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Wars and Rumors of Wars

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The world is nervous. With the recent US missile strike in Syria and escalating tensions in North Korea, people have turned their thoughts to war. Google searches for “world war 3” have hit all-time highs according to info available on Google Trends. Related searches such as “Trump war,” “Syria war,” and “nuclear war” are also trending at record levels.



The Korea Times reported a high level of anxiety in South Korea as the US and North Korea spar in an escalating war of words and military posturing. President Trump recently ordered a US carrier group to waters near the Korean peninsula, saying North Korea is “looking for trouble.” An aid for Kim Jong-un warned a ‘reckless’ Donald Trump that North Korea will ‘annihilate’ the US. Meanwhile, South Koreans have flooded a popular message board in that country with talk of war.

“Many South Koreans are increasingly uneasy about possible exchanges of fire – between the two Koreas or a three-way battle involving a third country, most likely the US – that could throw their lives into unprecedented chaos. The unplanned deployment of a US carrier strike group to waters close to the peninsula has stoked worries. Adding fuel to the fire are widespread ‘warmongering rumors’ on the internet, with detailed prospects, including when and how a second Korean War would break out. Many experts and government officials called the rumors ‘baseless,’ but that seems to have done little to contain rising public anxiety.”

Things seem to have settled back to the status quo in the Middle East since Trump ordered a cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase in retaliation for a chemical gas attack allegedly launched by the Syrian government. But tensions remain high. The tangled web of alliances, including Russia’s support for the Assad government, creates the potential for rapid escalation in the region, with the possibility of a broader conflict between the US and Russia.

All of this underscores what we said in the wake of the US attack on Syria – the only certainty is uncertainty.

Of course, all of this uncertainty is good for gold and silver. The price of gold is up by about 8% since the beginning of the year, driven in large part by safe-haven buying as both political and economic uncertainty has increased. A recent article on CNBC called world tensions “a new pocket of opportunity” for gold.

“The lack of wisdom from everyone with the desire to hurt others has meant the safe-haven trade has found a new pocket of geopolitical opportunity. Nobody sane wants more people to die in Syria, and nobody sane wants to start a war with North Korea, but how to handle both these hotspots is easier said than done, and this is proving the case with the new US administration, just as it was the old.”

Investment analyst Mike Maloney put it in even starker terms.

“You don’t want to see gold go to the moon because of World War III, but if that happens, it will, and it’s better to be on the right side of things financially then on the wrong side because you can’t really control the politics of this planet.”

We don’t know the future, but we can always prepare for it.

 

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