July 20th 2016
And the United Kingdom has been thrown into a sea of uncertainty in the wake of the Brexit vote. So what are the British people doing?
According to a Reuters report, gold dealers in the UK report an extraordinary interest in gold post-Brexit – much of it from first-time buyers. The Pure Gold Company CEO Joshua Saul said British customers are pouring large portions of their wealth into the precious metal:
“The speed at which people are buying gold is unprecedented. We are seeing people convert as much as 40 to 50% of their net worth into physical gold, (compared to) 5 to 10% in the past.”
The British Royal Mint also reports a surge in business with a 7-fold increase in the sale of 100-gram bars. A spokesperson for the mint said “This shows little sign of declining,” noting that half of the buyers opted to store their purchased metal in its vaults.
London-based trading platform Bullionvault.com said some 4 million pounds ($5.5 million) in gold and silver were traded in the weekend after the Brexit vote. The number of first-time buyers on the site increased 170% in late June and into the first week of July.
The sudden surge in gold sales is more remarkable considering the British historically haven’t shown as much interest in the yellow metal as residents of many other countries. The UK ranks 15th in the world in gold bar and coin sales, according to Reuters:
Countries like Germany, with its experience of hyperinflation, have maintained a historical connection to gold as a tangible asset that can protect wealth against economic downturns and currency fluctuations. German consumers buy more than 100 tons of gold coins and bars a year, and spent around $4.6 billion on gold in 2015. British interest in gold, by contrast, has been lukewarm in modern times because of the pound’s role as a global reserve currency, even when sterling was tested by crashing out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in 1992.”
It’s clear the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit vote has driven the Brits to seek the safe haven historically offered by gold. Adam Cleary was ahead of the game. He bought gold before the vote, anticipating economic chaos in the aftermath of Brexit. But he offered an even more poignant reason to buy gold– he doesn’t trust the banking system:
Gold cannot be canceled, it cannot be confiscated, it cannot be taken away.”