SAN ANTONIO (U.S. Global Investors) - When I talk about the Love Trade, India and China are frequentlydiscussed since the two countries have been dominating worldjewelry demand. Turkey's love for gold, though, cannot beoverlooked, as an estimated 5,000 tons have been accumulating inpeople's homes for years. Turkey is now offering incentives for people to store their gold inthe bank instead. |
By acknowledging the hidden wealth of the EasternEuropean nation, this move will allow banks to lend more money andultimately improve the country's current account balance . Turks' Love Trade dates back more than 5,000 years ago, when goldjewelry was produced in Anatolia. That city still holds the world'soldest jewelry art. Istanbul is the center for the production ofgold jewelry and is also home to the Grand Bazaar which wasconstructed in 1461 and remains "the heart of the Turkish goldjewelry sector," says the World Gold Council (WGC).
Similar toIndia and China, Turks view the precious metal as both an adornmentand a traditional form of saving. From a very young age, girlslearn that gold is a wealth preservation asset, which helps explainwhy almost a quarter of those surveyed in Turkey today chose goldas their top investment choice, says the WGC. You can see on the chart below how jewelry has historically been amajority of gold demand until just last year when half of golddemand came from investment, as gold coins and bars reached recordlevels, says the WGC. In November 2011, ahead of the changes considered under Basel III , Turkey's central bank said it would allow lenders to hold up to10 percent of local-currency reserves in gold , according to the Wall Street Journal. As of March 2012, the central bank increased the percentage to 20percent.
Now, retail investors can not only hold their gold jewelry, barsand coins in an account at a bank, but can also accumulate gold inaccounts, with tax-free 24-carat gold transactions. The WGC sayspeople can choose among gold deposit accounts, gold checks, goldcredits, gold transfers, gold gram accounts and protected capitalgold backed gold funds. Now, total gold deposits in the bankingsector have reached an estimated $7.69 billion, according to theWGC. I discussed last June how gold was being considered as a Tier 1 asset by the BaselCommittee on Banking Supervision.
The international bankingsupervisory committee helps ensure global banks have adequatecapital, and the yellow metal was historically considered a Tier 3asset with a net stable funding ratio of 50 percent. This meansthat banks' gold holdings have historically been discounted by 50percent of their current market value. I said at the time thatupgrading gold to Tier 1 encourages banks to increase gold's shareof their reserves. By making this change last year, Turkey is light-years ahead ofother central banks around the world since the changes do not gointo effect until January 2013. All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to changewithout notice.
Some of these opinions may not be appropriate toevery investor. Frank Holmes is CEO and Chief Investment Officer of U.S. GlobalInvestors - SUBSCRIBE to Mineweb.com's free daily newsletter now.
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