The third segment of this week's Financial Sense Newshour podcast contained an interview with Brian Pretti [.mp3 file], in which he played around with some numbers that inclined him to think that gold could go much higher. One interesting fact he dug up related to total funded debt in the U.S. economy: its peak, in the 20th century, was at the depths of the Great Depression. The same level was broken, however, in 2001 - the same year that gold started on its bull market. He also disclosed that the real value of gold as adjusted by the (presumably core) CPI was the same as the value adjusted by the average wage. [The figure he got was around $1,800, which is a lot lower than the figure others have gotten. One interesting implication was the official CPI tracks the average wage. If the former is understated, then real wages have been eroding over the course of the last three decades.]
The $5,000 figure, he got using a calculation familiar to many veteran goldbugs: it's the value at which gold could completely cover M1.
If gold ever got that high, a restoration of the gold standard would be thinkable in the popular press. Stories of that sort make for a good addition to the cocktail-party indicator of a top.