I covered hard commodities at the hedge fund I worked for this summer. I agree, gold is not where I'd go for inflation protection. Too many big players, hard to estimate its fundamental value, and other issues. There are lots of other options for inflation protection. I still think commodities in general are overvalued right now. Copper certainly isn't trading on fundamentals. I generally look to copper for inflation protection. Freeport McMoran (FCX) has a normalized correlation with copper of .98, so that's the way I play it. I usually have money in TIPS as well. I don't think now is the time to be jumping full into inflation protection, I just don't see it happening over the next year or so. Gets much more questionable after that, mainly b/c of reasons similar to this article.
I don't see it being a huge deal until about a year and a half out, but I have always had bad experiences with trying to call tops and bottoms.
I am reminded fo the saying "In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King" We're doing shitty right now, but everyone else is worse. So our debt is analogous to picking between the girl that isn't very attractive, but could look better after a few drinks, or the manatee in a skirt. You want neither, but you pick the one that least disgusts you.
As far as commodities. I'm mainly in natural gas and oil. Granted, natural gas isn't doing anything, but I feel it's too low not to hold onto right now.
I don't have time to trade anymore on a daily basis. When I have tried to juggle work, school, and the market, I failed miserably and lost money.
So I'm in for the long haul with my allocations to date. I feel they are fairly safe for me. As I contribute more and more out of my paychecks in the future, I will look for the opportunities with that money.
With rules changing on a daily basis. I am not sure what the next days politicking will bring.