economics financial

Greece and the metals

There has been more and more chatter about Greece and its debt. Greece now has to pay 25% interest on 2 year bonds. That means that investors think there is an excellent chance of Greece defaulting on the loan. Why this comes as a surprise baffles me. When Greece initially had issues, they were given a load of money, talk about perverse incintives…


So why care? If Greece defaults, it will shaft its creditors and give them nothing at all. That means all of the institutional investors that were stupid enough to invest in Greece will have essentially thrown that money away. It looks like Spain, and Portugal have significant exposure to Greek debt, and they were already on shaky ground. When Greece defaults, it is going to be very bad news for the Euro. In a worst case scenario, it could spell the end of the Eurozone, if not the EU in general.

Greece has become the poster child of a place where people think that wealth originates, and flows from the government. All of the protestors don’t seem to get that the money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is people’s labor. There isn’t enough to go around, at least there isn’t enough to cover the debt that has been wracked up on their behalf. Even if there is another bailout, it will only prolong the troubles. Greece is going to walk away from its debt, and there is every chance that Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland will too once the Greek default overburdens their banks. That’s what might kill the Euro, at least in the short term.

Over the past I don’t know how many years, the US dollar and the Euro have been the go-to currencies for investors and savers. The US dollar is not worth a heck of a lot these days. The political climate in Washington only points to more devaluation to come. If the Euro devalues, what is left? The Yen is a mess and there aren’t a lot of Swiss Franks to go around. The Ruble? The Yuan? The Won? Are you kidding me? All that will be left is the Pound, and we’ll have to see how their economic changes play out to see if that will continue to be a good refuge. It looks like the fiat chickens are coming home to roost, it would be best not to have any currencies as your savings as this plays out.

I’ll say it again, the metals are worthwhile savings instrument at this point in time.  Both the Russian and the Chinese central banks are loading up on gold. All of my meager cash savings is in physical silver. Yes, silver recently took a tumble, but it is on the way back up again. It is still over twice as valuable as it was late last year. If you do a little reading, the various gold and silver ETFs are looking rather suspect. At least the ones that don’t claim to have physical gold. There is a lot of “paper” gold floating around, but it isn’t clear that those certificates could actually be redeemed. They may be making claims on deposits that others have made claims on too. If you buy metals, buy the physical item. Gold and silver do fluctuate in value, but at least that value isn’t at the whim of central banks and government largess. That means quite a bit to me.



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