World markets are shaky, intangible and fickle beasts on the best of days. When the worst happens (i.e. economic crisis, government coup, insert your own political agenda here), it’s reassuring to know your assets are safe. They are safe, aren’t they? Diversification is key to a solid performing investment portfolio. Every day on the radio, television and in internet advertising you see a move to gold. Even the recent ‘Occupy’ movement calls for a return to a free market economy and gold standard. Traders continue to push the price of gold higher and higher in markets every day.
Real gold – bars, bullion, coins – the stuff you can touch and is tangible is the only real way to invest if you’re considering precious metals. Fortunately it’s never been easier to protect your physical gold investment through offshore diversification. Gold always retains its value and purchasing power and is probably the easiest and most easily traded asset to invest in. History shows gold to be subject to the whims and eddies of a political climate. Governments don’t like you to buy gold because they can’t control it! Sure, they’ve tried as recently as 2008 by withdrawing new bullion coins from circulation and introducing new IRS forms for reporting foreign bank accounts. It only makes sense to purchase and keep your gold holdings outside the home territory to protect them from overreaching governmental regulation.
Purchasing your gold offshore is still a pretty straightforward endeavor. It’s also one of the few non-reportable investments left. Buying gold and storing it in a vault in Switzerland, for example, isn’t a bad option as its treated as a physical object and not an investment. This also means you don’t have to declare it’s existence to anyone. In fact, you can pretty much walk into a firm right off the street and purchase bullion for cash, no questions asked. And even in the United States and Canada bullion can be easily obtained within a few days’ advance. Gold bullion can be purchased by looking for offshore dealers; typically coins are easiest (the South African Krugerrand and the Canadian Maple Leaf come to mind). If you can prove the origin of your funds with documentation it’s very easy to purchase gold bullion coins with cash.
Depending on where you’re planning on investing offshore a good consultant will be able to facilitate a transaction for you. Zurich, Switzerland is the undisputed king of the bullion market and most countries in mainland Europe, like Luxembourg, still respect privacy in the transactions regarding precious metals. Be aware, however, of different types of allocated and unallocated (or pooled) gold storage. Allocated means a certain piece of precious metal, a bar or coin for example, belongs to you and are stored in a bank’s general vault. For practical purposes you can instruct the bank to buy and sell on your behalf without your physical presence. Unallocated, pooled storage means a bank simply as a certain amount of gold in its vault, allocating you a certain amount (grams, kilos, ounces, et. al.). Allocated is more secure storage but you rely on the cooperation of the bank in order to gain access to your investment. Pooled storage is usually cheaper in the long run in terms of the fees a bank charges you for care of the bullion in its vault.