Gold was long the most valuable of precious metals, until, suddenly, it wasn’t.
Last week, an obscure and far less sexy rival called palladium swung ahead, for the first time in 16 years. Gold briefly retook the lead, but spot palladium prices have beaten out gold prices for the past three days.
Palladium hit a record high on Wednesday before settling in at $1,255.12 an ounce at the market close in London on Thursday, according to data from SP Angel, an investment research firm. Gold was $1,243.02 an ounce.
It is an impressive dethroning aided by economic shifts, antipollution legislation, union campaigns by mine workers and global trade negotiations. Until recently, palladium was perhaps best known for sharing a name with several popular entertainment venues and for powering the fictional arc reactor mechanism hooked up to Iron Man’s heart.
Its primary purpose is far less glamorous: More than 80 percent of the world’s palladium is used in the catalytic converters that help vehicles manage their pollutant output.I presume that the amount used in catalytic converters far outstrips the amount that's used in Suzuki couplings. It will be interesting to see if it continues its record run...