Tag Archives: Sound Money

Germany Wants their Gold

It Begins: Bundesbank To Commence Repatriating Gold From New York Fed

Bundesbank Official Statement On Gold Repatriation

This is a VERY big deal.

Some context for foreign Gold storage: Nixon cut the dollars last ties to gold in 1971 when the French wanted gold for the money they lent us during the Vietnam war. He basically said, screw you, you’re only getting paper. This is a little appreciated source of Franco-American animosity. The situation with Germany is different. Because of the Soviet military threat, many European countries kept much of their gold reserves in the US.

The Concern: Many people believe the Fed doesn’t actually have Germany’s gold. People say this from varying depths of the rabbit hole of conspiracy. What’s clear is that the Fed has steadfastly resisted any audit of its gold.

Possible Outcomes: If the Fed continues to refused, as they’ve done with previous requests of the Bundesbank, it will cause a huge loss of confidence in the US Fed. (For some stupid reason, people still have confidence in the US gov’t.)

If those Germans continue to insist on their gold, as they should, then a gigantic house of cards might come tumbling down. The likely effects are a huge loss of confidence and a soaring gold price.

I think the more likely outcome at this point is that the media will being calling the Budesbank Nazis and they’ll retreat with their tail between their legs — but that will only work for so long.

Platinum Coin Idiocy

Characteristically, Nobel Laureate Krugman takes the idiotic “Platinum coin option” proposition seriously and uses it to bash the Republicans mere compliance (as opposed to enthusiasm) for spending the economy into oblivion.

The left treats Republicans as Bolsheviks treated Mensheviks. The Republicans are (for now) the radical saboteurs solely responsible for the failure of the otherwise glorious plans of our commissars.

Socialism requires endless enemies on which to blame the failures of central planning. Think of Orwell’s image of the future: a jackboot stomping on a face, forever.

open quoteThe platinum coin discussion has moved with startling speed, from an idea nobody took seriously (and which, as I’ve mentioned, senior officials were unaware of just last month), to assertions that it’s ridiculous and illegal, to grudging acknowledgment that it’s almost surely legal coupled with strained attempts to dismiss it as an option nonetheless.

Ezra Klein has now opened up a new front, which I would consider a sort of progressive version of the shock doctrine: we shouldn’t invoke the coin option, he says, precisely because it would work too well, and therefore let us sidestep the real issues. . . .

This isn’t a stupid argument. We really do need to come to grips with Republican extremism. The question is whether refusing to use this escape hatch is the place and time to do that.

My own view is that I was willing to go over the brink on the fiscal cliff, but not here, for three reasons.close quote (Read more)

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Here’s Robert Murphy’s take:

open quoteJack Balkin — a professor of constitutional law at Yale — outlined strategies that the White House could use to evade the pesky borrowing ceiling imposed by a fickle Congress:

Are there other ways for the president to raise money besides borrowing?

Sovereign governments such as the United States can print new money. However, there’s a statutory limit to the amount of paper currency that can be in circulation at any one time.

Ironically, there’s no similar limit on the amount of coinage. A little-known statute gives the secretary of the Treasury the authority to issue platinum coins in any denomination. So some commentators have suggested that the Treasury create two $1 trillion coins, deposit them in its account in the Federal Reserve and write checks on the proceeds.

The government can also raise money through sales: For example, it could sell the Federal Reserve an option to purchase government property for $2 trillion. The Fed would then credit the proceeds to the government’s checking account. Once Congress lifts the debt ceiling, the president could buy back the option for a dollar, or the option could simply expire in 90 days. And there are probably other ways that the Fed could achieve a similar result, by analogy to its actions during the 2008 financial crisis, when it made huge loans and purchases to bail out the financial sector.

The “jumbo coin” and “exploding option” strategies work because modern central banks don’t have to print bills or float debt to create new money; they just add money to their customers’ checking accounts.

These suggestions should horrify anyone who understands the importance of sound money. Not only are the proposals themselves preposterous, but the mere fact that they are being discussed is a symptom of the cultural decadence wrought by the government and the Fed’s responses to the 2008 financial crisis.
Money for Nothing

When critics of the Fed assert that Bernanke creates money “out of thin air,” they mean the following: The Federal Reserve has the power to buy whatever assets it wants at whatever price it wants. In principle, Treasury Secretary Geithner could sell a paperclip to the Fed for $2 trillion. The Fed would simply write a check made out to the Treasury, drawn on the Fed itself.

When the Treasury deposited this check with its own bank — which just so happens to be the Fed — then its own “checking account” balance would go up by $2 trillion. This money wouldn’t come from anywhere in the sense that some other account would need to be debited $2 trillion. On the contrary, the system’s total reserves (and what is called the “monetary base”) would have swelled by $2 trillion. The Treasury would be free to start paying bills by writing checks on the $2 trillion in its account.

The only kink in the plan would be the state of the Fed’s balance sheet. Initially it could value the paperclip at $2 trillion — what the Fed paid for it — and list the paperclip among its other assets such as Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.
“These suggestions should horrify anyone who understands the importance of sound money.”

Of course, people in the financial markets would cry foul. They would know that if the Fed’s books were “marked to market,” the paperclip would be worthless and the Fed would suddenly be insolvent according to regular accounting rules. (Its liabilities, in part consisting of bank reserves — which are dollar-denominated claims on the Fed — would have risen by $2 trillion, while its assets didn’t budge.) But this would merely be an embarrassment rather than a legal obstacle because the Fed has put into place Orwellian rule changes that allow it to shield its shareholder equity from capital losses.

The difference between my absurd paperclip scheme and the two proposals discussed by Balkin is one of degree and not of kind. As of this writing, platinum is trading for a little less than $1,800 per ounce. Thus, $2 trillion in platinum would weigh about 35,000 tonsclose quote (Read more)

How the Fed will be FORCED to peg the dollar to gold (?)

open quoteFrom Dan Amoss of the Daily Reckoning, originally published in September 2012:

“For years, I’ve expected that at the end of all this central bank printing, we’ll see the end — not a reversal — of quantitative easing programs and a re-pegging of the US dollar to gold at much higher gold prices. A new gold standard would allow the Fed and other central banks to save face after the following sequence of events:

1. Central banks inflate their balance sheets and buy up many of the bonds governments issue to fund soaring budget deficits
2. Once the largest suppliers of scarce products realize they’re exchanging products for infinitely diluted paper money, they start demanding more and more money in exchange for sending their scarce products to the marketplace
3. Consumer prices start rising
4. Calls for monetary tightening (reduction of central bank balance sheets and interest rate hikes) grow louder
5. These central banks won’t be able to slash money supplies without crashing government bond markets and stock markets. They talk about tightening, but don’t tighten
6. As central banks lose credibility, gold launches on a final, near-vertical stage of its bull market
7. In response to inflation expectations running wild, governments and central banks draw up plans to re-peg currencies to gold in order to avoid having to drain trillions worth of cash from the banking system.”

In the face of imminent hyperinflation, Dan Amoss postulates that the Fed will back the dollar with gold at some significantly higher price in order to avoid a complete collapse of the dollar. It is reassuring that the Fed can do this, but will it? Another scenario is that some large and important country, such as Germany or China, will back its currency with gold and cause demand for the dollar as the preferred means of international settlement to fall. This will cause prices to rise in the US as overseas dollars start to flow back into the only economy where they must be accepted for all debts public and private.close quote (Read more)

Germany wants its gold

open quoteDespite the fall in the gold price this week, those thinking to buy gold bullion have been buoyed by talk of Germany auditing and repatriating their gold reserves held abroad. Below, Jan Skoyles looks at what this mean and says about the country.

This week few will have missed reports that Germany is getting closer to bringing its gold bullion reserves home. Following questions asked in Parliament earlier this year regarding the 3,396 tonnes of gold bullion, federal auditors have now instructed the Bundesbank to regularly inspect the gold bullion reserves held in the US Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Banque de France.

Der Speigel also report that the Bundesbank is planning to ship 150 tonnes of the gold reserves from the New York Federal Reserve back onto home soil, over the next three years. It is also only now becoming clear that the Bundesbank reduced 1,100 tonnes of gold holdings with the Bank of England to 500 tonnes between 2000 and 2001.

The mainstream media coverage of Germany’s actions regarding their gold reserves seems to have an underlying accusatory tone to it. It’s almost as if by the Bundesbank openly admitting it is looking out for its own finances, for its own country and its citizens, it is being unpatriotic to the global cause of pretending that a highly leveraged, fiat money, banker-centric, government-spending driven economy is exactly how things work best.

Germany isn’t the first country to ask questions about its gold, let alone repatriate it. Switzerland is also raising plenty of questions and Venezuela finished repatriating their gold earlier this year. So what does repatriating the country’s gold say about the sovereignty?

1. Changing geo-political landscape

There are two geopolitical reasons for a country taking custody of another’s gold; the first is for ease of transport for payment purposes, the second is to protect the gold from geopolitical risk.

The ease of transport for payment purposes can be argued to still be a relevant reason, particularly given moves by China, India, Russia and Iran to make gold payments for oil and wheat. However, the chances of the US, UK and France demanding payments in gold in the near future as they desperately try to prop up their own currencies is unlikely, particularly as Germany is a successful export nation to these countries. This was one of the reasons for Venezuela’s movement of gold into Brazilian and Chinese custody – they’re trading partners with useful exports and are more likely to accept gold.

Germany’s gold was primarily kept in the US on account of the physical threat from Russia. This seemed reasonable at the time; the US was the bigger and lesser of two evils. The big guy in the playground can be an allay, for a time.

Much of Germany’s gold held in the US has never made it to Germany; it started life as German gold reserves in a US vault somewhere. This was on account of the European country running trade surpluses between the 1950s and the end of the Bretton Woods. German gold reserves between 1950 and 1971 went from zero to 3,600 metric tonnes, in the same period US reserves fell by 11,000 tonnes.

But the threat no longer remains, so why hasn’t the gold been moved back to Germany?

2. Do not trust the custodian country to keep track of it when lending it out

Back in the mid-1920s, the head of the German Central Bank, Herr Hjalmar Schacht, went to New York to see Germany’s gold. However the NY Fed officials were unable to find the palette of Germany’s gold bullion. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Benjamin Strong was mortified, but to put him at ease Herr Schacht turned to him and said ‘Never mind, I believe you when you when you say the gold is there. Even if it weren’t you are good for its replacement.’

Both GATA and Bring Back Our Gold argue that central banks have either loaned or “sold short” the majority of the country’s gold. As GATA found out between 2008 and 2009 the Fed has gold-swap arrangements with foreign banks but keeps them secret. This practice of loaning out gold is not uncommon; it’s the worst kept secret ever.

. . . .

3. Do not trust the custodian country to protect the value of their own currency

As we said in the first point, much of the gold was originally stored abroad for safe keeping, particularly in regard to storing with the US Federal Reserve. However as two round of QE have shown and the third just beginning, the US aren’t even willing to protect their own assets in the long-term, so are they likely to look after those of another country’s when they realise the rest of the world doesn’t want to use their currency anymore.

. . . .

4. Foresee the need to protect the future of your own monetary system

Germany is the one country in the Eurozone which appears to be reminding everyone of how important it is to return to some resemblance of sound money. In the last few months we have listened to Jens Weidmann, President of the Bundesbank, compare the ECB’s plans to the ‘Faustian Pact’. However, thanks to the undemocratic nature of the Eurozone, fewseem to be listening.

. . . .

5. It’s yours, you want it where you can see it

As we work hard to show here at The Real Asset Company, when you buy allocated gold bullion, you own gold, only you can instruct what should happen to it. The Bundesbank, and Venezuela before it, has done nothing wrong. This is despite mainstream coverage which wants to imply that the Bundesbank’s decision to move 600 tonnes of gold from the Bank of England between 2000 and 2001 was a ‘shock’ and ‘mystery’. . . .
close quote (Read more)

Judge Says 10 Rare Gold Coins Worth $80 Million Belong to Uncle Sam

open quoteA judge ruled that 10 rare gold coins worth $80 million belonged to the U.S. government, not a family that had sued the U.S. Treasury, saying it had illegally seized them.

The 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle coin was originally valued at $20, but sold for as much as $7.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2002, according to Courthouse News.

After President Theodore Roosevelt had the U.S. abandon the gold standard, most of the 445,500 double eagles that the Philadelphia Mint had struck were melted into gold bars.

However, a Philadelphia Mint cashier had managed to give or sell some of them to a local coin dealer, Israel Switt.

In 2003, Switt’s family, Joan Langbord, and her two grandsons, drilled opened a safety deposit box that had belonged to him and found the 10 coins.

When the Langbords gave the coins to the Philadelphia Mint for authentification, the government seized them without compensating the family.

The Langbords sued, saying the coins belonged to them.

In 2011, a jury decided that the coins belonged to the government, but the family appealed.

Last week, Judge Legrome Davis of the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, affirmed that decision, saying “the coins in question were not lawfully removed from the United States Mint.”

Barry Berke, an attorney for the Langbords, told ABCNews.com, “This is a case that raises many novel legal questions, including the limits on the government’s power to confiscate property. The Langbord family will be filing an appeal and looks forward to addressing these important issues before the 3rd Circuit.” close quote (Read more)

WikiLeaks Bypasses Financial Blockade With Bitcoin

open quoteeople shouldn’t fear their government; government should fear its people. Publishers and journalists will not be intimidated nor silenced. Now entering day 626 of the financial blockade against WikiLeaks, Julian Assange sits in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London awaiting safe passage.

Following a massive release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables in November 2010, donations to WikiLeaks were blocked by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union on December 7th, 2010. Although private companies certainly have a right to select which transactions to process or not, the political environment produced less than a fair and objective decision. It was coordinated pressure exerted in a politicized climate by the U.S. government and it won’t be the last time that we see this type of pressure.

Fortunately, there is way around this and other financial blockades with a global payment method immune to political pressure and monetary censorship.

On its public bitcoin address, Wikileaks has taken in over $32,000 equivalent in more than 1,100 separate bitcoin donations throughout the blockade (1BTC = $10.00). But these amounts may be significantly higher, because it does not even include the individually-generated bitcoin addresses that WikiLeaks provides for donors upon request.close quote (Read more)

Ron Paul Contingent Forced Gold Discussion, Court Intellectuals Launch Slander Campaign

Ever since the Ron Paul contingent forced a statement about the Gold Standard onto the party platform, the court pseudo-economists, intellectual body guards of the state have gone to work:

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Why the Gold Standard Is the World’s Worst Economic Idea, in 2 Charts “Whether it’s 1896 or 2012, it doesn’t make sense to crucify our economy on a cross of gold.” (Read more from The Atlantic)

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Republicans tease with gold standard, but idea seen full of bugs open quote U.S. Republicans have all but guaranteed the backing of the “gold vote” this November by raising an idea that even the most bullish mainstream bullion boosters believe is unrealistic – a return to the gold standard.

Gold prices would likely surge to $10,000 an ounce, the greenback’s credibility would vanish and global superpowers would risk a new trade war if Republicans were to restore the link between the U.S. dollar and gold that was severed 40 years ago.

But that isn’t stopping Republicans from considering the idea, who will call for a commission to look at restoring a fixed value for the dollar, according to a draft of the party platform to be adopted at the Republican National Convention that begins on Monday in Tampa, Florida.close quote (Read more)

Bernanke’s Deep Understanding

open quote“Gold standards are far from perfect,” Bernanke said. “ They waste of resources,.” citing Milton Friedman’s quip about taking gold from one hole in the ground just to transfer it to other hole.

Gold standards are far from perfect because government bureaucrats have always been in charge of managing them. The mere fact that heavy costs and resources are involved to mine the yellow metal is one of the factors making gold a perfect money.

A gold-shackled currency takes away central bank flexibility, which bothers Bernanke. But the question is, how much Bernanke flexibility can the dollar stand before it falls apart completely?

The Fed Chair admitted that the gold standard provides price stability–but only in the long run. He stressed that there have been short-term periods of price inflation and deflation under gold. Well sure, prices increase and then correct, that’s what a gold standard does. Under central bank management prices just increase; either slowly, quickly, or catastrophically.close quote (Read more)

States seek currencies made of silver and gold

open quoteA growing number of states are seeking shiny new currencies made of silver and gold.

Worried that the Federal Reserve and the U.S. dollar are on the brink of collapse, lawmakers from 13 states, including Minnesota, Tennessee, Iowa, South Carolina and Georgia, are seeking approval from their state governments to either issue their own alternative currency or explore it as an option. Just three years ago, only three states had similar proposals in place. close quote (Read more)

India to pay gold for Iran oil, China may follow

Warning: DEBKA is an unreliable source. If true, this story is huge, but that’s a big ‘if.’

open quoteIndia has reportedly agreed to pay Tehran in gold for the oil it buys, in a move aimed at protecting Delhi from US-sanctions targeting countries who trade with Iran. China, another buyer of Iranian oil, may follow Delhi’s lead.

The report, by the Israeli-based news website DEBKAfile, states that Iran and India are negotiating backup alternatives with China and Russia, should the US and EU find a way to block the gold payment mechanism.

Delhi’s move is seen as surprising, as earlier India and Iran said they would switch to yen and rupees. China, another major importer of Iranian oil, may follow Delhi’s lead, the report adds.

India and China need to switch from the dollar in bilateral trade, since the US and EU have issued unilateral sanctions against the Iranian oil industry and financial institutions. The sanctions would ban any bank involved in oil trade with Iran from dealing with American and European counterparts.close quote (Read more)