Short-term investments are very bullish, erratic, unpredictable and undependable. But, long term investments are, relatively, considered safe and reliable. Precious metals like gold and silver are considered to be true money, and governments have been bastardizing precious metals since the night of time. It's all about printing fake money anyway. Even as stocks were losing their value, gold was marching steadily, increasing by five percent in US dollars.
However, this 'buy and hold' strategy might not work anymore as the sub-prime crisis has shaken this belief in the long term investment mode. Now, has gold joined the bandwagon of safe long-term investment going awry by treading the path of the sub-prime crisis?
The counterfeit story
This October, bankers in Hong Kong were in for a rude shock when they discovered some gold bars from the US to be actually gold plated tungsten i.e., fake gold bars. Acting fast, the Chinese officials found the perpetrators within hours. It seems that fake Tungsten blanks, between 1.3 and 1.5 million 400 oz, were manufactured in the US about fifteen years ago during the Clinton administration. Said to have been done by a very sophisticated refiner, 640,000 of these tungsten planks were gold plated and shifted to Fort Knox. The remaining also gold plated, but sold into the international market. (Fort Knox , as you may be aware, is the United States Bullion Depository, where the official gold reserves of the federal government are stored. This depository of about 4,603 tons (4 176 metric tonness) is the second highest gold depository in the US after the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's underground vault in Manhattan (5,000 metric tonness of gold). Whoever pulled this one on the gold bars had connections inside the government, big banks and also a top-of-the-line fabrication facility. For, counterfeit is not something new for the US government, it did this is 1964 when zinc dimes clad in silver were introduced. That's why the pre 1964 coins are valued more. Elsewhere, early this year, another counterfeit story made rounds as some of the gold bars in the vaults of the National bank of Ethiopia were found to be gold plated steel. It made news when the shipment of gold was returned by South Africa. It only could have been the work of a genius as fake gold bars made of steel are among the easiest to detect as they are lighter. Among gold coins, 22k Gold coins such as Krugerrand, are less likely to be counterfeited because the density of 22k gold minted from gold alloy that is 91.67 percent pure, is far apart from that of tungsten. Tungsten has the same density (19.25g/cm3) as gold, so a fake bar is indistinguishable by weighing it. In comparison the density of pure 24k gold is within 0.26% of tungsten.
|Physical comparison of 24k, 22k gold and tungsten|
|Density difference |
|Dimension difference of bar|
with same weight
Link to full article