How Could Gold Bugs Have Been So Wrong in 2014?

Twelve short months ago, the immediate future looked like a lock. Overvalued equities had to fall, ridiculously-low interest rates had to rise, and beaten-down precious metals had to resume their bull market.
The evidence was overwhelming. Debt in the developed world had risen to $157 trillion, or 376% of GDP, by far the highest level on record and clearly unsustainable. Long-term US Treasury rates had been falling for literally three decades and despite a recent uptick were so low that the only way forward seemed to be up.