Top Strategies for Short-Term and Long-Term Gold Investors

Top Strategies for Short-Term and Long-Term Gold Investors

4 Min.


Gold investments have long been a favored choice for investors seeking to hedge against market volatility and preserve wealth. In this comprehensive guide, let's explore the various avenues available for investing in gold, ranging from traditional Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) to more complex leveraged and inverse Exchange-Traded Notes (ETNs).

Gold Exchange-Traded Funds: Efficient Gold Investment

Gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) offer an effective avenue for investors to track gold price movements without acquiring the physical metal. Typically structured as trusts, these ETFs secure a specific quantity of gold bars for each issued share, granting shareholders ownership in the gold held within the trust.

Due to their physical gold holdings, these ETFs closely mirror gold's price fluctuations in both short and long-term scenarios. Occasional tracking disparities between the ETF's price and reference asset may arise, leading arbitrageurs to intervene swiftly.

SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)

The SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) ranks among the largest gold ETFs. As of August 2023, it safeguarded approximately 29 million ounces in London and other locations, boasting a net asset value (NAV) exceeding $56 billion. Each GLD share is equivalent to 0.06052 ounces of gold.

As actual gold prices fluctuate, GLD's value mirrors these shifts. Investor demand can push the share price above or below NAV, causing individual shares to be marginally more or less valuable than 0.06052 ounces of gold.

Initially, shares were valued at one-tenth of the gold price. However, the ETF progressively erodes the gold represented by each share, charging investors a modest 0.4% annual fee. This fee gradually diminishes the ETF's NAV, thus reducing the gold value of each share yearly. Despite this fee, it remains relatively inconsequential considering gold's historical annual return of 7.78% since 1971.

For small investors, the expenses associated with physical gold storage and insurance typically exceed 0.4% annually. Consequently, gold ETFs provide a cost-effective mechanism for gold investment.

iShares Gold Trust (IAU): A Leading Gold Investment Option

The iShares Gold Trust, managed by BlackRock, is a prominent choice among gold investors. As of August 2023, this ETF safeguarded more than 14.152 million ounces of gold, resulting in a Net Asset Value (NAV) of $27.3 billion. With 747 million shares in circulation, each IAU share signifies approximately 0.0189492 ounces of gold. This amount diminishes over time due to the fund's 0.25% expense ratio. Similar to SPDR Gold Shares, the iShares Gold Trust adopts a trust structure, housing physical gold bars in secure vaults situated in London and New York.

Leveraged and Inverse Gold ETNs: Short-Term Trading Options

Leveraged and inverse gold instruments offer an alternative to conventional gold ETFs. These instruments, known for their complexity, diverge from traditional ETFs as they do not hold the underlying asset in trust. Instead, leveraged and inverse funds often manifest as exchange-traded notes (ETNs), representing debt obligations from the underwriter. ETN prices correlate with a commodity index, but they do not confer ownership of gold to investors.

Primarily designed for short-term trading, leveraged and inverse gold ETNs strive to mirror daily gold price fluctuations rather than long-term trends. The utilization of leverage can amplify losses due to market volatility. In the context of a fiat money system, inverse gold funds are expected to yield negative returns over time, as gold prices typically ascend.

VelocityShares 3x Long Gold ETN (UGLD)

The VelocityShares 3x Long Gold ETN (UGLD) seeks to deliver a daily return three times greater than the S&P GSCI Gold Index ER. Consequently, UGLD is best suited for short-term investment horizons. This ETN is issued by Credit Suisse and carries an expense ratio of 1.35%.

DB Gold Double Short ETN (DZZ)

The DB Gold Double Short ETN (DZZ) moves inversely in relation to gold prices. A 1% increase in gold prices translates to a 2% decline in DZZ, which moves twice as much in the opposite direction. While the notes exhibit thin trading volume, the expense ratio is 0.75%. Deutsche Bank introduced this ETN in 2008 but later announced the suspension of further issuances in 2016.


Gold ETFs with trust structures offer simplicity. These trusts secure physical gold and issue shares, granting shareholders fractional gold ownership. Share values mirror actual gold prices, typically representing 1/10th or 1/100th of the metal's value. Over time, the expense ratio diminishes each share's gold representation. ETFs often prove cost-effective compared to acquiring and storing physical gold.

In contrast, inverse and leveraged ETNs present greater complexity than ETFs. They mirror daily gold price fluctuations by moving in the opposite direction or magnifying these changes. However, leveraged and inverse ETNs are unsuitable for tracking long-term gold price trends.

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
iShares Gold Trust (IAU)
Exchange-Traded Notes (ETNs)
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