Imagine having the forethought to buy gold to shield your finances from an economic or monetary crisis—only to have it taken away from you by your government. You’d lose not just the protective buffer you put in place but potentially a chunk of your net worth.
Gold confiscation may sound preposterous to investors used to securities or real estate. But it’s happened in the past enough times to make it a reasonable concern for those uneasy about unsolvable debt levels, runaway government spending, and continual central bank money creation. When a grab is made for people’s savings, governments don’t bother to confiscate instruments like stocks and bonds and savings accounts—those can be wiped out by simply devaluing the currency. But when times are really tough, governments have “requested” citizens turn over their gold—the one asset they’ve historically been unable to control, since it’s not someone else’s liability.
When a gold confiscation happens, there unfortunately aren’t a lot of viable solutions. If your government declares it illegal to own a meaningful amount of bullion, you’d have little choice but to comply. Either that or play the role of a fugitive—with the prospects of financial penalties, forcible confiscation of your metal, and even jail time waiting for you.
Many investors believe gold won’t be confiscated today because it’s not part of the monetary system like it was during the U.S. nationalization in 1933, under Roosevelt. While it’s true we’re not on a gold standard today, if the crisis gets bad enough any and all viable solutions could be on the table. Debt in all developed countries is unpayable, for example, especially when you add in unfunded liabilities… where could the government get funds to service it all? One source could definitely be gold.
The sober reality is, while lower than in the past, the risk of a gold confiscation is not zero. The world today can be an uncertain place, and what were once “local” issues can rapidly escalate and have global consequences. This does not mean, however, that we are suggesting a gold confiscation is imminent or even probable; simply that it could happen if one or a series of events having significant worldwide implications occurs. Without official gold-backing on most major currencies today, the specific motivation to “confiscate” gold that existed during many previous confiscations barely exists today. But as you’ll see, even that hasn’t stopped modern government’s without a gold standard from doing the same, ostensibly as a form of currency controls to slow down market-driven devaluation.
The “Solutions” to Confiscation Risk
There’s lots of speculation floating around the Web about what one might do if gold was confiscated again. Unfortunately, the majority of the most common solutions don’t hold up to much scrutiny.
Some investors assume silver would be exempt. That’s usually because past confiscations mainly focused on gold, since silver wasn’t part of the monetary system. However, what many investors don’t know is that a year after the 1933 confiscation order, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6814 that “required the delivery of all silver to the United States for coinage.”
Many dealers claim numismatic coins would be excluded, since there was an exception made for rare coin collectors in 1933. But as history will show, during past confiscations the onus was on the investor to prove they were a coin collector and not a bullion buyer. Unless you owned a substantial amount of rare coins, you were automatically deemed a bullion owner, not a collector.
The uncomfortable truth is, no one knows exactly what form a confiscation could take, or how new laws might be enforced. And that’s part of the problem. As Mike Maloney said well in his best-selling book, Guide to Investing in Gold and Silver:
“Confiscation all comes down to this: the government makes the rules, changes the rules, and enforces the rules. Though it lacks the moral right, it can create legal authority. Though it lacks the constitutional empowerment, it can turn a blind eye to the Constitution… The Constitution did not stop the government from taking people’s gold in 1933.”
Political leaders can and will do whatever they deem necessary at the time. In any way they see fit. For as long as they think it’s needed.
When the gold investor considers the number of ways a confiscation could take place, how long it could last, how easily the government could change the rules and how deeply it could reach—all against the backdrop of an economic or monetary crisis—it underscores the need to put a viable strategy in place.
What’s really viable is a lesson best learned by the mistakes and successes of the past…
- Source, Gold Silver