Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Richard Russell Says Gold Will Not Be Confiscated

Political prophecies of doom are usually self-refuting once they capture the public imagination. Although the better ones are informative, and even the bad ones are exciting if you buy into the underlying worldview, people who take them to heart don't want to suffer the doom. Thus, they tend to take actions that render the prophecy false. Although there's a sleazy side to doomsaying, with said prohets letting themselves off the hook by saying that their warnings caused the doom to be averted, there's also some truth to that self-exculpation.

One bit of doomsaying floating around the goldbug world centers on the possibility of gold being confiscated. This prophesy is bound to be self-refuting, as the "gold grabbers" will meet a lot of stirred-up resistance just like the "gun grabbers" are facing. Forewarned, after all, is forearmed.

Jim Puplava of Financial Sense Newshour has opined that, if the U.S. government decides to confiscate gold, they'll take the gold from the ETFs and bullion custodians: tracking down every spare piece of gold would take too much time and cause too much trouble. Richard Russell has his own take on the question: he says gold won't be confiscated at all.
One of the questions that I'm most frequently asked is this: "Russell, do you think the US government will call in all the privately-held gold, just as Roosevelt did in 1933?"

I've thought about this at length, and I've arrived at what I believe to be the correct answer. The answer is -- No, the government will definitely not call in the gold. The simple reason is that a tremendous amount of gold is held in very powerful hands. Gold (GLD) and gold bullion is held by pension funds, university endowment funds, large powerful hedge funds, corporate reserves, and state treasuries....

[M]y thesis is that gold is now in such powerful hands (much of it even political) that there's no way that the US government would call in gold. Furthermore, what purpose would it serve if the US did call in the gold? In 1933 Roosevelt called in privately-held gold and then raised the price of gold from $20.22 to $35 an ounce, this in an effort to reinflate the depression-laden economy.

In other words, gold grabbing will offend too many groups that government officials have to be nice to.

There's also the question of what the government would gain by confiscating gold. Roosevelt's confiscation tied in with a partial repudiation of the gold standard. Nowadays, there's no gold standard to repudiate: it's all fiat.

I realize that their claim of gold being "obsolete" is irksome, but it can be held against them. If they're not being dissimulative, then why would they consider gold grabbing to be worth the time and expense?

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