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Americans place their bet on gold

Aug. 29, 2011 at 7:28 AM ET

It seems the gold bug has gone mainstream.

Hammered by a weak housing market and slammed by stock market losses, Americans appear to be putting their faith (and perhaps their nest egg) in gold.

 A new poll from Gallup finds that 34 percent of Americans think gold is the best long-term investment. Just 19 percent say real estate is the best investment, while only 17 percent think stocks and mutual funds are the best long-term bet.

The poll was conducted in mid-August, following a wild week on Wall Street.

Gallup says it’s never before included gold as an option when it asked Americans to rank the best-long-term investments. In previous years, real estate generally took the top spot until the housing bust and economic crisis, when super-safe investments like savings accounts and CDs briefly surged.

In this year’s poll, 14 percent of Americans chose savings accounts and CDs as the best long-term investment.

The price of gold has skyrocketed in recent years, topping $1,900 an ounce earlier this month because people see it as a safe haven when the economy is on shaky ground.

But prices have been a little more volatile recently, and some have wondered whether the precious metal’s popularity could be its undoing.

"Gold was considered a safe haven for years because it wasn't popular, but now it's popular," Cetin Ciner, a professor of finance at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, said in a story that appeared on msnbc.com last week following a big drop in gold prices. "You can't have a fad and a safe haven at the same time."

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