Ronald-Peter Stöferle is managing partner of Incrementum AG, responsible for Research and Portfolio Management. He studied business administration and finance in the USA and at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. On graduation, he joined the research department of Erste Group, where in 2007 he published his first In Gold We Trust report. Over the years, the In Gold We Trust report has become one a benchmark publication on gold, money, and inflation. Since 2013, he has been Reader at Vienna’s scholarium and he also speaks at Wiener Börse Akademie (the Vienna Stock Exchange Academy). In 2014, he co-authored the international bestseller “Austrian School for Investors”, and in 2019 “Die Nullzinsfalle” (The Zero Interest Rate Trap). He is an advisor for Tudor Gold Corporation and a member of the advisory board of Affinity Metals. He is also an advisor to Matterhorn Asset Management. Ronnie is married and the proud father of three daughters. He spends his spare time with his family, watching and playing football, running, and at classical concerts.
“In Austria it’s normal on birthdays or at Christmas to receive small gold coins, e.g. ducats, from your grandparents. The generation of my grandparents experienced several currency reforms and the consequences of two world wars; for them gold has a different value than for the younger generation. I owe them my initial interest in gold.
My professional fascination with gold began when I bought shares in a small junior explorer called “Osisko Exploration” on the recommendation of a friend. The stock turned into a ’40-bagger’, i.e. it increased in value by 40 times the original value. I went to my boss at the bank where I worked as an equity analyst and asked him if I could write a special report on gold. “Gold is always good, Ronnie”, he said, and that was the birth of the first In Gold we Trust report. From then on I started to study the monetary system, inflation, mining stocks and the Austrian School of Economics intensively. None of these topics are taught in schools or at university. Suddenly I saw many things from a completely different perspective.
Since then I have been writing the In Gold we Trust report for 14 issues and it has become one of the most widely read gold studies. They are usually very detailed; the 2020 report, ‘The Dawning of a Golden Decade’, is more than 350 pages long. I am fascinated by gold and everything around it and I am always discovering new approaches, ideas and perspectives”.
Michael Siperco is the senior research analyst for global metals and mining at Velocity Trade Capital, focused on precious metal commodity commentary, thematic senior producer sector research, and coverage of emerging developers and junior producers. He joined Velocity in 2019, after 13 years in progressively senior roles at Orion Securities, then Macquarie Capital Markets Canada. He has covered all segments of the mining industry, from explorers/developers to large cap global diversified senior producers, precious, base and bulk metals, as well as royalty/streaming companies.
“I was born in Canada, but my parents immigrated from behind the Iron Curtain. That meant that from a young age I understood the power and control governments can exert over not just the big stuff, but everyday life. The arbitrary laws, policies and edicts that can change fortunes on a dime, picking winners and losers, separating the rich from the poor, the bankrupt and dependent from the prosperous and free. All in the name of whatever political ideology or economic theory is in vogue at the time.
The chaos of revolution in Eastern Europe and the fall of the Soviet Union 30 years ago put those lessons in stark terms. What people knew, what they had based their lives, their careers, their fortunes on for decades vanished with a few strokes of a pen. Entire financial systems collapsed overnight. Currencies became worthless. Laws and rules were rewritten, or downgraded to mere suggestions.
I heard stories and knew people and families whose net worth overnight became a function of how much gold jewelry, or old coins they’d managed to save. Smuggling kruggerands, sewn into the lining of their suitcases, or trading gold bracelets for apartments, land. I learned the value of gold as barter, and its power as a currency, as a store of wealth beyond the control of any government, central bank, or official exchange ratio. A fundamental building block of human economy, and a truly global unit of account when all else fails. It’s a lesson that many in North America and Western Europe have never learned, or at least never internalized.
Over the last 10-15 years, between economic crisis, changing geopolitics, and of course the global pandemic, a new, overdue, reckoning seems to have started about money and economics, about value and fiat currency. There’s no better evidence of this than gold’s climb to all-time highs, and the emergence of more alternative stores of value including, of course, bitcoin and the cryptocurrencies.
I bought my first physical gold at around $300/oz in the 1990’s, and my first mining stock not long after, in the middle of the (first) tech bubble. When I later married into an Indian family, I started to appreciate the generational transfer of wealth, not in dollars, or rupees or stocks, but gold.
I buy gold today for the same reason. Not to sell it or trade it for fiat currencies (there are plenty of other things to trade), but to hedge my bets, insure my other assets, and ultimately to pass on to my children. As a plus, no matter what other alternatives may come or go, it’s impossible to beat the look and feel of a newly minted gold maple leaf in your hand”.
A ndy Smith is an avid golfer, which he has more time to indulge in now he has retired. Before his retirement he was a familiar figure on the world’s gold scene, speaking at many conferences where he usually delighted in annoying the audience but getting lots of laughs at the same time for his acerbic comments. He worked as a precious metals’ analyst for several investment banks and hedge funds. He started his career as a government economist in the Transport ministry and then at the Treasury, where he honed his skills at spin-doctoring.
“Those expecting an epiphany – the discovery of the one true monetary/moral way a la The Wizard of Oz – will be disappointed. My conversion was slower, accidental, even a bit cynical. And it all started with a Big Bang…
My scenic route Damascus-wards began in 1988 in BP (‘Beyond Parody’, I still think) in a job I loathed. Near my wits’ end, I bumped into an old university chum from the mid-1970s, a Zimbabwean then running Phillips & Drew’s ‘resource equities’ desk. He needed a bona fide economist to provide ballast to, well, the commodity-related BS in sales. Interested? I scarcely paused to digest his hand after I’d bitten it off…
The Big Bang was then rumbling through The City, as London houses were atomised by foreign banks. ‘P&D’ was taken over by Union Bank of Switzerland and I had a choice: slink back to industry, even government, with my now slicker economist skills, or stay and make myself over. I went for the facelift. I wrote to the head of UBS precious metals noting that they, then the biggest bullion bank in the world, had no analyst and, luckily, I was that person. After a presentation in Lugano, at which I’m sure the 35mm slide projector was sabotaged to stress-test my brown trousers, I got the job I invented.
Cue 11 years UBS, 8 years Mitsui, 3 years Ridgefield Capital, 2 years PruBache – so, you can fool most of the people most of the time. It began by poking sticks at the animals, aka clients, the media, conference-goers – for everyone has a view on gold, full-on but more or less half-baked, most seeking affirmation or a good scrap. Indeed, my early years are best summed up by this troll on a gold chat line: ‘when he was circumcised did they throw away the wrong bit?’
This matured into a more respectful co-existence; unique in finance, this thing called gold has a pulse, and even suffers entertainment gladly. A broad church then, as befits a quasi-religious movement with legs. My best ‘enemies’ chose to keep me closer, and we are friends to this day. Along the Yellowbrick Road I’ve tripped through Bernal Diaz, Samuel Pepys, Ayn Rand, and been paid for it. Golden Years indeed”.
P atrik Schumacher is the principal architect with Zaha Hadid Architects, which he joined in 1988. After high school in Gerlingen, Germany, Schumacher studied Philosophy and Mathematics at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Bonn in the early 1980s. In the mid-eighties, Schumacher studied architecture in Stuttgart and in 1987 continued his studies at London Southbank University. In 1990, he returned to University of Stuttgart to complete his Diploma in Architecture and then re-joined Hadid. In 1999, he completed his PhD at the Institute of Cultural Science, Klagenfurt University. Since Hadid’s death in April 2016, he has been leading the firm as its sole remaining partner.
“Ever since the 2008 meltdown I have been suspicious about politically managed fiat money. Such money not only implies permanent creeping inflation, but also the risk of a more precipitous erosion of its value. It’s neither sound, nor safe. Given steady productivity gains via technological progress prices should fall, not rise. Therefore money should not only be safe and solid, but it should appreciate, not depreciate. Gold is a solid, safe and continuously appreciating money. Such money allows us to participate in global societal progress, offering a true social dividend to all citizens of the world. That’s why I like to hold my cash in gold. Glint is the first product and enterprise that allows me to keep my cash ready in the form of gold, and I can do this in the most easy going and elegant way possible. My gold is always ready to hand via my Glint card and app. I love it”.
N ed is the fund manager of the Merian Gold & Silver Fund at Merian Global Investors, a diversified global asset management firm, which is part of the Jupiter Group. Prior to this role, he was the fund manager of Old Mutual’s Gold & Silver Fund, and earlier was Investment Director at Quilter Cheviot Ltd.
“My gold story started around the turn of the millennium. I had become interested in financial markets on the back of reading about the repeal by the Clinton administration in 1999 of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, which separated investment banking from retail banking. Glass-Steagall was an attempt permanently to put an end to bank runs and the dangerous practices that gave rise to them – more than 4,000 US banks collapsed during the 10-year long Great Depression which started in 1929. At its height around a quarter of Americans were without a job.
The repeal of Glass-Steagall seemed to me rather brazen; it gave banks the chance to become very big – too big to fail. I considered the implications and became a financial markets’ sceptic. From there I read a fair amount; Ferdinand Lips’ Gold Wars was the book that had the most impact on me and I still recommend it.
I bought physical metal for the first time in early 2002, and became interested in mining equities shortly afterwards. Gold and silver coins speak to the individual very directly and are easy to understand, so I started there. Looking back, it now seems to me like a fairly natural evolution into a two-decade focus on the nature of money itself.
Ross Norman is a leading independent precious metals expert and founder of MetalsDaily.com.
“I have never been a gold bug, nor ever will be. To me, a gold bug is someone who is a perma-bull without real regard to market conditions. A critical eye is, in my view, an essential ingredient if you are to be believable and to have integrity.
I had never imagined at the start of my career that gold would become my thing… but it was a chance trip to a gold/copper mine on Bougainville Island, off Papua New Guinea that things were to change. What impressed was the immense scale of the operation yet the simplicity from a processing perspective. Vast amounts of rock where moved, crushed, ground and sent to flotation tanks to later produce 82% pure gold bars.
This remains the extent of my limited knowledge of gold mining and my career has been effectively been a slow journey down the supply chain from there; initially in gold refining with Johnson Matthey, then the world’s largest, and later as a physical trader for 2 leading bullion banks (NM Rothschild and Credit Suisse); thereafter I went into bullion information and investment products, ultimately dealing with retail clients. Relatively few in bullion have covered quite so wide an arc.
Perversely I seem to have acquired a knack for forecasting gold prices within the LBMA; that same critical eye, much breadth of experience, plus huge amounts of luck have served me well. I say “perversely” because I make no claim on being an intellectual heavyweight.
But then Napoleon always kept his luckiest rather his brightest or most polished Generals close by… luck begets luck and has certainly served me well”.
Briton Hill is the Vice President & Managing Partner of Weber Global Management Investment Advisory Services. The firm’s focus is the preservation of wealth, maintaining and improving a client’s current lifestyle, and helping to create their ideal retirement and legacy.
“My story with Gold and Silver began in 2002 when I was just seven years old. At the time, I didn’t understand the value of sound money, but that didn’t stop me from accumulating a substantial amount Silver Eagles and 1/10oz Gold Eagles over the next 8 years. When the 2008 global financial crisis shook the markets and sent asset prices plunging, Gold rose nearly 5%. I was only thirteen, but watching gold hold fast in a crisis profoundly shaped my perception of investing.
By the time I turned 16, I’d ridden a major bull market in the precious metals’ universe and had closed out many of my positions. This wasn’t because I felt Gold had lost its “luster” – quite the opposite, actually. The Fed had poured trillions of dollars into the US economy through quantitative easing to prop asset prices and stabilize the economy after the financial crisis. If anything, this fiat money creation should have been a wind at the back of the precious metals sector. But I felt things had risen too far, too fast. I took the advice of market veterans and sold.
After investing in other sectors and studying the markets closely, in early 2016 I re-entered the precious metals’ world and found myself riding a second precious metals’ bull market. Between these two bull markets, I had become independently wealthy from my investments alone. In 2017, I was fortunate enough to meet a longtime idol and mentor, Chris Weber – a legendary investor and newsletter writer who made his first fortune in precious metals in the 1970s. Our shared success and passion for the markets led to a wonderful partnership and the formation of Weber Global Management.
This year (2020), in the face of Covid-19 and the pandemic’s economic fallout, gold has been the foundation of everything we’ve done for ourselves and our clients. I think it’s only a matter of time before we see record highs, in USD terms, for gold. People who have a base currency other than the USD have seen this happen already, usually shortly after zero to negative rates arrive. To me, this is a sign that bondholders — the wealthiest and most sophisticated of all investors — are beginning to transition from bonds (paying a fixed amount of a now weaker currency) to something far more sound. Asset protection is the name of the game, especially for the ultra wealthy. The changes we’re witnessing are propping up precious metals prices around the globe, while global currencies get weaker.
As we see the central banks of the world create trillions of unbacked dollars, pounds, euros, etc. to prop up their economies, we can rest soundly knowing that our wealth or the wealth of our clients cannot be debased. Our purchasing power will remain intact. People who save their money in currencies will watch their purchasing power and standard of living slowly evaporate over time, especially with zero yields to provide them value. To me, the answer is simple: Hold gold and keep saving. We now have Glint, which makes spending gold practical and as easy as swiping the debit card from your local bank. The only difference is, your money is gold-backed, because, well, it’s gold. And that makes all the difference”.
This week’s guest is our very own Gary Mead. Gary has worked as a journalist in the UK, Poland, South Africa and Argentina. He was with the Financial Times for a decade before joining the World Gold Council. He worked for an independent commodity consultancy which provided full commodity research and analysis for various investment banks. In 2011, he joined the Institute of International Finance in Washington D.C. where he was Media Director. He is now the content editor with Glint.
“I started out as a journalist and still think of myself as a hack. I spent a decade at the Financial Times and ended up as Commodities Editor. At the FT if you believed in gold you were regarded as being ill-educated and possibly primitive. That formed my education in gold.
People mistakenly imagine it’s a rich life being a journalist. When I started a family, I needed to earn more money so I joined the World Gold Council as Head of Research in late 1998, just in time to catch what seemed to me to be a concerted selling of gold from their reserves – capped off by Gordon Brown (then the UK’s Chancellor) selling half the UK’s gold. The gold price collapsed and I thought it would have further to drop.
So thinking myself to be a superior, rational yet ordinary type I thought that elected governments would always do the right thing by their citizens. How wrong that turned out to be.
When the world started to get uglier a year or more ago, I searched around for ways to put a bit of money into gold. But all I could find were expensive and uncertain exchange trade funds, or very high-cost ways of investing in gold-backed paper financial instruments. I don’t have enough spare cash to get involved with those risky things.
And then, almost by accident, I discovered Glint. Bingo! Just what the doctor ordered. So now, whenever I have a bit of spare cash, I top up my gold holdings. For me, it’s a kind of insurance policy against the uncertainties of the future.
My gold story is very ordinary – it has been a lifetime of education, a lifetime of watching governments consistently screwing things up. Gold is my redoubt and I wish I could build it higher”.
This week’s guest is Dominic Frisby. Dominic is a contributor for the investment magazine, Moneyweek and writer for The Guardian. He is also a non-executive director of cryptocurrency startup, Coinworks. Dominic is a well-known comedian, voice author and author of the books, “Life After The State”, “Bitcoin: The Future of Money” and “Daylight Robbery: How Tax Shaped Our Past and Will Change Our Future”.
“I’m not sure if I discovered gold, or if gold discovered me.
I think the first time my ears pricked up was in 1999, when Gordon Brown sold some of the UK’s stocks of gold. I was listening to the radio and thought, “that doesn’t feel right”. Even to someone who knew nothing – and I mean absolute zilch – it felt like a bad mistake.
I used to read The Week magazine and at some point they promoted Moneyweek, so I signed up for it and rather liked it, and it made me think I should start to take some control of my investments.
Moneyweek were very pro-gold but I remember they mentioned a website called housepricecrash. So I had a look on there, and there I found some seriously bright people discussing gold. There was this narrative that you should sell property and buy gold.
The property crash narrative that the website had sprung up around never really materialised, not even in 2008, but the gold story I found totally compelling. The arguments made total sense to me.
I was persuaded by the political arguments that accompany gold – that it was sound money, involved limited government and so on – and the fact that gold was in a bull market at the time only made the story even more compelling. I was also persuaded by the argument that so many of society’s problems stem from the debasement of currency.”
Toby Baxendale is an entrepreneur and investor, economist, former magistrate, ironman triathlete, philanthropist and family man. He set up the Hayek Visiting Fellowship at the London School of Economics. To promote Manchester Liberalism and provide a home for Austrian School Economics in the UK, Toby co-founded The Cobden Centre.
“For the most of my life, I have had zero interest in gold. My wedding ring was probably the only item of gold I owned – and that is obviously precious for reasons other than its being made of gold.
When I studied at the London School of Economics, I was aware of the historic role of gold in our monetary system. But it was only in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008 that I really started focusing on our monetary system.
I then realised that the only stable system I could ever conceive of was one based around the gold standard. Having no counter-party risk when you own gold is unique for a monetary asset. In uncertain times, the focus on this has, for me, become more paramount. I certainly think everyone should have an element of gold in their savings. And I hope to live to see the day where gold as money is the default standard once more. The ‘barbarous relic’, as John Maynard Keynes called the gold standard in 1924, is actually one of the most democratic and fair parts of a money system.
Governments around the world now are ‘creating money out of nowhere’ to try to reach escape velocity out of this COVID-19 crisis. Asset classes that are desirable are once again inflating, and that will be a wealth transfer from those poorest in society to the richest.
This realisation leads me to conclude that gold is more desirable than ever right now”.