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All that glitters is not necessarily a good store of value The evolution of precious and not-so-precious metal prices


The FRED team is busy adding new data almost every day, as new data are released almost every day. That includes the week between Christmas and the new year. Still, we found some time to create this FRED graph, which shows the prices of gold, copper, and nickel. You may have noticed the colors of the lines match the colors of their metals, thanks to FRED’s flexible graph formatting tool. Note also that we displayed the price of gold on a different scale, as it’s an order of magnitude or two higher than the others.

The prices of these metals, as is often the case with commodities, are quite volatile. There seems to be a connection between the price of copper and the price of nickel: Both, for example, are used as an alloy in the manufacture of coins. But the price of gold seems to follow its own laws. At any rate, none of these metals instills confidence that its price is certain to appreciate, despite what some advertisements claim. This lack of certainty becomes even more apparent when you adjust for inflation, as shown in the graph below.

How this graph was created: Search for “copper price” and open the monthly graph. From the “Edit Graph” section, open the “Add line” tab and search for “nickel price” and add it. Add another line by searching for and selecting the gold price. Finally, in the “Format” tab, set the axis for the gold price to the right and play with the color settings for each line. For the second graph, take the first graph and do this for each line: Add the non-seasonally adjusted CPI series (to match the non-seasonally adjusted metal price series) and apply formula a/b.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: CPIAUCNS, GOLDAMGBD228NLBM, PCOPPUSDM, PNICKUSDM


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