Gold has long been the jittery investor's favorite standby -- and with confidence in the dollar waning, everyone from department-store shoppers to national banks is stocking up on the shiny stuff. Prices reached a record high of $1,100 per ounce last week, and some investors now predict the metal could top $2,000 per ounce. "It is ... an asset that, like everything else in life, has its time and place," says one hedge-fund manager. "And now is that time."

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