Demand for Physical Gold and Silver Spikes In the Midst of Economic Uncertainty
Demand for physical gold and silver has surged over the past two months, with mints around the world reporting robust sales in the midst of the Greek crisis and warning signs in other economies.
According to US Mint figures, the sale of 1-ounce American Gold Eagles more than quadrupled, jumping from just 13,500 coins sold in May to 62,500 in June. The pace has only accelerated in July, with the US Mint reporting 69,000 Gold Eagles sold to date. This is the highest level of sales all year.
Last week, US Sliver Eagles completely sold out.
Demand has not only spiked in the US. The Perth Mint Australia reports an increase in sales of both gold and silver bullion. According to a recent report, “The Perth Mint has been hit with a surge in demand for not just our silver coins but gold as well, as our US and European distributors scramble for product.”
Gold bullion sales increased nearly 10,000 ounces in June at the Australian mint, and the sale of silver jumped 13.9%
China has been buying up gold over the last several years, recently surpassing India as the world’s largest gold consumer. As we reported earlier, People’s Bank of China (PBOC) announced today that it’s gold holdings have grown by 57%, and many analysis believe the Chinese may still be understating their holdings.
India is following close on China’s heels when it comes to personal gold consumption. People in India continue to buy physical gold despite government efforts to channel money into paper gold that it can more easily track and control. According to a recent Reuters report, the government has encountered stiff resistance as it tries to “stop the metal being used to hide billions of dollars of undeclared ‘black money.'”
Indians, primarily those living in rural areas, drive a strong demand for gold jewelry, a traditional store of wealth.
The jewellery trade says the Narendra Modi government’s plans to trace gold deals is unworkable and won’t deter holders of black money, or hundreds of millions of Indians outside the tax net, from buying gold to keep their wealth away from the prying eyes of the authorities.
“If the proposals fail, gold inflows will continue unabated in a country that accounts for nearly a fifth of global demand and stymie Modi’s effort to create a new asset class that could lure savers and back investments.”
According to Bloomburg, silver imports have also increased in India, as demand for jewelry made from the metal jumped.
While India remains the world’s largest gold buyer after China, demand for silver has surged. Imports jumped 18 percent in the year through March to a record 7,708 metric tons, government data show. The metal’s appeal was enhanced by limitations on foreign gold purchases, as well as prices that were half the record reached in 2011.
This surge in demand for physical gold and silver comes in the midst of economic instability on a number of fronts, indicating that investors are looking to put their money in a medium that historically retains its value during uncertain times.
The recent meltdown in Greece vividly illustrates what can happen when the cycle of debt and central bank bailouts reaches a critical mass. It seems only a matter of time before Greece’s problems spread to other EU countries. More disturbing is the fact that we see dynamics in the US mirroring those that drove Greece into its crisis. Puerto Rico recently announced that its debt is unsustainable, and a close look at pension systems in the US reveals disturbing similarities to the Greek system.
Whether it’s gold and silver jewelry in India, or bullion in the US, Europe and Australia, investors appear to be flocking to the safety and stability in physical metal.
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