On March 1, I blogged about a recent Financial Times (UK) article in which American investment banker/risk manager/attorney/financial commentator James Rickards recommended storing gold in private, non-bank vaults in Switzerland. Such advice from Rickards, who penned The New York Times bestsellers Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis (2011) and The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System (2014), isn’t exactly new. Back on June 17, 2015, The Gold Chronicles, a production of the Cayman Islands-based Physical Gold Fund SP, uploaded an interview with Rickards on its website. The New York-based adviser on capital markets to the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of the Secretary of Defense spoke highly of Switzerland regarding asset protection matters. Rickards shared with listeners:
With regard to Switzerland specifically, Switzerland is my favorite jurisdiction in the world for security and liberty and respect for the rule of law…
The Swiss do take this seriously. They have not been invaded successfully for over 500 years or maybe longer. The last time somebody tried to invade them, a Swiss force met them on almost a suicide mission. The Swiss were outnumbered and killed, but they just wanted to prove a point and they did. The invading army retreated pretty quickly.
Of course, the country is heavily armed. A lot of those mountains that you like to ski on and they look pretty from the train, well, guess what? They’re hollowed out and have armaments, artillery, communications, and command-and-control stations. It’s interesting to note that some Swiss vaults are buying hollowed out mountains from the Swiss Army and using them as vaults. Some of the expanded capacity, in terms of Swiss vaulting, is actually inside a number of these mountain tunnels and chambers that have been hammered out for defensive purposes.
For all the reasons I mentioned, i.e., rule of law, national security, integrity, tradition, liberty, I think Switzerland is probably the best place in the world to store physical wealth. I know a lot of people talk about Singapore, but I’m just not a big fan of Singapore. It looks kind of libertarian from the outside with pretty good rule of law, and I do business in Singapore, but it’s a little too close to China. It’s a little too under the Chinese thumb for my comfort whereas Switzerland, I would say, isn’t under anybody’s thumb.
(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)
Is Switzerland really the go-to country for protecting lawfully-obtained and owned private wealth? I mean, certain members of the U.S. financial community have recently proclaimed that Switzerland has capitulated to those seeking to eliminate privacy and eventually confiscate individual wealth to increase government coffers.
Interested in finding out if Switzerland still maintains its long tradition of respecting and protecting privately-owned assets, I recently communicated with a Swiss private vault that offers safe deposit boxes in the mountainous Gotthard region (Altdorf). Swiss Gold Safe Ltd. spokesman Ludwig Karl was very reassuring that Switzerland can and will respect/protect individual wealth as it’s something still largely embedded in the national consciousness. From a March 4 e-mail:
We have chosen Altdorf for private lockers, because it is a landmark and symbol of freedom. In Altdorf, the bailiff Gessler, representing the count of Habsburg in central Switzerland, requests that everybody greets his hat on a rod on the market square. William Tell refuses reverence to the hat. The bailiff forces William Tell to shoot an apple off his sons head with his crossbow. William Tell hits the apple, but he has prepared a second arrow to shoot the bailiff in case he would have hurt the child. Later on William Tell shoots the Austrian tyrant Gessler in the hollow way between Immensee and Küssnacht.
Later in 1291, the three oath-takers (Eidgenossen) from the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden, wanted to be free and independent and founded the Old Swiss Confederacy with their oath on the “Rütli”, a silent meadow above Lake Lucerne. Nowadays, central Switzerland is often associated with the notion of the réduit, the Swiss bunker and defence system in the Alps, developed around the time of the Second World War. This idea of réduit – of resistance – is still firmly entrenched in the national psyche and often associated with the St. Gotthard mountains.
Beside the fact, that we are a well-armed nation, we have cultivated the so called “spiritual defence” (geistige Landesverteidigung), a strong and widespread political will of the Swiss population to defend Switzerland’s independence and democratic constitution against aggressors of all kind. We have a long tradition of respecting private property and wealth and are willing to defend our values of freedom.
Today, Swiss Gold Safe uses the privatized Bunkers successfully and offers security lockers and storage in remote surroundings…
That’s right. Swiss Gold Safe is one of those non-bank vaults Rickards was referring to when he said, “Swiss vaults are buying hollowed out mountains from the Swiss Army and using them as vaults.” From their website:
Swiss Gold Safe Ltd. is a privately owned Swiss storage company, founded in 2006, totally independent from banks and other organisations. Near Altdorf, in the Gotthard massive we offer safe deposit boxes in a high security bunker, originally constructed for the Swiss army and privatized in 2007…
Swiss gold safe indeed, by the sound of it.
So is Switzerland still “the best place in the world to store physical wealth”? The arguments in support of that idea sure seem quite compelling.
The Rickards interview can be listened to here on the Physical Gold Fund SP website. For more information about Swiss Gold Safe Ltd., which is celebrating 10 years in existence in 2016, you can visit their site here.
By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)
(Editor’s note: The mention of entities marketing themselves as private vaults outside the U.S. offering safe deposit boxes/lockers at a minimum should not be construed as confirmation of services claimed to be provided or any sort of recommendation. A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. Christopher E. Hill, the creator/Editor of this blog, is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented on the site.)
Rickards’ soon-to-be-released book…