If predatory mortgage lenders took advantage of the poor and the illiterate, then the gold (GLD) industry is playing upon the fears of nervous white guys with some assets to protect.
At least that’s the argument put forth by Julian Delasantellis at Asia Times:
Who is the target audience for gold? Well, if you’re selling something that goes for over $1,000 for 30 grams of the stuff, you know you’ve got to pitch to somebody who has some money; in the United States, that would be upper-middle class and upper-middle aged (say, from 45-60 years of age) white men. No matter how brightly the rainbow shines in the White House, and no matter how many childcare responsibilities Barack shares with Michelle, the American song essentially stays the same, in that the country is ruled by, and has most if not all important financial decision-making done by, these said white men.
The “pitch” used to sell the product varies little; the pitchmen have the routine down cold. The set is a conservative, rich, wood-paneled office that looks like it’s somebody’s idea of what a banker’s office looked like in small town America 50 years ago (don’t expect to see a Bauhaus chair here). A well-dressed and well-spoken grey-haired pitchman (one company has Nixon-era Watergate conspirator and prominent right-wing talk host G Gordon Liddy making the pitch), in a heavy voice just oozing with gravitas, intones a frightening warning.
“Government spending is out of control,” the pitch might begin, perhaps with a not very flattering picture of President Barack Obama greenscreened into a background of riots and chaos. “Congress is spending away the nation’s wealth. Inflation will soon be skyrocketing, and your children and children’s children will be left with unimaginable debts.”