What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell us
Marketplace Scratch Pad

Gold and silver, silver and gold

Scott Jagow Jun 17, 2009

What if you could put money into a vending machine, and instead of a Snickers bar, out came a bar of gold? Well, a German company is making that a reality. I’d also like to point out a federal tax trial in which the accused paid his contractors in silver and gold coins, instead of paper money.

First, the gold vending machines. From the Financial Times:

The venture by the TG-Gold-Super-Markt company, based near Stuttgart, aims to build on soaring retail interest in gold purchases after a loss in confidence in a range of other investments as a result of the financial crisis.

“German investors have always preferred to hold a lot of personal wealth in gold, for historical reasons. They have twice lost everything,” said Thomas Geissler, the owner of the company, who hopes to install “Gold to go” machines in 500 locations in German-speaking countries this year.

“Gold is a good thing to have in your pocket in uncertain times.”

You do pay for the convenience of “Gold to go.” Prices are about 30 percent higher than market prices for the cheapest product in the machine. That’s a 1g wafer of gold.

Maybe it’s not surprising that a German company would do this, but if hyperinflation looms as a real threat, we could see a lot more movement into gold.

As I mentioned, there’s a federal tax trial in Nevada that involves a construction businessman named Robert Kahre. He faces life in prison on 57 counts of tax fraud and evasion. He was paying his workers in gold and silver coins, instead of cash. He told employees that for tax purposes, they could declare the face value of the coins ($50 a piece) instead of the market value, which is obviously much higher. An ounce of gold is selling for around $930 dollars.

Kahre’s lawyer described the payroll system as a “boycott of the Federal Reserve,” and that Kahre believes the country has debased its paper currency.

Kahre has very fervent supporters. In fact, the government is trying to find out the identities of the people who commented anonymously on this story from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The feds are apparently worried about juror safety because of hints of violence in some of the comments. For example, one commenter said, “The sad thing is there are 12 dummies on the jury who will convict him. They should be hung along with the feds.”

The case seems to underscore an element of anger that may only be growing stronger with the perception that the US government is taking a heavier hand in all matters.

Hat tip to reader Benjamin.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.