For many investors, that grim scenario is in full swing, except for one thing: After briefly hitting $1,000 an ounce for the first time in March, gold has fallen into a rut and shows no sign of budging anytime soon.
Gold's failure to flourish despite broad financial carnage has disappointed many of the metal's champions. Others say it's simply in a lull and is ripe for another big surge. But most gold buyers agree that the metal's lackluster performance lately has been surprising.
"It's been a puzzle for most of us," said Geoff Farnham of Venice, Calif. who inherited some gold holdings and recently began buying gold coins as "insurance."
"In hard times, gold is a good thing to have," the retired software developer said. "Knowing that there aren't a lot of gold coins out there to buy, seeing the price continue to drop has been curious."