An enigma, wrapped in a puzzle, wrapped in gold

Gold is a mystery, though price setting has come a long way since Franklin Roosevelt's lucky numbers. And bugs are set up for disappointment in the near future.

A clever fund manager in the City of London says he will have a go at anything, except gold. “No one knows how it works,” he explains. The chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, is in the same boat: “I don’t pretend to understand gold,” he says. But for true believers in gold – known as gold bugs – it is the most lustrous of financial instruments. It is no surprise, therefore, that gold is a volatile market that encourages wildly contrasting expectations.

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