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More Precious Than Gold? Copper’s the Better Inflation Hedge

  • Since 1992, metal’s returns were three times more than bullion
  • Fed eyes more rate increases in bet consumer prices will rally
Copper wire rod sits in a storage facility following manufacture at the Uralelectromed OJSC Copper Refinery, operated by Ural Mining and Metallurgical Co. (UMMC), in Verkhnyaya Pyshma, Russia, on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Russia’s No. 1 zinc miner and No. 2 copper producer plans a far-reaching expansion of its diversified minerals output, billionaire co-owner and Chief Executive Officer Andrey Kozitsyn said in an interview.

Copper wire rod sits in a storage facility following manufacture at the Uralelectromed OJSC Copper Refinery, operated by Ural Mining and Metallurgical Co. (UMMC), in Verkhnyaya Pyshma, Russia, on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Russia’s No. 1 zinc miner and No. 2 copper producer plans a far-reaching expansion of its diversified minerals output, billionaire co-owner and Chief Executive Officer Andrey Kozitsyn said in an interview.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
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For centuries, gold has been a go-to asset among investors worried about all sorts of financial risks. In the past decade, exchange-traded funds backed by the metal drew more money than any other commodity. Even the world’s biggest central banks hoard bullion as a reserve asset.

But when it comes to inflation, which can erode the value of portfolios that don’t keep pace with rising consumer prices, anyone who bought gold as a hedge over the past 25 years missed out on a much better deal -- copper.  While data show that broad commodity indexes provided the best bang for the buck during periods of rising costs in the U.S., the red metal stands out.