As 2021 winds down, gold prices are starting to perk up again a little bit. But this very slight rise is still not having any effect on the public's willingness to own gold bullion ETFs.
This week's chart shows the combined assets of GLD and IAU, the two largest of the ETFs which hold gold bullion to back their shares. Assets in these two ETFs tend to rise and fall in sympathy with gold prices, which makes sense. There is nothing like rising prices to get more people excited and wanting to participate. Conversely, falling prices cause people to flee.
These data get really fun when we see investor behavior that is not explained by price action, i.e. still buying after a price top or still selling after a bottom. That behavior indicates a more organic and lasting form of investor sentiment, which suggests that the price move has further to run before it starts turning people's hearts.
Right now, gold is moving up slightly, but the total assets of the two funds combined is the lowest since April 2020. The public is not believing in the up move by gold prices, which of course makes that move more legitimate.