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Category: Inspiration

Around the campfire: Harry and Meghan’s big day out

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Anyone who watched all four seasons of the Netflix drama The Crown will have seen a dysfunctional family in full spate. Very few would willingly join such a family, or ‘the firm’ as the Royals call it.

Poor Harry was born into dysfunctionality, but Meghan volunteered for it. Love is blind, they say. Since the Harry + Meghan show relocated to California mutual accusations have criss-crossed the Atlantic – hints of Meghan’s bullying of her staff by the Palace, suggestions by her of racism at the heart of ‘the firm’…this could run and run. The Crown’s scriptwriters are probably rubbing their hands with glee.

Meanwhile, Prince Philip has been hospitalised with heart problems. The Queen is in her 94th year. It’s all starting to feel like another annus horribilis, which is how the Queen described 1992 after that year’s sequence of unpleasant events for ‘the firm’.

Will this internal struggle, playing out on a TV near you, damage the monarchy’s standing? Last December a YouGov poll found that while 67% of Brits (and 84% of over-65s) want to keep the monarchy, just 21% would prefer an elected head of state. But many would like to see Prince William leapfrog Prince Charles and become the next monarch.

Tantrums in a teacup, you say. There are much bigger issues – the return of kids to school this week, and the paradoxical possibility of there being an upsurge in influenza cases (which kills around 11,000 people in England every year) later this year because there have been almost no infections thanks to the Covid-19 lockdowns. Like Meghan, we might be asking ourselves, ‘will we ever be free again?’ Britain has had the tightest lockdown in the developed world in this ‘second wave’; each additional week of lockdown costs taxpayers £6 billion according to the Adam Smith Institute.

That’s almost enough to fund Boris Johnson’s latest wizard scheme, a White House –style ‘situation centre’ in the basement of the Cabinet Office costing £9 billion (minus overrun costs). The ‘SitCen’ is due to open this summer. It will be the government’s ‘command bunker’ for emergencies such as terrorist attacks or pandemics.

It used to be said of Labour governments that they were ‘tax and spend’ machines. It’s starting to look like Conservative governments are no different. As we face a £2 trillion national debt, tax rises are already starting to happen. Inflation is cooked into the cake. The Harry + Meghan episode signals a further erosion of stability – what we have known and lived with for decades past is fast changing.

In this increasingly uncertain world, where both money and monarchy are besieged, gold-as-money, thanks to Glint, may well help you provide a shelter from the storm.

Until next week.

Jason

Around the campfire: Heathrow taxes you

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As schools are poised to re-open in the UK, many people are thinking about when they might be able to travel again without breaking the law or being required to go into a two-week quarantine. UK households are also in the fortunate position of being able to afford a break – the Bank of England says that in January alone this year households stashed £18.5 billion into bank accounts as they saved cash they might otherwise have spent on restaurants, retailers and other businesses. That’s a lot of cash – the six months to February 2020 saw them save a monthly average of £4.8 billion.

This week’s UK Budget avoided any hasty measure to claw back some of the £407 billion that has been (and is being) spent on dealing with the pandemic. Meanwhile, the private sector is already making stealthy hikes to try to recover all the losses it made last year.

Take Heathow Airport. In 2019, almost 81 million people passed through Heathrow; last year traffic collapsed by 73% and just 22.1 million used Heathrow. Heathrow lost £2 billion last year. Heathrow is owned and operated by BAA Limited, which itself is owned by an international group led by the Spanish transport company Ferrovial.

Heathrow has just said it is now adding a new charge to all outbound flights. It calls this extra charge a “United Kingdom Exceptional Regulatory Charge”. All passengers now flying from Heathrow will find themselves paying an extra £8.90. This will go on the bill to airlines, who will no doubt pass it onto their passengers. Even if only 50 million passengers take an outward bound flight, Heathrow will gain an extra £45 million. In July 2019, the union Unite threatened a strike over a refusal to award them a 4.5% increase; meanwhile, the CEO, John Holland-Kaye, got a 103% pay rise, taking him to £4.2 million.

Will other UK airports start charging this Covid-loss tax? They say not, but as passenger numbers collapsed everywhere, it must be tempting.

Passengers will no doubt meekly accept this tax – a tenner on the cost of a seat, it doesn’t ‘feel’ like a lot. That’s the nature of taxes – a little bit here and there and one hardly notices. But having imposed it, will this Covid-19 surcharge ever be removed? I doubt it. Covid-19 (or variants thereof) will no doubt always be with us, and so will the flight surcharge/s. Taxes stick around longer than their original justification. You should think yourselves lucky there’s no flu seat surcharge.

Income tax was first introduced in the UK in 1799 – and was then regarded as a ‘temporary measure’ to cover the cost of wars against Napoleon. Repealed in 1816 after the Battle of Waterloo it was reintroduced in 1842 by Sir Robert Peel to deal with a massive public deficit. Income tax is still a ‘temporary’ tax; it’s just automatically renewed each year on 5 April as part of the annual Finance Bill.

The UK now has a welfare state in which the bills for all kinds of public ‘services’ are shouldered by the government, i.e. by the taxpayer. Governments everywhere have pumped – whether freshly printed or borrowed the effect is the same – trillions of dollars into the financial system. This is a very peculiar time. The world economy has been at a standstill for a year, yet the price of a barrel of oil is now almost what it was in September 2019, pre-pandemic.

So who says that inflation is not a worry? All kinds of ‘extras’ are now being charged; hundreds of pounds for a Covid-19 test before you fly and now a tax on your seat from Heathrow. With oil prices now almost as high as they were pre-pandemic, the costs of everything are rising. When I next travel from Heathrow I will be taking my Glint card, ready to pay the next Covid-price gouge in gold.

Until next week.

Jason

Around the campfire: Unlocking the gates – very slowly

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As governments around the world start to unlock their gates the penalties of mass incarceration are being felt – from schoolchildren to their parents, the disruption has been devastating.

In England, it was only Monday that the government announced its plans for the unlocking of the country, in four drawn-out stages, the last “no earlier than 21 June”, when all legal limits will be removed on mixing and the last sectors to remain closed, such as nightclubs, will be allowed to re-open.

My nightclubbing days are past but I could do with some sun – which, given this is rainy and overcast England, probably means travelling overseas. My skill at table-tennis has vastly improved during my home incarceration but I still don’t qualify as an “elite sportsperson”, one of the categories permitted to travel according to government rules.

Going overseas will not be allowed before 17 May, although the rules are a little confusing. We are promised that a government report on international travel rules will be published on 12 April. I can’t wait.

But despite the opacity about when we will be permitted to get some foreign sun, EasyJet’s international holiday bookings surged by 600% (over the previous week) the day after the government signalled it was easing its restrictions.

The patchwork of rules permitting what can and cannot be done is much more complicated in the US, but at least the majority of US states are open for business.

And even though we might be freed to travel internationally by June, hurdles will still need to be jumped – booking a flight and hotel, grabbing your passport and stepping on a plane is clearly going to be a distant memory. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association of the world’s airlines, is readying a digital travel passport. The promise of liberation through immunisation is receding by the day.

So I am not hurrying to book myself an EasyJet flight, even though I crave the sun. And when we are finally allowed to take a flight, I will remember to take my Glint card – as important for my financial protection as my travel passport will be for the ability to get around.

Until next week.

Jason

Around the campfire: Spread It

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Since 12 February, we are in a new lunar year, the Year of the Ox, stubborn, hard-working, determined. Traditionally a time when families in China criss-cross the country to spend time together, there isn’t as much of that happening this year because of the risks of spreading Covid-19.

There’s not much travelling going on in Europe or the US either right now, as governments clamp down on the possibility of spreading the disease.

There’s one big difference between China and elsewhere, however. Even stay-at-home Chinese have been given free gifts in the “red packets” traditionally used for gift-giving. These packets come with a difference, however – instead of the usual cash they contain digital Chinese currency. Beijing and Suzhou each gave out 200,000 red packets containing Renmimbi 200 (about $31) via a public lottery.

 

This is not state philanthropy – it goes much deeper than that. The red packet gifts are a trial run for China’s imposition of a nationwide state-controlled digitalised currency. The Chinese payments system is already largely cash-free. This digital Renminbi is distributed directly to e-wallets of users by state-owned banks, setting up payments’ channels that circumvent private sector ones. As the digital Renminbi is legal tender, no merchant can refuse to accept it and thus they will be obliged to install e-Renminbi terminals and payments’ systems after the state digital currency is formally launched.

This is how I see cryptocurrencies being killed off by central banks and their governments. Central banks are going to encroach on private cryptocurrencies’ turf. When the digital dollar or digital pound is here (and they are coming) and are ‘legal tender’ then they will crowd out private payments’ systems. About 60% of more than 60 central banks surveyed by the Bank for International Settlements last year said they were “conducting experiments or proof-of-concept” studies on digital currencies. Where China goes – driven by a desire to supervise and control its population – it seems other countries will follow.

For me, this is an important reason why those of us who wish to truly democratise and control our own money ought to be thinking about gold for our payments. Gold is independent, has been used for payments for Millennia, and is universal. With Glint It! (the in-app P2P facility from Glint, currently available in the UK and Europe and coming soon to the US) you can send and receive gifts of real gold, digitally – even if you can’t travel right now there’s nothing to stop you sending a gift to someone else to remind them that you care.

Until next week.

Jason

Around the campfire: Magic beans

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Reading Jack and the Beanstalk to one of my children at bedtime the other night it struck me that there were parallels with the rise of Bitcoin. The analogy perhaps is not perfect but the two stories share elements.

In this centuries-old fairy tale, the impoverished Jack is sent by his mother to go to the market to sell the family cow – which has some value because it produces milk. On his way to market, he meets someone who persuades him to exchange this source of value for a handful of beans – which apparently have no value at all. Arriving home he proudly shows the beans (cryptocurrencies) to his mother who angrily throws these worthless beans into the back garden.

Next morning they wake and discover that the beans have grown into a giant beanstalk (soared in price). Jack climbs the beanstalk and finds himself in a castle of an unfriendly giant – you choose who that might be in the cryptocurrency parallel universe.

This giant cries out:

Fee-fi-fo-fum!
I smell the blood of an English man.
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.

Jack hastily beats a retreat but not before he retrieves a bag of gold, an enchanted goose that lays golden eggs, and a magical golden harp that plays itself, all of which the giant had stolen from Jack’s family. And then he chops down the beanstalk, the giant falls to his death, and Jack and his mother live a prosperous life.

Jack’s prosperity owes its start to the magical beans – but he lives richly thanks to the gold he has retrieved from the giant.

There is evidence to suggest that this folk-tale, or variants, was being told centuries ago. In other words, our ancestors believed gold had value.

The moral of the tale for me is that magic beans can be sown and might lead to fortunes, but ultimately it’s gold that counts.

That’s why I created Glint, and earnestly believe that gold will outlast the latest magic bean frenzy.

Until next week.

Jason

Gold – according to Dominic Frisby: Gold, Midas and the very first coins

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“S  ome things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth”. Peter Jackson: The Fellowship of The Ring.

Perhaps the most famous golden myth of all is the tale of Midas. It is one of the later Greek myths; Ovid tells the story in his Metamorphoses.

Midas was King of Phrygia (now part of Turkey) and Dionysus, god of wine, was passing through with his entourage, revelling as they went.

Dionysus discovered that his tutor, Silenus, was missing. Silenus was a satyr; half man half goat and, like all of them, had been drinking. He’d wandered off and fallen asleep in a rose garden. That garden belonged to King Midas, who would enjoy spending time there with his daughter, whom he loved more than anyone else in the world.

Midas found Silenus sleeping and took him in, no doubt nursing a hangover. Silenus stayed with Midas for some ten days and nights, delighting him with songs and stories, enjoying his wine, food and hospitality. On the eleventh day, Midas took Silenus back to Dionysus, who was so delighted to see his old mentor safe and well he offered Midas whatever reward he wished for. Midas thought hard and then asked that everything he touched should turn to gold. Dionysus urged the king to reconsider, but Midas was sure and so his wish was granted.

Initially, Midas was delighted. First a twig then a stone turned to gold at the power of his touch. When he got home, he touched every rose in his garden, and they all turned to gold. Delighted, he ordered his servants to make him a feast, and that was when he began to regret his wish. When his food and drink turned to gold, he realised his gift was a bane.

His beloved daughter came to him, crying that their roses had lost their smell. Midas hugged her and she too turned to gold. What was his daughter was now a golden statue. Despairing at what he had done, he prayed to Dionysus to deliver him from his curse. “Go and wash your hands in the River Pactolus,” Dionysus told him.

Midas did so and Dionysus’s cure worked. Midas’ power flowed into the water and the sands of the river turned to gold, while whatever he put in the water, his daughter included, was reversed of the touch. And so does that part of Midas’ story end.

The obvious moral to Midas’ story is of the tendency of lust for wealth to overpower good sense, to make us lose sight of what we love. From Midas to the California gold rush to the Bre-X mining scam of the 1990s, immortalised in the Hollywood movie Gold with Matthew McConaughey, lust for the purest form of wealth there is has, forever, overpowered rational thought.

But there is another, less visible moral in the Midas tale there in the sands of the River Pactolus: gold lasts.

At its height the Lydian empire stretched across all western Asia Minor. The Pactolus flowed right through the middle. Erosion is such that the precious metal has long since gone, but once upon a time the gold in its beds – the same alluvial gold put there by Midas – was plentiful enough to form the base of the Lydian empire. That gold would form the world’s, or the West’s, first coins. The casting of coins, which could ensure the weight and quality of metal contained, made other, more primitive, forms of cash redundant.

According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the Lydians were, around 700BC, “the first people to mint and use gold and silver coins, and the first retail tradesmen”. Ancient bronze coins found in China, however, suggest the Chinese might have been first. Given that we still use coins today, coinage has proved a remarkably successful technology. Indeed the Chinese ‘yuan’ and Japanese ‘yen’ both mean ’round shape’ – referring, of course, to the shapes of coins.

King Alyattes I, a descendent of Midas, was the first king to mint coins. He used the alluvial electrum (a gold-silver alloy) found in the beds of Pactolus.

The innovation of Alyattes’ son, Croesus, was to melt down the electrum coins of his father, separate the gold from the silver, and then remint them. On one side of his new coins was the image of a lion and a bull, on the other were punch marks to show their value. Effectively, Croesus launched not only the first imperial currency in the history of the world, but the bi-metallic standard.

His coins were not only accepted, but demanded throughout Asia Minor, Greece and beyond. This universal acceptance played a key role in developing Lydia’s prosperity. With his coins circulating so widely and effectively Croesus’ reputation as an extremely rich man was secured for all time.

Not only was he as rich as Croesus, he had, it seems, the Midas touch.

That touch lasted. His basic denomination was then subdivided into smaller denominations of thirds, sixths and twelfths and these reforms evolved into the troy ounce we use today, composed of 24 carats of pure gold. Coin values reflected the actual value of the metal content.

Within 100 years coinage had spread to Persia in the east, across Asia Minor and Greece and at least as far as Sicily in the west. Roman and Celtic coins would later follow the same principles.

Coins provided both geographical and social mobility. People could move around and carry value with them. Trade spread with a newfound ease, and civilisation developed rapidly.

Human faces only began to appear on coins about 150 years later. The first human being who dared to have his own features presented on coins was one Tissaphernes, a provincial governor in ancient Persia around 400BC. Other Persian sovereigns soon followed his example. In the western world, it would take a little longer.

The drachms and tetradrachms of Alexander the Great, perhaps the most widely circulated coins of ancient times, featured Herakles, greatest of the Greek heroes, on one side and Zeus on the other. However, Herakles was portrayed in the likeness of Alexander. After Alexander’s death, his successor, Ptolemy I, went on step further and inscribed coins with portraits of Alexander himself. One example shows Alexander – looking remarkably similar to the Herakles of previous coins – with an elephant scalp with tusks and a trunk on his head, symbolising his conquest of India (to which Alexander brought coins for the first time). The portrait of a ruler’s head on a coin became an important tool of propaganda.

* Dominic Frisby, author of Daylight Robbery – How Tax Shaped The Past And Will Change The Future, out now in paperback at Amazon and all good bookstores with the audiobook, read by Dominic, on Audible and elsewhere.

Around the campfire: Into the sunset

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This week two figures who have dominated the Year of the Pandemic have ridden off into the sunset – Captain Sir Tom Moore in the UK has just died, and Jeff Bezos in the US, who is retiring as CEO of Amazon.

The former came to public notice last year at the age of 99 when he walked 100 lengths of his garden to raise money for the National Health Service (NHS) and instead of raising £1,000 his efforts gathered £32.8 million, for which achievement he was knighted by the Queen.

Jeffrey Preston Jorgenson (his birth surname changed to Bezos when his divorced mother re-married) founded Amazon in his garage in 1994. It’s now the biggest on-line retailer in the world. The hugely-wealthy Bezos says he is stepping down as Amazon’s CEO to become its executive chairman.

What links these two very different people, other than determination and drive?

The answer is that both in their own ways demonstrate that there is a vast amount of money sloshing around. Amazon’s revenues for 2020 were more than $386 (£283) billion, 38% higher year-on-year. We would never have heard of Tom Moore but for the Covid-19 pandemic. Amazon has clearly profited from the mass switch to on-line spending, another Covid-19 by-product.

The huge spike in US money supply – and elsewhere – is manifesting itself in ways other than Tom Moore’s charity venture and Bezos’s personal wealth. The explosion of new companies aiming to float on stock markets this year – everything from Doc Marten’s boots to the social networking app Bumble and many more web-based companies that have yet to show a profit – is underpinned by massive liquidity that can be injected by investment banks and others.

There is an old saying that ‘markets can stay irrational longer than investors can stay solvent’. We witnessed an outbreak of herd irrationality last week, when a flash mob of retail investors ploughed into ‘rubbish’ stocks in the US. Too much money chasing too few worthwhile goods – a classic definition of inflation.

As John Dizard commented in the Financial Times last May: “While institutions and markets have been kept from imploding by the wall of money the Fed and other central banks have thrown at the economy, they still do not have clear long-term prospects. Financial people, their slide packs in disarray, do not have plans that fit the circumstances”.

The ‘money bubble’ that is inflating before our eyes will sooner or later pop; regulatory authorities lack both the will and the authority to manage the distortions now in our monetary system. For the risk-averse – and who is not? – who need liquidity (i.e. money) for their everyday life, there is a solution. It’s called Glint. With the Glint app and card, you can help reduce the risk of your money losing value over time – the purchasing power of the GB pound has dropped by almost 10% in the past five years, while gold has proven to have increased by almost 75% over the same period. If you haven’t already, you might want to get over to the App store and download the Glint app today.

Until next week.

Jason

Around the campfire: Brexit and inflation creep

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The UK left the European Union (EU) at the end of last year and so far it’s been a mixed blessing.

From 1 January, the UK dropped the so-called ‘Tampon tax’, a VAT levy of 5% that the EU attaches to sanitary products. And Britain has avoided EU wrangles over approving Covid-19 vaccines and securing supplies; the UK has so far administered around 7 million doses, far more than any EU member state. The British government has hardly been able to contain its glee at romping ahead.

But although the UK supposedly left the EU having secured a tariff-free trade deal it’s turning out to be less simple than that sounds. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that the cost of doing business is going up thanks to unanticipated ‘red tape’. The ‘free’ trade agreement, on which basis the UK left the EU, will require an estimated 215 million additional customs declarations every year. That extra paperwork will translate into extra costs somewhere along the line.

Debit and credit card companies are now freed from an EU regulation (introduced in 2015) that capped the fees which could be levied on online transaction values. Merchants will no doubt pass on to customers any rise in fees.

Consumers are also finding themselves lumbered with unexpected charges for goods delivered from the EU, while exporters to the EU report heavy costs from the required extra paperwork – such as up to £95 ($130, €107) for an export health certificate for every consignment of langoustines and crabs sent to the EU from the UK. And entirely separate from the EU muddles, living on credit has just become more expensive for Barclaycard’s 10 million users; their minimum repayments have been raised. Not great timing perhaps, coming just after the heavy Christmas bills.

Maybe some of this will all sort itself out in time. Let’s hope so. But the bottom line is that unscrupulous businesses may use the additional complexities as a cover to jack up prices.

It’s less than a month since the UK left the EU. It never was, and still is not in the interest of businesses either side of the English Channel to put any grit in the bilateral trading relationship, it’s clear that both sides of the Channel could do without putting up prices; Covid-19 has devastated many lives, both physically and economically.

In the UK the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits is now 2.6 million, an increase of 113.2% since last March. Many UK citizens now rely on food banks; the charity, Trussell Trust runs a food bank network and the use of that has increased by 74% in the past five years.

It’s no different among the poor of the EU. Eurostat said in 2019 that more than 20% of EU citizens were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The European Food Banks Federation (FEBA) has reported a food demand increase of around 30% across their European network of 430 food banks in comparison to pre-Covid times.

Glint is not a charity, we don’t provide food parcels. However, we do feel for all those who are now struggling, and our product does offer some protection against inflation and the debasement in the purchasing power of whatever money you own, no matter how little or how much. We strongly believe that gold, with Glint, is the fairest and most reliable currency on the planet, but 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. But, when you consider the options – QE, low-interest rates or the seemingly random volatility of Bitcoin, for example, gold has proven its position as a safe haven for savings over time.

In Britain, inflation has averaged 5.2% a year since 1950. Such is the corrosive power of that inflation that today you would need around £35 to buy what your £1 could in 1950. In the US, the picture is similar – with an average inflation rate of 3.41% between 1950 and 2020 you would need today almost $11 to buy what $1 bought in 1950.

If prices are indeed being pushed up – for whatever reason – then you need to protect yourself if possible. Gold with Glint is arguably a great anti-inflation asset – and can help steady the rocky EU trading ride. After all – gold is security and Glint is its key to liquidity.

Until next week.

Jason

Around the campfire: Inflation is back – but by how much?

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I  see that in the UK the official inflation rate in December (as measured by the Consumer Prices Index or CPI) was an annualised 0.6%, precisely double that of the previous month. If the cost of owner occupiers’ housing is included (the CPIH) the rate was 0.8%.

The Bank of England aims to achieve an annual inflation rate of 2%. If the government actually achieved that rate the pound in your pocket would lose around 18% of its purchasing power over 10 years. UK wages and salaries overall have stagnated since 2010 and, factoring in inflation, have fallen in real terms.

But am I alone in thinking that creeping price rises across many sectors are far higher than the official headline rate? Take Netflix, that entertainment standby for many of us during lockdown – it’s putting up the price of its standard monthly package from £8.99 to £9.99. What’s a pound, you may ask – but that’s a rise of more than 11%. If you want to buy a home to watch Netflix in, that too will cost significantly more – up by 7.6% in the year up to last November. The average house price in the UK is now £250,000, according to the UK House Price Index. Pity the poor souls who are struggling to put a mortgage deposit together.

Back in 2011, the Bank of England (BoE) warned, as the consumer price index rose to 4.4% – double the rate then of average earnings growth – that inflation could hit 5%. Sir Mervyn King, the BoE’s governor at the time, blamed dearer imports, higher VAT and rising global commodity prices for the inflation spike. Energy companies in August 2011 put up their tariffs for gas and electricity – Npower’s dual-fuel bill went up by more than 12% from October that year.

Dearer imports are certainly headed our way. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported that in December that its food price index averaged 105.9, its highest in almost six years, 3.9% higher than in October and 6.5% higher than a year earlier. The World Bank said at the start of this month that commodity prices “continued to surge in December” with energy commodities up by 15% and non-energy by 4.7%.

And yet hardship surrounds us, particularly if you are a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). The Federation of Small Businesses this month warned that more than 250,000 UK firms risk going bust this year. This is a particularly hard scenario for young people who have just joined – or are just about to – the workforce. Many jobs in sectors they tended to work in have gone, perhaps forever.

We have gone through two enormous upheavals, the reverberations of which are continuing – first the pandemic and then Brexit. And now we may be facing a resurgence of serious inflation. With consumers already having to contend with the effects of Covid-19 as well as historically low and potentially negative interest rates, a jump in inflation is the very last thing needed. Anyone with savings in a standard current account has seen the value of their money fall as interest rates continue to sit below inflation. The value of cash has eroded, hitting consumers’ wallets. Many household budgets are already at breaking point, so increases in everyday living costs and a further decrease in spending power are nothing short of disastrous.

Increasing numbers of consumers, in this bewildering world, are gradually becoming more aware of, and are turning to alternative ways to save and spend their money – I’m proud to be able to represent one of these alternative methods with Glint. Why have your money in a bank with such a low (if any) return and the risk of that bank investing your savings in things outside your control. If you put your money into gold, with Glint, the market may fluctuate now and again, but at least it’s proven to increase in value over time. I genuinely believe that Glint is one of the best ‘vaccines’ against unwanted inflation ‘virus’.

Until next week.

Jason

Gold – according to Dominic Frisby: The dangers of ancient obsessions

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As the Age of Materialism (1832-1914) matured, humankind fell slowly out of love with gold. Societies grew less religious, and critics of the gold standard smeared gold’s advocates. It was an obsession, they said, a superstitious worship of the ancients.

The 19th century US Congressman Ignatius Donnelly called advocacy of the gold standard “the last remnants of sun worship”. The economist John Maynard Keynes put it in the “realms of sex and religion”, a “furtive Freudian cloak”, while Freud himself related fascination with gold to the erotic fantasies and interests of early childhood.

The Bible mentions gold more than 400 times. Gold was wealth. Gold was money. Gold was from God. We drink the blood of Christ from a golden chalice to represent the chalice used to serve wine at the Last Supper. In Arthurian legend, the Holy Grail was a symbol of God’s grace.

In Ancient myth, gold did not just represent purity and truth. The lust gold inspires wrought chaos: ambition, desire, greed for wealth and power. And the moral of many a fable derives from the terrible decisions that people consumed with such emotions can make. But, gold standard or not, the same motivations that drive these ancient narratives are alive and well today.

Zeus held a banquet on Mount Olympus, a huge banquet, and all the gods were invited. All except one – Eris, Goddess of Chaos.

Eris was upset by the snub and, in retaliation, threw a golden apple into the party. She had inscribed the word “Kallisti” onto the apple. It means “for the most beautiful”.

Immediately, the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite began to quarrel. Each felt they should have the apple, for they were most beautiful. It fell to Zeus himself to pass judgement. Who should he choose? Hera, his wife, the queen of the gods? Athena, his daughter, the goddess of wisdom and warfare? Or Aphrodite, his other daughter, goddess of beauty, love and pleasure?

What a predicament. Whoever Zeus chose, he would incur the wrath of the other two.

So, instead, he nominated the Trojan prince, Paris, to decide. So the goddesses were led to Paris on a mountainside, each to make their case.

The goddesses undressed, bathed and then appeared each in turn before Paris, naked (perhaps at his request) in a kind of divine lap dance. But still Paris could not decide. So the goddesses tried to bribe him.

Hera offered Paris power: control of all Europe and Asia. Athena offered him wisdom and victory in battle. Aphrodite offered him the love of the most beautiful woman on earth.

Paris chose Aphrodite.

The most beautiful woman on earth was, of course, Helen – Helen of Sparta. What Aphrodite forgot to mention, however, was that Helen was married – to Menelaus, king of Greece. And when Paris ran away with Helen, the greatest war the world had ever known was precipitated. The Trojan War.

All because of a golden apple.

The English philosopher John Ruskin told the story of a man who boarded a ship carrying all his wealth in a bag of gold coins. Several days into the voyage a terrible storm came up. “Abandon ship!” came the cry. The man strapped his bag of gold around his waist, went on deck and jumped overboard, only to sink to the bottom of the sea. “Now”, asked Ruskin. “As he was sinking, had he the gold? Or had the gold had him?”

Gold is beautiful. Gold is compelling. Gold is awesome. But beware the decisions it can lead you to make…

* Dominic Frisby, author of Daylight Robbery – How Tax Shaped The Past And Will Change The Future, out now in paperback at Amazon and all good bookstores with the audiobook, read by Dominic, on Audible and elsewhere.