ixnay on the x-ray

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    Precious Metals and International Travel

    Precious Metals and International Travel

    By Guest Author: Laurie McGuirk


    Gold $437 Silver $6.88 Thursday 25 August, 11am Sydney

    Well, the MiM2 was a huge success both professionally and socially. If people didn’t learn a lot then they must’ve been sleeping! Pearls of wisdom were dropped everywhere, even at the bar at 3 am. Professor Scott Reamer held court at Jimmy’s Pub around that time each night and he always made perfect sense to me! Lisa and I enjoyed the retreat immensely and are already certain starters for next year. I am so pleased that we took the plunge and decided to jump across the creek to LA, even though the flight was one of the less enjoyable 14 hours of my life. The pain was worth it, no doubt.

    I put down some other thoughts and observations on the trip earlier. What was very surprising to me was the reaction of security and customs to a few innocuous little blocks of metal that I was lugging around for use in the breakout discussions at Ojai.

    Lisa and I got to Sydney Kingsford-Smith airport about 3 ½ hours before we were due to depart. Apparently there is only a 2 hour requirement for all airlines, except United. Why, I dunno, because there wasn’t any difference in procedure that I could see that Qantas or other carriers used. Who are we to argue with “officialdom?” So we did what we were told.

    After checking in our bags, we set sail for immigration whereby the usual x-rays and security were in full swing. I put my hand luggage on the conveyor belt that runs through the x-ray machine and I walked through the little scanner that goes off if you are armed with such weapons as hair clips or tweezers. No buzzers went off and so I waited at the end of the machine for my hand-luggage. I watched the fella whose job it was to make sure we didn’t carry any nasty weapons or anything. He stopped the machine, studying the frozen “picture of the contents of my bag and he had this puzzled look on his face.

    “Watchya got in the bag, mate” he said. “Some blocks of metal”, I replied. “They’re too dense, I can’t see through them” he said, quizzically. ”Good, I’d be concerned if you could”, I replied. “Take ‘em out and show me”, he said. “No, not here with 500 people queued up behind me. Let's go to a private room”, I said. So he gets the supervisor and we head off to do a “private search” at my request. I don’t want half an airport knowing that I have many thousands of dollars worth of metal in my bag!

    They took me into the “private” room and were very professional and courteous. I showed them my 5 kilo bar of Silver, a couple of 10 oz bars of gold, a set of proof Gold coins and a few old Sovereigns. That Lisa had another gazillion bucks worth of gold jewelry was inconsequential. They inspected the metal bars and said that everything was fine. Then one of them said “You know that you must declare if you are taking out more than $10,000 in monetary instruments”. Thinking quickly, I said that the coins had a face value of only A$200. That the gold content was over $1500 was irrelevant – The face value was stamped on the coin! The Aussie Nugget 1 ounce coin has a stamped face value of A$100. The ½ ounce is A$50 and so on. Regarding the bars, I immediately shot back that it was “only gold and silver and that they aren’t monetary instruments like the coins, in fact they’re just a commodity. Even Alan Greenspan says so.” They looked at each other and said “Fair enough, have a nice flight.”

    I reckon I did pretty well with those negotiations and thought that invoking Sir Alan was a masterstroke! There was nothing illegal about me taking the stuff out of the country; it just has to be declared. Well, when it comes to precious metals, I just don’t want any official record of what I might or might not own!

    And we still had to get them home through the same hoops in LA.

    At LAX, after the most memorable conference I have ever attended, Lisa and I went through all the "security hoopla" and, as we approached the x-ray machine, I told the bloke operating it that I had some stuff in my bag that would set off their "alarms". In the meantime, Lisa had been hauled out and was getting frisked by the “jewelry police”.

    Anyways, the x-ray guys were very interested as I explained that 5 kilo silver bars and 10 ounce gold bars would show up as "black holes" on their machine. We discreetly removed said bars and the x-ray was fine. They said they had NEVER had anything like that before. The young bloke operating the machine then asked me "Where did you find the gold, in a river"? I nearly fell over laughing but explained that 10oz gold bars, stamped 9999 with the Australian Bullion Company logo weren't generally found in rivers but, if he knew where such a river was, that I’d like to fish it. He said that he thought they looked and felt really cool! I did a mental stock-take as I re-packed my luggage.

    I guess I'm close to correct when I suggest that only 1 person in 1,000 has ever seen a real gold bar, let alone knows where to get one.

    Further to the above, Kevin Depew commented: “I think you've developed a new long-term yearly gold indicator. Every year when you come to MIM bring your gold and silver bars. As long as airport security has no idea what they are, it's safe to buy and hold gold and silver. When they recognize your gold bars, I intend to peel off a third of my position. When they steal one of your gold bars, I'll sell the lot.” No argument here, Kev!

    Have a great day.


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