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Estonia – The EU’s secret center for silver (interview)

LessThunk Interview with Stephan Krämer, CEO of CelticGold AG.

Stefan, thanks for taking the time for this interview (Stefan is the CEO of CelticGold, which was founded at just the right moment, back in 2001; right at the start of the bull market).

LT: Over the last 10 years, I have dealt with many coin dealers out there that offer competitive prices, but one day I had a technical problem whilst trying to order during a price drop and was delighted to get a reply from the CEO at 11pm, so I was still able to place my order via email .. while the developers sorted out the issue. That moment built instant trust with me, which I won’t forget and it is clear that trust goes a long way, especially in the mail-order coins business.

What got you into the coin business?

SK responds: A simple question from a customer: What do you think about silver as an investment? I didn’t know at the time but said I would research it and come back. That was the start. After researching and studying gold, silver and monetary history for one year every night from 9pm to 3am I was convinced that gold and silver investments are a brilliant idea. And it was clear that the only way to invest was physical coins and bars.

LT: Why are you based in both Germany and Estonia?

SK responds:We moved silver logistics into Estonia in February 2013 because of the vat rulings on silver coins. Gold is handled in Frankfurt. Legal tender silver coins are regarded as “money” and yet European governments view it as a “commodity”.

We were delighted to find out that the Estonian government (the only one in the EU) shares the same view: Money can’t be taxed. So the legal tender silver coins that we offer on celticgold.eu are sold vat-free at Europe’s guaranteed lowest price. 

LT: What coins do you specialise in?

SK responds: In general, investment gold and silver bullion and coins. The most traded silver products are Philharmonic and Maple Leaf.  With gold the Heraeus Gold bars; the Maple Leaf and Krugerrand gold coins are the most traded.

LT: Why did you decide to only go into investment coins as opposed to the collectables/numismatics ?

SK responds: We specialize in investment products only as we want to offer investments that are as close to the gold and silver price as one can get – for direct physical ownership.

Numismatics and collectables usually trade at high premiums (the difference between gold spot price and buying price) and therefore we do not view them as suitable investments.

LT: What is your favourite coin?

SK responds: I actually like them all but a few years back I bought the 1 Goldmark which was a 999.9 pure minted Gold Deutschmark when the Euro was introduced. Back as a little kid 1 Deutschmark was a fortune so I like the memory of it.

LT: What is your forecast in 2015 on the gold and silver price? What is your long-term forecast?

SK responds: We see gold moving sideways, in a fairly volatile range and silver moving up to a gold/silver ratio of 1:60 by the end of the year. That would mean gold $1,500/oz and silver $25/oz. Silver has currently from both fundamental and technical aspects the biggest potential. In the long term forecast 5-10 years we see a deflationary scenario followed by inflation.

QE and bond buying programs of Central Banks around the world in record dimensions will have unintended consequences that no one can foresee. 

What we know by studying monetary history is that all man-made currencies have failed – no exceptions. And what researchers found out is that hyper-inflation can only occur in a paper based currency system when trust fails.

So we see the “fight of deflation” of the Central Banks going on for quite some time and at some point people will move on and start putting trusting into something else (gold and silver for example). It is possible that a new currency or currency basket will be introduced.

Depending on how the scenario unfolds (inflation or deflation) gold may rise to $5,500/oz or remain at a level of $1,500/oz while everything else will become worthless.

The World Gold Council did a recent study and confirmed again that gold (and silver) will do well in both scenarios.

https://www.gold.org/sites/default/files/documents/gold-investment-research/the_impact_of_inflation_and_deflation_on_the_case_for_gold.pdf

In the last Gold Talk in Dublin and London I said that in a deflation it’s all about “not loosing”. The investor usually looks for yield and gold and silver do not offer a yield. In a deflation the investor needs to add risk to the portfolio in order to get a return as bonds, savings, etc. do not offer any yield. Adding risk in a deflation is double-risky as setbacks on stock markets are more severe historically.

Gold and silver do not yield but they are a store of value and the investor can exchange them anywhere around the globe into currency.

I’m explaining this as it’s important to not put a price tag on gold and silver. Prices are relative.

LT: Do you see a increasing demand for coins? Which countries buy the most? We hear the trend that gold is moving from the west to the east, is this so ?

SK responds: China and India account for 60% of the annual gold consumption.  From the 1940s on  the Central Bank sales moved West to East, too.

The retail business on a global scale accounts “only” for 10% of the annual total supply so we can see that there is no massive investment demand for physical coins and bars – compared to the overall liquidity in bond, stock and real estate markets.

We see an increasing demand whenever people view mountains of debt and unsustainable economic policies as a thread to the value of their life savings.

LT: Can you, as a coin dealer make sensible forecasts from the demand and supply? Is the demand outpacing supply today?

SK responds: As said above, the retail investment only account for 10% of the annual supply and we see shortages of gold and silver products on a regular basis when investor demand rises.

There are still reserves with current mine production and demand, with silver and gold of around 20 years.

Compared to other commodities such as copper (39 years) and oil (54 years) gold and silver are fairly scarce.

The problem with demand and supply is that the gold and silver markets are tiny compared to market capitalization of bond and stock markets.

If only 2% of the market cap wants to move into gold and silver then the above reserve numbers go down to a few months.

LT: One keeps reading about these record sales from the mints; do you have any idea what the world wide storage numbers are (in case of

supply disruptions)?

SK responds: The Mints record sales do not get stored with bullion banks or whole sale bullion companies. This stock moves mostly to private investors. The inventory of all German bullion banks and bullion companies usually sells out within 48h when demand rises dramatically.

LT: Do you sell more silver than gold? What is the ratio? Do you believe in the gold-silver ratio?

SK responds: We have a different situation as we offer vat-free silver in our Estonian branch. So our gold/silver ratio is 1:1 in currency whereas with other bullion companies the ratio is 80% gold and 20% silver.

LT: Are counterfeit coins a real problem? How do you test against it?

SK responds: Not really. With any good bullion company products that come from circulation are tested and screened. The best idea is to buy from a reputable source and not via ebay or flea markets, etc.

The bullion industry reacted to the counterfeit threat by implementing security features that almost impossible to copy.

The best example is the Maple Leaf gold and silver coin with the engraved laser mark and the radial lines.

We addressed how to test gold and silver and security features in the Gold University here:

http://www.celticgold.eu/b_en/gold-university/gold-investor-101-fake-silver-coins-and-how-to-avoid-to-the-scam.html

http://www.celticgold.eu/b_en/gold-university/gold-investor-101-fake-gold-bar-scare-security-features-on-kine-gold-bars.html

http://www.celticgold.eu/b_en/gold-university/fake-gold-bars.html

http://www.celticgold.eu/b_en/gold-university/how-to-identify-a-good-gold-bullion-company.html

LT: What advice (if any) do you give your customers? What coins are you personally holding? Are you also investing in precious mining companies?

SK responds: We don’t provide advice but we publish our views on the markets, gold and silver and how to safeguard ones wealth in the Gold University on celticgold.eu.

I personally hold a mixture of the most traded coins, such as Krugerrand, Maple Leaf and Vienna Philharmonic.

LT: What news are you monitoring to run your business as well as what are you reading?

SK responds: We follow the bullion newsletters, legal news, mainstream and alternative news. We did a series of

sources we read in the Gold University here:

http://www.celticgold.eu/b_en/gold-university/category/basic_knowledge.html?filter=1

LT: Do you have any contacts with the BRICs (Brazil, India, China, Russia)?

and How different is the coin collecting business elsewhere?

SK responds: We don’t have contacts with the BRICS and do not currently trade there.

LT: Have you heard of Hugo Salina’s coin idea?

http://lessthunk.com/2015/02/24/ask-the-expert-hugo-salinas-price-february-2015-sprott-money/

and What do you think of it?

SK responds: Brilliant idea. We have followed Hugo Salinas Price for quite some time and wish him every success with his silver project.

LT: What do you think of Bitcoins?

SK responds: Bitcoin is a valid approach to an alternative currency. As with every crypto currency the value is found in two factors: A computer with functioning internet access and servers and the perception of people investing and trading in it.

As Jim Sinclair said: Currency is for trading and gold for saving, we view every crypto currency as a currency and do notrecommend to put savings into it.

LT: Thanks Stefan, good luck with 2015

SK responds: My pleasure, bye !


Categorised as: Investing | Life

Posted by: Kramer



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