Friday, only the second time it has done that, the last being last March for a few days. Yes, I think there is a bubble, but some other observers disagree (Patrick Heller: "Gold Reaches $1,000 Again: This Time It's Different"). Heller claims that "this is different" (from last March), with "prudent buyers" still buying, and various "mainstream pension funds" getting into the act, with him forecasting a major "shortage" of gold coins and loose jewelry later this spring. He suggests we will not see a price below $1,000 again any time soon.
Quite aside from my vague sense from people coming up to me randomly with this sort of frenzied tone when asking me about gold (always a bad sign), there are some aspects of this that do not smell right. Sure, I would not be surprised if the price rises some more. This bubble could bubble away for some time more, even some months. But usually the drive to gold is a flight from currency based on fears of inflation. Now, maybe there are people fearing hyperinflation from the fiscal stimulus, but a lot of forward swap markets still show expectations of deflation. Jim Hamilton at econbrowser is all pleased that there was a slightly positive increase in the US CPI in January, but is still hoping for much more inflation (his favored target is a 3% rate), and the price of oil has only gone down since then.
Of course, a deeper possibility here is probably a fear of just total collapse of everything, call it fleeing from nameless black swans that may be flying towards us. The same sort of thing probably explains the newly recent highs we are seeing on the US dollar, this absurd "flight to quality" to the dollar, when it is facing massive foreign imbalances and indebtedness, rather like what happened in mid-September when we briefly saw negative nominal interest rates. However, the most likely Awful Event still does not look like the sort of hyperinflation that feeds the gold bugs's mania, but a deep decline into deep depression, which would mean deflation. This would mean a collapse of the price of gold. Sure looks like a speculative bubble to me.