Is there a panic out of paper currency in Japan? I have been reporting in the EPJ Daily Alert that the Bank of Japan may launch a major money printing campaign once BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa's term ends early next year. He is likely to be replaced by someone much more in favor of aggressive money supply growth. It appears concern about this is emerging among parts of the Japanese people (but not all).
Nick Badalamenti points me to a blog post from Mike in Tokyo, which says in part:
Tanaka is about as good as you can get in Japan. Last week I went with a friend to Tanaka Precious Metals to investigate the status of the market availablity of silver.
What I found was a shock.
The last time I was at Tanaka over a year ago, they sold silver bars in sizes from 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 gram bars. A 1000 grams is a kilogram. After that, they sold only 30 kilogram bars (that's a hefty piece of metal!)
When I arrived at Tanaka Precious Metals, they were packed with customers - selling metals! But they had a notice up saying that they no longer sold bars of silver in any size under 30 kilograms!
There were no longer small bars that the regular folks (like you or me) can but. The 30 kilogram bars are for industrial use and corporate investors. Sure. A 30-kilogram bar of silver costs about ¥2,790,000 (about $34,000 USD!)
My friend only wanted a 1000 gram bar (about $1000)... So we called around.
The results blew my mind. After calling five dealers, we only found ONE Tanaka marked bar in all of Tokyo. I took him over there and he bought it. It was the last one.
I asked the clerk about the situation and she told me that it is still relatively easy to obtain shiny silver rounds as those carry a high premium price over spot, but standard bars are getting harder and harder to obtain.
That's points, my friends, to something going on here.
Some folks say that gold and silver prices are in a bubble. That's doubtful. Why? From what I witnessed, regular folks were selling off yet the dealers had no stock.
What's going to happen when Japan's currency crisis really hits and those people who are selling all of a sudden turn around and realize that they need to have those 50, 100 gram bars and they can't?Writes Badalamenti following up on an earlier post of mine:
In some ways I think this problem may be visiting us stateside as well eventually as the desire for people to hold real money increases...especially in light of your zerohedge post on US mint coin purchase spike.This is true. Though the thing to keep in mind is that the number of holders of gold and silver are still very small relative to the overall population even in the US. If price inflation heats up in the US in 2013, as I expect, more and more will start considering gold and silver as investments and the upside moves in gold and silver are going to be pretty spectacular. I won't be surprised to see days when gold jumps higher by $100 per ounce or more.