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GOLD DEMONETIZED BY THE JAMAICA AGREEMENT

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

The role of the Dollar in the Bretton Woods Agreement

The decisive change that led to the Jamaica agreement was President Nixon’s suspension on 15 August 1971 of the convertibility of the dollar into gold. Until then this had been the keystone of the financial system created in July 1944, the Bretton Woods Agreement, the chief architects of which had been Lord Keynes (despite his distrust of gold) for the British and Harry Dexter White for the Americans.  On 1 October 1971 the general assembly of the IMF asked the board of trustees to study and propose a comprehensive reform of the international money system.  This would be adopted by member States during a meeting held in Kingston, Jamaica on 7-8 January 1976, and included a set of provisions which put an end to the reign of gold.  The decisions taken focused on two main points:

1. The new exchange rate system

Member countries had to refrain from manipulating their exchange rate for competitive reasons and had to choose between three possibilities:

1. Not to assign parity to their currency which was to float freely on the foreign exchange markets;

2. To fix the value of their currency by pegging it to another currency or a Special Drawing Right* not to gold;

3. To link the value of their currency to one or various other currencies as part of cooperative mechanisms.

2. The role of gold

The solution presented was a compromise between the French argument that pushed for gold to remain part of the organization and running of the international monetary system and the American policy that had for a long time wanted gold to be withdrawn from its supreme position.  The agreement withdrew the status of the IMF and all references to gold and replaced it and its core functions with SDR whose dollar value is posted daily on the IMF website.  The consolation for gold was that central banks were given back the freedom to carry out transactions with metal without restrictions on them or the market.

This desire to remove gold as the standard of parity and to abolish the official price of the metal was completed by abolishing obligatory payments in gold for operations between the IMF and member countries and obliging the IMF to get rid of a third of its gold holdings (50 million ounces) by returning half to member states at the old price ($35 an ounce) and by selling the other half through public auctions.

Again we must add that the abolition of the official price of gold resulted in central banks being able to carry out transactions at a price derived from the market and to reassess metal stocks in their possession (as was very quickly the case with France and Italy).

Even if the United States made it known that they would continue to assess their reserve at the old official price of $ 42.22 an ounce and even if the first auction by the IMF lowered the price of gold on the world markets, at least for short periods, we can say that in the fact the results expected by the American policy and the IMF were a long way from being achieved.  The price of gold and gold itself still remain important elements of a vast political game: all things considered, if gold has survived, it’s because it has not stopped being the official metal that governments didn’t want it to be and wanted to forget.

Today, the dollar struggles and the new gold giants Russia, China and India are all looking in different ways towards gold as the international medium to back commitments or in the long term to oust the dollar as the international reserve currency. Closer to home the crisis that rose to the surface in 2008 has caused us to once again look at the stabilisation that resulted in the Bretton Woods agreement, which collapsed, partially due to economic expansion in excess of the gold standard’s funding abilities on the part of the United States and other member nations.

However, the problems of currency systems not pegged to gold lead to economic problems far worse.

Both France and Britain have envisaged such a stabilization. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown were recalling the previous success and called for a “new Bretton Woods” agreement in October 2008. What Sarkozy and Brown envisaged was a new multilateral agreement to stabilize international finance in the 21st century, the way the 1944 conference, which established the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, stabilized financial relations among countries in the second half of the 20th century. The summit meeting of world leaders held in Washington, D.C., in November 2008 started a process that could lead to such an agreement. What would that take to succeed? What kind of leadership, and what kind of commitment, would be needed? History offers some useful lessons.

On several occasions throughout the Twentieth Century, political leaders in major countries sought international agreements on the global economic or financial architecture. Many of those efforts failed, Bretton Woods being the major exception. The central lesson that emerges from these efforts is that successful reform in response to a crisis requires three ingredients:

1. Effective and legitimate leadership combined with inclusive participation;

2. Clearly stated and broadly shared goals

3. A realistic road map for reaching those goals.

Of these desiderata, only number two, of course, is feasible: many things are easily said and agreed to, goals have a marvelous capacity for being broadly shared – at conferences. While these may be the central lessons learned by advisers and politician, because for such people diplomacy is all (as indeed witness the inability of the eurocrats to get beyond agreements and actually act to solve the eurocrisis); indeed it is possible that diplomacy in itself generates the lack of concerted action because there always has to be something to discuss at the next summit.

Gold the Real Lesson

The most obvious question to arise is: why in Kingston was a decision made to undo the successes of the Bretton Woods system? The immediate answer would probably be that the dollar was able to behave in ways that undermined other nations – but this was entirely because the gold-dollar peg was not a true gold standard even if it seemed to act like one most of the time. Nevertheless, this link did cause imbalances in favour of the United States, which the French, de Gaulle in particular, drew attention to during the sixties.

In spite of the success of Bretton Woods, that success was insufficient to prevent unilateral action by the American government, culminating in Nixon’s decision to abolish what was left of a gold standard in 1971. Henceforth, the goals and achievements of the new system, as much as what was deferred became dependant overtly on the behaviour of the participant countries. New rules in finance can only be devised by those who are the major players in the financial, industrial and emerging markets. Therefore any pretence of stabilizing the world economy was in fact abandoned in favour of powerful nations and cliques, the perfect recipe for currency wars.

In other words the lesson of Bretton Woods which ought to have been learned was that financial stability can only come about with a return to the classical gold standard (1870-1914). Kingston, Jamaica was a staging post on the way to the brink, the edge of which came into sight in 2008.

* The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement member countries’ official reserves. Its value is based on a basket of four key international currencies, and SDRs can be exchanged for freely usable currencies. With a general SDR allocation that took effect on August 28 and a special allocation on September 9, 2009, the amount of SDRs increased from SDR 21.4 billion to SDR 204.1 billion (equivalent to about $ 321 billion). It should be borne in mind that this is a paper reserve, and for that reason is liable to all the defects of paper money.

This is a revision by Mark Rogers of an article posted earlier on this site by Maurice Hall redacted from L’Or [Gold] by Jules Lepidi and an article by J.M. Boughton (IMF Historian).

For the raison d’être of these articles on goldcoin.org read: GOLDCOIN.ORG: MIXING POLITICS AND NUMISMATICS

For background on the writer: CONFESSIONS OF A LAW AND ORDER ANARCHIST

For a series of articles on the pernicious effects of progressive tax regimes: THE MORAL DILEMMA AT THE HEART OF TAXATION

For a review of one of the most important books on the financial crisis published last year: THE MESS WE’RE IN: WHY POLITICIANS CAN’T FIX FINANCIAL CRISES

GOLD: THE BOOK OF THE MOMENT

Monday, April 29th, 2013

livre3DReview by Mark Rogers

Gold, A Different Point of View by Paul McGowan

With a Preface by Bill Bonner

Published by Ferrington in association with LinGold.com

Following the drop in the price of gold a few weeks ago, record sales of gold coins were reported (see here, and here for a rise in its price). The publication of this little book is therefore timely and pertinent.

There may be many people who would like to hold some gold but are dissuaded by the thought of large and expensive ingots. But bullion is not the only way in which to invest in or purchase gold. Yet as the author states: “Gold is not just ingots. The common response to gold is that it is only for the wealthy: those heavy bars, alluring though they may be, are simply unaffordable.”

This book argues that this view of gold is misguided and misinformed: there are affordable routes to investment in gold.

Although short the book contains a wealth of information. There is an introductory chapter giving a brief history of gold’s 6,000 history, which includes its denigration by politicians and academics in the twentieth century; Keynes for example thought it a “barbarian relic”. Proudhon, Marx, Lenin, Hitler all denigrated it, and to this day it troubles the likes of Ben Bernanke and George Soros.

Gold’s function as a stabiliser of value and its use over time as actual currency coin in circulation suggest that gold is today an alternative currency, and this first chapter ends with a comparison of gold with modern economies, noting that the latter are not working, while attempts to remonetize gold are afoot in, for example, Utah.

There is also discussion of the vexed problem of clean extraction with some useful information about the certificating process that reassures investors that their gold has been mined under the highest standards.

Chapter Two, “Gold, the last bastion of individual freedom”, examines the role that gold may play in hedging one’s investment portfolio, as well as its potential as a regulating device, controlling the whims of politicians and central bankers. This chapter contains a concise guide to the problems of paper currency unsecured against tangible value, with the inevitable consequence that savings are eroded and destroyed and more and more paper is required to purchase fewer and fewer goods. In other words, paper currencies are a direct attack on people’s individual control of their lives, rendering it harder and harder for them to provide for themselves, their families and their futures. We have been here so many times in history, with the latest example being the eurocrisis, that it is nothing short of scandalous that the political and academic classes cannot see the lessons to be so plainly learned.

Gold on the other hand “observes a constancy. With one ounce of gold you can almost buy today the same quantity of basic goods as at the time of the Roman Empire or Egyptian civilization. Inder the Pharaoh Tutmosis III, one needed the equivalent of 2 ounces of gold to buy an ox. Today, 2.5 ounces would be needed. Inflation has been rather weak in 4,000 years!”

This is a salutary reminder of gold’s stabilising power, which is just the very thing that the modern politician resents about it.

A strong bullish potential

The importance of gold in the contemporary world is underlined by an examination of those countries which invest heavily in it, both at the national as well as the individual level. Russia, China and India are at the forefront of this investment, with others, such as Vietnam, making significant moves in this direction. There is a useful digest of information about these countries, the role gold has traditionally played in them and how they are managing their portfolios at present. This analysis clearly establishes trends which are not going to vanish: China indeed buys enormous quantities of it, even though she also produces it.

These markets ought to assure the potential gold investor that while prices do indeed fluctuate, bullish potential is always there in gold, and has been for most of human history. Any falls in the market have identifiable causes – for example, the wedding season in India sees a rise in prices. Indeed, this analysis is testimony to the fact that we have had 6,000 years to observe people’s behaviour with gold and make it one of the easiest assets to manage.

An Investment Portfolio

Nevertheless, the author does not argue that gold should be the sole asset in one’s portfolio, far from it. Instead it should be looked on as the preserver of a portfolio’s value, that depending on the scale of one’s other investments a relevant proportion should always be kept in gold to support the rest of the portfolio.

There is a very useful chapter on investments other than gold, such as arable land and forestry, fine art and fine wines. These all have valuable potential (after all, we all need to eat), but each has significant drawbacks which are clearly and carefully spelled out. Gold’s position as being free of such drawbacks means that it is essential to invest in it, as a hedge against the dormant disasters in the rest of one’s investments.

And gold enjoys an enormous potential over any other investment, including in things such as diamonds that might seem to share some of gold’s economic potential. Gold is superbly versatile. Cut a diamond, and much of it is waste; melt an ingot of gold, and you still have the same amount of gold.

Gold Coins

The heart of the book is in its last chapter which really gets down to brass tacks – or gold coins! Coins represent gold at its most versatile, allowing even those who do not have huge fortunes to start saving in gold. While one ingot is beyond the reach of most, a single coin, perhaps purchased at the rate of no more than one a year, is a realistic and feasible option.

The book contains a wealth of information on tax regimes; storage; what to do and what not to do in actually physically handling coins and how to transport them; what to look out for as enhancing a rare numismatic coin’s value and what depletes it – all fascinating information in itself, and eminently practical.

“If we had to state only three reasons to buy: gold is a recognized and accepted safe haven throughout the world, demand from the emerging countries is strong and the total demand over the mid to long term is reliably forecast as being higher than the supply.”

The book is available on Amazon in a Kindle version (price: £5.14). Those readers who would like the printed version, should send a cheque for £12.50 (includes p+p) made out to: Ferrington, and send it to: Ferrington, Bookseller & Publisher, 24 Shipton Street, London E2 7RU. The book is also available as Buy It Now on eBay.

HUMAN ACTION AND HUMAN EFFORT

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

By Mark Rogers

We have seen how the Deutsche Bank analysts who wrote Gold: Adjusting for Zero made a central place in their discussion for the Misean concept of human effort, and how an inflationary, fiat currency economy naturally destroys the value of effort. While at first glance it might seem odd to find such a discussion in an analysis of the feasibility of a return to the gold standard, it is precisely gold’s potential to act as a restraint on, a chastener of political ambitions, that returns the question of human effort to centre stage.

That is, of course, if you have humans in the first place who make that effort. This is so in both an absolute and a relative sense: there must be living humans capable of effort, and those living humans must want to make that effort.

In his important book America Alone, Mark Steyn analyses the western world’s contemporary woes in terms of demographics and makes the sobering observation that only America is breeding at replacement level. Elsewhere, the Spaniards are amongst the lowest in western Europe and the Russians are on an irrecoverable downward trend.

He squarely puts the blame on the welfare state, that “cosseted consumerism”, as the Deutsche Bank report puts it, that has replaced the individualism of free markets. And more to the point he makes clear what the source of this malaise is:

“Unchecked, government social programs are a security threat because they weaken the ultimate line of defence: the free-born citizen whose responsibilities are not subcontracted to the government.”

Readers curious as to why articles of this nature should be appearing on a gold investment website should read: GOLDCOIN.ORG: MIXING POLITICS AND NUMISMATICS

And for background on the writer: CONFESSIONS OF A LAW AND ORDER ANARCHIST

And for a review of one of the most important books on the financial crisis published last year: THE MESS WE’RE IN: WHY POLITICIANS CAN’T FIX FINANCIAL CRISES

AID TO INDIA THE LAND OF GOLD

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

By Mark Rogers

On February 10, 2012, I posted a prediction that the Barmiest Political Story of the Year would be the refusal by the British government to accept India’s rejection of the Department for International Development’s hand-out of £280 million a year: this aid programme is set to end after 2015.

Nothing barmier has emerged – only the original story getting even barmier. My original concern was simply that the Indian government had categorically stated that it didn’t want it, although of course at the back of my mind was the thought that India is a nuclear power – why was it deemed to need a hand-out?

India Orbiting Mars

It was reported just over two weeks ago that India is to launch a satellite which will orbit Mars. The cost of this project is just under one fifth of the amount of money that the Department for International Distribution of Other People’s Money sends to India each year. India has been conducting a space programme since the 1960s and has launched many satellites.

India is also a large regional military power – with a navy.

The Indian Military

Whether or not India intends to emerge as the region’s dominant military power is not at issue; what is at issue is that it is surrounded by hostile or potentially hostile powers, the obvious one being the ongoing conflict with Pakistan not only over Kashmir but also about Pakistani-backed terrorists operating in India in pursuit of goals other than just the Kashmiri issue. But India fought a war with China in 1962 – and China’s ambitions cannot be ignored (especially if its economy goes into a widely predicted decline). India has both the manpower resources as well as the economic wherewithal to provide for its own security. It has proud fighting traditions and its long association with the British Army laid solid foundations for its modern prowess.

Today it was reported that the Indian Navy is spending £1 billion on three warships – and buying them from Russia. This has caused a predictable uproar in the U.K., chiefly because the British Navy, along with the rest of the British armed forces, is being emasculated.

Yet here is the public purse being used to send “aid” to India, in pursuit of the Coalition government’s promise to raise the total spending on international aid to 0.7% of national income. Promise to whom, one has to wonder? There are serious problems with the Ministry of Defence – not just the usual overspending on projects that are then abandoned; not just that, unlike the Indian Navy, we no longer have any aircraft carriers (the Indian Navy has aircraft carriers and warplanes to put on them); but, most importantly, the large number of redundancies being inflicted on the services and a very serious crisis of military pensions.

No wonder the self-deluded International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell has been quoted as saying: “I completely understand why people question the aid programme to India and we questioned it ourselves.” Obviously he didn’t completely understand the answer.

Just to drive the point home, two things should be noted about the U.K.’s aid to India: first of all, India has become over the last two-three decades so much of a developed nation that it even has its own international aid programme; and second, that the money that the U.K. sends to India is borrowed – that’s right, we don’t even have the money that we dispense with such largesse!

Aid Targets

The Department for International Decrepitude justifies this largesse on the grounds that the money goes to targeted projects and is not just a general hand-out to the Indian government which then gets spent on Russian battleships. That misses the point entirely. Besides there are development projects run by Indian charities that are compromised by the aid money – it is not just the Indian government that has denied that it needs aid, autonomous organisations within India, working in the very poorest regions, have rejected the need for it.

Those who defend the aid to a country like India accept that India is now a major economic power, but point out that the country, with a population of 1.21 billion, is still riddled with poverty. This is saying nothing – it is like pointing out that Britain at the height of its imperial power still had pockets of dire poverty. The Empire didn’t go round asking for hand outs for the East End; the amelioration of poverty was the result of people’s own indefatigable efforts in a low tax environment, aided where needed by voluntary organisations and self-help societies.

None of this shakes the self-belief of those would dip their fingers into others’ pockets to bolster their sense of their own rectitude.

“Lord Ashdown emphasised the immense influence and respect that meeting our aid commitments and being a leader in international development gives us in international affairs. He then made the moral case for giving aid, arguing that the UK is a great country ‘and one of the reasons we’re a great country is because of our humanity.’ ” Thus the self-important Lord Ashdown at a debate organised by Save the Children and UNICEF, held in London in May.

Thus, the Indian government says it does not want or need Britain’s aid: such is the power of the “moral” case that the British government can “afford” to ignore the Indian’s in a fit of smugness that we – the colonial masters still, perhaps in imagination, eh, Lord Ashdown? – know best what’s good for Johnny Foreigner.

Readers curious as to why articles of this nature should be appearing on a gold investment website should read: GOLDCOIN.ORG: MIXING POLITICS AND NUMISMATICS 

And for background on the writer: CONFESSIONS OF A LAW AND ORDER ANARCHIST

The BRIC attack: A major political event

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Translated from an original article by Charles Sannat, Director of Economic Studies, AuCOFFRE.com, Paris

The Fourth Summit of the BRIC nations, a major political event.

This is a huge story and yet has gone largely unreported by the major western media. On the 29th of March in New Delhi, the Fourth Summit of the BRIC nations took place (Brazil, Russia, India, China).

“The BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) should no longer use the US Dollar in their bilateral exchanges. That is what was decided on Thursday the 29th March, 2012, during the Fourth Summit of leaders of these five nations in the Indian capital”.

Source: algeriedz.info and rian.ru

The following was decided during this meeting: an essential step was taken towards a “multipolar” global monetary system. March 29th 2012 will undoubtedly not be the date remembered in history as marking the end of the era of the Dollar. Nonetheless, the change is major.

Towards an overhaul of the IMS

We are entering a phase of disintegration of the International Monetary System as we know it. Our monetary system dates back to the Bretton Woods agreement of 1944 which was brought to an end by the Jamaican agreement of 1976 (this ended the gold standard).

So what will happen now? Stock markets are starting to fall because the issuing of European bond funds is doing badly or is disappointing (depending on your degree of optimism about the outcome of this policy), which is the case for Spain and now Italy.

What one must understand is that according to the current economic system it is the surpluses of some which finance the deficits of others, thus creating a balance. In other words, western countries are in a chronic deficit which has been, and I stress has been, financed by the major Asian exporting nations on the one hand (China and India) and the oil-producing nations on the other.

For the last few years, nobody was lending to western states (by this we mean the US and Europe) which now find themselves in an irreversibly compromised situation.

It is this lack of external funds which is pushing the central banks, the FED and the ECB to massively intervene in the markets. The only option that remains for us is indeed the use of the printing press and the creation of money with all the negative consequences that follow.

Though this Fourth Summit of the BRIC nations is a founding step towards the overhaul of the IMS this is certainly not the ultimate goal.

Ground-breaking events in international relations

Discussing the topic of the monetary system without mentioning the political dimensions would be a mistake. The future International Monetary System will be shaped by the international balance of power and alliances between the major players in the context of the fight for access to energy and agricultural resources and in the broader sense to raw materials. A strong axis is taking shape amongst the BRIC countries, and Iranian diplomacy is also far from insignificant.

The trans-Atlantic relationship remains strong despite the strains and divergences. Lastly, one should not imagine that the United States of America will let their status as world leaders slip away without a colossal “fight”. American policy has always been based on a simple concept: “America First”.

We are thus entering a new phase in the current crisis:

In 2007, the subprime crisis led to a financial and stock market crisis.

The financial crisis led to an economic recession.

The economic recession lead to massive state intervention in the form of stimulus packages which resulted in massive debts for these states.

The debt crisis can only lead to a major monetary crisis.

The monetary crisis (which is on its way) will lead to the restructuring of the International Monetary System.

And… the manoeuvres have already begun. The global repercussions will be deeply felt, as the International Monetary System is to the global economy what tectonic plates are to geology. We are touching upon the essential part. The tremors will truly be felt.

Will you be ready?

The Gold Train

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

The Gold Train is a mystery emanating from WWII but the almost mythical  status developed because of the secrecy particularly in the USA. In reality it is story of horror, mass murder, theft and greed not revealed until Bill Clinton created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States and had become a symbol of all that was lost by Holocaust victims

We begin in Hungary where prior to the war almost one fifth of the population was Jewish and had been integrated into the countries fabric. The government was increasingly sympathetic to fascism and gradually tightened laws against the Jews eventually the Arrow Cross party became the fascist government of Hungary. As the war went badly for Germany things got worse and with the Soviet Army only 100 miles from the border Hitler launched an invasion of Hungary in March 1944.

Until 1944 the Hungarian government had not cooperated with the Nazi but this all changed as the facist dominated government were eager and willing to collaborate and the SS saw the opportunity to continue their work of mass murder to solve the Jewish problem. Consequently the estimated population of 800,000 Jews were forced to hand overall of their valuables to government official including gems, gold, jewelry, gold coins, silver, wedding rings in fact anything of value. With typical efficiency everything was bagged, boxed and identified with receipt given to the owners.

After handing over their valuables the majority of Jews at a rate reaching 12,000 per day were shipped off to the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau where most never survived.  Meanwhile the Hungarian authorities resorted all the confiscated valuables into categories destroying the identification of the original owners but the inventory was fairly exact.

Gold Train

Car from the Gold Train

By December 1944 the Red Army were on the outskirts of Budapest and a decision was made to evacuate the Jewish booty and this was supervised by a Hungarian Árpád Toldi, the commissioner of Jewish affairs appointed by the SS. The valuables, estimated at around $5 billion in today’s terms, were packed into  a 42 car freight train that was designated for Germany. As the train moved slowly westwards through Hungary and Austria. Toldi bought off bands of marauding troops with small batches of loot but large amounts of gold and precious stones were off loaded into  trucks along the route and stories of Nazi gold  springing up all along the route ensured the  “Gold Train”  became one of the many myths of Nazi treasure.

However, the majority of the loot ended up in allied hands. Toldi  had two trucks loaded with valuables and they headed towards the French zone where they were seized by French troops at St. Anton. According to a report written by the Central Board of Jews in Hungary and referring to available reports at the time the trucks seized by French troops contained:

31    cases of gold

2        case of gold coins

3        cases of gold watches

8        cases of brilliants

2        cases of selected brilliants and Pearls

The French returned these valuable to Hungary but they did not reach the hands of any remaining owners or relations, but were mostly were stolen by the communists.

The Gold Train eventually fell into the hands of the United States Army nesr the town of Werfen in Austria in May 1945 and according to the Central board contained the following:

10              45kg cases of gold

1                100kg cases of gold coins

18              35kg case of gold jewels

32              30-60kg cases of gold watches

1560          cases of silver of different weights

1                case of silver bricks

1                trunk of currencies and brilliants

100            artistic picture

3000          Persian carpets

2                wagons of mixed valuable

Gold train guard

American soldiers guarding the gold train

The Central Board of Jews and the Hungarian government were aware that the majority of the contents were in American custody and passionate pleas for them to return the valuables to Hungary, where they could be returned to their rightful owners or surviving family members, were continually ignored. Despite the clear country of origin ownership,  Americans decide that the contents were  ownerless property and that it should be sold for the benefit of non-repatriable  refugees who could be accessed through the International Refugee Organization (IRO). It is a matter of fact that some of the property from the train ended in the possession of high ranking US Army officers but the majority was sold off through US Army exchange stores in Europe and the remainder auctioned off in New York in 1948  with proceeds going to the IRO.  Approximately 200 paintings seized from the train should have been returned to Hungary but they came into possession of the Austrian government and disappeared to this day they have not surfaced.

As a result of Bill Clinton’s creation and subsequent freedom of information in 2001, there was a lawsuit against the United States government. This was filed by Hungarian Holocaust survivors in a Florida district Federal Court for the government’s mishandling of the assets on the Hungarian Gold Train. In 2005, the government reached a settlement worth $25.5 million. The money was allocated for distribution to various Jewish social service agencies for the benefit of Holocaust survivors. Hungarian Jewish survivors did not receive any money directly so justice was not seen to be done.

gold train toldi

Árpád Toldi

There was gold, gold coin, jewelry and precious stone that did not end up in allied hands, spirited away by Toldi during the long  journey and the amount returned to Hungary, from the French. that was stolen by the communists and ended up in Russian hands.  The trail has disappeared  leaving many unanswered questions, the most important of which where is the gold now ?.

Toldi himself tried to enter Switzerland with a convoy of trucks but was turned away at the border. After hiding for some time in the French zone he gave himself up to the French authorities and led them to some bags of precious stones.  After a few months detention he was released and then disappeared. It is rumored that he lived under the protection of high ranking French officials but not substantiated.

This is a terrible story where thousands of people lost their lives and their wealth. Could it happen today, unlikely, but less unlikely is a family losing its wealth through crisis.   If a family were to put aside some of its wealth in the form of tangible assets in a safe haven, such as well documented vault in a stable country such as Switzerland, then there is a strong chance of surviving that crisis

Maurice Hall

Is the gold bull finished – 1980 v 2010 ?

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

People are questioning whether the bull  run on gold over the last decade reached its climax with the December 2009 high of $1227 and we are on a downward slope. Let’s compare the conditions in 1980 with today and we will find that they are quite different.

1980

In 1971, the United States suspended the free exchange of U.S. gold for foreign-held dollars, then in 1974 lifted its four-decade ban on the private purchase of gold. At that time, gold bullion was being traded in European markets at highs approaching $200 an ounce. In 1975, the U.S. government began to sell some of its holdings on the open market and in 1978, along with most other nations, officially abandoned the gold standard. After being released from government control, the price of gold soared and touched $850 in January 1980.  In the three years before 1980 gold price grew eightfold  as the result of mainly fear but also greed

In Dec 2009 the gold price soared to $1227 per ounce. So was this the zenith and comparable to the 1980 high? Was this the end of the bull market that was running for almost a decade?.

There are many differences between 1980 and today not least of which the world is not the same following the most significant financial crisis since the great depression of the 1930’s, global warming threatening our existence and the economic balance between East and West swinging to the East. In 1980 the cold war still raged, the Berlin wall separated East and West Germany, and Eastern Europe was in soviet control, the Russian bear was feared. We must also remember that gold in real terms is trading at only half of the high reached in 1980 as the $850 to day equates to approximately $2200 when inflation is applied.

Political Fear – The Soviets had  signed a “bilateral treaty of cooperation” with Afghanistan in 1978, but by the next year relations had deteriorated and  the Soviet Invasion of Afganistan, which began around Christmas 1979, was a terrible global shock., Russian forces seized all major governmental, military and media buildings in Kabul, including their primary target – the Tajbeg Presidential Palace, where they killed President Hafizullah Amin and announced on Radio that Afghanistan had been liberated

It was a slap in the face to a cold war America.

At the same time the Russians were building up their strength  in southern Yemen close to Saudi Arabia and the oil fields. Also in Bulgaria’s border with Yugoslavia, a liberal communist country, whose 87 year old president Tito solely responsible for binding the  Serbs, Croatians and Muslims together since the end of WWII was very ill.

Iranian fundamentalists took over the US embassy in Tehran in November 1979 anther slap for America.  Ayatollah Khomeni became supreme leader in December and relations ships with Sadam Hussein’s Iraq were at an all time low eventually leading to the Iran –Iraq war.

Economic Fear – The 70’s were a period where inflation was spiraling out of control, stagflation unemployment, oil embargoes and subsequent spike in oil prices spread gloom and despair.  In 1979 inflation in the US was at 12% and was in double figures in most western countries  In the UK the winter of 1978-9 was known as the “winter of discontent” and during 1979 nearly 30 million working days were lost due to strikes.  Debt in the USA had risen to almost $1 trillion and the dollar was weak.

silverspikechartAnother catalyst that shook the markets was Bunker Hunt’s run on silver. Hunt, an oil billionaire, his brother and friends by October 1979 had bought up all the silver paper propositions to the tune of 192 million ounces.  In early January 1980 , it became evident that COMEX intended to change the rules to only allow 10 million/oz of contracts per trader and that all contracts over that amount must be liquidated before February 18th. Of course, the CFTC promptly backed up the ruling. The escape hatch for the Hunts and some of the other large longs was simply to convert their futures contracts into physicals, On January 17th silver hit $50/oz, Bunker had continued to buy. At that point in time the Hunt’s silver position was worth $4.5 billion dollars. This caused chaos as there was no silver to be had to supply and the Hunts were driven to ruin.

Oil revenue to Gold – The rapid rise in oil price produced a sudden surge of wealth in  Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States  and enormous sums were diverted into gold. This was further accelerated by the fall of the Shah which exposed vulnerability of people in power in the Middle East and led them to protect their positions. It was common for Saudi dealers to bid for 50-100,000 ounce in a morning and one bank was asked to buy 300,000 ounces for a single client.  Speculators also used the opportunity to dupe the market to increase the price of gold by bidding for huge sums  through a Gulf bank giving the impression that Arabs were pouring money into gold, a story carried by media for some time.

Greed – Of course speculation reached the phase of public awareness which is always the last phase close to the peak just before the decent.

The world was in turmoil and inflation was out of control so everyone was scared. When people are scared fiat currency is not enough. They return to traditions going back to the beginning of civilization to secure wealth in physical gold that gives portability and liquidity. During times of crisis and fear gold rises and individual governments can’t stop it; but in peaceful times governments are able to maintain control. The future of the American economy and American power did not feel at all certain. As a safe haven in times of panic and strife, gold simply reflected that fear. As soon as the emotion subdued and rationality returned  the buying panic quickly subsided and turned to selling phase taking down the price.

gold 1980The Fall – Prices will rise as supply cannot meet demand but in 1980  when the price touched $850 all over the world people began dishoarding their coins and  old jewellery in an unprecedented scale to the extent that dealers were running out of money to pay for the re cycled gold and Refinieries  had more than enough scrap gold. Thus supply quickly out grew demand.

In early 1980, Paul Volcker’s (Fed Chairman) new Fed policy began to bite. U.S. interest rates began to skyrocket. As they rose, the Dollar first slowed its descent, then stopped falling, and then began to rise. Both the public and the investment community which had stampeded into Gold was lured back into paper by this huge rise in interest rates – and by the prospect of a higher U.S. Dollar. The threat of financial meltdown was averted. There was a rush out of Gold and back to Dollars. The Dow was already rising in 1979 and really took off in 1982.

The gold price dropped off dramatically after its January 1980 high in short because people lost their fear as inflation the bane of the 1970s was finally coming under control, interest rates and the stock markets rose making other investments more attractive. Supply was greater than demand and the Middle abruptly exited the gold market.

2010

The financial crisis that rose its ugly head in 2008 and continued through 2009 is comparable to the fear generated in 1979-80 and was one of the reasons for the rise in gold as people sought a safe haven. The dollar has been weak, a norm for a corresponding high gold price and this was catalyzed by India buying 200 tonnes from the IMF to drive the price to the December high.

The Future – The difference between 1980 and today is that in 1980 we were exiting a terrible decade and the future looked bright economically. Today the future is far from bright and whilst we have managed the worst financial crisis since the depression and are even complacent; but the truth is we are not out of the crisis. The economy is recovering slowly and is still very volatile and in the UK we have £1.4 trillion in sovereign debt to face. According to the IMF spiralling sovereign debt in Europe, the US, and Japan has emerged as the top threat to the world economy and risks setting off a fresh financial storm. The eurozone is heading for one per cent growth this year, limping out of recession under the threat of a sovereign debt crisis. The main risk is that, if unchecked, market concerns about sovereign liquidity and solvency in Greece could turn into a full-blown sovereign debt crisis, leading to some contagion. The economies of Ireland, Spain and Portugal will shrink. The US’s ratio of total debt to GDP is likely to exceed 90% this year, making it more indebted even than Spain and Portugal. It is similar to Weimar Germany but for different reasons and has printed trillions of dollars of fiat currency which will eventually lead to debasement. The dollar is weak and is likely to get weaker. The Chinese Yuan is undervalued but it is not in China and the worlds interest to drop the dollar just yet but the time will come and dollar will fall. The Chinese are on the unmistakable path towards challenging the dollar and the ultimate aim is financial supremacy The dollar’s status as the worlds reserve currency is under threat and both Russia and China are pushing or an alternative in which gold must surely take a part.

Today we have a world of low interest rates where it is almost impossible to obtain an interest rate that does not lose on the capital invested each year when taking into account inflation and tax. With the right gold product tax on profit can be eliminated.

In 1980 Central banks were auctioning off gold, today central banks are turning to gold as many countries increase their gold reserves. Last year India bought 200 tonnes from the IMF to meet its international commitments. China has increased its reserves to 1054 tonnes and announced its intent to continue buying.

India is currently the largest consumer, China the largest producer and second largest consumer and Russia were not players in 1980 and it is these countries where the demand is currently driven. China is consuming all it can produce and quietly everything it can buy with out upsetting the price.

Public Awareness – In 1980 public awareness led to speculation and to frantic selling of gold, de hoarding which was contributory to the drop in price as the amount of scrap gold created an over supply. Today you can hardly open a newspaper or watch television without seeing an advert to persuade you to sell your old gold. This is the reverse of 1980 as the refineries need the re cycled gold to ease the demand. Also investment has not yet reached the public awareness stage. From the chart below  you will see that there is no slide just a correction which is normal

2year gold fixIn conclusion gold is still a safe hedge, the world is uncertain with threats of sovereign debt, inflation and the weakening of the dollar. Gold is finite all the gold ever produced would fit into a 20 metre cube. As mining becomes more difficult production costs are rising to almost $800. The demand from the East cannot be met so demand is greater than supply and there will be more pressure on supply as the gold fields dry up. I have seen an analogy where more gold can be extracted per ton by harvesting old mobile phones than the majority of modern mines. Were are currently in a period of correction fed by a certain amount of complacency but trends indicate that we should see a breakthrough of $1300 by Q4 2011.

Maurice Hall

The denunciation of money by Marx

Thursday, March 25th, 2010
Karl_Marx_001

Karl Heinrich Marx

For the Soviet system, inspired by Marx, currency was the manifestation of social evil, the relationship with commodity production.  There were certainly some countries where this practice was even more radical than the Soviet system.  This was particularly true of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge, where trade itself, including bartering, was the objectification of evil itself.  To some degree, it surpassed even Marx’s theories.  In his book the “Critique of Political Economy,” Marx spoke about exchange values and not exchange itself.  It is for this reason that André Malraux called “PolPotism” the Marxism of imbeciles.

That said, the conclusion that Pol Pot and his friends and family made from Marx’s theories, is not that far away from Marx’s ideas, because for Marx the historical process itself results in the production of useful values.  For this reason, Pol Pot’s followers condemned the production of exchange values; therefore exchange itself.  This explains the terrible reality of the demographic collapse in Cambodia during the implementation of what some have called a “murderous utopia.”  The dismissal of exchange can only lead to the disappearance of all systems for satisfying needs; therefore an empire of death, collective suicide.  Of course, in this system characterised by the dismissal of production for trade, access to goods and services has always been conditioned by a hierarchical order of socialist societies, the needs of leaders, including their ostentatious needs, were covered by society.

Boris Yeltsin, who was the first president of Russia after the fall of communism in the 1990’s, declared in October 1987, in a speech to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union: “Yes comrades, it is not easy to explain to a factory worker why in the seventieth year of political power, he is forced to queue to buy sausages in which there is more starch than meat whilst on our tables there is sturgeon and caviar and all sorts of fine meats obtained without any problems from a place which he is not even allowed near.  In these special shops reserved for the nomenklatura (the ruling bureaucratic elite of the former Soviet Union), “the prices of goods were inversely proportional to the position the “customer” had in the nomenklatura.  The higher your position in the hierarchy, the lower the price was.”.  More precisely, this means that for members of the nomenklatura money was certified, that is to say that the higher up a person was in the nomenklatura the higher the value of their money.
EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK by Norman Palma and Edouard Husson –  Capitalism is sick of its currency

According to this book – It has often been said that it was not possible to predict the economic and financial crisis that is currently sweeping across the world.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  At the root of the crisis is an International Monetary System that has been seriously affected by the dollar standard system.  For several decades, informed minds had warned of the possible devastating effects on the world economy as a result of the American Federal Reserve’s issuing policy.  As Maurice Allais, the French Nobel Prize Winner for Economics, emphatically said with general indifference “what will happen will happen” What has happened today always happens with paper money systems: after the euphoria of increasing credit without any restrictions the crash arrives.  This is why the dollar is heading towards total depreciation.”

Although every effort is being made to postpone it, we cannot avoid the collapse of the dollar and currencies which unwisely held it up.  To limit the effects of this unavoidable catastrophe, if it is at all possible, we must urgently create an International Account Unit which is a basket of major paper currencies to which we must add gold in order to restore vital credibility to paper money.  Then, we should not be content with returning to a gold reference system, which will in any case impose itself on the market, no matter what top political and economic leaders think.  Due to limits on the quantity of gold, it will be necessary to return to its vital circulating complement: silver, which ruled alongside gold, during the historical rise of the wealth of nations.  With this diagnostic put forward, and with the only possible remedy analysed, all that remains is for an immense reform to be implemented by a politician largely responsible for the situation, who has nothing planned and whose actions will in all respects be judged by this present tragedy.

Now is the time to protect your wealth- with real money

Friday, March 19th, 2010

We need to understand the difference between money and currency as one is real and the other a promise.  Money can be defined as a medium of exchange and a store of value and until fairly recent times was in fact coins made out of precious metal with an intrinsic value or for ease of use, notes backed by precious metal.

Money, when considered as the fruit of many years’ industry, as the reward of labor, sweat and toil, as the widow’s dowry and children’s portion, and as the means of procuring the necessaries and alleviating the afflictions of life, and making old age a scene of rest, has something in it sacred that is not to be sported with, or trusted to the airy bubble of paper currency. Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809)

Currency is still a medium of exchange but is not a store of value as it only derives its value by government degree or “fiat”. It’s value is based on the issuing the authority’s guarantee to pay the stated (face) amount on demand, and not on any intrinsic worth or extrinsic backing. All national currencies in circulation, issued and managed by the respective central banks, are fiat currencies.

DM wheelbarrow

A days wages in Germany 1923

The problem is that fiat currency runs the risk of central bankers printing too much and causing large inflation or worse. The more that is printed the more the currency is debased just as the Fed is doing now with the dollar. This has been going on for decades with central banks indiscriminately creating money to cover expenditure and ever increasing debt.  There are examples throughout history and in the 20th Century most of us are aware that in Germany in 1923 it would take a barrow load of Deutschmarks to buy a loaf of bread but an ounce of gold could buy a reasonable house and one dollar was worth 4 trillion marks

This irresponsible printing of money has eaten away at the value of the world’s reserve currency the USD dollar and dollar based assets, to such an extent that they have lost 82% of value since 1971, the year the US cut links with the gold standard. The GBP has fared even worse that the USD losing around 85% of value since 1971.   There are many illustrations of then and now and how owning gold with intrinsic value would have more purchasing pro rata than currency. E.g the latest model Cadillac Eldorado would have taken 180 ounces of gold at $42.02 to pay the showroom price of $7,546. This same 180 ounces is now worth over $200k and would buy two Cadillac convertibles with enough left over to fuel to first service. In the UK an average family car cost £1000 around 60 oz of gold and now the same would cost £17000 around 23 oz of gold. The 60 ounces would have bought the same family car for you a sports car for your wife and a hatchback for your son or daughter. Gold retains its purchasing power year after year.

60oz gold 1971

Not long ago the gold standard imposed monetary discipline on countries as they had to hold enough gold to cover the money in circulation but this all changed with the Jamaica agreement in 1971 when the decision was taken by President Nixon on the 15th August 1971 to suspend the direct convertibility of dollars into gold, the keystone of the financial system created in July 1944 (the Bretton Woods Agreement).  On the 1st October 1971 the general assembly of the IMF asked the board of trustees to study and propose a comprehensive reform.  This would be adopted by member States during a meeting held in Kingston (Jamaica) on the 7th and 8th January 1976, and included a set of provisions which put an end to the reign of gold.  The US money supply in 1971 was $776 billion and quickly became an upward curve which rose dramatically over the last decade where the US money supply doubled from below $7 trillion to $14.3 trillion indicating that spending is out of control.

What is the effect as the US and other governments including the UK go on this spending spree. It means that the risk of sovereign debt default becomes very high indeed. We have already seen Iceland’s debt rise to 7 times GDP and then go into financial melt down and economic depression. This is a warning and recently Greece has been the sick man of the Euro world  with its debt forecast to reach 130% of GDP, its credit rating cut, the country in turmoil and it has placed pressure on the Euro itself.  The UK has not reached that level yet, but we are heading that way with debt estimated to be 65% of GDP this year and a forecast for 78% by 2015.  Japan the world’s second largest economy has debt of twice its GDP but continues to spend. In the Euro zone Spain, Italy, Portugal former Eastern European countries all face serious financial issues.

Most worrying is that the US, whose dollar is still the world’s reserve currency, has debts of 100% of GDP and budget deficits over the next few years will send that figure soaring. Their solution instead of cutting expenditures is create more fiat currency which will inevitably lead to devaluation of the dollar.  There are already moves afoot to seek alternatives lead by Russia and China and gold has featured in their strategies. China’s long term goal is to dominate financially and replace the US and they are currently playing a political game as they have up to 2 trillion in dollar assets that they do not want to destroy but off load at the best value.

It comes as no surprise that both China and Russia are increasing their gold reserves along with India who recently bough 200 tonnes from the IMF to back its financial commitments. China is now the worlds largest producer of gold and has recently surpassed India as the worlds greatest consumer and actively encourage their citizens to put part of their savings into gold.  China has a predicament in that it wants its central bank to diversify into gold without increasing the gold price and to shed dollar assets without devaluing the dollar so they are building reserves from internal sources and buying small quantities during price dips.  The UK made a very bad move when Gordon Brown sold off 395 tonnes of gold a decade ago when gold was at less than 25% of todays value. In light of the of the world economic situation this was doubly bad as gold reserves are more important than ever.

In summary:

  • Currency is not money and its value can be changed by monetary policy makers
  • Currency can be created and printed at will with no substance to support it
  • Currency depreciation in value is accelerating with subsequent loss of purchasing power
  • National debt is increasing to disastrous levels with threat of sovereign debt default
  • Confidence in the  USD is waning and its use as a reserve currency is under threat
  • Countries and investors are shedding their dollar assets
  • Central Banks are diversifying into gold and out of dollar assets
  • Smart investors are diversifying their portfolios with a proportion of gold
  • The value of gold has been consistent in retaining its purchasing power
  • Gold is insurance for your wealth
  • Gold is the only real money

The price of gold rose to its all time high in December 2009 to $1212 an ounce and since then it dropped to a low of $1048 but now is in a period of consolidation of just above $1100 which follows a pattern that has been consistent over the last decade. It is likely that we will face another financial crisis due  irresponsible printing of currency, the risk of sovereign debt and political pressure. Of the millions of investors throughout the world only a tiny proportion see gold other than as a commodity. Central banks have seen the need to diversify into gold. The discerning investor understands that apart from ROI gold is a protection for wealth and the person who holds gold will see out a crisis and that has been proved time and again throughout history.  Once a greater proportion of investors become educated in the need to diversify, as they inevitably will, the price of gold will rocket.  Now is the time to protect your wealth in the safest investment – GOLD and I would recommend that you invest in the form of gold coins and in the UK gold sovereigns.

For details of the worlds most popular investment coins http://goldcoin.org/investment-coins/

Maurice Hall

Russia – Gold mining in some of the harshest conditions in the world

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Every winter, an ice road is laid across 400 km (250 miles) of tundra to carry supplies to one of the world’s most isolated gold mines.

kupol-mine

Kupol Russian Arctic Mine

There is no other way for heavy machinery to reach Kupol, the $700 million Arctic mine behind a resurgence in Russian gold production after five straight years of decline.”It’s one of the harshest climates I’ve worked in, and I’ve worked in the Atacama desert in Chile and at 15,000 feet in Indonesia,” said Patrick Dougherty, general manager at Kupol. “But I don’t get to pick where the gold is.”

Only South Africa holds more gold than Russia, but Moscow’s fragmented industry has struggled to access vast reserves in its inhospitable Far East. The region was first mined in the 1930s by prisoners of the Gulags set up by Soviet leader Josef Stalin.Russia is the world’s biggest energy supplier, but falling prices and reduced demand have cut income from natural resources to about 8 percent of its gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2009, from nearly 11 percent a year ago.

Gold, on the other hand, has been helped by recession. Its safe-haven appeal has shielded it from a demand slump that shredded other commodity prices, lifting it to over $1200 an ounce in December 2009

Chukotka, a region revived in the last eight years by the $2.5 billion investment of Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich, produced a fifth of Russia’s gold in the first half of this year. Gold is the region’s passport to growth after Abramovich quit as governor last July.Russia ranked fifth among the world’s gold miners last year, between Australia and Peru, with an 8 percent share of output. Production rose 13 percent in 2008, the first increase in six years, and jumped another 25 percent in the first half of 2009. “This was solely due to the commissioning of Kupol,” said Olga Okuneva, mining analyst at Deutsche Bank in Moscow. “If other large projects in the Far East start producing gold, this will be a major growth driver for the Russian gold industry.”

Kupol — meaning dome in Russian — is named after a rounded outcrop of rock that juts skyward from the tundra in central Chukotka, over 200 km (125 miles) from the nearest settlement. The mine took five years to build. It is the largest tax payer in Chukotka, a land twice the size of Germany where reindeer outnumber people four to one. “With a deposit as large as Kupol, mining’s contribution to the regional economy is expected almost to double to 37 percent this year,” said Roman Kopin, the 35-year-old who took over as governor when Abramovich resigned.

Kinross Gold Corp, the Canadian miner which owns 75 percent of Kupol, is unusual among foreign investors for holding a majority share in a major Russian mineral deposit. The government of Chukotka owns the other 25 percent. Untangling the red tape that stifles some foreign investors in other parts of Russia was one of the main achievements of Abramovich’s more than seven years as governor, Kopin said. “The investment climate here, perhaps, is a little bit different, because we understand that it’s very difficult to work in Chukotka,” he added.Kinross has been the top performing gold stock on the New York Stock Exchange for the last three years, when the company’s value rose more than 160 percent. Kupol will supply about a third of its total output this year and 15 of 24 equity analysts polled by Reuters retain a bullish rating on the stock

ARCTIC CORRIDOR

About 1,400 jobs are related directly to Kupol, and Chukotka’s population totals around 50,000. Miners and catering staff spend four weeks on site and four weeks off, earning an average monthly wage of 50,000 roubles, 25 percent above the regional average. “We have equipment that works here,” said Alexander Puzovets, 48, a drill rig operator who works 10-hour shifts at the pit face. “I’ve been in mines where we’ve used hammers.”The mine’s in-house electricity plant could generate enough to power the regional capital, Anadyr.In winter, miners walk the purpose-built Arctic Corridor — an enclosed, 900-meter tunnel from camp to mine — to avoid temperatures that drop more than 50 degrees Celsius below zero (minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit).

About 60 percent of Kupol’s gold is mined underground. Zurab Samteladze, a 55-year-old Georgian more than 7,000 km from home, hauls 45-tonne rock loads to the surface in a Caterpillar truck.In deeper parts of the mine, skilled operators maneuver drill rigs by remote control. This avoids the need for miners to work long hours beneath areas vulnerable to rock falls.

“With all the video games they play, the younger generation has a better chance of operating these units,” said Dougherty, a native of Arizona. Alcohol is banned. Miners pass their time playing pool, in the gym or watching television. Popcorn is a popular snack, while eight tons of reindeer meat was served up last year. “I play guitar — they have a music room. I like basketball — they have a sports hall,” said Andrei Aksanov, 34, a mechanic in the truck shop.Like 80 percent of the miners at Kupol, Aksanov comes from Magadan, the port city 1,500 km (940 miles) to the southwest.

russia miner

A worker cast an ingot at the Koylma refinery Magada

This is where mining began in Russia’s Far East. Stalin, needing bodies to unearth new-found gold reserves, sent hundreds of thousands of prisoners to slave in the region’s labor camps over two decades from the early 1930s.From such grisly beginnings, Magadan has developed into the hub of gold processing in the Russian Far East. Kupol flies its dore  (bullion bars)  to be processed into almost pure metal to be refined at the Kolyma Refinery to the north of the city. Vladislav Feoktistov, the refinery’s 71-year-old director, raised a glass of vodka to visiting officials from Kinross Gold. Supplies from Kupol will guarantee the plant’s biggest turnover in its 11-year history, he said.”This a business that’s only as good as its suppliers,” he said. From here, 15 kg (33 pound) gold bars worth more than $450,000 each at current prices are delivered to Russian banks.

Kinross report – The production at Kupol mine was started during the second half of 2008. During the second half of 2009, Kupol mine reported production of 234,265 gold equivalent ounces. Out of this, Kinross has produced 75% or 175,699 gold equivalent ounces. The production includes 151,327 ounces of gold and 1,633,673 ounces of silver. Kinross says that, with a cost of sales of about $205 per ounce on a co-product basis using a gold price of $400/oz and a silver price of $6/oz, Kupol will become one of the lowest-cost gold and silver mines in the world.

Processing – The Kupol mill is a conventional gold/silver cyanidation plant that incorporates a CCD thickener washing circuit and Merrill-Crowe zinc precipitation because of the high silver ore grade. Cyanide destruction is accomplished with calcium hypochlorite. The Kupol mill is designed to process about 3,000t of ore per day (1,100,000t per year). Run-of-mine ore is crushed in a jaw crusher and conveyed to a crushed ore storage bin. The crushed ore is ground in a SAG grinding mill followed by a ball mill. Gravity separation of free gold and silver will be carried out with a Knelson concentrator in the grinding circuit.

MORE GOLD TO MINE

There should be more to come. Polyus Gold, owned by billionaires Mikhail Prokhorov and Suleiman Kerimov, plans to launch Natalka, the world’s third-largest gold deposit, in 2013. Annual production of between 25 and 30 tonnes will put Natalka on the same scale as Kupol. Beyond 2017, Polyus plans to raise output to more than 40 tonnes a year. “It’s a deposit with reserves of more than 1,000 tonnes that will create jobs, infrastructure and become a major center for Magadan region,” said German Pikhoya, Polyus Gold’s deputy chief executive for strategy and corporate development. If Chukotka is to retain its leading position, it must do more. Current reserves at Kupol will last only until 2016. To extend the mine’s life beyond this date, more reserves must be found, mapped and registered with Russian authorities. Kinross and others are already exploring. “Chukotka is definitely a key gold-producing region, particularly in the long term,” said Vitaly Nesis, chief executive of St Petersburg-based miner Polymetal. His company plans to launch the Mayskoye gold deposit in Chukotka by 2011.

Maurice Hall from Sources Reuters, Kinross and mining-technology.com

Russia’s lost Gold

Monday, March 8th, 2010
Nick II

Tsar Nicholas II

A Gold Rush is set to hit Russia after claims that a huge treasure trove dating form the time of the last Tsar Nicholas II, with possible British claimants, remains buried in remote woodland near the City of KAZAN. Historian Valery Kurnosov says evidence of the hoard, estimated to be worth about half a billion pounds at today’s prices, lies in the files of both the KGB and MI6.

He has also unearthed documents showing that Stalin and Khrushchev both sought to get their hands on the loot but failed.

By rights, the haul, estimated to weigh 17 tons or more, belongs to descendants of its owners, nominally a tsarist financial institution with emigré and British investors. Many may have no inkling they could claim.

Mr Kurnosov has urged the Russian government to organise a search, putting his faith in old maps and modern technology.

The story of the Kazan gold has long intrigued the intelligence services of Russia and the West, despite claims that it was long ago raided.

“I am convinced the gold is still buried in its original location and can be extracted,” said researcher Ravil Ibragimov, 55, who heard stories as a Soviet child of its burial near his village of Astrakhanka. ”

“There is not a scrap of evidence that it was taken out of the ground by the Bolsheviks or anyone else.”

“There is always interest in shipwrecks but this is bigger than anything at the bottom of the ocean.” Gold was secreted in Kazan as Russia descended into revolution during the First World War. British agents were involved in the removal of tsarist treasures from the then capital Petrograd (now St Petersburg) to Kazan, east of Moscow for safe-keeping from Bolshevik forces.

In the months before July 1918, when abdicated autocrat Nicholas II and his family were shot on Lenin’s orders, it is estimated that 73 per cent of the world’s largest gold reserves were held in this Tatar city.

Extract from an article in the Sunday Express

FRANCAIS ESPANOL ITALIANO CHINESE

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Thoughts
"For a mountaineer, the important things are the effort, the posture and the muscles. The rope that holds him serves no purpose when everything works but it gives him a sense of security. In the same way, all gold does is ensure confidence; it's a safe haven."