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Unaffordium and Unobtanium

Please consider Coronavirus Sparks a Global Gold Rush by WSJ writers Liz Hoffman, Amrith Ramkumar and Joe Wallace.

It’s an honest-to-God doomsday scenario and the ultimate doomsday-prepper market is a mess.

It’s getting so bad that Wall Street bankers are asking Canada for help. The Royal Canadian Mint has been swamped with requests to ramp up production of gold bars that could be taken down to New York.

“When people think they can’t get something, they want it even more,” says George Gero, 83, who’s been trading gold for more than 50 years, now at RBC Wealth Management in New York. “Look at toilet paper.”

David Smith owns a wristwatch business in northern England and said Tuesday his bullion dealers weren’t taking any more orders. He has been scouring social media for individuals who might sell to him.

You can’t really get physical gold and silver anywhere at the moment,” he said.

More Gold Headlines

What About Silver?

If you dive into the LA Times article you find this interesting piece of information.

We have a situation where there is silver available but no one will deliver it. They won’t load the trucks. They won’t load the planes because the coronavirus. Even though there is product around they won’t pick it up,” said Peter Thomas at the Zaner Group.

The article also noted that Switzerland’s refining industry, a major hub for processing gold into bars and coins, has largely shut down because of the virus.

Is that a physical shortage or a delivery issue?

In the near-term, one might argue there is little difference, but as a practical matter, nearly ounce of gold ever mined is part of current supply. The incremental supply from miners is trivial.

No Shortage of Gold, Shortage of Some Forms of Gold

If you see things as I do, there is no shortage of gold, but there are shortages of some forms of gold, primarily due to delivery issues

Here's another WSJ headline: Precious Metals Shoot Higher as Gold Shortage Bites

The inside story explains what's really happening.

LBMA-approved bars weigh 400 troy ounces, while Comex futures must be settled using either one bar weighing 100 ounces or three bars weighing a kilogram each.

There is plenty of gold but it sits in London in 400 ounce bars while Comex needs 100 ounce bars. There are both delivery disruptions and smelting disruptions.

The LBMA and Comex discussed whether to allow traders to settle futures using gold from London without having it melted down and recast into a new set of bars, according to a person familiar with the matter.

It is ridiculous to recast these bars.

US Mint Prices

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You can get Gold and and Silver Eagles Coins at the US Mint but it would be unwise to do so.

The gold spot price at the time of this article was $1597.35 and the spot price of silver was $14.188.

The Gold Eagle costs $2,175.00. That is a markup of 36.2%.

Silver Eagles are even more ridiculously priced. A 2019 Silver Eagle will set you back $55.95 while the 2020 Eagle will set you back $64.50.

The spot price of silver is $14.188. The markup is 294% on the 2019 silver Eagle. The 2020 Silver Eagle markup is 354%.

OK these coins are pretty. And they may appeal to collectors. But if all you are just looking to get physical metal, this is a very poor way of going about it.

Unfortunately, hyperinflation shills use those prices as the purported measure of the price difference between physical gold and paper gold.

Comment From Goldmoney founder James Turk

I asked James Turk, the founder of Goldmoney, to chime in on the issue.

Turk responded “If the price is right, there are never shortages. There is plenty of gold and silver in all forms of bullion coins and bars, even now. But much of this metal is in so-called ’strong hands’, meaning that it is going to take much higher prices to entice them to exchange their physical precious metal for fiat currency.

Goldmoney Real-Time Pricing

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Goldmoney provides Real-Time Pricing in Four Metals.

At 2:17 PM on March 31, the spot price of gold was $1597.35 and the spot price of silver was $14.188.

Goldmoney vs Spot Price

  • Goldmoney Gold Buy Price: $1,613.76 - Buy Markup Over Spot: (1613.76 - 1597.35) / 1597.35 = 1.03%
  • Goldmoney Silver Buy Price: $14.20 - Buy Markup Over Spot: (14.57 - 14.188) / 14.188 = 2.69%

Those are the price differences between physical gold and paper gold if you buy smartly.

Goldmoney spreads put a huge spotlight on alleged monstrous differences between physical metals vs "paper".

If you are paying larger markups for physical gold and silver, then you are paying too much!

Physical Gold That I Trust

  1. Goldmoney
  2. Bullionvault
  3. OUNZ

OUNZ is a ticker symbol. The product was started by Axel Merck.

Those are by no means the only places one can trust. Rather they are products that I am familiar with and endorse. Note that BitGold is now part of Goldmoney.

Some want gold in their possession. Both OUNZ and Goldmoney have delivery mechanisms.

I prefer not to deal with insurance issues.

My Long Term Beliefs

I believe holding physical gold (or gold and silver) is a good idea. Gold is safer (less volatile) than silver and I would recommend overweighting gold vs. silver. Silver is an industrial commodity and might get hit much harder in another economic slump.

In general, I do not recommend purchasing gold and silver coins and small bars because the markup is generally very high. There are additional concerns and risks should you want to sell your holdings. Finally, should you decide to take delivery yourself, there are ongoing storage concerns, including insurance.

Allocated Storage

Three popular choices for holding gold in vaults are GoldMoney, BullionVault, and Perth Mint.

GoldMoney and BullionVault offer allocated programs. In allocated programs you have title to what you purchase.

Perth Mint offers allocated and unallocated programs. It’s important to distinguish between the two. Unallocated gold is a financial asset; you own a liability of the Perth Mint. You do not own metal.

The Perth Mint does offer allocated storage, but is very expensive. Perth Mint charges 1.00% per annum for storing gold.

Goldmoney charges 0.12% at most locations, 0.18% at others per its fee schedule.

Perth maintains that its unallocated program is 100% metal-backed, but also admits theoretical exposure should the Mint becomes insolvent. However, Perth Mint operates under a Government Guarantee that many will find sufficient.

GoldMoney holdings are in audited vaults in Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, London and Switzerland. The bars are individually numbered and assigned. You may own a percentage of a bar.

GoldMoney, which was founded in 2001 and is storing nearly $2 billion of client assets, is based in Canada, and traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It has an office in Jersey, an English speaking country off the coast of France. Jersey, which is an important financial center, has some of the strongest property rights laws in the world.

GoldMoney sells at the market ask plus a mark-up. BullionVault is commission based on top of a bid-ask spread. BullionVault’s combined commission + spread may at times be lower than the mark-up at GoldMoney. However GoldMoney guarantees a trade, they are a broker dealer.

The following applies to US citizens:

I am not a tax accountant but please remember that offshore accounts are taxable and must be disclosed to the IRS. Only the gains are taxed when you sell, not the holdings.

Reporting of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts may apply to accounts that total in excess of $10,000. Please see for more information.

Goldmoney Relationship

In the sake of full disclosure, I have a relationship with Goldmoney.

Specifically, I am in their affiliate program and have been for over a decade.

Interested in GoldMoney?

If you decide to open up an account with GoldMoney, please use my GoldMoney Referral Link. It costs you nothing more, and it will not affect the price you buy or sell at.

​Mike "Mish" Shedlock