The New World Financial Centre

The British Empire and Sir Stanford Raffles in particular were a very shrewd lot. They identified a seemingly irrelevant island with a population of about 150 people as a piece of prime real estate back in 1817. What’s happened since is well-known of course, as the city of Singapore has developed into a major international trade and financial hub, with all the wealth and status that goes alongside that.

This place had always been on my to do list, so when a work trip in 2018 presented me with the opportunity for a one day stopover, I took it with both hands. While I didn’t actually sit down for a Singapore Sling, I did take a wander around the Raffles hotel complex and see the art deco railway station, where bullet damage from the 1941 Japanese invasion was still visible in some of the outer walls, before it probably disappears as the city modernises even further and obliterates the British symbols. The railway itself has already been moved to the North of the island and the future of the station seemed uncertain then, but ghosts were visible everywhere, as I peered through the locked gate into the past, surrounded by modern skyscrapers. I also saw the 1920s post office building, now a hotel, the main square in front of the Town hall where hundreds of thousands were executed by the Japanese and one of the world’s most expensive pieces of undeveloped real estate, The Singapore Cricket Club. I can only wonder how much longer that last piece of Imperial history will last. The battle of Singapore itself in 1941 has always fascinated me. For obvious reasons, it does not feature large in British history when World War 2 is mentioned, but will probably forever be Britain’s biggest military defeat, with a loss of 100,000 military personnel into Japanese captivity and subsequent death, along with the loss of two Battleships – The Prince of Wales and The Repulse.

I’d love to revisit some day on less of an intense schedule, but I sense my days of travel are numbered and I’ve used most of those numbers up. No matter, at least I can say I saw some of the world before all prison doors were locked with a resounding thud.

At the time, I was not ignorant of the island’s position as a major trade route and centre of wealth. Goldmoney and Bullionvault have offered Singapore as a precious metals storage location for years. However, it’s only when you are actually there on the ground, staring up at the impressive skyscrapers that you really understand how the wealth and energy is migrating from the old world to the new.

It’s interesting how stories coincide once more and get you thinking on a particular route. A few weeks ago, I expressed the view that Bitcoin is a distraction, or a preparation for a release of a new monetary system to replace the Petrodollar that has existed since 1971, the year of my birth, the introduction of decimalisation to the UK, the closing of the Gold Convertibility window in the USA and the official founding of the World Economic Forum – more on the last one later. In my view, the coming of digital currencies is inevitable and they may not be nice, with features such as time limitation (spend it or lose it) and extra credits available only to those who follow the rules of society (get the jab or don’t eat meat?). However, for them to be truly accepted, they will need to engineer a collapse of the current system and when that system collapses, every monetary system change ever has had to promise some kind of gold backing to get the public onside.

Historically, the old world still rules the precious metals world, with familiar locations like New York, London and Switzerland being where most of that trade is transacted. As the old world declines further and the new world rises, an Asian powerhouse, one with independence, strong defences, good shipping links and a robust financial system to trade gold and silver is required. There’s no doubt on these metrics that Singapore ticks all the boxes.

What really triggered it was a story mentioning the huge new precious metals facilities being developed in Singapore. It’s not the first time media, including the BBC, have reported on this. Yes, it looks possible a new world currency backed by gold/silver is coming and it will all be stored in Singapore, perhaps with an offshoot for Europe in London. On this, Brexit suddenly makes more sense – a European nation outside EU control, a defendable island where the wealth can be stored as the mainland descends into destruction. The Corporation of London certainly has a pedigree line of survival and growth, regardless of the general situation in the country. You may laugh, but despite a recent short period of comparative peace, Europe has a long, long history of huge wars for resources and after a year of rewarding people for doing nothing, while the continent becomes ever-more dependent on a few producers to carry the mass on their shoulders cracks may appear and Atlas may yet shrug.

When you think about it, it’s interesting how Switzerland always managed to remain neutral during the many European wars of the last few centuries. It becomes clearer why when you are aware of the high levels of banking secrecy Switzerland has historically maintained regarding account holders and fund sources. Consider also how much plundered loot found its way to Switzerland during World War 2. Why, the World Economic Forum itself is even based in Switzerland and Klaus Schwab, it’s apparent founder, was born in Germany in 1938, just before World War 2 began. I’d be interested to learn more on his family history, and this article is something of a primer. Having conducted their meetings in Davos, Switzerland for the entire history of the organisation, they are now holding their first-ever meeting in Singapore in August, 2021.

On closer examination of the Asian map, Singapore is crucial to all trade heading from China, Japan and Korea etc to India then onwards to Europe. Ships can only sail through one narrow strait. The Evergreen in the Suez canal feels like the first visible supply disruption which will expose Europe to how reliant it has become on foreign imports of essentials. Perhaps when those containers do finally arrive, they will be loaded up with precious metals for the return trip as Europe is stripped bare?

Meanwhile, almost everyone in Europe wanders around like idiots, wearing masks and continuing to following “official advice”, not laws on all kinds of things that really are basic human rights, like seeing family and friends, or conducting mutally beneficial transactions with other human beings. Blithely unaware of the probable imminent end of their way of life. You know, that “way of life” that you have been told terrorists hated so much that it needed to be protected, yet was immediately signed away the moment you got told a new virus with a 99.6% survival rate hit?

What do I know really? If I was better at these things I wouldn’t be working in an office following the limitations of my school programming, but on the basis of these jigsaw pieces slotting together, perhaps we should be investing in Singapore. Especially banks if it is going to be the new Switzerland after the World Economic Forum meeting. Not to say there won’t be bumps along the way – one other thing about that map is the seeming inevitability of a conflict between the old world powers and the new. That same Asian map shows how China is totally hemmed in from the sea because the USA controls Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. If China could punch through and take Taiwan or part of the Phillipines, they could control the Pacific. A war is brewing. I note, for example, that the UK recently sent their aircraft carrier to the China sea. A war in which Singapore will remain an agreed neutral by all parties, just like Switzerland did during the last century, but a war in which the destruction and rewards to the victors may well be huge and end up on this small island nation.

Silver Squeeze

A lot has been made of recent events involving a US company, Gamestop and how their meteoric share price rise was a battle between David and Goliath, Goliath in this case being big hedge funds who short sold Gamestop in the expectation of large profits on the share price continuing to fall. David on the other hand, an army of small investors / speculators, buying Gamestop to stop the price falling and force the short sellers to buy stock at ever-increasing prices.

I don’t agree.

For sure, the way the share price yo-yoed around will mean a lot of people will have made a lot of money, just as another lot of people will have lost a lot of money and a lot more people will be somewhere in-between, with small losses and small profits. Who those people are, I don’t claim to know.

Initially, I was sucked in by the story too, until I took a step back to think about why it was getting so much publicity and being presented like this in the first place. as someone once said, “the revolution won’t be televised” and so it is here. If the small investor really was getting one over on the big guys, we probably wouldn’t even get to hear about it and rules would be quietly changed to stop it happening again.

Apparently WallStreetBets, the Reddit group supposedly behind all this, has several million members and it’d be hard not to believe at least some of those made a lot of money pumping and dumping a business whose days are probably numbered, physical shop locations in dying malls and city centres, selling games in boxes at a time that it’s all migrating to online, even the downloading of the products themselves.

What has this all got to do with Silver anyway?

Well, some posters claimed Silver was going to be the next target, with an attempt to attack JP Morgan, who short silver way in excess of the physical silver market, to suppress the price. Again, I have no doubt machinations take place to make the price whatever it needs to be at a given time, but I wouldn’t recommend that you try to actively participate on this base and furthermore, I wouldn’t recommend that you imagine yourself to be one of Robin Hood’s merry men, ambushing the bad guys and taking the loot to redistribute to your favoured needy causes. The game is often rigged, probably more so than any of us realises, but just occasionally, the riggers get found out. I just don’t believe this is one of those times. Admittedly, JP Morgan did have to pay a large settlement for active involvement in the silver market, but whether anyone has the resources to take the big boys on is another question.

Meanwhile, I can’t help but feel that this story will be used to bring in some laws, under the guise of investor protections. Perhaps that was the real intention of it all along.

If you invest in silver or gold, it’s a long term story, where some day people will realise prices of essential goods and services are rising dramatically in their local fiat currency and begin to wonder why. We aren’t there yet, but if precious metals start to rise priced in that same fiat currency, I believe that will be the major reason, that the game is up and it’s every man and woman for themselves. Much likelier than feeling yourself aligned to an online group of renegades who you’ve never met and who you don’t know the true motives for wanting you to get involved and spend your money on their cause, isn’t it?

BullionVault

Founded by Paul Tustain, BullionVault sits somewhere between Goldmoney, for safety and Gold storage, and more traditional trading services.  Bullionvault is UK-based, although an additionally interesting feature is the ability to store your gold in their New York, London or Zurich gold vaults.  Dependent on which country you are a citizen of, you will probably feel most comfortable placing your gold outside of that country so that is not subject to your local government jurisdiction, so top marks for considering that feature.

An interesting aspect of the three separate vaults is that these could be considered as separate currencies in their own right.  For example, if at some point in the future there was a repeat of the 1930s US Gold confiscation, gold stored in a New York Vault might become priced significantly lower than gold stored in a Zurich vault, as US holders try to sell and place their gold outside their own jurisdiction.

BullionVault allows you to buy and sell Gold on their impressive looking trading platform, where buyers and sellers of gold from each vault can meet and state their required selling/buying prices, so if you are more inclined to hold gold, occasionally sell on a dip, then buy in again later, then this could well be the best service for you.

Their fees for transactions and monthly storage are really low too, so they are very worthy of investigation.  The storage fee is currently $4 per month fixed, regardless of holding size, and only payable for the months in which you held Gold.

Again, Bullionvault has proved popular with Gold Bugs accumulating gold for the future financial crisis they believe is in the offing.

Payment into BullionVault is by bank transfer.  Payment out is by bank wire transfer to your chosen bank account.

In recent years, they introduced a silver option.  That they took so long may have been something to do with BullionVault being UK-based and the UK charging VAT on silver sales, which could, to many observers, seem to be another example of government getting in the way of free trade.

GoldMoney

This was the brainchild of highly-respected gold watcher James Turk.  Goldmoney was structured with a cast iron guarantee that there will always be 100% gold backing of every unit of currency (called “goldgrams” in this case) in circulation, and they claim that some others do not have the same cast-iron guarantees in their small print.  Whether this is true or not is hard to say, as for an ordinary investor the small-print is difficult to understand, but the discussions and articles available make interesting reading when deciding on the safety of providers you are considering.

Goldmoney, like e-Gold did, also tries to offer the use of Goldmoney as a medium of payment.  This however is not very heavily used right now, and the majority of investors are gold bugs simply buying gold and silver and holding it.

What could appeal to British or EU citizens about Goldmoney is that it is Jersey-based.  You may trust and understand the rules of Jersey more than those of the Caribbean or Panama.  This is not to say that other organisations are unsafe.  A US-citizen may just as easily understand Panama and believe it to be much safer than Jersey.

As time went by, Goldmoney has opened a variety of vaults to cater for the requirements of international buyers, including London, New York, Zurich, Singapore and Hong Kong.

GoldMoney also has a Silver option, and this represents an excellent opportunity for European Union buyers to buy Silver bullion without legally paying any VAT.  More latterly they also introduced the ability to hold the national currencies of Dollars, Pounds or Euros in your Goldmoney account and receive interest on it.  You can then switch your holding between any of the five denominations (including the two metals), as you see fit.

Knowing that it’s the fees that make investors poor and brokers rich, you are probably best off not utilising this feature.  The fees will quickly eat into your returns, and a buy-and-hold strategy is probably best.

Payment into GoldMoney is by bank transfer.  Payment out can be made by direct bank transfer.

One other aspect of GoldMoney worthy of mention is that at one point the terms and conditions said that if your account is not logged into for 12 years the ownership of your gold reverted to Goldmoney.  Okay,  it sounds unlikely, but consider what would happen if you died and never told anybody about your holding or even if you were unable to use the internet for 12 years due to some kind of accident or national crisis.

Overall, a highly respected organisation with the reputation of a known “gold-watcher” behind it.  Even if you don’t buy Goldmoney then there are articles available for free on the website that make interesting reading.