As we embark on 2011, gold continues to climb and investors are questioning its future price direction. Is gold in a bubble? Have the price gains of the last decade-which beat out stocks, bonds and several other favored asset classes- peaked? Did today's investors miss the opportunity to buy?

Since 2002, we have responded to these questions daily, as gold climbed from $275 an ounce to over $1,400. Unfortunately, most people see gold as just another dollar-based asset class to be evaluated using the same metrics as stocks and bonds, and commodities like corn and coffee. But in order to understand the benefits of buying and holding physical gold, investors must go beyond conventional economic wisdom and understand causes rather than symptoms. They need to be able to interpret the message gold is sending.

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