Billionaire financier George Soros this month repeated his warning gold is locked in the “ultimate bubble”, and told investors bluntly it was “certainly not safe” in troubled times.

Soros was simply repeating a warning he issued at the World Economic Forum (WEF) back in February. At the time gold was trading at less than $1,150 per ounce. It has since risen to touch $1,300 this week, and is up more than 400 percent from its low of $252 in 1999. There is no end in sight for the bull run. Anyone who shorted gold back in February would be sitting on huge losses.

But while Soros himself warned gold was in a bubble, his hedge fund, Soros Fund Management LLC was one of the biggest gold bulls of the year, doubling its holding of shares in the SPDR Gold Trust at about the same time he was issuing his warning at the WEF in Davos.

Soros is no longer involved in the management of the fund. But the apparent disconnect between the bubble warning and the bullishness of his fund will strike many observers as strange. In reality it illustrates the fascinating investment philosophy of one of the most successful financiers of the last 50 years and is the best way to understand what is really going on in the precious metal market.

REFLEXIVITY AND BUBBLES
Soros outlined his theory of price formation, and how bubbles inflate and collapse, in a brilliant book on “The Alchemy of Finance”, first published in 1987, but updated in 2003. It remains one of the clearest, most incisive explanations of how and why bubbles occur, and shows how profiting from the “madness of crowds” has been pivotal to his success.