Crossing Borders with Gold and Silver Coins

Crossing Borders with Gold and Silver Coins by Doug Casey – International Man

It’s well-known that you have to make a declaration if you physically transport $10,000 or more in cash or monetary instruments in or out of the US, or almost any other country; governments collude on these things, often informally.

Gold has always been in something of a twilight zone in that regard. It’s no longer officially considered money. So it’s usually regarded as just a commodity, like copper, lead, or zinc, for these purposes. The one-ounce Canadian Maple Leaf and US Eagle both say they’re worth $50 of currency.

But I’ve had some disturbing experiences over the past couple of years crossing borders with coins. Of course, crossing any national border is potentially disturbing at any time. You might find yourself interrogated, strip searched, or detained for any reason or no reason. But I suspect what happened to me crossing a few borders in recent times could be a straw in the wind.

I’ve gradually accumulated about a dozen one-ounce silver rounds in my briefcase, some souvenirs issued by mining companies, plus others from Canada, Australia, China, and the US. But when I left Chile not long ago, the person monitoring the X-ray machine stopped me and insisted I take them out and show them to her. This had never happened before, but I wrote it off to chance. Then, when I was leaving Argentina a few weeks later, the same thing happened. What was really unusual was that the inspector looked at them, took them back to his supervisor, and then asked if I had any gold coins. I didn’t, he smiled, and I went on.

What really got my attention was a few weeks later when I was leaving Mauritania, one of the world’s more backward countries. Here, I was also questioned about the silver coins. A supervisor was again called over and asked me whether I had any gold coins. Clearly, something was up.

I haven’t seen any official statements about the movement of gold coins, but it seems probable that governments are spreading word to their minions. After all, $10,000 in $100 bills is a stack about an inch high; it’s hard to hide, and clearly a lot of money. But even at currently depressed prices, $10,000 is only nine Maple Leafs, a much smaller volume. Additionally, the coins are immune to currency-sniffing dogs, are much less likely to be counterfeit, and don’t have serial numbers. And if they’re set aside for a few years, they won’t be damaged by water, fire, insects, currency inflation, or the complete replacement of a currency. Gold coins are in many ways an excellent way to subvert capital controls. And I think they’ll become much more popular in that role.

That’s because, all over the world, paper cash is disappearing. People are moving away from paper cash. That’s partially because there are fewer and fewer bank branches where you can cash a check, and ATM machines are costly to use. And partially because everybody has a cell phone and they’re starting to use them for even trivial purchases, like a cup of coffee. Governments are encouraging this because if all purchases, sales, and payments are made electronically, they’ll know exactly what you’re doing with your money.

From their point of view, the elimination of cash will have several major benefits: It decreases the opportunity for tax evasion, it decreases the possibilities of “money laundering,” it eliminates the expense of printing currency, it obviates counterfeiting, and it gives the state instant access to all of any individual’s cash. From an individual’s point of view, however, the safety and freedom offered by a stack of paper cash will disappear.

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Doug Casey

For over a quarter of a century, legendary investor and best-selling author Doug Casey and his team at Casey Research have been helping self-directed investors to earn superior returns through innovative investment research designed to take advantage of market dislocations..