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The Myth of the Housewife Gold Titans
Summary:With the scores of Chinese women snatching up gold products as prices plummeted, many have credited them with single-handedly stabilizing the price. However, this is likely very exaggerated.

Photo: Xinhua

By Liu Jinsong (
Issue 618, May 6, 2013
News, Front page
Translated by Chi Yi
Original article: [Chinese]

What drives Chinese to so impulsively purchase gold? An old proverb may answer that question.

“When you need to escape, the most solid refuge can only be gold.”

Feng Rui (冯瑞), a Beijing gold lover, has just returned from a trip to Hong Kong. Unlike all her previous visits, she didn’t even get to buy a single gold bracelet there. One night she went into a gold store, only to find empty counters. So the next morning, she lined up before the store opened, but found mostly empty counters with only very disappointing products left.

The past May Day holiday became a “snap-up gold” opportunity thanks to a demographic called the “Chinese Da Ma,” or middle-aged housewives. Gold prices have stabilized since the global nose-dive in mid-April and some have claimed the buying spree by Chinese Da Ma is what reversed the free fall. These women have been described as new titans in the financial market who even managed to defeat Wall Street in the gold price war.

However, many don’t buy the “housewives defeat Wall Street” narrative, saying that in the global market, the gold bought by “Chinese Da Ma” only accounts for a trivial proportion of the total transaction volume. There’s no way it substantively affected the gold price reversal.

“It was only a technical rebound after the gold was oversold,” Lin Yiming (林一鸣), executive director of CITIC Securities said. “Individual buyers made their contribution but they weren’t the main reason.” 

However, there are supporters of the housewives theory in the financial industry. Tan Xinqiang (谭新强), chief executive of Central Asset Investments, told the EO that he believes the story is possible. “SPDR Gold Shares, the largest gold exchange-traded product in the world, is backed by 1,500 tons of gold,” Tan said. “If we assume the fund sells 20 percent of its gold, then that means there will be 300 tons of gold in the market needing to be bought. If every housewife buys 50 gram of gold, that takes 6 million housewives. I think individual investors in emerging markets like China and India have that kind of purchasing power.”   


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