The people who speculate on the price of gold are a weird lot. They're actually betting on diaster. Any bad news which drives up the price of gold is good news to them, and whether they want to or not, they have to root for wars, pestilence, droughts and revolution.

It's a miserable way to life to keep hoping things will get worse before they get better buy you get used to anything.

When news of the Soviet unvasion of Afghanistan first broke, I had a call from Doomsday. "I told you that you should have bought gold months ago," he shouted over the phone. "With Afghanistan and Iran in turmoil, the price could now go through the roof."

"I guess you made a killing," I said.

"I'm not complaining. I made 300 percent of my investment and it's just the beginning. If anything happens to Middle East oil, I'll be in clover." t

"You may be in clover," I said, "but you won't be able to drive through it. Has it ever occurred to you, Doomsday, that the more disasters there are in the world, the harder life is going to be for all of us?"

"Not if you've invested in gold. Everyone knows gold is disaster-proof."

"What are you going to do with the gold if the bottom drops out of everything?"

"I'll take a flyer in silver."

"But wouldn't you rather have a strong dollar and a healthy economy?"

"Are you crazy? You don't know anything about people who invest in precious metals. We never say to anyone, 'Have a nice day.' We want them to have a miserable day. That's the only way you can drive up the price of gold. Every time someone predicts there is going to be a recession I feel great. But when the recession doesn't come, I get sick. You must understand that gold bugs have to march to a different drummer."

"I do understand it, and I envy you. Your fortune depends on chaos. The more catastrophes there are in the world, the more secure you feel. But isn't there some point when things could get so out of hand that even gold won't save you?"

"When you're into bullion, you can't think that way. You have to be an optimist. You have to believe that no matter how bad the situation gets, there will always be a market for gold. I didn't plan the invasion of Afghanistan, and I had nothing to do with oil prices going out of sight. But as long as it happened, somebody had to profit from it."

"Let me ask you something. Don't you feel the slightest twinge of guilt about making money from everybody else's misery? Isn't it difficult to wake up in the morning and say, 'I hope the rice crops failed in India?'"

"I never say that. What I say is, 'I wonder how many dollars the Japanese are going to sell today?' If the answer is 'a lot,' I call my broker and tell him to buy more gold. The worst thing a gold speculator can do is get emotional about his investment. If I worried about all the people who get hurt when gold goes up, I'd be in nothing but pork bellies."

You can't talk to a person when he has gold fever, so I decided to end the conversation. "Goodby, Doomsday -- and, peace."

He yelled, "That's a lousy thing for you to say."