Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is Germany Defaulting On Gold Bearer Bonds?

[T]he likely moral of the story is the following: If you want to invest in gold, invest in gold — not a paper-linked contract backed by a bankrupt sovereign
This is a fascinating story which I came across on the Financial Times news blog, FT Alphaville.  Apparently Germany issued gold-bearer bonds back in the 1920's and 1930 to U.S. investors.  A U.S. investor has possession of some of these bonds and a U.S. court of appeals has upheld a ruling that Germany must face the default-claim lawsuit and that the U.S. has jurisdiction.  Here's the link to the story:  Germany Defaults On Gold Bonds? and here's the original news release from Bloomberg:  LINK

More interesting is the fact that these are "gold-bearer" bonds, which means that the bonds are redeemable by the investor in gold.  I actually don't want to make more of this situation than should be made of it at this point in time. If you review the facts as presented in the two articles, it looks like Germany should be on the hook for these bonds and may be jockeying for some kind of settlement.

HOWEVER, that being the case, will Germany be willing to settle this lawsuit in gold?  And is Germany dragging its feet on this case because it does not want to pay the claim in gold?  It has been long-suspected by those who have studied the metals markets for over a decade that Germany's sovereign gold has been largely swapped out and leased, similiar to that of the United States.  For a provocative and well-researched article on this subject, please refer to this 2002 must-read article by James Turk:  Where's all The Gold?

If you read that piece by Turk and then take another look at the above lawsuit, you might have a different perspective on this whole situation and understand why I wanted to bring it to your attention and the relevance of the opening quote from the FT.


  1. SofaKing thinks this article should be labeled:

    "A warning to GLD and SLV Owners"

    I'm sure these were found in a box labeled "Defaulted Bonds". The reality is when you find buried treasure, it is usually Gold and Silver coins. These fellas dug up some old promises and are looking to cash in.

    What would happen if I took my old Gold Certificate US Bills to the Fed? Would a bill from the 1920'2 with a $20 face value get me one once Gold Eagle, like it rightfully should? Anybody?

  2. That's a great question SK. You should call up your regional Fed office and ask them. Let me know if you do.

  3. Found this on the U.S. Treasury web site:

    Question: I have some old gold certificates and would like to trade them in for gold. What should I do?

    Answer: Gold certificates were withdrawn from circulation along with all gold coins and gold bullion as required by the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. Gold certificates circulated until December 28, 1933. That is when the President ordered private owners of gold certificates to deliver their notes to the Treasurer of the United States by midnight on January 17, 1934. It was then illegal to hold gold certificates. C. Douglas Dillon, the 57th Secretary of the Treasury, removed the restrictions on the acquisition or holding of these notes on April 24, 1964.

    Under 31 U.S.C. 5118(b) as amended, "The United States Government may not pay out any gold coin. A person lawfully holding United States coins and currency may present the coins for currency . . . for exchange (dollar for dollar) for other United States coins and currency (other than gold and silver coins) that . . ." citizens may lawfully own. Although gold certificates are no longer produced and are not redeemable in gold, they still maintain their legal tender status. You may redeem the notes you have through the Treasury Department or any financial institution. The redemption, however, will be at the face value on the note. These notes may, however, have a "premium" value to coin and currency collectors or dealers.

    So I guess it wasn't only Hitler who defaulted on his obligations in the 1930's. Ain't that some shit?

  4. what about german gold bond quarantied by JP Morgan

  5. Daws, Reinoldby Union, Post war war 11 gold bonds. JP Morgan backed ?? any body know about these ?

  6. The German state governments have never refused to honor debts contracted by previous administrations in the form of bond issues. However, the unparalleled inflation that beset Germany during and after World War I rendered the Mark valueless. For that reason, any bonds were sold in "lots" on the American market for a fraction of their price. This popular practice was supported by the hope that the securities would bring a fortune once the currency crisis was over. Unfortunately, between 1914 and the end of 1923, the German Mark had declined from an exchange rate of 4.2 Marks per U.S. dollar to an astounding 4 trillion 200 billion Marks per US dollar.

    On August 20, 1924, Germany issued a new currency, the Reichsmark (RM), for which 1 RM equaled 1 trillion old Marks. Subsequent to World War II, the RM was replaced by the Deutsche Mark (DM) with an exchange rate of 1 DM for 10 RM.

    Effectively, based on one DM currently worth about US$0.60, one trillion old German Marks dating back to 1924 are only worth about 6¢ today.

    A second legislation entitled "Wertpapierbereinigungsschlußgesetz", which became effective on January 28, 1964, set the deadline to file a claim for December 31, 1964. Although several extensions were subsequently granted, no claims have been processed since June 30, 1976.