A couple of weeks ago our report that some Austrian banks had begun restricting the sale of gold and silver to 15,000 Euro (~$20,000 USD) reportedly because of money laundering issues was met with disbelief by many readers of financial news and information web sites. As we mentioned in that commentary, it is our view that governments, namely in Western nations, are making it more difficult for individuals to make gold purchases, as well as to do so anonymously.
It looks like this trend of restricting the peoples’ ability to acquire assets of real monetary value is expanding. If a recent report from France is accurate, and based on the French governments official web site it looks like it is, then as of September 1, 2011, anyone attempting to sell or purchase ferrous or non-ferrous metals, which includes gold and silver, will be required to pay for their purchase via a credit card or bank wire transfer if it exceeds 450€ (~ $600 USD):
Amended by Law n ° 2011-900 of July 29, 2011 – art. 51 (V)
I. Can be made in cash payment of a debt greater than an amount fixed by decree, taking into account the place of tax residence of the debtor and the professional purpose of the operation or not.
In addition a monthly fixed by decree, the payment of salaries and wages is subject to the prohibition contained in the preceding paragraph and shall be made by check or by transfer to a bank or postal account or account held by a payment institution.
Any transaction on the retail purchase of ferrous and non ferrous is made by crossed check, bank or postal transfer or by credit card, not the total amount of the transaction may not exceed a ceiling set by decree. Failure to comply with this requirement is punishable by a ticket for the fifth class.
II.-I Notwithstanding, the costs of the department conceded that exceed the sum of 450 euros must be paid by bank transfer.
III.-The preceding provisions shall not apply:
a) For payments made by persons who are incapable of binding themselves by a check or other payment, as well as those who have no deposit account;
b) For payments made between individuals not acting for business purposes;
c) paying the expenses of the state and other public figures.
According to independent reports the law was passed to curb the illegal sale of stolen metals like copper, steel, etc. Given the rampant rise in thefts of these metals from telephone poles, construction sites and businesses here in the United States, we can certainly see this as a reasonable assessment for why the French passed this law.
However, the fact that no exception was made for gold and silver simply cannot be ignored. The new law effectively makes it illegal to purchase even a single Troy ounce of gold or around 18 ounces of silver in cash.
Looking at a single incident, for example the identification requirements in some major US cities like Houston, TX if you want to trade bullion, or the aforementioned restrictions in Austria, could be construed as coincidence or no big deal. But the most recent example in France suggests that what we have here is not a coincidence, but rather, a pattern. If there truly is a behind-the-scenes push to keep gold out of the hands of the people, then it would likely be done through indirect means and we commoners would be none the wiser.
How long before the US Congress, as a result of the rise in metals thefts here in the United States, uses this same excuse as a pretext to follow in the footsteps of the French?
Strike that question. That can’t happen in America.