Gold has historically been an excellent hedge against inflation, because its price tends to rise when the cost of living increases. Since World War II, the five years in which U.S. inflation was at its highest were 1946, 1974, 1975, 1979 and 1980 (as of 2012). During those five years, the average real return on the Dow Jones Industrial Average was -12.33%, compared to 130.4% for gold.