Tuesday, November 24, 2009

HSBC to Retail Gold Buyers: "Get Your Gold the Hell Out of Here"

This is a fascinating report from WSJ's Carolyn Cui, which is probably the best proof yet that institutional buyers are moving into gold:
Fleets of armored trucks piled with gold bars and coins have been streaming out of midtown Manhattan in one unexpected consequence of the gold craze.

Amid gold's rise -- it has gained 32% this year and reached a record on Monday -- investors have been loading up on bullion and coins. One big problem now is where to store it. The solution from HSBC, owner of one of the biggest vaults in the U.S.: somewhere else.

HSBC has told retail clients to remove their small holdings from its fortress beneath its tower on New York City's Fifth Avenue. The bank has decided retail customers aren't profitable enough and is demanding those clients remove their gold to make room for more lucrative institutional customers...

The movement of gold from HSBC has created a stir not only among the bank's clients, but also among owners of warehouses and vaults around the country.

"I have never seen any relocation like this," says Jonathan Potts, managing director of FideliTrade, the parent company of the Delaware Depository Service Co., which has two warehouses in Wilmington. FideliTrade's two vaults have been filling up at an unprecedented pace, in part because it is taking in metal that has been ejected by HSBC...

Dealing with the fallout from HSBC's decision has become a full-time job for David Norris, executive vice president of GoldStar Trust Co., a Canyon, Texas-based retirement-account trustee, which organizes metal storage for its clients.

Mr. Norris says HSBC told GoldStar in July to immediately cease sending coins for storage. GoldStar, which had sent clients' holdings to HSBC for at least 15 years, is now figuring out how to get the coins out of the HSBC vault and down to the Delaware facility. "I can jump up and down and scream all day long about how much I don't like it. But it's their business decision," Mr. Norris says...

HSBC is telling clients to either move their metal, or prepare for it to be delivered to their doorsteps. In a July letter, seen by The Wall Street Journal, HSBC said the precious metal "will be returned to the address of record... at your expense," unless instructed otherwise...

Vault and warehouse owners say retail customers tend to be more expensive in part because of their diverse holdings. They usually buy American Eagle or Canadian Maple Leaf coins, and bars of various weights and sizes, all of which need to be categorized and stored separately. In contrast, institutions typically buy standardized bars of 100 or 400 ounces, making them easier to store. Institutions also tend to hold the metal for long periods...

Typically, a vault is protected with a 27-inch thick steel reinforced wall, surrounded with a "man-trap" -- a series of doors, each of which opens only after the previous door is locked, Mr. Coleman says.
Read the full article here. (Subscription required)


  1. Numismatist gold...Bullion can still be confiscated.

  2. Anything can be confiscated. Numismatist items being treated as melt metal is sad, sad, sad. If all you want is the metal, buy the metal.

  3. Perhaps the central bank has forgotten the F5 – Refresh button. Who are the institutional customers and who are the retail ones…It’s a illusion to the gold market…Actually who is making out the big profit still in the clouds of Inflation and Poverty…
    Gold Bars