How Would You Like That Gold?

Initially, we thought this was a pretty crazy thing: “Why would someone go to the trouble of stashing gold bars in the ‘free zone’ at the Zurich airport?”

In 2010, our friend Egon von Greyerz invited me to check out a way station in the global gold bullion trade. Egon has three decades of experience in the global asset–protection business.

We spent nearly a week in Zurich during the European Gold Forum, examining opportunities offered by his firm, Matterhorn Asset Management. Egon gave us a personal tour of the vault facilities and described how one goes about storing gold bars there—outside the reach of even Swiss customs authorities. The vault is used by big banks like UBS to move bullion around the globe for its uber-elite clients, but as Egon showed me, it can be used by individuals quite easily, too. Gold affords you flexibility you can’t get otherwise.

For starters, you can keep gold in a safe-deposit box in a foreign bank. Many banks are willing to do this even if you don’t have an account. That’s because under IRS rules, gold in a safe-deposit box does not qualify as a “foreign financial account.”

Sounds great, until you start to think about the logistical hoops you have to jump through to make this happen. You have to buy the gold and then make arrangements for it to arrive at the bank of your choice, where it will then go in the safe deposit box.

That creates its own paper trail. And good luck trying to do it yourself, transporting a significant ...

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