Monday, 8 March 2010

Gold and Tungsten

Unlike the gold bar in my publisher's competition there may be be a big problem with the gold stored in places such as Fort Knox and the Bank of England. Whilst researching for the third book I came across the fact that tungsten metal has almost exactly the same density as metallic gold. Couple this with gold being currently about 800 times the price of tungsten, it offers the ideal opportunity for fraud by embedding tungsten within gold bars.
A little bit further investigation on Google there are plenty of recent stories on this subject, here's one such recent story and another. Of course you should be cautious about believing all that you see on the internet, but the precursor conditions are there and there seems to be a lot of speculation.
Couple this with the fact that a lot of people have put their money into gold following the recent sub-prime mortgage scandal. For convenience most of these people either bought a share of a gold bar stored somewhere in a gold vault or they purchased shares in the companies holding gold bars. Some of these securities are called ETFs. (Exchange Traded Funds?). The rumour is that in some cases the underlying physical gold bar security may have been re-leased several times for different securities, i.e. the total risk greatly exceed the value of the underlying asset. 
Now the Perfect Storm conditions arise when people realise that the same gold bar is in fact gold plated tungsten. The fake bar weighs almost exactly the same as real gold. suddenly a whole bunch of paper securities are totally valueless.
The rumour further extends in that the governments of India, Russia, China have been buying gold bars to soak up all of the excess dollars that they've accumulated, but you've guessed it ....  So now they are carefully testing every bar and refusing any that is not as it should be. So if a western bank wants to sell gold to the expanding economy countries it will not be possible to pass the fake gold, thus the ratio of fake gold/real gold in their vaults will increase. 

A relatively simple electronic test can spot the fake gold. Of course the UK & USA Governments could easily quash this story as a rumour if they employed an independent team to check each gold bar in the reserves and other major Banks. Sadly though, who would believe Gordon Brown if he stood hand on heart and said our gold is ok?


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