Investing in a Precious Metals IRA: A Q&A with APMEX Director of VIP Services Peter LaTona

On March 19th, 2013 we hosted a Q&A session on Facebook and Twitter with Pete LaTona, Director of VIP Services. Pete answered several questions about investing in a Precious Metals IRA. Below is a transcript. Please like us on Facebook page and follow our Twitter profile to participate in upcoming chats and let us know if you have any questions.

Q: Can you keep the metal in your possession?
A: This is one of most commonly asked questions about Precious Metals IRAs.The Precious Metals are stored in a depository. If you were to take possession of the metals it would be considered a withdrawal and you would owe taxes at that time. This works just like any IRA. When you take a withdrawal, then it is time to pay taxes.

Q: Do you foresee an increase in the price of Gold/Silver/Platinum for the far future?
A:
Everyone wants to know if prices are going up, but no one really knows for sure. If a Precious Metals dealer shouts from the rooftops that prices are going up, then consider their motive. The man who runs the world’s largest hedge fund, Ray Dalio, says he does not know what prices will do, yet he believes in a 5% Gold allocation because of its value as a currency. Central banks became net buyers of Gold in 2010, and they just keep buying more. Gold has become a currency. Gold belongs in everyone’s portfolio who wants protection from all of the financial risks we face in today’s environment. How much (4-20%) depends on how much risk you think is out there.

Q: Why do you think the government will keep their promises regarding IRAs? See Cyprus, for example. IRAs are the major source of wealth for Americans. The tax deal is so good, that I can’t help but to think there will be some level of confiscation.
A:
I do not believe the government will change IRA rules because there are no more pensions in today’s world. The government has a vested interest in people being able to take care of themselves, at least to some extent. I do not believe confiscation will occur ever, but that is my opinion. The cost to send the Army door to door for confiscation would be much more than the amount of Gold they would find.

Q: Am I able to open an IRA through APMEX and deposit funds whenever? Or is there a defined plan?
A: There are defined plans. First, you choose your IRA custodian and then fund your account. Once the money is in your account, you call APMEX and we help you with your purchase.

Q: In your opinion, what is the number one reason to own physical Gold and Silver?
A:
The primary reason from a financial planner point of view is wealth protection through portfolio diversification. There are others, but that is probably number one by far. The six main categories of investors we find at APMEX are those who want to protect their money; those who want to make money; those who are skeptical of big business and governments; those who fear a major currency collapse and metals would be needed to buy bread; people who like to collect beautiful coins from around the world; new investors who just are waiting to make their first purchase.

Q: With the credit crises in Europe spreading and the slow uptick in the stock market here, how do you foresee the price of metals increasing in the next ten years?
A:
You are pointing out that the global economic concerns have only been given Band-Aids as politicians lack the will to make hard decisions. Most people would expect Gold prices to rise in such an environment. Central banks continue to trade paper assets for Gold. That alone should tell us something. Countries across the globe are printing money, and it is hard not to imagine inflation setting in sooner or later. Let’s just hope we never see hyperinflation. I met a man from Argentina several years ago who told me at one time during their hyperinflation when he woke up in the morning, it was as if someone had taken another zero out of his bank account.

Q: Do you think Silver will hit $50 an ounce sooner rather than later?
A:
Define sooner or later. I am not trying to avoid an answer, but timelines need to be clear. I believe the same economic uncertainty that could drive Gold prices up will take Silver along with it. I will tell you we have many sophisticated clients who would say sooner. We also need to keep in mind Silver industrial uses. It is a key component of solar panels. Silver has hit $50 before, so it would not be a shock to hit it again.

Q: Can the depository be at our home bank?
A:
It would depend on whether your bank is approved to handle IRA deposits. Most banks are not set up for this type of depository service.

Q: Would it be better to open a Precious Metals IRA or keep them on hand to help my children when they are older?
A:
If you have the funds outside of an IRA to buy what you want, I would use those funds outside of your IRA. Sometimes, most of the money you might have to invest is in an IRA.

Q: I collect Silver and store it myself. Is there a minimum amount required to take all of my Silver and turn it into an IRA?
A: If you have Silver in your possession already, you cannot create an IRA with the actual physical metal. An IRA is funded with cash, and then you buy the metals.

Q: I remember when 1 oz of Silver only cost me 5 dollars… how times have changed. Precious Metals will hit the moon soon…
A:
Silver seemed like it traded at $20 or below for forever. It has been trading in a range for some time the past year. Let’s see if a break out occurs. Also remember that Silver has become a key component in solar panels. If that industry really takes off…?

Q: Let’s say I requested to cash out today, when would the metals arrive in my hands?
A: Processing will vary by depository; most people cash out, but you can also take physical possession. My best guess is around 2 weeks, but you’ll have to check with your specific IRA custodian.

Q: How would you take delivery of the physical metals if you have them in a Precious Metals IRA?
A: Your depository will ship your metals to you, or you can choose to cash out your account.

Investing in a Precious Metals IRA: A Q&A with APMEX Director of VIP Services Peter LaTona

1.27.12 Weekly Recap

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photo credit: Reuters/ Mike Segar

Gold crossed over the $1700 mark today on news of more stimulus measures by the Federal Reserve.  This news pushed the dollar down; Gold played its usual inverse position by jumping up several days in a row.

Precious metals started the week with a climb that was based on European news.  Negotiations between Greece and private debt holders are still under way. Sources close to the situation report a deal is close and private bondholders stand to take a loss of between 65 to 70 percent.

The Federal Reserve officially announced that the interest rates will not be raised until at least 2014.  The Fed believes that the unemployment rate still needs to be controlled. It anticipates that inflation will remain consistent with firm prices. The Federal Reserve’s actions indicate that they are concerned about a struggling economy, and unfortunately, this depresses the value of the dollar which had been rising compared to the euro. Federal Reserve observers are split on whether there will be another round of quantitative easing. According to the CNBC survey in January, about half of the respondents believe there will be a QE3, while 44 percent say no. These same respondents are optimistic on the economy, as long as the European crisis does not turn for the worse and create a significant global event.

The International Monetary Fund cut its global forecast of 2012 growth from 4% to 3.3%, and already is dropping its projected growth forecast for 2013 from 4.5% to 3.9%. Those forecasts are still not set; they are dependent on the efforts of the 17-country euro zone coming together to fight financial turmoil. The IMF has also called on the European Central Bank and other countries to support the euro zone with additional funding. In an update, the IMF said, “The near-term outlook has noticeably deteriorated … The global recovery is threatened by intensifying strains in the euro area and frailties elsewhere.”

WEEKLY SPOT PRICES

Gold: Spot Gold prices opened this week at $1,678.40. The high was on Friday, 27th at $1,738.20, while the low for the week occurred on Wednesday, Jan. 25th, $1,649.20. Gold ended the week up $60.50 at $1,738.90. This week, the most popular Gold bullion products were 2012 Gold American Eagles, 1 oz. Pamp Suisse Gold Bars, and 2012 1 oz. Gold Maple Leafs.

Silver: Spot Silver prices opened this week at $32.37. Silver reached a high of $33.94 on Friday, Jan. 27th, while this week’s low for Silver occurred on Wednesday, Jan. 25th at $31.53. Silver ended the week up $1.67 at $34.04 The most popular Silver products on APMEX.com this week were 2012 Silver American Eagles, 2012 Silver Maple Leafs, 1 oz. Silver Buffalo Rounds and 10 oz. APMEX Silver Bars.

Platinum: Spot Platinum prices opened this week at $1,565.00 and ended the week up $60.80 at $1625.80. Popular Platinum products this week included, 1 oz. Platinum Bars, 1/10 oz. Platinum American Eagles, and 1 oz. Platinum American Eagles.

Palladium: Spot Palladium prices opened this week at $687.80 and ended the week up $3.60 at $691.40. Palladium investors preferred 1 oz. Pamp Suisse Palladium Bars and Palladium Canadian Maple Leafs this week at APMEX.com.

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The unusual Silver bullion coin, the Silver Kookaburra, was released in 1990 by the Perth Mint of Australia. These beautiful coins celebrate the interesting bird native to Australia. Due to the variety of designs and privy marks available on the Silver Kookaburra coins, these are very popular among collectors who buy Silver coins.

Each 1 oz. Australian Silver Kookaburra contains .999-fine Silver and includes proof-like frosting in the central design. The obverse features a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and lists the face value of the coin. The reverse displays the kookaburra. Every year, the coin has a slightly different design, which makes the Silver Kookaburra coins attractive to collectors. From 1990 through 2010, only 300,000 coins were minted each year; the 2011 and 2012 versions have mintages of just 500,000.

The Perth Mint originally began in 1899 as a branch of Britain’s Royal Mint in order to help supply the Gold sovereigns and half sovereigns, which were used as everyday circulating coins throughout the British Empire. In 1970, control of the mint passed from Britain to the Western Australian Government.

Order SILVER online today at APMEX.com!

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1.13.12 Weekly Recap

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Molten Gold Pour. photo: Flickr.com- Ashvin Mistry

Gold broke the recent trend of following the euro’s movements against the U.S. dollar, thanks to safe-haven investment demand that originated from the renewed jitters in Europe. Economic expectations are pessimistic with inflation rising internationally and economic growth declining globally. Investors are searching for a safe-haven investment, such as precious metals. According to Sundeep Sikka, with Money Manager (India) Inc., “The current global macroeconomic environment is very conducive for higher Gold prices.” Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors echoed this sentiment, saying, “People get so caught up with the next three minutes for Gold, and they should really be focused on the next three years. Does anyone really believe in the long-term strength of the U.S. dollar?” Holmes said the Gold price could double within the next five years. Investors are buying U.S. bullion coins at the fastest pace in over two years, and China is importing more Gold than ever.  One analyst noted, “The thing that’s caught people’s minds is the massive increase in Chinese buying.  Gold has demonstrated time and time again its ability to hold purchasing power.” A poll of 164 investors conducted by Nomura showed that 19.5% of them prefer to buy Gold and hold it until the end of the year. The poll compared Gold, bonds and stocks as investment choices.

The United States reached a “symbolic tipping point” as the country’s national debt surpassed $15.23 trillion, which is nearly equal to the value of its entire economy. Debt projections estimate that the U.S. economy grew to around $15.3 trillion in December, a figure the debt level is expected to surpass in January. Estimated retail sales figures for December were not quite to the levels anticipated, and a reported increase in jobless claims defied expectations. The U.S economy is facing several obstacles to successful growth, including a high unemployment rate, low demand in the housing market, and the European debt crisis. Economists will be evaluating their fourth quarter gross domestic product estimates after data was released Friday morning showing that U.S. exports declined in November, and imports rose.  The U.S. trade deficit is at its widest in six months, and is higher than the consensus expectations of economists.

The Federal Reserve’s modifications to its communication approach are drawing favorable reviews, with the Fed indicating that it will provide updates four times a year on its plans for short-term interest rates. According to the Fed, the U.S. economy is expanding at a modest pace. The main crux of further improvement continues to be a less-than-stellar jobs market, which has prevented incomes from rising. Residential real estate is still viewed as sluggish, but commercial property markets have shown improvement. Consumer confidence was generally “characterized as firmer than in recent reporting periods.” Transcripts released from the Federal Reserve policy meeting showed that as late as December 2006, top Fed officials including Chairman Ben Bernanke believed that the housing market was stabilizing and failed to anticipate the subsequent housing crash. Fed policymakers were seemingly oblivious to the threat housing represented to financial markets and the economy. The housing market’s crash resulted in a U.S. banking crisis and the biggest recession this country has seen since the Great Depression, as well as a corresponding increase in the price of Gold.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy met to discuss Greece’s unresolved debt issues and to create a plan to ensure that the euro survives a potentially failing banking sector. The announcement was made that Greece would not receive its second bailout package (which would prevent a debt default in March) until Greece reaches an agreement with creditor banks on a bond swap. This week’s bond sale in Italy was not as successful as investors had anticipated. Even though Italy met the planned amount of 4.75 billion euros, hopes had been that the sale would bring in twice as much. The European Central Bank (ECB) decided to keep its key lending rate at 1%.  Afterwards, ECB President Mario Draghi warned of the “substantial” downside risks to the eurozone’s economic outlook, including increased debt market tensions, and stated that although there are “tentative signs of stabilization,” uncertainty remains “very high.” Fitch Ratings expressed that the ECB needs to do more to help Italy, the next big euro zone country seemingly in danger of default. The head of sovereign ratings for Fitch, David Riley, described a potential collapse of the euro as “cataclysmic.”  A French newspaper published a story that said that Standard & Poor’s would be downgrading France’s “AAA” credit rating by one notch.  Although the paper didn’t cite any sources and an official announcement wasn’t scheduled until late Friday afternoon, stocks experienced a triple-digit drop.  Gold and Silver saw drops as well, although they quickly climbed back up to the levels they were at before the news was released.  The expectation is that several other euro zone countries will be downgraded; this could force investment funds to sell bonds because they have a requirement that a set percentage of their bonds be AAA-rated. For those countries that would be affected, this could raise their borrowing costs. At a time when debt is rising and GDP (income) is declining, the last thing these countries need is for borrowing costs to rise.

Several hedge funds indicated that they are not willing to accept International Monetary Fund (IMF) proposals to bring Greek debt down to affordable levels by taking a voluntarily 50% loss on bond holdings. Instead, the hedge funds would prefer to either let Greece go bankrupt in the hopes that the hedge funds will be covered by the credit insurance they bought to protect against loss, or to get others involved and force the issue so that the funds will get paid in full. It’s a dangerous game being played by two parties with completely different interests. The hedge funds are focusing on what is best for their clients, and the IMF is trying to fix the entire sovereign debt problem in Europe. Greece is preparing to start final talks that could affect whether that country stays in the euro zone. In a move that will probably not sit well with German constituents already opposed to Germany’s role in the Greek bailout, German Chancellor Merkel announced that Germany would be willing to pay more funds to help conclude negotiations over the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) permanent bailout fund. The Greek bailout is viewed as the key solution before the European Union can work toward growth and job creation.

Tensions continued to grow in Iran, as one of the country’s nuclear scientists was killed by a car bomb on Wednesday. The bombing came as sanctions were being toughened on Iran because of its nuclear program. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Iran immediately blamed the U.S. and Israel.  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has denied any American role in the slaying, and the U.S administration condemned the attack. However, Israeli officials, without admitting involvement, have hinted at covert campaigns against Iran, and Israel’s military chief of staff said that similar “unnatural” events could be expected this year if Iran continues along its path of nuclear development. The U.S. is looking for support from the Japanese government on imposing economic sanctions against Iran for its nuclear development program, as Japan is one of the top-three buyers of Iranian oil. President Barack Obama announced this week that the U.S. would freeze out financial institutions that deal with Iran’s central bank.

Recent data from China shows an increase in that country’s trade surplus for December.  Although expectations were met on export growth, import growth declined sharply. China is often seen as a major component of a global economic recovery. Barclays Capital Analysts said, “…the Chinese economy remains on track for a soft landing, with external weakness continuing to pose the biggest downside risk.” The U.S. and its allies are looking to impose stronger sanctions on Iran due to that nation’s nuclear ambitions, and China, as Iran’s top trade partner, seems to be caught in the middle. Hua Liming, former ambassador to Iran, said, “Iran will expect China to support its interests at the U.N. and other international circumstances, while the U.S. will exert tremendous pressure on China and use the Iran issue to judge if China is a ‘responsible’ major power.” Meanwhile, Chinese Gold imports from Hong Kong have climbed to a record high due to investment demand. China bought nearly 103,000 kilos from Hong Kong in November alone.

WEEKLY SPOT PRICES

Gold: Spot Gold prices opened this week at $1,609.20. The high was on Thursday, Jan. 12th at $1,622.90, while the low for the week occurred on Monday, Jan. 9th, $1,605.70. Gold ended the week up $32.10 at $1,641.30. This week, the most popular Gold bullion products were 2011 Gold American Eagles, 1 oz. Pamp Suisse Gold Bars, and 2011 1 oz. Gold Maple Leafs.

Silver: Spot Silver prices opened this week at $28.25. Silver reached a high of $30.68 on Thursday, Jan. 12th, while this week’s low for Silver occurred on Monday, Jan. 9th at $28.55. Silver ended the week up $0.86 at $29.81 The most popular Silver products on APMEX.com this week were 2011 Silver American Eagles, 2011 Silver Maple Leafs, 1 oz. Silver Buffalo Rounds and 10 oz. APMEX Silver Bars.

Platinum: Spot Platinum prices opened this week at $1,428.40 and ended the week up $64.20 at $1,492.60. Popular Platinum products this week included, 1 oz. Platinum Bars, 1/10 oz. Platinum American Eagles, and 1 oz. Platinum American Eagles.

Palladium: Spot Palladium prices opened this week at $616.80 and ended the week up $22.20 at $639.00. Palladium investors preferred 1 oz. Pamp Suisse Palladium Bars and Palladium Canadian Maple Leafs this week at APMEX.com.

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Australian Gold Lunar Coins

Designed by the Perth Mint in Australia, the Australian Gold Lunar coins are among some of the most beautiful coins in the world. Centered around the Chinese lunar calendar, the Australian Gold Lunar coins appeal to collectors and investors all over the world. Created because of popular demand from international investors and the success of the Australian Gold Lunar Series I coins, the Australian Gold Lunar Series II began in 2008 with the Year of the Mouse coins and will end with the Year of the Pig coins in 2019.

Struck from .9999 fine gold, Australian Gold Lunar coins are a great way to acquire and invest in precious metals. Legal Australian tender, most Gold Lunar coins are struck with a larger diameter. Inspired by China’s ancient lunar calendar, the Australian Gold Lunar Series coins feature the 12 animals central to the calendar’s stories. According to the lunar calendar, each of these 12 animals has a profound influence over those born under its year of “rule.”

Order GOLD online today at APMEX.com!

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11.23.11 Weekly Recap

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APMEX wishes you a

Happy Thanksgiving!

Markets posted significant losses this week because of the worsening European crisis, negative reports on the U.S. economy and Congress’ failure to agree on budget cuts. Gold dipped below $1700 on Monday but rebounded on Tuesday as investors chose Gold as their safe haven asset. Stocks have continued their run of losses; the S&P 500 posted a loss for the sixth straight trading day on Wednesday as the U.S. markets prepare to go on holiday for Thanksgiving.

The lack of an agreement among lawmakers in Washington raised the speculation that further downgrades to the U.S. credit rating could be coming, as well more large losses in equity markets. “Failure to reach agreement on at least the minimum required savings will reflect poorly on Congress and the S&P 500 could fall by 10 percent to 1,100 percent,” said David Kostin, an Goldman Sachs equity strategist. Kostin said,“The wide range of possible outcomes on both the super committee process and the unstable political economy in Europe drives our view that investors should assume the worst while hoping for the best.” Daniel Clifton, policy strategist with Strategas Research, stated, “We would expect further downgrades, a first downgrade from Moody’s and Fitch and possibly a second downgrade from S&P.”

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that the gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a less-than-projected rate of 2% from July to September. With the S&P 500 hitting its most prolonged slump in nearly four months, there is continued speculation that the Federal Reserve will provide another round of stimulus in response to this country’s sluggish economic growth. Peter Boockvar, an equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co., messaged his clients about the possibility of QE3. He wrote, “The bottom line with the Fed at this point is when they embark on QE3, as the top people there seem to want it. Whether they couch it in future economic conditions or not, the result is still the same:  printing money that they think will create a better environment for economic growth that they haven’t been able to achieve.”

Even Germany is not immune from the world’s aversion to risk. At an German bond auction, few traders showed interest in Germany’s debt, expressing concern that Europe is a risk. “[I]f even Germany cannot attract buyers, then the structural negatives are even worse than we thought,” said Jeremy Stretch, CIBC currency strategist. “The German bond auctions were the straw that broke the euro’s back,” said Kathy Lien, director of currency trading at GFT Forex.  “German bonds are normally perceived as the safest investment in Europe, so if investors aren’t willing to buy German bonds, then Europe is really in trouble.”

In the Middle East, Egyptians are protesting their new regime with deadly results; however, the Arab Spring has toppled another leader. Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has signed a power-transferring deal with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.  Yemen has joined Tunisia, Egypt and Libya in bringing about regime changes this year.  In a statement today, Saleh said, “We will be cooperative. … It is not the signing that is important; what matters are the good will and the start of serious and faithful work for real partnership to rebuild.”

Gold was pushed down this week, in part, by a stronger dollar brought on by a flight to cash in all asset classes.  The market is in a completely ‘risk-off’ mentality today, and Gold hasn’t been seen as a flight-to-safety vehicle lately,” Bill O’Neill, a partner at Logic Advisors.  “I don’t think the long-term outlook has changed, though.”

WEEKLY SPOT PRICES

Gold:
Spot Gold prices opened this week at $1,678.70. The high was on Monday, Nov. 21st at $1,727.40, while the low for the week occurred on Tuesday, Nov. 22nd at $1,667.50. Gold ended the week up $17.10 at $1,695.80. This week, the most popular Gold bullion products were 2011 Gold American Eagles, 1 oz. Pamp Suisse Gold Bars, and 2011 1 oz. Gold Maple Leafs.

Silver:
Spot Silver prices opened this week at $31.11. Silver reached a high of $33.04 on Tuesday, Nov. 22nd, while this week’s low for Silver occurred on Monday, Nov. 21st at $30.65. Silver ended the week up $0.69 at $31.80. The most popular Silver products on APMEX.com this week were 2011 Silver American Eagles, 2011 Silver Maple Leafs, 1 oz. Silver Buffalo Rounds and 10 oz. APMEX Silver Bars.

Platinum:
Spot Platinum prices opened this week at $1,549.90 and ended the week down $1.40 at $1,548.50. Popular Platinum products this week included, 1 oz. Platinum Bars, 1/10 oz. Platinum American Eagles, and 1 oz. Platinum American Eagles.

Palladium:
Spot Palladium prices opened this week at $587.60 and ended the week down $1.60 at $586.00. Palladium investors preferred 1 oz. Pamp Suisse Palladium Bars and Palladium Canadian Maple Leafs this week at APMEX.com.

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Buy this beautiful Silver Proof Mexican Libertad proof, box and CoA for the low price of only $8.49 per coin over the spot price! Each coin contains 1 full ounce of .999 fine Silver. This 1986 1 oz Silver Proof Mexican Libertad is contained in an original mint capsule and handsomely displayed in a decorative box with a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.  The value in this offer is sure to please any collector.

On the obverse, the Mexican Libertad coin features Victoria, the winged goddess of victory in Roman religion. The design was inspired by “The Angel of Independence,” a famous gilded victory column erected in 1910 in a Mexico City roundabout to commemorate the centennial of the beginning of Mexico’s War of Independence. On this Silver proof coin, Victoria holds a laurel wreath and a broken chain, symbolizing freedom. Behind Victoria are the two iconic volcanoes Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, which are steeped in Mexican lore. The legend of “Lover’s Peaks” recalls the Pre-Columbian tale of two lovers whose romance came to a tragic end. The attractive reverse of the Libertad displays the Seal of the United Mexican States, with a Mexican golden eagle perched on a cactus and clutching a snake with its beak and talons.

Buy Silver Proof Libertads today at APMEX.com!

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11.18.11 Weekly Recap

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The U.S. debt passed the $15 trillion mark this week.  What does a trillion dollars look like?  A trillion is 1 million multiplied by 1 million. 1,000 billion dollar bills in your pocket amounts to $1 trillion which is understandably inconceivable to most people. Americans should be alarmed about this $15 trillion debt when we learn that the ratio of U.S. debt to its GDP is now 102% and rising.  When the debt-to-GDP ratio of a country hits 90%, it begins to become a drag on future economic growth.  If this ratio climbs to 100% or higher, the economic growth becomes nearly impossible.

It appears that until Europe is fixed, its headlines will continue to drive the markets for the foreseeable future Robert Pavlik, Banyan Partners chief market strategist, expressed,“We’re capped, at least until we can knock Europe off the front page.” Gold fell more than $50/oz on Thursday as concerns of expanded contagion from the euro zone crisis caused large selloff in almost every market. There is a lot of fear, warranted or not, over the exposure of U.S. banks to the debt crisis in Europe.  The concern is not over any of the countries we’ve worried about over the past few months; the concern is the exposure of U.S. banks to French and British debt.  The exposure to Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain totaled a relatively manageable $50 billion as of Sept. 30th; however, the exposure to French debt is approximately $188 billion and exposure to British debt is approximately $225 billion.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Europe could be facing its toughest hour since WWII.  Greece and Italy both have new leaders but this does little to nothing in itself to solve the problem.  Both new leaders are rushing to form new administrations and coalitions to stave off the damage of escalating debt problems.  “Europe is in one of its toughest, perhaps the toughest, hour since World War II,” Merkel told her conservative party in Leipzig.  “If the euro fails, then Europe fails, and we want to prevent, and we will prevent, this.  This is what we are working for, because it is such a huge historical project,” Merkel said.  Investors continue to look for decisive action from euro zone leaders.

This time of year, hedge funds and other investment firms are required to make regulatory filings with the SEC to report their holdings.  These reports can give an indication as to the outlook of some of the world’s savviest investors.  It appears that many are cautiously optimistic but are still avoiding risk, mainly due to fears of a contagion from Europe’s financial woes.  Ryan Detrick, senior analyst at Schaeffer’s Investment Research, said, “We still think it makes sense to be cautiously bullish here.  Don’t go overboard, obviously, because those Europe concerns are clearly still relevant.”

In an interview on Wednesday, Christopher Waller, research director for the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, warned that economic recovery in the U.S. is likely to be a process that will take several years and that the Federal Reserve can do little to shorten it.  “Something’s happened in U.S. labor markets that we can’t overcome,” he said, adding, “No matter what we do, recovery is going to be slow.” Bullard has said the Fed shouldn’t engage in any additional easing of monetary policy unless the U.S. economy derails from its current modest growth, stating, “There’s no point in trying to say, ‘Cure cancer with monetary policy.’ It’s just not possible.”

Meanwhile, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans is pushing for a commitment from the Fed to do more to decrease the nation’s high unemployment rate.  Evans, who has been pushing for more aggressive action from the Fed for some time, said, “I just think this is the time to stretch the boundaries a little bit more and take a few chances.”  He is pushing for a plan that involves asset purchases (some form of quantitative easing (QE) as well as very low interest rates until the unemployment rate drops below 7% or until inflation rises above 3%.  At the most recent meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, Evans was the lone dissenter on the panel who favored more aggressive action, including a third round of QE.  Now, two more Fed presidents have released statements supporting Evans’ ideas.  But if Evans gets his way, how will the stimulus be paid for?

WEEKLY SPOT PRICES

Gold:
Spot Gold prices opened this week at $1,778.40. The high was on Monday, Nov. 14th at $1,797.60, while the low for the week occurred on Thursday, Nov. 17th at $1,711.00. Gold ended the week down $50.40 at $1,728.00. This week, the most popular Gold bullion products were 2011 Gold American Eagles, 1 oz. Pamp Suisse Gold Bars, and 2011 1 oz. Gold Maple Leafs.

Silver:
Spot Silver prices opened this week at $34.10. Silver reached a high of $34.92 on Monday, Nov. 14th, while this week’s low for Silver occurred on Friday, Nov. 18th at $30.93. Silver ended the week down $1.64 at $32.46. The most popular Silver products on APMEX.com this week were 2011 Silver American Eagles, 2011 Silver Maple Leafs, 1 oz. Silver Buffalo Rounds and 10 oz. APMEX Silver Bars.

Platinum:
Spot Platinum prices opened this week at $1,646.40 and ended the week down $48.50 at $1,597.90. Popular Platinum products this week included, 1 oz. Platinum Bars, 1/10 oz. Platinum American Eagles, and 1 oz. Platinum American Eagles.

Palladium:
Spot Palladium prices opened this week at $664.30 and ended the week down $57.80 at $606.50. Palladium investors preferred 1 oz. Pamp Suisse Palladium Bars and Palladium Canadian Maple Leafs this week at APMEX.com.

100 Corona Gold Coins & Gold 50 Pesos

For decades, these Gold coins have remained a world favorite for people interested in Gold investments because the premiums charged for these coins are normally lower than for most other Gold bullion coins. The 100 Corona coin contains 0.9802 oz. of 21.6-karat Gold. The Corona coins were originally issued from 1908-14, bearing the date of mintage; after the death of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, the coins were imprinted with the commemorative date of 1915. The Austro-Hungarian 100 Corona coin is no longer minted. The 50 Pesos coins were minted in Mexico City. The Peso coin contains 1.2057 oz. of 90% Gold and 10% copper that strengthens the coin to endure the wear of circulation.

Increase your Gold portfolio in thrifty fashion by adding Mexican Gold 50 Pesos bullion coins and Austro-Hungarian Gold 100 Corona coins to your holdings. While supplies last, buy Gold 50 Pesos and 100 Corona coins at only $24.99 per ounce over the Gold spot price at APMEX.com.

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