Gundlach Sounds Alarm on ‘Paper Gold’ ETFs Raking in Billions – by Katherine Greifeld and John Gittelsohn (Bloomberg News – April 1, 2020)

Jeffrey Gundlach has a warning for investors piling into gold-backed ETFs: Don’t think you’ll get the physical metal back.

State Street Corp.’s $50 billion SPDR Gold Shares ETF, ticker GLD, attracted $2.9 billion of inflows last week, its biggest haul since 2009, as haven demand amid escalating coronavirus fears boosted the metal. Meanwhile, assets in gold ETFs climbed to a record on Tuesday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The demand for such ETFs is flashing a warning sign for DoubleLine Capital’s chief investment officer, who cautioned against the products during a webcast Tuesday.

While ETFs such as GLD are backed by physical gold, the process for an individual investor to acquire the actual bullion isn’t as simple as selling shares of the ETF. “Paper gold” ETFs are little more than speculative vehicles, Gundlach said, and buyers should be aware that holding shares doesn’t amount to having gold bars.

“What happens if physical gold is in short supply and everyone wants to take delivery of their paper gold?” Gundlach said. “They can’t squeeze blood out of a stone.”

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