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Category: Glint Special Report

The Most Luxurious Airports in the US and Around the World

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Booking flights this summer? Treat yourself on your travels with a stop at one of these luxury airports, thanks to our original research…

If you’ve spent the last two years or so dreaming of far-flung places, the good news is that international travel is back on the agenda, and summer vacations are a go once more. With overseas travel heavily restricted for the past 24 months, then now’s the time to truly do it style. We’re big believers in making sure every aspect of your vacation is as on point and opulent as it needs to be – including the airports you’re landing at.

To make sure that happens, we’ve searched far and wide for the airports across the globe that give travelers the chance to splash out this summer. Need some inspiration? Check out the results of our research below…

Identifying the world’s most luxurious airports: What we did

To discover which airports from around the globe were the most extravagant, we collated and then narrowed down approximately 100 top global airports. We then pin-pointed certain attributes each airport featured, which allowed us to assign each with a final score.

These attributes were as follows…

  • Star rating: From our list of airports, we looked at Skytrax’s star ratings that each airport had been assigned.
  • No. of luxury brands sold: Using each airport’s website, we tallied the number of luxury brands, as opposed to stores, that were stocked there. We also discounted brands that were common across the US.
  • No. of table service restaurants: Next, we looked for restaurants in which food is brought to patrons. Fast-food outlets, coffee chains, and bars that didn’t sell food were discounted, as well as anywhere customers had to queue at a counter and then collect their food.
  • No. of lounges: We then counted the number of areas that travelers could relax in while waiting for flights.
  • Cleanliness rating: Using Skytrax once again, we noted the cleanliness of public areas across each airport.
  • Google review score: Finally, we threw each airport into Google to identify the star rating as shown in their Google reviews.

Using these data points gave us a final score which we assigned to each airport, so we could identify the world’s most luxurious transport hubs.

The World’s Top 10 Luxury Airports

list of world's best luxury airports

The World’s Worst 10 Luxury Airports

list of world's worst luxury airports

With a total index score of 85/100, Hong Kong International is officially the world’s most luxurious airport. Busy it may be, but Google reviews also note that it’s surprisingly quiet, very clean, and has a welcoming atmosphere. “Possibly my personal favorite airport in the world” said one reviewer, which says it all.

The US boasts two airports in the world’s top 10, with New York JFK and Dallas/Fort Worth both garnering scores of 60/100. The former was even deemed “THE hub for all-around travel, holding a highly distinguished place in my traveling heart”. Not bad at all, especially when you consider that none of our airports feature in the top 10 worst airport list.

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said of Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport. With a score of just 29/100, the Philippines-based airport is officially the worst luxury offering on our list, and when one review recommends “[avoiding] this airport in the future”, it’s easy to see why.

The World’s Best Airports for Designer Shopping

best luxury airports list

No one’s got style like Hong Kong. And when its airport rates 20/20 for Designer Shopping, it’s hard to argue with a statement like that. For the fashion-minded passing through, the likes of Balenciaga, Cartier, and Dior are on hand to give their vacation wardrobe a real step up.

It shouldn’t be too surprising that Paris CDG took second place. Retaining its place as the fashion capital of the world, it certainly makes sense that Paris’ airport would be stocked with everything from Louis Vuitton to heavy hitters like Rolex and Fendi. Milan Malpensi, Rome Fiumicino, Dubai International, and Singapore Changi are also rated highly for their array of expensive and exclusive designer pieces.

The World’s Best Airports for Exclusive Lounges 

Hong Kong once again comes out on top here. Lounges across the airport feature an array of shower facilities, food and drink outlet, TV, internet, and even beauty and massage services – just what you need after a long flight.

Sharing the number one spot, however, is Frankfurt Airport. With “exclusivity, individuality, and discretion as standard”, its lounges feature VIP services, where staff wait hand on foot for guests. And when you’re ready to depart, your very own luxury limousine will drive you directly to your flight!

The World’s Cleanest (and Least Clean) Airports

Rest assured, if you’re traveling to any of the airports in our top ten, you’re sure to be met with cleaner-than-clean facilities. Six of our top ten featured a cleanliness score of 20/20, while the lowest score – courtesy of Japan’s Tokyo Narita International Airport – still racked up an impressive score of 18/20.

The same can’t be said of Ninoy Aquino International Airport. With a score of just 1/20, it’s far and away the dirtiest airport on our list.

The Best Airports for Restaurant Choice

With a restaurant score of 20/20, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is the airport to dine in on our list. From Pappadeaux Seafood Bar to the rustic flavors of Maggiano’s Little Italy, travelers can dine on a range of incredible cuisines from around the world – great news for anyone who skipped the in-flight meal.

In fact, the USA’s food offerings accounted for the top five places in our list, with Atlanta, New York, Denver, New Jersey, and Denver representing the States very well indeed.

The Best Airports for Customer Satisfaction

If strong customer service is what you look for in your airport experience, then Asia has got you covered. Four of the top 10, including Singapore, Seoul Incheon, Hong Kong, and Tokyo Haneda, were based in the continent, with Singapore and Seoul Incheon sharing the top spot. Singapore was especially singled out for praise. One reviewer noted: “intentionally sensitive to people’s needs”, while another gushed “[you’d] need a lifetime to explore the options here”.

Unfortunately, no US airports landed in the top 10 for customer satisfaction.

The USA’s Top 10 Luxury Airports

USA best luxury airports

With a total score of 60/100 each, both Dallas/Fort Worth and New York JFK share the top spot for the USA’s top luxury airports. Described as “amazing and iconic”, New York JFK came in for special praise, with customers singling out its retro-inspired design, numerous food options, and plentiful space.

The USA’s Top 5 Luxury Airports for Designer Shopping

usa luxury airport list

Although it wouldn’t touch the likes of Paris CDG, Hong Kong International, or the airports found in Milan and Rome, New York JFK still styled and profiled its way to the US’ top spot for designer shopping. If it’s a fresh wardrobe you’re looking for then the likes of BVLGARI, Cartier, and Kate Spade may be able to help with that.

The USA’s Top 5 Luxury Airports for Exclusive Lounges

Over on the West Coast, Los Angeles International Airport caters to travelers looking for some well-earned rest, scoring 16/20 for its number of airport lounges. Their Premium Lounges offer up plenty of peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of its more standard terminal lounges.

With shower and spa facilities on offer, they’re the perfect place to relax and unwind. Meanwhile, at the higher end of things, guests can make use of en-suite bedrooms and a mini cinema, or if you want to get the pulse racing, then why not pump some iron inside their gym area?

The USA’s Top 5 Cleanest Luxury Airports

Los Angeles comes out on top here too, though this time, it’s also sharing first place with Chicago, Denver, and Las Vegas, with all four scoring a more than respectable 15/20.

The USA’s Best Luxury Airports for Restaurant Choice

After its performance on the world stage, it’s no surprise that Dallas/Fort Worth offers the US’ best when it comes to restaurant choice, but overall, the top five generally serve up plenty of variety for guests looking to satisfy their hunger between slights. In particular, Newark’s Abruzzo Italian Steakhouse should satisfy even the most carnivorous of cravings.

Want to find out more about the world’s best luxury airports? Explore the results of our study in full below…

Glint: Luxury Airports Index (USA & World – US Copy)
Infogram

 

We hope our study into the world’s most luxurious airports inspires your travels in 2022 and beyond. If you’re looking for a safe, reliable, and affordable way to spend money while traveling, trust in Glint. Up to 6x cheaper than banks and with no hidden fees, the Glint Mastercard can be used in more than 150 countries – and all with no overseas ATM costs.
 
To learn more, visit our homepage.

Glint Special Report: Here’s your guide to FX Summer spending

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Special Report FX Summer

In the northern hemisphere temperatures are soaring (close to 40ᵒ in parts of Europe) so you’ll need to keep cool if you are sun-seeking. Glint helps you to keep your cool by giving you the freedom to use gold as money.

It also gives you the freedom to spend gold (or Dollars, Pounds or Euros) around the world at a very competitive rate: by our calculation, we’re up to 6 times cheaper than banks, and there are no hidden or disguised fees. You can use Glint to pay for products and services in shops, restaurants and online, anywhere in the world that takes Mastercard, at the best available rates (no mark-ups here) and with only a small 0.5% transaction fee. You no longer have to worry about the risk of losing significant sums of money from shifts in exchange rates. If you want to spend in local currency when travelling abroad, with Glint foreign exchange fees are just 0.5%, against high street bank charges in the UK of about 2% and foreign transaction fees in the US as high as 3%. Most UK credit cards add an extra 3% cost to the exchange rates banks themselves get. And if you need some extra cash when traveling abroad then you can withdraw up to £300 (or $300) per day from ATMs that accept Mastercard®, with only a small fee of £1.50 / $1.50 / €1.50 per withdrawal from Glint, which just covers our costs. Don’t forget these top tips:

• If you are asked if you would like to pay in your country’s currency or the currency of the country you are in, bag the latter – mostly it will be more cost-effective.

• You can turn your mobile phone into a sat-nav which you can use abroad by searching App stores for free maps before you go. For example the free Citymapper app helps navigate public transport in more than 100 cities around the world.

• Make sure your passport is valid – some countries demand it is valid for at least six months from arrival.

• Download before you go the Google Translate app, which will help you in more than 100 languages.

• Liquids are banned by airport security – but not food.

• Dress children in super bright colours so you can spot them more easily in a crowded airport.

• Save energy when you go away – make sure you switch off all those gadgets.

• Don’t forget your Glint card so that you can save (on bank fees) while you spend, as well as being able to choose to pay in gold for only 0.5% when travelling abroad or for free in your own country.

So, if you’re travelling don’t get hot and bothered with hidden charges – cool down with Glint!

Glint Special Report: Uncontrollable Inflation

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Special Report Inflation

So, inflation in the UK is now 9.1%, a fresh high in 40 years. What will it be soon? Probably 11% in October, says the Bank of England (BoE). “It’s our job to make sure inflation returns to our 2% target… we will take the actions necessary… to do this we have increased our interest rate from 0.1% to 1.25% since December 2021” says the BoE on its website. Cynics suggest that the inflation ‘target’ will soon double – 4 will be the new 2.

“I want people to be reassured that we have all the tools we need and the determination to reduce inflation and bring it back down” said Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, the man tasked with running the UK’s finances, after the latest inflation data was published.

Sunak is a politician; he knows how to trot out emollient words. But not only has he lost control over prices; he’s also lost control of the narrative. For the government does not have the tools; or at least it won’t be in a hurry to use them. Moreover, he is embarked on a policy of giving away £15 billion ($18.3 billion) to households to cushion the blow from high energy bills. He said he is “proud to say that around three-quarters of that total support will go to vulnerable households”. The other quarter who are not ‘vulnerable’ (which includes former Chancellors like Kenneth Clarke, who has said he doesn’t need it) will go into stoking inflation.

No-one under 40 knows what inflation this high is like. No-one under 40 knows what it takes to stifle very high inflation. Forty-three years ago (Rishi Sunak is 42) Britain elected an earlier Conservative government and Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. That government put interest rates up to an unimaginable 17%, and to 17.99% in 1980; it managed to stifle 1979’s inflation of 13.39%/year and, by 1983, inflation was approaching more tolerable levels, of 4.59% that year. Those high interest rates were unbelievably painful for mortgage-holders, people on welfare benefits, people on fixed incomes such as pensioners, and those who lacked the muscle to force a matching pay rise from employers. And the Pound since 1979 has lost 81% of its value.

Today, we have inflation at 9.1%, just 4.29% lower than in 1979, and yet interest rates of around 16% lower than in 1979. When Rishi Sunak says his government has the ‘determination’ to reduce inflation, one wonders who he is trying to kid. Are these the words of a serious person? Sunak seems to be a conventionally-minded economist, which means he believes that inflation can only be tamed by pushing interest rates higher than inflation – so if he is serious, he should perhaps press the BoE to raise its base rate to 10% (or slightly higher) immediately. Only Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, seems to think that inflation (now 70%/year in Turkey) can be quelled by cutting interest rates.

 

That inflation is now uncontrollable is obvious. Regulated energy tariffs are forecast to jump by 40% in October, costs paid by factories for materials and energy (a key determinant of prices paid by consumers in shops) are 22.1% higher than a year earlier, the biggest increase since these records began in 1985. Food price inflation in Britain is likely to hit 15% this summer, according to the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD). “We’re unlikely to see the cost of living pressures easing anytime soon… we are already seeing households skipping meals – a clear indictor of food stress”, said IGD chief economist James Walton. In April, the research company Kantar predicted the annual cost of supermarket shopping would rise by £270 ($331) this year but now estimates it will rise by £380 ($466). All this, without counting the inflationary costs of the ongoing war in Ukraine and Russia’s threat to halt gas deliveries to the European Union in retaliation for sanctions. Although Britain imported just 4% of the gas it used last year from Russia, any supply cut from Russia will push up international prices.

Why do we assert that Sunak isn’t serious when it comes to inflation? The reason is simple – Recession. If the BoE were to raise interest rates even close to where inflation is headed, the shock of that would throw the economy into an almighty recession, with massive job losses and collapsing businesses. This wouldn’t happen overnight – it wasn’t until 1984 that unemployment reached an all-time high of 11.9%, when interest rates were 9.5% in the UK.

The Conservative government will already be eyeing the next general election, just two years away. Sunak has at least two targets – increasing economic growth and engineering an exit from the current crisis that will secure a victory at the polls in 2024. With rejuvenated public sector trade unions, already angry that their members have seen no wage growth in the last decade, now queueing up to demand inflation-matching salary increases, he is likely to fail at both. The irony is that he is giving away £15 billion as a voter-placating gesture, but that huge sum will be forgotten very quickly.

So, what can ordinary people do to help protect their savings while governments experiment with ballot-boosting ways to control our economies? Obviously at Glint we don’t offer financial advice, but we are strong believers in putting our savings into gold. Gold has gradually increased in value by 500% since the 1970s, while the GB Pound and the US Dollar have lost over 85% of their purchasing power.

At Glint, we make every effort to demonstrate a balanced conversation between gold, crypto and fiat currencies when it comes to purchasing power and, while we strongly believe that gold is the fairest and most reliable currency on the planet, we need to point out that it isn’t 100% risk free. While we have seen a steady increase over time, the value of gold can fall, which means that its purchasing power can also decline.

Glint Special Report: US interest rates rise for first time since 2018

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Special Report US Interest Rates

• The US central bank confirmed market expectations by raising the main interest rate by 0.25%.
• US Federal Reserve funds rate is now 0.25%-0.50%.
• This might be the first of at least four further rate rises this year, and more in 2023.
• Borrowing costs for everything from credit cards to mortgages are headed higher.

 

In the past 12 months, the annual inflation rate in the US has moved from an official 2.62% to 7.9% – a 40-year high. Jerome Powell, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, and Janet Yellen, US Treasury Secretary, have shifted their narrative about inflation. A year ago they called it ‘transitory’. Yellen warned last week that Americans will probably see another year of what she called “uncomfortably high inflation”.

Putting up interest rates is a central bank’s main tool when it comes to trying to prevent inflation from spiraling beyond control. But this inflation is largely imported and probably beyond the control of anything the US Fed can do. The fall-out from the war in Ukraine has pushed energy and grains prices to record levels; China’s zero-Covid policy continues to disrupt supply chains. The risk is that making borrowing more expensive could throw the US economic recovery off-course, while failing to cool red-hot prices. According to a note to clients from Bank of America, for the US “economic growth and profit expectations are recessionary”. Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has Tweeted that the “entire global economy will feel the economic ‘ripple effects’ of the war in Ukraine, with slower growth and faster inflation”.

It’s commonly held that rising US interest rates are bearish for gold, but in fact there is little correlation between interest rates and the gold price; the 1980s saw declining interest rates and a bear market in gold, while in much of the 1970s gold prices rose, in tandem with rising interest rates. According to the World Gold Council, there is usually a negative correlation between gold and interest rates. Higher interest rates are thought to push gold lower because of increased competition from higher-yielding investments.

Gold has traditionally been regarded as a safe haven asset at times of intense uncertainty and anxiety, such as now. The Dollar price hit $2,070 after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine; Goldman Sachs has raised its price forecast for gold to $2,500 over the next six months, $450 higher than previously. Glint, the global gold-based payments platform makes gold easier: simpler to access, simpler to share and for the first time ever, a viable option to spend.

While we strongly believe that gold is the fairest and most reliable currency on the planet, we must point out that it isn’t 100% risk free. We have seen a steady increase over time but the value of gold can fall, which means the purchasing power of the customer can also fall.

Jason Cozens, Founder & CEO of Glint, says: “The markets have long been expecting this interest rate rise by the US Federal Reserve. This rate rise is probably just the first in a sequence that will push the US base rate to 2%, which historically is still a very low level. The Fed is in a very uncomfortable place. If it tightens credit and the money supply the US might face a severe recession; if it doesn’t, it may be criticized for failing to address inflation – even though the causes of this inflation lay beyond its shores”.

“We are living through deeply troubling and uncertain times. The Dollar’s status as the international reserve currency has been further chipped away by the news that Saudi Arabia may price some of the oil it sells to China in Yuan”.

“Gold will become increasingly important as an alternative to fiat currencies; the turbulence of today merely reinforces that. Glint has a vision of a global, gold-based alternative to banking, payments and money. We have the capacity and opportunity to build a significantly scalable financial eco-system, connected to, but outside of the existing banking and cryptocurrency systems”.

 

ENDS

 

Press information

About Glint
At a time of extraordinary monetary policy and when trust in currencies, banks and existing payment systems has been eroded, Glint helps us move to a more stable global economy. Glint is bringing reliability, independence, choice, and control to clients, by reintroducing the most universally trusted form of money, Gold.

Glint Pay Ltd. (glintpay.com) is a fintech company, based in London, Boulder (US) and Tokyo, that uses gold as an alternative global currency to enable its clients instantly to buy, sell, save, spend, and send their physical gold and other currencies, through the Glint Mastercard® and Glint App.

Glint offers no credit facilities, it allows users to transfer, receive and save real gold, which is secured in Brink’s vaults in Switzerland.

Glint is able to issue cards to clients around the world and can open accounts in over 200 countries. With more than 90,000 registered users, Glint has completed over $300million worth of transactions to date.

Glint is authorised and regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority which has given permission for Glint to issue electronic money (e-money) and provide payment services (FRN 900657).

Gold is not regulated by the FCA. However, Glint’s clients know their gold is secured in a Brinks Vault in Switzerland, insured by Brinks with Lloyds of London and their policy covers the replacement value of Glint client’s Gold as held in their vault.

The Glint card is issued in the UK by Glint Pay Services Ltd pursuant to licence by Mastercard International Inc.

Glint is a U.S.-based authorized Card Program Manager. Funds are held at Sutton Bank, Member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), in an FDIC-insured account.

Glint Pay Inc. employs effective Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT), and fraud prevention systems and controls to mitigate and combat risks.

Whilst we strongly believe that gold is the fairest and most reliable currency on the planet, we obviously need to point out that it isn’t 100% risk free. Whilst we have seen a steady increase over time, the value of gold can fall, which means the purchasing power of the customer can also fall.

 

Glint Special Report: Cryptos tumble as gold soars

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Cryptos Gold Special Report

3.8% increase last week sees Gold break through $1900, pushing new highs.

Is it time you topped up?

Right now, we are witnessing a perfect storm in world economics. We have crippling inflation, currently 7% in the US, 5% in the UK and rising; we are witnessing unprecedented geopolitical unrest with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine seeing major cryptos plummet over night.

And what is gold doing? Gold is performing in the way that we have trusted it to behave for millennia; when things get tough, we see savvy savers putting their money somewhere safe, the hedge against inflation that helps protect their savings. Gold.

Last week gold smashed through the $1900 barrier and some pundits are saying that it will keep climbing past the $2000 high of 2020.

Here at Glint, we would never dream of offering you financial advice, but it might be worth you thinking about your savings right now. Could liquid, allocated gold with Glint be a better place for you to put your money than watching its value being frittered away, sitting in the bank?

It’s so quick, safe and easy to add funds to your Glint account and buy Gold in the Glint app.

Click here to follow some simple instructions to get you started.

At Glint, we make every effort to demonstrate a balanced conversation between gold, crypto and fiat currencies when it comes to purchasing power and, while we strongly believe that gold is the fairest and most reliable currency on the planet, we need to point out that it isn’t 100% risk free. While we have seen a steady increase over time, the value of gold can fall, which means that its purchasing power can also decline.

Glint Special Report: Sound money and social stability

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We see Glint as the key to unlocking the security of gold as sound money, money that can be used by everyone in their daily life. While gold goes up and down in price, over time it has proved a reliable store of value.

Thus, we are always on the look-out for cogent, intelligent and persuasive articles which give a provocative analysis of the current practices of central banks, those bodies which have the most profound influence over our fiat money system.

For that reason, we are delighted to publish here today an essay by Geoff Blanning. In his ‘Put the tools away now, please’ Geoff, who worked in the City for 32 years as an investment manager, savages the quantitative easing policy pursued by the Bank of England (and other central banks) and warns that the creation of vast amounts of new money “represents a debasement of every existing pound in your pocket and mine”. Geoff lays out how higher inflation inevitably follows the extraordinary amount of new money which has been injected into the global system.

Read Geoff Blanning’s ‘Put the tools away now, please’  White Paper here:
https://glintpay.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Geoffrey-Blanning-Put-the-tools-away-now-please.pdf

Listen to the podcast here on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3QQoOfUpMqozX1Am2VoLRo

Watch our YouTube film here: https://youtu.be/qcUg1OSu8xk

Glint Special Report: Saving in Gold gets new buyers into their homes faster

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The struggle to buy your first home is almost a universal experience; as with many things, the first step is usually the hardest. Once you’re on the housing ladder then you can enjoy the benefits of home ownership for the rest of your life, however, securing the deposit needed to get on the first rung is notoriously difficult and, for some, almost unattainable.

Some experts believe that we’re in the midst of a housing bubble. In the UK, the average house price jumped 13.2% over the last year to over £260,000, despite the freeze on Stamp Duty (the government tax on house sales) ending. Currently, UK house prices are around 30% higher than the peak before the 2008 financial crisis.

In the US, house prices are rising at the fastest rate in 30 years – up 18.6% in a year according to the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller national home price index – driven by ultra-low mortgage rates and record levels of borrowing which has hit $4.6tn over the last 12 months.

With prices rocketing, first-time buyers could be forgiven for thinking the situation is hopeless and that home ownership will forever remain out of reach. ‘Generation Rent’ (young adults between 18 and 40) faces an uncertain future of unstable tenancies, spiralling rents and a lack of security which all collude to make it increasingly difficult, sometimes even impossible, to save enough to reach that crucial amount required for a deposit.

Research from the British bank Halifax recently revealed that the average UK deposit sits at £59,000 or around a quarter of the average house price. A staggering amount considering the average annual salary is around £31,000!

In the US, Federal Reserve Economic Data indicates that the average house price is $434,200 – if prospective homebuyers need an average deposit of 12% of the house price (as indicated by the National Association of Realtors) then they’d have to save over $52,000. This equates to 118% of the average income for men in the US, and 177% of the average annual income for women (according to U.S. Census Bureau).

12 years to save for a UK deposit but gold can provide first-time buyers with the tantalising prospect of home ownership 4 years sooner

Our research shows that if UK first-time buyers saved 20% of their salary it would take 12 years to save up the average house deposit. Of course, the issue is that as house prices soar by the time you’ve reached your target for a deposit, that amount is no longer enough to purchase the home you were saving toward.

Rather than accepting this as a depressing fact of life, there are alternative ways to save towards a deposit. Cryptocurrencies have enjoyed a surge in popularity since the Covid-19 pandemic began, particularly amongst Millennials. However, the volatility of cryptos ensures that these assets are not viable long-term stores of value. For example, double-digit overnight drops in value are far from unheard of; savers could see the value of their deposit plummet in the hours before finalising a property purchase. Of increasing concern are the reports of the reluctance of some lenders to approve mortgage applications of borrowers whose deposit has originated from crypto returns – some applications have apparently even been rejected outright.

Gold can unlock access to home ownership for first-time buyers. Rather than having to struggle for 12 years to gather a deposit, saving in gold would have allowed savers to reach their goal for a deposit in just 8 years, a third quicker than through cash savings.

Over the last 20 years, UK house prices have increased by 175% from £96,500 in 2001 to £266,000 today. Over the same period gold prices have risen much more quickly, up 559% from $275 to $1,812 per troy ounce, indicating that savers could have secured a house deposit much sooner by investing and saving in gold.

In the US, house prices have also seen a huge spike over the last 20 years – jumping 109% from $207,800 in 2001 to $434,200 today (according to Federal Reserve Economic Data). Again, while a huge jump, the growth in house prices is outperformed by the rise in the gold price.

Gold offers a solution in the US too. Our research indicates that to afford the average US house deposit of $52,100, male first-time buyers need to save for an average of six years, whilst female first-time buyers are forced to save for up to nine years. Analysis of historic gold prices shows that this deposit could be reached a year earlier, if prospective buyers saved in gold instead of cash.

How does gold compare to investments? Pretty well. In fact, gold has outperformed many other traditional investments, including the FTSE 100. These are the UK’s most profitable companies, yet shares have only increased by 29% in the last 20 years, from 5,537 to 7,151. Although the FTSE 250 has seen huge growth since 2001, up 296%, again gold has fared better over that period. By way of comparison, the performance of the FTSE 350 over the last 20 years is much closer to the FTSE 100 rather than the 250 – jumping 65% during that time.

US stock exchanges have seen much more substantial growth over the last 20 years. However, performance still lags significantly behind the rise in gold prices. Here’s a look at how the largest exchanges have performed since 2001:
• NYSE has jumped 137% from 7,094 to 16,846
• Dow Jones Industrial Average up 220% from 11,048 to 35,312
• Nasdaq soared 304% from 3,787 to 15,309

Clearly, gold has outperformed other assets over the last 20 years. While the value of gold can decline, meaning that its purchasing power can also decline, it has proven its reliability as a long-term store of value and prices are steadily climbing back to the highs of last year. Previously, access to gold was extremely limited but the digitalisation of gold through Glint has unlocked its access, offering all consumers a viable means of saving for the future.

The same trend is clear since the financial crisis too. Although house prices in both the UK and US have increased by more than 50% since 2008, gold prices have soared 147% over the same period. Gold has also dramatically outperformed many other investments over the long-term, including the FTSE 100, which has risen by around 75% since the crisis. In the US, exchanges such as Nasdaq have enjoyed huge growth since the lows of the financial crisis, driven by the meteoric rise of the tech powerhouses including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Tesla. This growth may have skewed the figures in favour of the US exchanges but the simple fact remains – gold has risen much more quickly than house prices.

Gold could be the answer for those looking for an alternative to the seemingly fruitless task of saving for a deposit. Rather than swimming against the tide, investing in and holding gold could be the answer to make your dream home a reality much sooner than expected.

 

Glint Special Report: Jobs are up but so is inflation – how should central banks react?

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It’s been a busy week in the UK so far with several government announcements indicating exactly where we are in terms of our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Firstly, some positive news – the unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.8% but there were green shoots in terms of the jobs market with 657,000 vacancies, up by almost 50,000 on the previous quarter. Positive signs of recovery, at least in the jobs market. But that’s about it for good news, I’m afraid.

A closer look suggests that there is still a long way to go. We’re still far behind pre-pandemic levels with around 750,000 fewer people in employment than this time 12 months ago. In the US, the employment level is 10 million jobs below its pre-pandemic level.

Once again, the younger generation has been hit hardest with 289,000 fewer employees under the age of 25 on the payroll than 12 months ago – largely due to the higher proportions of workers from this demographic in the catastrophically hit sectors of hospitality, leisure and retail. This generation is at serious risk of being further left behind and the financial inequality that is already prevalent will only worsen.

We all knew the Covid recovery would take time so these figures, whilst still concerning, unfortunately aren’t that surprising. The biggest worry is the latest round of inflation figures as well as central banks’ acceptance of what appears to be rapidly rising inflation and their seeming reluctance to do anything about it.

In the UK, inflation more than doubled to 1.5% last month and there are signs that not only will we surpass the Bank of England’s 2% target this year, we’ll even hit 2.5%. In the US, expectations for consumer price inflation now range between 3% and 6%.

Last week, we also saw inflation figures from the world’s two largest economies. Unfortunately, these also made concerning reading – inflation rises in both the US (4.2% – discussed in more detail in last week’s newsletter) and China (0.9% although they have a target of 3% this year) meant that consumers are facing price hikes at the precise moment that they are beginning to rebuild after the pandemic. In China, there is potential for far worse to come as producer prices increased 6.8% over a year, the fastest rise since October 2017 – as the largest producer globally, there should be real concern if these increased costs are passed on to consumers.

As long as inflation continues to rise without intervention from central banks, consumers and savers will be hit. In the UK at least, the conversation around the introduction of negative interest rates won’t die down; add the £300bn borrowed to struggle through the Covid-19 pandemic and continuing quantitative easing to this climate of historically low interest rates and we have a perfect storm which devalues our cash and our savings by the day. According to the National Audit Office the UK has spent £372 billion so far on measures designed to combat the impact of Covid-19.

It’s difficult to see how central banks will rescue the situation, especially as there appears to be little to no inclination to increase interest rates. This reluctance isn’t surprising; there is fear of the markets sliding even further and interest rate rises could snuff out the embryonic economic recovery. However, the time to act is now before another generation is financially crippled for life.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen might still think that there isn’t an inflationary problem, but she may soon be the only one.

With all the above factors in place, and central banks’ apparent disregard for the financial welfare of consumers, it’s no wonder that alternative currencies have flourished in recent months as consumers and savers search for value. Markets are down, ISAs offer minuscule interest; where else can we turn? Cryptocurrencies may have grabbed the headlines but, ever since Elon Musk’s hint that Tesla may sell its Bitcoin holding sent prices crashing across the crypto market, the average consumer will be understandably cautious about investing in such volatile assets. By comparison, although the value of gold can decline, it is up 11% in just six weeks and whilst still below last summer’s peak this appears to be the perfect opportunity for it to remind us all why it has been the ultimate long-term store of value for centuries.

 

Glint Special Report: Bitcoin vs Gold – who won The Great Debate?

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Like many of you, we were glued to the Bitcoin vs Gold debate between industry heavyweights Michael Saylor (Bitcoin Billionaire) and Frank Giustra (Gold Billionaire). As expected, it was a fascinating discussion, with plenty of insight to digest.

The debate covered a huge range of key issues and arguments; we’ve reviewed and analysed some of the big talking points – as well as highlighting some of the major points that weren’t mentioned.

Asset comparison

According to Michael Saylor, Bitcoin is secure and possesses many of the characteristics of monetary gold, but without its “defects”. This echoes the classic standpoint of Bitcoin as “new” or “digital” gold and its devotees will undoubtedly believe this encapsulates the entire argument in just one pithy phrase.

Frank Giustra, on the other hand, clearly doesn’t. He makes a point we’ve demonstrated on these pages many times over the last few years – Bitcoin has never been tested in a crisis, whereas gold has been valued, relied upon and trusted as both a means of saving as well as money, for centuries. Gold has stood the test of time.

Giustra also questions whether Bitcoin will be accepted as a mainstream method of payment. Whilst Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are easily accessible as a store of value, it’s much more difficult to actually spend them. Whilst some of the world’s largest retailers and companies do accept payment in Bitcoin and the number is growing, it’s still very uncommon to be able to use cryptos with smaller businesses. Until this changes, Bitcoin isn’t a viable alternative as a means of everyday exchange, he argues.

There are two other major factors that are likely to prevent Bitcoin from establishing itself as an everyday currency – slow transaction processing times and high fees. Bitcoin has only been able to process a maximum of seven transactions per second and there are many factors which can slow down transactions – taking as long as five days in 2018. In terms of fees, Bitcoin transactions are prohibitively expensive – the average fee over the last week is around $45, meaning that it is an unviable option for most everyday purchases… imagine spending $5 on a coffee and being hit with ‘gas’ fees of $45!

Risk factors

As Frank Giustra highlighted, quantifying the risks of Bitcoin is hugely important. Whilst we all know that investments can fall in value as well as increase, Bitcoin can sometimes be positioned as an almost risk-free asset – this is very dangerous, especially as it is such an attractive proposition for private investors.

However, as Giustra pointed out, Bitcoin shouldn’t be worried about gold; “central banks are the ones you need to look out for”. This is a crucial point that we’ve raised here many times. Governments need to control their currency, making ownership of cryptocurrencies illegal could easily happen. We’ve already seen it in China and India is once again looking to ban Bitcoin. What would be the impact of this? It is likely to curtail Bitcoin to the point where only a minority use it. This could have a catastrophic impact on its value and the portfolios of its holders.

On a related note, Bitcoin is unregulated. It is the wild west of global currencies; this doesn’t put off investors, in fact for many the lack of regulation is another advantage of Bitcoin (our debate preview delved into regulatory details). However, this also makes it very attractive to manipulators as well as another potential threat to governments – PayPal Founder Peter Thiel recently went as far as describing it as a “Chinese financial weapon”.

Once again, taxation is key. Governments won’t want to risk losing out on potentially billions in tax revenues whilst an unregulated, anonymous currency like Bitcoin flourishes. Many believe it is inevitable that central banks will look to control or curtail cryptos – in the UK, we’ve recently seen clear signs of this as the Bank of England announced the launch of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) taskforce; what is a CBDC if not an attempt to intervene in the digital currency arena?

Historical performance

No one questions the longevity of gold and its role as currency throughout moments of monumental change throughout history. However, Bitcoiners often claim that gold has had its time and suggest it is no longer fit for purpose – this is incorrect as Glint’s payments ecosystem allows gold to be spent as an everyday currency whilst also performing its timeless role as a store of value.

Saylor claims that Bitcoin has matured as an asset and is appreciating at 200% per year. This seems unsustainable – Giustra suggests as much by remarking how it “sounds more like a bubble environment than a store of value”. Whilst Saylor claims that Bitcoin is an asset rather than a currency – which should be held over the long-term – what happens if this does turn out to be a bubble?

Regardless of the hugely impressive recent performance of Bitcoin, there is one irrefutable point – Bitcoin has not been tested over the long-term and has not been around long enough to demonstrate its viability as a store of value.

Supply dynamics

Saylor made one particularly revealing comment during the debate: “Gold is a commodity, Bitcoin is a scarcity”. This provides a fascinating insight into how he, and no doubt, many other Bitcoiners, view gold’s position. Gold is a finite resource, we cannot simply create more of it – this is part of its intrinsic value and why it has been viewed by many as a trusted and reliable asset for thousands of years.

On the other hand, Bitcoin is created by humans. There may only be 21 million coins in existence but who’s to say this cannot change? History is full of surprises that were seemingly impossible, until they happened. By its very nature, Bitcoin is subject to human intervention and at risk of corruption – whether that is caused by the best intentions or through malign forces.
This poses an interesting question, does the supply dynamics of Bitcoin prevent its use as a currency? We’ll find out soon enough.

Ownership

Gold ownership is widely spread amongst people around the world. The world’s central banks only own 17% of the world’s gold.

The complete opposite is true of Bitcoin. A recent Bloomberg article revealed that 95% of Bitcoin’s market cap was owned by only 2% of wallets; even if the figure is lower (71.5% according to other research), these ‘whales’ hold undue influence over the asset and can impact its already high volatility – 75% to 125% compared to 8-20% for gold.

One of the most telling points made during the debate was Giustra’s anecdotal suggestion that Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, sees little real institutional investment in Bitcoin. It will be fascinating to see if this changes over time.

Market forces

“None of us have experienced an investment climate like today” – Giustra’s words certainly put 2021 into context. This supports his message to private investors of the importance of diversification. And for many, gold is the ultimate hedge in times of uncertainty.

Of course, more big-tech and finance companies are embracing Bitcoin – Tesla being one of the highest profile recent institutional investors. Saylor clearly believes that this is only likely to accelerate in the future. However, as Giustra highlights, Bitcoin isn’t owned by any central banks and it is highly debatable that it would become a reserve currency. This is partly down to a need for control and is one of the motivations behind the development of CDBCs.

Bitcoin appears to be behaving like a growth stock, time will tell how it performs over the long term.

Glint’s view

As expected, it was a forthright and hugely insightful debate, but the panel missed out on the opportunity to cover some crucial topics. Some of these we discussed in our preview earlier this week.

Firstly, it is a shame that the discussion focussed on the two assets as a store of value and offered little in terms of gold as a means of exchange. Giustra believes that gold is no longer used as everyday money, whilst Saylor even claimed it is a myth that gold is money – the opposite is exactly what Glint offers with its global payments ecosystem allowing clients to spend, save and share real gold through our app and Glint Mastercard®.

Also, the scalability of gold as a currency wasn’t discussed. Through the digitalisation of gold with Glint, instant and secure cross-border payments in real gold are possible at the touch of a screen, these don’t require huge amounts of energy either, which is often one of the main criticisms of Bitcoin.

Finally, gold is increasingly relevant to younger consumers – recent research from the Royal Mint shows a 32% increase in millennials turning to gold. Through Glint, gold can now be used in the same way as many cryptocurrencies – traded, spent and sent to friends and family. We’re working hard to develop a payments alternative that positions gold as a relevant and viable currency for the 21st century.

Special Report: The debate of the year – Gold vs Bitcoin with Frank Giustra & Michael Saylor

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Like all proponents of alternative currencies, we’re eagerly awaiting the much-hyped debate between billionaire goldbug Frank Giustra and billionaire Bitcoiner Michael Saylor on gold vs bitcoin to be streamed live on the Stansberry Research YouTube channel!

Gold is a currency, occupying the same position as cryptocurrencies; after all, they have the same common enemy – fiat currencies; they share the same mission, to provide a reliable alternative to government-backed money. Both gold (used as a currency and digitally with Glint’s bespoke app and Mastercard®) and cryptos such as Bitcoin, are alternative global currencies allowing consumers to take greater control over their finances and help protect their purchasing power over the long-term.

Currently, the financial system punishes us all; through a combination of low interest rates, rising inflation, record-high government borrowing and continuing quantitative easing, the value of national currencies erodes, hitting our savings and the lasting value of our money.

Whilst the value of gold can obviously decline, as we’ve seen since its summer peak last year, the fundamentals that ensure that gold is seen by many as a more reliable long-term store of value remain in place – gold prices are up almost 50% over the last five years, despite the recent dip.

Glint has enabled gold to be used as everyday money all over the world via electronic payments. Thanks to Glint’s fast and secure platform, gold can now, not only be used to save for the future, but it can also be spent on a daily basis, anywhere in the world using your Glint Mastercard® or increasingly with Glint’s direct peer to peer (P2P) transfer, Glint it!

Bitcoin’s recent performance has obviously been hugely impressive – it’s up over 600% on the year – however, there is huge volatility which can impact its viability as an everyday currency. Bitcoin’s volatility lies between 75% to 125% compared to 8-20% for gold.

This volatility is also enhanced as around 95% of all Bitcoin is controlled by just 2% of accounts, meaning that the ‘whales’ have undue influence on the performance and value of the currency. Other research suggests 2% of ‘whales’ control 71.5% of Bitcoin, even taking this lower figure into account, ownership is hugely disproportionate.

In addition, the high transaction fees of purchases with Bitcoin – the average fee for a Bitcoin transaction in the last 7 days is over $45 – suggest that it is of limited use as an everyday currency in its current format. By comparison, Glint’s Mastercard® and Glint it! transfer and payments transactions are free to our users – although we do charge a small fee on some services such as currency exchange, or for taking cash from an ATM.

 

Let us compare some of the key characteristics of both gold and Bitcoin.

CONCENTRATED OWNERSHIP

Gold

Gold ownership is widely spread amongst people around the world. The world’s central banks only own 17% of the world’s gold.

Bitcoin

95% of the market cap of Bitcoin is held by only 2% of Bitcoin wallets – even if it is less than this – 71.5% according to some research – this is creating a new generation of oligarchs (the initial coin holders) to replace the old.

 

SCALABILITY & SPEED

Gold

Glint has enabled gold to be used in payments and unlike Bitcoin, transactions are fast – within 200ms, this can be maintained regardless of volume of transactions. The transfer of gold ownership from one Glint wallet to another is therefore scalable.

Bitcoin

The bigger the Bitcoin network gets the slower it is likely to become – there are variety of causes from congestion to increased block size. Bitcoin can take days for transactions to be confirmed when busy: 5 days in 2018. Plus, since its launch, Bitcoin has only been able to process a maximum of 7 transactions per second.

Although the Lightning Network is designed to speed up transaction processing times, there are still issues with fees as each transaction can be subject to several fees.

 

REGULATION

Gold

For thousands of years, gold has been accepted as both a currency and as store of value, with a long-established position within the financial system. Gold is used as money and stored by central banks. In the UK, Glint is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011, for the issuing of electronic money (FRN 900657). Gold is not regulated by the FCA.

In the US, Glint is a U.S.-based authorized Card Program Manager. Funds are held at Sutton Bank, Member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), in an FDIC-insured account. Glint Pay Inc. employs effective Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT), and fraud prevention systems and controls to mitigate and combat risks.

Bitcoin

All cryptocurrencies are likely to face increased regulation. In the US, recently there has been the SEC lawsuit against Ripple and previous comments from Janet Yellen have focused on the need to curtail Bitcoin to stop illicit financing. Globally, Bitcoin is already banned in China, and India has drafted legislation to ban digital currencies once again. The viability of Bitcoin as a currency and store of value could be called into question if more countries follow China.

 

DECENTRALISATION

Decentralisation is freedom from government control and influence. It can refer to the means of exchange as well as the ledger or even ownership.

Gold

Gold is centralised, which means because of its physical nature it cannot be easily stolen if it is stored in a secure and insured vault. Its means of exchange is centralised which has benefits as it means that it cannot be hacked digitally.

Glint’s clients know their gold is secured in a Brinks Vault in Switzerland. Brinks is insured by Lloyds of London and their policy covers the replacement value of Glint client’s Gold as held in their vault.

Gold is not concentrated in one particular country – in terms of both mining and ownership (see above). Gold is mined in many countries – the World Gold Council provides data on gold production for over 40 countries – and although China is the largest producer in the world, it accounts for around 11% of the global total.

 

Bitcoin

The Bitcoin community see the decentralised nature of Bitcoin as one of its main strengths that define its value, however the perceived independence that decentralisation gives is misplaced because:
• Blockchain: The distributed ledger is inherent to Bitcoin’s nature. However, although a distributed ledger has some benefits it is of less use when the nature and value of the currency is centralised.

• Although Blockchain is in place, people increasingly buy Bitcoin through exchanges which use centralised ledgers.

• Bitcoin miners are centralised in physical premises that rely on centralised human /energy resources. This means that there is a risk that they could be shut down by governments easily – for example, around 65% of Bitcoin mining originates from China. Government intervention could cause huge issues on a global scale and lead to price increases in mining costs as well as devaluation of Bitcoin.

 

• There is a risk that governments could severely curtail Bitcoin to the point where it loses its ambitions to become a global alternative currency – currently Bitcoin can remain anonymous, while this is the case, increased regulation and state interference could be more likely.

Bitcoin exchanges which have seen huge thefts via hacking. E.g. clients of Mt.Gox lost over 850,000 Bitcoin in 2014. Last year, a data breach saw the personal details of 270,000 crypto users published online.

 

ENERGY CONSUMPTION

Gold

Many gold mining companies adhere to the World Gold Council’s Responsible Gold Mining Principles, which cover ESG criteria for the industry, including environmental topics such as water management and climate change.

Gold is created naturally. Once a unit of gold is mined and extracted, it does not consume further energy and can be transacted or used as a store of value without detriment to the planet.

Bitcoin

Cambridge University have calculated that operating and maintaining the Bitcoin blockchain and its transactions requires extremely large amounts of energy estimated to be the equivalent of that used by a country of over 200m people, around 3 times the UK population.

Bitcoin requires mining and therefore considerable energy consumption for not just creation but all transactions. Currently, 60% of Bitcoin mining originates in China, with a huge carbon footprint – expected to hit 130.50 million metric tons of carbon emission by 2024.

 

ANONYMITY

Gold

Physical gold can be transferred anonymously. Physical gold can be taken across borders, although with be subject to customs checks and restrictions.

However, digital gold through Glint isn’t anonymous. All Glint customers have their identity verified in line with global laws relating to financial crime.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin wallets can remain anonymous if the holder wishes to ensure this. This means that instant payments between accounts remain anonymous and can be untraceable. These payments can also be borderless.

This can be viewed as a threat to government and suggests that increased regulation and state intervention is likely to control or curtail Bitcoin.

 

STOOD THE TEST OF TIME

Gold

Gold has been used as money for at least 3,000 years. It has survived as money and a medium of exchange through the greatest of disruptions including world wars, dramatic leaps in technology, government intervention as well as seismic shifts in social frameworks and politics. Over time, gold has proven to be a reliable hedge against inflation and uncertainty.

The nature of anything defined by human beings is subject to corruption, sometimes with the best intent. Gold is created naturally and is a finite resource – this is part of its intrinsic value.

Bitcoin

As yet, Bitcoin has not had to face any of these challenges and is therefore untested over time.
Whether you’re a goldbug or a Bitcoiner, it’s sure to be a fascinating debate.

 

Register HERE to watch live on the Stansberry Research YouTube channel.