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Bullion Confiscation: Paranoia, or Justified Fear?

Articles & Blogs - Silver Commentary

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A question which I am regularly asked by readers (especially U.S. readers) is whether I believe that government(s) would once again confiscate the gold held by individuals. The question is a reasonable one, given the U.S.’s prior history of “gold confiscation” during a time of deep economic strife.

Executive Order 6102”, issued by the Roosevelt administration on April 5, 1933 commanded U.S. citizens to turn over all of their bullion holdings, with a few limited exceptions. The official exchange rate for all gold confiscated was $20.67 US, which was the official, fixed price for gold at that time.

There are many observations to be made about this event, and once examined it should be more obvious to people to what extent that threat exists today. To begin with, we must look to the purpose behind that Executive Order. Here, what we see is that there was more than economic strife which motivated this action.

By that time, Hitler had already risen in Germany, and the severely flawed Treaty of Versailles (which resulted from the Armistice of World War I) was increasingly seen as a driver of new hostilities in Europe, rather than the basis for a lasting peace. With the prospects for major, European war once again rising, it was imperative to the U.S. government that it have sufficient financial reserves to engage in its own military build-up.

Here, we must remember that the global monetary system was firmly tied to a gold standard at that time. Thus the only way in which the U.S. government could rapidly increase its money supply to finance its military without shattering the gold standard (as Nixon did in 1970) was to find a way to significantly (and quickly) increase its gold reserves.

Confiscating the gold of its own citizens was clearly the easiest way to accomplish this. A very nice article on this period by Bullion Vault points out another interesting aspect to this episode. Immediately after confiscation, the U.S. government “revalued” gold against the dollar (i.e. it devalued the dollar) to $35/ounce – netting the U.S. government an immediate 50% profit on the gold it had taken from its citizens. But that was literally only half the plan.

Despite the fact that the U.S. had changed its own gold exchange rate versus the dollar, the U.S.’s European allies did not change their own exchange rate between gold and the dollar – producing one of the largest arbitrage events in market history. Traders could buy gold in Europe at $20.67/ounce and then immediately sell that gold to the U.S. government at $35/ounce.

This did more than merely make a lot of European gold traders very rich. It directly and obviously resulted in a vast amount of total, global bullion stockpiles flowing into the U.S. – as the arbitrage opportunity functioned like a “vacuum cleaner” for the global gold supply.

While we can question the course of action for our warmonger governments during this tragic era of Western history, there can be no doubt that the action of the Roosevelt government in confiscating the gold of its citizens  was based upon bona fide economic, military, and political considerations. It is equally obvious that no such motivations exist today.

Certainly the U.S. is experiencing severe economic problems, indeed its economy is hopelessly insolvent – with the key word here being “hopeless”. Some readers have feared that gold confiscation would be seen by the U.S. government as a means to “stop the bleeding” of the U.S. economy. Such fears are misguided.

With the U.S. federal government having $14 trillion in current debt, plus another $70 trillion in “unfunded liabilities” (which now must be funded), the $100’s of billions it could net by making another clean-sweep of its domestic gold holdings are totally irrelevant in economic terms. Thus, if the U.S. government were still to engage in gold confiscation, it would be nothing less than a blatant act of theft by the U.S. government.

Even here, however, motivation is entirely lacking. For those worried about the U.S. government engaging in blatant stealing from its citizens (apart from the money-printing Ponzi-schemes of its bankers), the assets they should be worrying about are the $trillions in paper assets, conveniently located in accounts (operated by bankers) which could be confiscated in a instant merely by pointing-and-clicking. Indeed, there have been a rash of stories (all within recent weeks) of governments all over the world confiscating (paper) pension assets.

In contrast, gold confiscation is a ridiculously cumbersome exercise, where the costs to administer the scheme almost outweigh any benefits by themselves. As a final footnote on this issue, Wikipedia debunked a popular internet myth concerning U.S. gold confiscation in the 1930’s: that safety deposit boxes were “seized and searched for gold” as part of that Executive Order.

In fact, Wikipedia observed that such a directive never existed, and that private safety deposit boxes were never subjected to any searches based upon this administrative action. The only way in which someone could have their gold seized from their safety deposit box was if the government had a lawful reason to search the box – connected with a separate/different criminal violation.

This reinforces what I have said repeatedly to bullion-holders regarding the issue of “storage”. A safety deposit box is in the “custody” of the bank, but (legally) the contents of those boxes always remain in our own “custody”. This is wholly different from either allocated or unallocated bullion accounts where the bullion itself is always legally in the “custody” of the bank administering the account. Thus, if “gold confiscation” were to take place in the U.S. (or anywhere else), any/every ounce contained in these accounts would immediately be seized, while those with bullion in safety deposit boxes would not necessarily be affected.

For reasons listed above, however, I now view the issue of “gold confiscation” as a moot point. What surprises me, and what I intend to address in the balance of this commentary is that the issue of silver confiscation does not seem to have even been raised by any other commentator, let alone examined in a serious manner.

In many of my own commentaries, I have gone into detail on the numerous (and ever-increasing) uses of silver in myriad industrial applications. Not only are many of these products of great importance to both consumer and commercial markets, but because of silver’s superb (and unique) chemical/metallurgical properties, in many of these applications there are either only inferior “substitutes” available, or no substitutes at all.

Compounding the importance of silver in our modern economy is the fact that (as has frequently been reported) both global inventories and stockpiles of silver are nearly totally exhausted. Thus, we have in the silver market something which is entirely absent in the gold market: a legitimate motive for confiscating silver.

Undoubtedly, silver-holders would be furious should the U.S. government (or any other) seek to engage in silver confiscation (almost certainly at only a fraction of silver’s real “fair market value”). There may even be riots in the streets. But unrest would be short-lived, because with a plausible (and even somewhat reasonable) pretext for confiscation, public opposition would quickly wane.

In this respect, we must look at the now-famous internet “campaign” by Max Keiser and friends/allies to “take down JP Morgan” as a two-edged sword. I would (will) undoubtedly be one of those cheering the loudest on the day that this odious Oligarch is forced into bankruptcy. However, a blatant and direct “threat” to bring down arguably the single most-important financial institution in the entire U.S. economy may be viewed by the U.S. government as both “an economic threat” and as a “threat to national security”.

We need only look to Afghanistan and Iraq for examples of the extremes to which the U.S. government will go under the pretext of “national security”. Compared to its global military rampage, confiscating any/all of the silver it could lay it hands on would be nothing more than a minor “footnote” to current events.

In this respect, Bullion Bulls Canada has not joined the growing internet clamor to “take down JP Morgan”. We will certainly monitor this important grassroots movement, but our own policy is not to engage in active promotion of this campaign. To those parties who are actively crusading on this issue, I would hope that they would take the time to seriously evaluate the consequences of their actions.

Taking down” one of the most notorious banking oligarchies in the history of humanity may (is?) a noble goal. However, as individuals laughingly parrot the phrase “let’s take down JP Morgan”, it’s important that people realize that this is not some “internet browser game” but real life, with real consequences.

Despite being an ardent silver-bull myself, I always caution readers to maintain “balance” in their bullion holdings. Indeed, I have devoted a previous commentary to a conservative (but simple) strategy for investors to use in allocating their dollars between gold and silver.

The reason why I have warned investors not to go “all in” in silver is because it was always possible to envision scenarios where silver’s seemingly much brighter future may not play-out as silver investors currently envision. Sadly, current circumstances have now created such a plausible scenario where it is silver confiscation, not “gold confiscation” which should be an issue pondered by all precious metals investors.

Comments (68)Add Comment
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written by JBoss, March 01, 2011
Thanks jeff.
I made the move out of etfs and accounts and such...glad i did!! now its jst a matter of where to keep the actual stuff. Thanks for the suggestions and expertise!
written by bobbbny, March 01, 2011
Sczech, you could also buy gold in Reichsmarks in Germany in the 20's. It was just a question of price. Those who held the paper ultimately lost all. This is not a relative game in the end, it is absolute. You either have purchasing power or you don't. Gold was sold in Zimbabwe dollars as well.
The difference between the post Nixon era and today is the absolute level of debt relative to any measure: GDP, personal savings, wages in real terms, you name it.
The dollar today is several standard deviations away from where it would be priced if only one of a number of events were to happen. A move to a basket of currencies for oil purchase, a refusal of the Chinese to buy any more of our debt, a prolonged period of 20% unemployment (the REAL number), or the release of the tidal wave of mortgage foreclosures currently being ignored.
Only the printing of more paper can temporarily forestall a couple of these events; the unemployment & the foreclosures.
A move away from the dollar for oil would be a disaster for our economy.
The removal of the Chinese buyers would be fatal.
A collapse of the Saudi monarchy could be fatal as well, but I won't even go there.
The warning bells are ringing!
Exchange your paper for tangible goods while you still can.
The average US supermarket will be cleaned out in 7 minutes.
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, March 01, 2011
Yes Jboss, you must have PERSONAL CUSTODY of your bullion - no "funds", no "accounts".

For Canadians, we still have some time to make such arrangements. U.S. residents have no such luxury. Their "safety" deposit boxes are no longer "safe". "Confiscation" could occur in a matter of WEEKS from now.

In the U.S. "personal custody" basically means a home safe or secure "hiding place".

In Canada, which does not (yet) have a "Patriot Act", safety deposit boxes STILL remain a legitimate means for Canadians to have CUSTODY of their own bullion. And funds such as the Sprott "Trusts" and CEF remain safe (at the moment) since THEY store their bullion in Canada.

Note that if the risk of "confiscation" rises in Canada too (a likely prospect) that we Canadians may also have to quickly adjust.
written by JBoss, March 01, 2011
Ok Jeff, thanks. I understand what you mean by balance/diversification, but as far as preparing/protecting the amount of investment I already have in bullion, do you, or anyone else, have any suggestions? Thanks.
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, March 01, 2011
Sczech, I already addressed that argument:

Five hundred years ago, you could purchase a FORTUNE in goods with a few tulips. A few days later they were "worthless".

Obviously the "irrational behavior" was not the price of tulips going to zero, it was people TREATING tulips like a valuable asset when they were obviously worthless.

This is a simplistic argument which has no logical validity.

Jboss, if we're creating a little "fear" here regarding the risk of bullion confiscation, that is a GOOD thing.

There is nothing WORSE for an investor than "unbridled confidence". It is the SECOND biggest cause of "bad decisions" - behind only EXCESSIVE fear.

What I want to do is to help people achieve "balance": balancing risk with reward, diversifying one's investments in a prudent manner, etc.

If you ARE "balanced", and you ARE aware of the REAL risks which exists, then you should not have to worry about excessive fear - since PREPARING for these possible risks beforehand will MINIMIZE the potential adverse consequences.
written by JBoss, March 01, 2011
woof. it seems as if the general consensus is... silver is the safest dangerous investment of all time haha is that the conclusion? that its great but might be too great? should i put it all in a DasSafe austrian safe? i mean its certainly better than money at this point for reasons we've beaten to death but... not if we can't spend it on anything in the open market bc of the government...
could we then just put it in our attic for 20 years until it was legal to use again or something??? geez i was finally feeling smart for making a killing off of an investment and now it seems as if in the end its going to be completely fruitless lol o well... money isnt everything
written by sczech, March 01, 2011

I am glad to see that my comments have given rise to such a strong reaction. Let me add one more comment on the "worthlessness" of the US Dollar. The notion of the worthless Dollar (as you may know) is not new. In fact, it started with the closure of the gold window by Nixon in 1971 and reached a temporary peak around 1980 when gold and silver peaked for the last time. It got a little bit quiet during the 1990's, but the talk about the worthless Dollar never really disappeared. Nothing new here.

There is no question on my mind that the Dollar like every other fiat currency will disappear one day. However, it has not disappeared yet and it is definitely not worthless today. Those who claim the opposite face a logical problem: How can the worthless Dollar buy gold - the ultimate currency? Isn't that a contradiction of terms? Are those dealers who sell gold coins for worthless Dollars really that stupid? Somebody should tell them that the Dollar (and all the other fiat currencies) are completely worthless. Maybe, these dealers will also accept worthless Zimbabwe dollars as payment for gold?
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, February 28, 2011
Bobbbny, one of the reasons for the "sudden uptick" in comments is that there has been very LITTLE "dissent of opinion" regarding my commentaries recently, so in that respect this is a healthy sign (not to mention "good for business" - lol).

It's been a little bit of "piling on" here (sorry Sczech), but this obviously illustrates the vehemence we have regarding certain "hot button" issues: the USD, confiscation, and anything/everything to do with the ruling cabal of bankers (lol).

As long as things remain respectful, then there is plenty of "room" for debate on these issues!

written by bobbbny, February 28, 2011
Jeff; I haven't been on for a few days & I'm amazed at the response this post is getting.
A faulty post gets more attention than a pretty girl in a mens prison.
The rapidly unraveling truth is that nearly ALL the worlds developed economies are bankrupt, and are desperately trying to keep the paper Ponzi scheme afloat.
Did you hear that even today Ireland is asking for more generous terms on its ECB bailout? The one they just got!
This is post Versailles Europe all over again.
The massive debts will only lead to the same result, default.
Call it rescheduling, restructuring, partial forgiveness, interest moritorium, or anything you like, it is post WW1 Europe all over again & it will have the same result.
Only this time it is truly global.
Most US states are effectively bankrupt.
The Federal government is effectively bankrupt.
Only the sheeples belief in paper money is forestalling collapse.
They will not believe forever.
When you realize that the Emperor has no clothes & that you have gotten screwed out of every promise from your pension to your 401K, then you will get angry.
As every despot in the Middle East, and soon other parts of the world realize what happens when the people wake up, so it will be for the banksters when their fraud is revealed.
Everyone here should be thankful for their insight & preparations.
You are the new illuminati.
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, February 28, 2011
Bobbbny, to add to your comment, obviously the circumstances our governments are in is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH more desperate than at the time that the traitor Roosevelt confiscated Americans gold and silver.

THIS is a big part of the reason why the propaganda-machine ONLY pumps GLD and SLV (and funds and "accounts" generally) while doing everything possible to make HOLDING OUR OWN BULLION seem unattractive/inconvenient.

WHEN the U.S. government confiscates bullion a SECOND time, they merely have to click their "mouse" and EVERY "ounce" of bullion which (actually) exists in those funds is GONE...AND every "bullion account" in the U.S.

The good news for those of us who AVOID these fraud-funds is that with OTHERS choosing to sacrifice their own bullion, this makes it less likely the government will start 'rifling' OUR safety deposit boxes and busting down doors - although I wouldn't want to rely upon a U.S. safety deposit box under any circumstances now.
written by bobbbny, February 28, 2011
A few observations.
Yes, there are St. Gaudens & other gold coins for sale. Heres one reason why, from wikipdedia.

Executive Order 6102 required U.S. citizens to deliver on or before May 1, 1933, all but a small amount of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates owned by them to the Federal Reserve, in exchange for $20.67 per troy ounce. Under the Trading With the Enemy Act of October 6, 1917, as amended on March 9, 1933, violation of the order was punishable by fine up to $10,000 ($167,700 if adjusted for inflation as of 2010) or up to ten years in prison, or both. Most citizens who owned large amounts of gold had it transferred to countries such as Switzerland.[citation needed]

Order 6102 specifically exempted "customary use in industry, profession or art"—a provision that covered artists, jewelers, dentists, and sign makers among others. The order further permitted any person to own up to $100 in gold coins ($1,677 if adjusted for inflation as of 2010; a face value equivalent to 5 troy ounces (160 g) of Gold valued at about $6200 as of 2010). The same paragraph also exempted "gold coins having recognized special value to collectors of rare and unusual coins." This protected gold coin collections from legal seizure and likely melting.

The price of gold from the Treasury for international transactions was thereafter raised to $35 an ounce ($587 in 2010 dollars). The resulting profit that the government realized funded the Exchange Stabilization Fund established by the Gold Reserve Act in 1934.

The regulations prescribed within Executive Order 6102 were modified by Executive Order 6111 of April 20, 1933, both of which were ultimately revoked and superseded by Executive Orders 6260 and 6261 of August 28 and 29, 1933, respectively.[2]

Add to this the people who kept more than $100, or didn't turn them in at all.
To argue that this is not confiscation is absurd.
It is outright theft!
That $100 today, even if compounded at the average rate for savings accounts of say 3%, would double every 24 years. Thus, by 2005 it would be $800. Lets round up & call it $1000 in 2011 money.
The five ounces of gold is worth $7000.
Which one is better Johnny?
Going forward it will only get worse for holders of Bernanke bucks.

As for a $10 bag of groceries, what planet did that come from?
I can't get 3 gallons of gas for $10.
I CAN, however get 3 gallons of gas for 50 cents worth of silver coin.
50 cents X twenty two times face value (todays market) equals $11, the price of the 3 gallons.

The confiscation was the foundation of the bankster paper money Ponzi scheme that is now unraveling faster than a cheap sweater.
written by paxjds, February 28, 2011
If I recall, the dollar is now only worth about 2% of what is was worth when the Federal Reserve Bank was formed in 1913. Gold is up 7,000 % since then, $20 an OZ then and $1400 now. Clearly Gold is real money, and paper bankster money is Almost worthless. Sorry Jeff, 98% correct is still an A+ by most standards.
The government did more than tell citizens to turn in their gold in 1933. The governmant gave a big incentive with $ fines and imprisinment if you did not turn in your gold. Freedom really went down the drain with Comrade Roosevelt running things with the New Deal.
Most of the Gold was turned in, as thats how the Gov got 10,000 Tons to store in Fort Knox. Someone mentioned St.Gaudens coins that are sold on the internet. PCGS publishes the year, condition, mint, quantity known on planet earth, and approximate current price of these coins that slipped through Roosevelts crooked fingers. Prices per 1 OZ St Gaudens pre 1933 gold coins typically run from $2,000 to over $600,000 per 1 OZ coin. So much for loose comments about the abundant supply.
So an OZ of Gold is now worth $1400. The twenty(20) $1 Paper dollars equivalant are now worth $.40. Lets see, $1400 divided by $.40 times 100 % is equal to a differential percentage increase in gold of 350,000% versus the dollar since 1913. I think its past time to confiscate dollars and replace the pxss poor stewardship of the Federal Reserve Bank an other Central Banksters with commodity based currencies around the world. Who in the hell do banksters think they are kidding? Peasants in China are buying and saving gold; not dollars, yens, or Euro's.
written by subscriber, February 28, 2011
Sorry szech, that is absolutely not true. The US Mint was established by the Constitution simply to take privately owned gold and silver, mint them into a common form, and return them to the owners.
Coinage Act of 1792 Section 14.
And be it further enacted, that it shall be lawful for any person or persons to bring to the said mint gold and silver bullion in order to their being coined; and that the bullion so brought shall be there assayed and coined as speedily as may be after the receipt thereof, and free of expense to the person or persons by whom the same shall have been brought. And as soon as the said bullion shall have been coined, the person or persons by whom the same shall have been delivered, shall upon demand receive in lieu thereof coins of the same species of bullion which shall have been so delivered, weight for weight, of the pure gold or pure silver therein contained:

The government could also buy metal itself, mint it, and spend it into circulation. You can read the Constitution, you can read the 1792 act, you can read Edwin Vieira's two-volume work on the monetary history of the USA, Pieces of Eight, and you will never find anything like what you state.

IF, that were the case, why would the USG even need to promulgate an act of confiscation in 1934? They did so exactly because the gold was not theirs and they needed color of law to assert ownership and keep it .
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, February 28, 2011
Sorry Sczech, but now you're just 'making stuff up'.

The trouble with that interpretation is that currency is not owned by the people holding it. THe currency is legal property of the government minting it and brought into circulation in order to promote economic exchange. People holding currency do not own it. The currency in their possession is only on a temporary loan from the government at best. To use currency for other purposes than money is illegal. That is the reason why melting coins is an illegal activity.

The government's "ownership" of "legal tender currency" is RESTRICTED to their self-asserted claim that we are not allowed to DESTROY IT. If we owned a herd of cows, and the government suddenly declared cows "an endangered species", we could (legally) be prevented from KILLING the cows, but this in no way negates our OWNERSHIP of the cows.

As for your point that our banker-paper is (now) just (worthless) "IOU's", we are in entire agreement on that point - as it is a central theme in my writing as to WHY these currencies are worthless.

The "value" of any IOU from an insolvent deadbeat is ZERO.

Conversely, the REASON why governments don't want to let "the little people" hold bullion is because bullion is NEVER anyone else's "IOU". Thus they can NEVER bankrupt bullion-holders with their own, bad debts - unlike with their paper currencies, where EVERYONE "goes down with the ship".

So in lumping "good money" together with banker-paper, you are unequivocally WRONG.
written by sczech, February 28, 2011
The trouble with that interpretation is that currency is not owned by the people holding it. THe currency is legal property of the government minting it and brought into circulation in order to promote economic exchange. People holding currency do not own it. The currency in their possession is only on a temporary loan from the government at best. To use currency for other purposes than money is illegal. That is the reason why melting coins is an illegal activity.

Back to Roosevelt. The gold coins he recalled were strictly speaking not the property of the people. It was property of the government.

Disclaimer: I am not against gold. To the contrary. I am of the opinion that we need to protect our savings by keeping part of it in precious metals. However, the desire to own precious metals should not tempt us into bending the truth. If we do that, we are not much better than banksters and other crooks. In addition, many people coming to this site wish to learn the truth. For that reason, everybody posting here has the ethical obligation to stick to the truth rather than convenient fairy tales.
written by subscriber, February 28, 2011
Here's how it works:

subscriber (S): Jeff, this is an emergency - you MUST let me hold your gold coin.
Jeff (J): Well, OK, I guess if it really is an emergency...
S: Don't worry Jeff, you can have it back later. Here's my IOU.
J: OK, thanks.
S: (Later) Jeff, about that gold coin of yours - well, it belongs to me now.
J: What about this IOU?
S: Oh, due to the emergency, that IOU has been devalued, so now it's only worth 59% of what it used to be worth.
J: WTF??!!
S: Don't worry, Jeff - you still have ONE IOU, just like you had before. It's for the good of, ummmm ... The Country!
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, February 28, 2011
Nyfiken, good observations!

Yes, simply trying to TAKE bullion (with ZERO compensation) would INCITE REVOLT.

To your list of means the government can use to bully people away from holding and USING precious metals as "money" we can add the MOST IMPORTANT element: the DELIBERATE "destruction" of global silver stockpiles, through first grossly under-pricing silver, and second MAKING SURE that only a tiny amount was/is recycled.

DESTROYING the world's silver supply is even BETTER than confiscation - since what is confiscated can (and would) eventually come back into circulation. Meanwhile, recycling silver from landfills is likely at least a generation away...
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, February 28, 2011
Szech, regarding your dictionary definition of "confiscation", what is IMPLIED by that definition is that it would be FAIR COMPENSATION for what was seized.

As Subscriber pointed out (and history CONFIRMS) the "plan" all along was to give the CHUMPS only HALF what their gold was worth - and then, AFTER they had been tricked into surrendering their gold, their PAPER was IMMEDIATELY devalued.

Suggesting that this partial-theft represents FAIR, LEGITIMATE "compensation" is an exercise in semantics, which clearly perverts the dictionary definition which you cited.
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, February 28, 2011
Subscriber, thanks for the additional historic context. All of this material (and much, much more) is available on a link originally posted on the forum:


As for your comment about the USD not being worthless, 500 years ago TULIPS were worth a fortune to the Dutch - and then in a FEW DAYS they became worthless. Attempting to demonstrate "absolute value" via the behavior of ignorant sheep is a futile endeavour.

I just wrote a commentary explaining (via SEVERAL metrics - all based upon fundamentals) WHY the USD is already worthless.

I suggest you read it:

"0% Interest Rate = Worthless Dollar"
written by Nyfiken, February 28, 2011
The best way to defeat an advisary is to take away his weapon(s) to make him vulnerable. In the case of precious metals, the crooks (gubmint, banksters) need for the public to continue using their fiat currencies. When the citizens turn to real money (precious metals) in order to preserve their wealth, it becomes neccessary for the crooks to stop the practice or trend. It is likely that the people would revolt if their precious metals were taken from them. Therefore, TPTB will probably take another route; they will either tax it to death or they will make it illegal to trade precious metals, or BOTH. Therefore, you can keep it (if you can afford the taxes) but you can't use it for trading. The crooks won't have to take precious metals from the citizens...many citizens will give it up willingly in the event that either scenario is implemented. To wit, Vietnam has already hit upon this idea and is in the first stage of this process of 'confiscation by stealth':
written by subscriber, February 28, 2011
szech, Confiscate - seize by legal authority for the public treasury

As detailed in my post, the USG broke up the whole process of eliminating gold from our domestic monetary system into several steps spread out over nearly a year, so that where they were ultimately headed was disguised. The confiscation itself was broken up into two halves: 1) Collection of the gold and 2)Declaration the USG was henceforth the direct owner of the gold.

When the bullion was taken up there was no plain legal seizure. The citizens were required by law to exchange their gold for paper. The Secretary of the Treasury issued a statement at the time, containing the following:
"Those surrendering the gold of course receive an equivalent amount of other forms of currency and those other forms of currency may be used for obtaining gold in an equivalent amount when authorized for proper purposes." Having by such means got physical possession of the gold, it was a very simple matter for the government to confiscate it. All that it had to do was to have Congress pass a law vesting title in the government.

This gold had never belonged to the USG in any sense. They merely minted the coins and put them into circulation. They coins were the property of the holders. Paper currency was understood to be fully convertible into coin and fully equivalent to coin. But this state of affairs was exactly what the New Dealers wanted to end.

On January 30, 1934, the second half of the confiscation took place. Now that the USG had possession of the gold, they simply issued a written proclamation that the gold no longer belonged to it's previous owners, but to the USG.

As to your other statement, New Dealers certainly promoted the idea that they needed to take over the US economy to "save" us all from the depression:
The word emergency was then understood to mean what the dictionaries said it meant — namely, a sudden juncture of events demanding immediate action. It was supposed to refer only to the panic and the banking crisis, both temporary.

But what it meant to the president, as nobody then knew, was a very different thing. Writing a year later, in his book, On Our Way, he said,

Strictly speaking, the banking crisis lasted only one week…. But the full meaning of that word emergency related to far more than banks; it covered the whole economic and therefore the whole social structure of the country. It was an emergency that went to the roots of our agriculture, our commerce, our industry; it was an emergency that has existed for a whole generation in its underlying causes and for three-and-one-half years in its visible effects. It could be cured only by a complete reorganization and measured control of the economic structure. It called for a long series of new laws, new administrative agencies. It required separate measures affecting different subjects; but all of them component parts of a fairly definite broad plan.

Just as today, the USG is claiming to be "saving" us again, as they borrow and spend us into oblivion. There is no good reason to think, in either case, the the economy could not have recovered on its own, if only the normal rules of commerce were allowed to operate. But this would have meant great losses to those on top, and could not be allowed.
written by sczech, February 28, 2011
A quote from Wikipedia: "Confiscation, from the Latin confiscatio 'joining to the fiscus, i.e. transfer to the treasury' is a legal seizure without compensation by a government or other public authority."

Question: Is the above definition of the word "confiscation" not correct?

The so called "confiscation" of gold by Roosevelt needs to be put into perspective by the desperate situation of millions of workers and families in the depression of the 1930s who were innocently hit by the economic catastrophe following the stock market crash of 1929.

Monetary policy is always part of social policy. These two can not be separated.
written by subscriber, February 28, 2011
Roosevelt put out the above executive order calling in the gold on April 5, 1933. This was supposedly a temporary, emergency measure. Nothing was said about any further steps to be taken - just turn in your gold for paper. Certainly, many people just kept their gold. But the problem was not that squads of jack-booted thugs were going to come looking for it. It simply became illegal to spend that gold in commerce, or to sell it. The value of privately held gold was severely compromised. Admitting to the possession of gold carried the risk of being turned in.

Next, an Inflaton Amendment was attached to an Emergency Farm Relief Bill. This amendment gave the president unilateral power to devalue the dollar by up to 50%, but no formal devaluation took place at this time.

On June 5, 1933 Congress formally repudiated the gold redemption clause in all government obligations. Now that they had the gold in their hands, they were going to keep it.

For the remainder of 1933 the USG bought gold at seemingly random prices:
In the president's words the procedure was like this:

I am authorizing the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to buy newly mined gold in the United States at prices to be determined from time to time after consultation with the secretary of the treasury and the president. Whenever necessary to the end in view we shall also buy or sell gold in the world market. My aim in taking this step is to establish and maintain continuous control. This is a policy and not an expedient.

Each morning thereafter the Treasury announced the price the government would pay for gold in paper dollars, one day 30 paper dollars for one ounce of gold, the next day 32 dollars, two days later 34 dollars, and so on; and not only the newly mined gold in this country but anybody's gold anywhere in the world. Thus day by day the president and the Secretary of the Treasury determined the value of gold priced in American paper dollars, or the value of American paper dollars priced in gold, which was the same thing; and how they did it or by what rule, if any, nobody ever knew. - The Revolution Was

The result of this was that private lending practically dried up. People had been used to thinking of a dollar as equivalent to a certain amount of gold. With the dollar/gold price arbitrarily changing from day to day, nobody knew what the value of the dollar in which a loan would be repaid.

The USG intended this, and stepped into the breach, taking over the lending function (Reconstruction Finance Corp., etc.). Wall Street and private business were denounced for their unpatriotic unwillingness to lend, and the Hero USG was there to save the day (after having first created the problem they wanted to solve).

On January 30, 1934, the USG passed a law vesting title to all the gold they possessed in the USG itself. This was the act of confiscation, undertaken 10 months after the gold had been physically collected. It's worth repeating this this was not announced or hinted at the previous April when the order to turn in the gold was promulgated. At that time people expected to be able to get their gold back again after the emergency had passed.

The final step took place the very next day:
The ninth and last step was to devalue the dollar. In his message to Congress asking for the law that confiscated the gold, the president said, "I do not believe it desirable in the public interest that an exact value be now fixed." Nevertheless, on January 31, 1934, the day after the act of confiscation was passed, he did fix the exact value of the dollar at 59 per cent of its former gold content. The difference, which was 41 cents in every dollar of gold that had been confiscated, was counted as government profit and took the form of a free fund of two billions in the Treasury, called a stabilization fund, with which the president could do almost anything he liked. Actually it was used to take control of the foreign exchange market out of the hands of international finance.

Control of money, banking, and credit had passed to Washington.

QED. Your USG at work, 77 years ago.

written by JBoss, February 28, 2011
Yes the double eagles are still available...i came across one recently and there are plenty on ebay... but does that mean the government never had those coins? or does it mean that they had them then they just got recirculated? obviously when the government confiscated the pre 1933 gold coins they didnt hold onto them forever...
and where do you shop where you can get alot of groceries for 10 dollars bc the rest of america would like to know haha
but seriously, thanks for your long answer to my question i like the insight
written by sczech, February 27, 2011

take a look at the number of pre 1933 gold coins offered for sale on ebay. Where do these coins come from if government forced the population to surrender the gold? There was apparently a huge number of people who ignored Roosevelt's call to surrender their gold coins. No other explanation is possible.

To claim that the US Dollar is worthless is a joke at best. I just bought a round trip air ticket to Europe from the US for $650. Are you saying that traveling a distance over 5000 miles in 8 hours has no economic value? Yesterday I bought more food for $10 than I could comfortably carry home in shopping bags. All worthless?
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, February 27, 2011
Sczeck, the mere fact that compensation was paid does not negate the fact that gold and silver were "confiscated" (i.e. the FORCED surrender of their bullion). Had no compensation been paid it would have simply been theft.

In FACT, it was more of a "bait and switch" as the ability of U.S. citizens to SWAP their paper for gold wasn't taken away until AFTER they surrendered their gold - or the government NEVER would have gotten it so easily.

As for the current era, the U.S. dollar is ALREADY worthless. The USSR's huge war-machine didn't stop their empire from collapsing, and the U.S. is MORE insolvent that the Soviet Union was.

The "fear of deflation" is nothing but bankster propaganda, since the ONLY people who need fear deflation are deadbeats, insolvent governments, and over-leveraged bankers. Otherwise deflation (as the Austrians knew all along) is the great CLEANSER of economies.

Bullion confiscation is likely coming again since all the bankers who run our economies know how to do is lose money - and steal it.
written by sczech, February 27, 2011
Roosevelt did not confiscate gold. What happened is that all gold coins were collected and exchanged for paper currency at the going rate of $20 per ounce. It is really unfair to call that a "confiscation". A confiscation would require that gold coins be taken without any compensation - that is not what happened.

One needs also to emphasize the fact that Roosevelt did not really have a choice. In order to devalue the Dollar, he had to remove gold from circulation. Those who claim that there was no need for a devaluation, live in a fantasy world. Deflation is a dangerous force, in many ways more dangerous than inflation. Once it sets in, currency devaluation is essentially the only choice left.

During the past 100 years we have seen many fiat currencies fail. In not a single case was a failing fiat currency replaced by a gold or silver standard. In all cases, a failing fiat currency was replaced by a new fiat currency. Why should it be any different in the future? If the Dollar fails, most likely a new fiat Dollar will be issued. In fact, it is pretty safe to claim that there will never be a return to a gold standard. The issues are fractional reserve banking and excessive lending. These issues have little to do with gold.

100 years ago, the Japanese Yen was on par with the US Dollar. After WWII, the Japanese devalued the Yen versus the US Dollar by 99.6% (1 Dollar = 360 Yen). Even such a drastic devaluation did not lead to a new Japanese currency. If the Dollar devalues by 90% in the future, why should the government issue a new currency? There is not need for that to happen in my opinion. Please note that after a devaluation by 99.9% a currrency is still not worthless.

During WWII, Nazi Germany has confiscated gold. There was a very simple reason why the Nazis had to do that: In order to buy essential resources from abroad, the had to pay in gold since their own currency was not accepted by foreign banks. In fact, the Nazis traded with the Swiss who demanded payment in gold.

If the US ever gets into a position where Dollars will not be accepted as payment for imports, then I could imagine the government forcing its citizens to give up their gold and silver holdings. However, in order for that to happen, the US military must lose it power first. As long as the power of the US military is respected in the world, the Dollar will be accepted as payment for imports. The war in Iraq was partly undertaken in order to punish a stupid dictator for thinking that he could refuse to accept Dollars as payment for oil exports.

Finally, regarding a possible silver scarcity in the future. Before a silver confiscation would be contemplated by the government, I think silver mines would be forced to sell their product to the government. That is what happened during WWII when all economic resources were directed towards the war effort. It could happen again. Regarding the alleged short position of JP Morgan, it is pretty obvious that JP Morgan will settle in cash in case it can not deliver silver. Rules on Comex have been changed in the past and they will be changed again in the future. A banking giant like JP Morgan will not go down because of a lack of fiat. That is the beauty of fiat: It can always be created on demand at zero cost. It all comes down to politics (and not to geological scarcity).

We still do not have any precise knowledge how much silver remains to be mined at silver prices of 30 or 100 Dollars. As long as this question is not properly answered, I would not worry too much about silver scarcity.
written by JBoss, February 23, 2011
if the government KNEW who had silver in a safety deposit box...via tracking their internet record orders or whatever... does anyone think they would then go into the safety deposit box? considering it would save time ...
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, February 21, 2011
Thanks Subscriber, I'll fit some "reading time" into my schedule today.

After discovering (to my chagrin) that my understanding of "history" was VERY deficient regarding the silver market, I am feeling MORE than humble enough to go looking for further "enlightenment"!
written by subscriber, February 21, 2011
Very few have read Garet Garrett's great essay, "The Revolution Was" (http://mises.org/daily/2726, in which he gives the blow-by-blow account of just how the gold confiscation was pulled off. There was a lot more to it than most of us know. The entire essay would repay several readings, since it was written by a contemporary and explains the entire New Deal, but the gold confiscation discussion appears under the heading "Problem 2: To Seize Economic Power".
So, what the New Deal really intended to do, what it meant to do within the Constitution if possible, with the collaboration of Congress if Congress did not fail, but with war powers if necessary, was to reorganize and control the "whole economic and therefore the whole social structure of the country." And therein lay the meaning — the only consistent meaning — of a series of acts touching money, banking and credit which, debated as monetary policy, made no sense whatever.
"The Revolution Was"
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