Saturday, October 1st, 2016 MST

Japan: Still Struggling

Monetary Digest, December 1999

In 1989, Japan’s stock market peaked, and in 1990 its booming economy went into a recession. To turn things around, in 1992 the government implemented a basic Keynesian policy: government spending. Economists like to call such spending “fiscal packages.” This thinking goes with the notion that governments can control their economies. However, the Japanese experience since 1992 suggests that governments have less control over their economies than they would like.

The 1992 package cost nearly $102 billion but failed to get the economy moving. So, over the following seven years, the Japanese made another seven attempts at boosting their economy with spending programs which put up buildings that no one occupied and built roads that led to no where. The economy failed to respond. Now, Japan has announced its ninth major spending package to stimulate its economy. In all, Japan will have spent more than $1 trillion in stimulus packages this decade.

Number nine had better work because the Japanese are running out of money. Japan has one of the world’s worst budget deficits, and next year public-sector debt in Japan should reach 117.9% of total economic output, more than twice the U.S. level. Yet, a top Honda executive says the spending “has not led to a real boost in consumer confidence.”

Government officials admit as much but say that’s why the spending must continue. “We have to give a last push to the economy so it can return to a stable growth path,” said one bureaucrat. Politicians are also pressing the Bank of Japan to ease monetary policy further. After resisting, the central bank moved cautiously in that direction. Already, Japan has the lowest interest rates of any developed nation.

Normally, such inflationary policies lead to higher prices, but not yet. The Asian crisis has put downward pressure on all prices in the region, making it difficult to raise prices. But massive government spending goes beyond inflation; it masks the bad investments that pop up during inflationary periods. A market driven economy would direct money into the most efficient companies.

In Ia free market, capital seeks the most efficient investment and weighs risk against reward. When a government directs the capital, as is the situation in Japan, bad investments are covered up and poorly run companies are propped up. In a free market, inefficient businesses fail, and the assets are liquidated. Then, the recovered capital is invested in efficient, profitable businesses. But, not in Japan. Policies there continue to conceal the bankrupt and the insolvent. This includes the Japanese banks, which are among the world’s largest.

For years, many analysts have maintained that if the Japanese banks valued their stock and real estate holdings at market, they would be bankrupt. That, of course, would be disastrous; consequently, no one presses the issue, not in Japan or anywhere else. But, the fact remains that if the Japanese economy does not grow, the whole world could face a financial meltdown starting with a few bankruptcies in Japan. In the face of such a dilemma, the Japanese would be forced to liquidate their massive holdings of U.S. treasuries and bonds, which could cause a financial crisis for the United States.

The situation in Japan bears scrutiny. If the collapse of Long Term Credit Management threatened to bring down the world financial system, what would the bankruptcy of a major Japanese bank do? The Japanese people best stash a few more gold coins in their mattresses. They may need them. Fact is, if a major Japanese bank tumbles, people worldwide will wish they owned gold.

Time To Trade Platinum For Gold

In the past, when platinum has traded within a few dollars of gold, CMI recommended that aggressive investors buy platinum and wait for the platinum to gold premium to rise to $150 to $200, at which time they should trade their platinum for gold. During November, platinum hit a $150 premium over gold, but fell to the $120-$130 range in a two-day sell-off. CMI recommends that all platinum coins be traded for bullion gold coins when the $150 premium returns. With the high volatility in platinum, the $150 premium comes and goes, and investors will have to act quickly.

The high premium is because of legal complications in Russia that restricted exports this year. Analysts close to the platinum markets believe those restrictions could be lifted later this year, or that shipments will resume early next year. The two-day sell-off came on rumors of renewed Russian shipments. When the Russians release platinum again, the price of platinum will probably fall, absolutely and relative to gold. It is difficult to say how much it might fall because of the complexities of the Russian problem. Besides, the long-term outlook for platinum is bright, and some investors will opt to ignore today’s premium in expectation of still higher prices over the next few years.

Although the long-term outlook for platinum is quite good, we still believe platinum should be traded for gold. With gold below $300 and platinum bouncing off $450, that is a 50% premium, which historically is very high.

Platinum is “high octane gold.” It is normally higher priced, is more volatile, and only about 1/20th as much platinum hits the market as does gold. Additionally, no huge platinum hoard overhangs the market, although sales from the U.S. Strategic Stockpile this year helped fill the void left by Russian restrictions. At the end of 1998, the Strategic Stockpile contained 439,887 ounces of platinum. Between June and September 1999, the Defense Department sold 100,000 ounces and is authorized to sell up to 125,000 ounces between October 1999 and September 2000. Still, the 125,000 ounces will fall short of filling the 530,000 ounce shortfall that Johnson Matthey expects this year alone.

In November, Johnson Matthey released its Platinum Interim Review for 1999, and it forecasts record demand of 5.59 million ounces this year with a deficit of 530,000 ounces. The deficit is due as much to increased demand as to Russia’s problems.

Three sectors drive platinum demand: jewelry, industry, and autocatalyst. Jewelry consumption is soaring, climbing from 2.41 million ounces in 1998 to an estimated 2.73 million this year; that’s a 14% increase. And, platinum jewelry is gaining popularity worldwide.

In the United States, which is a huge market and practically virgin territory for platinum jewelry, sales are up 20%. In the United Kingdom, platinum jewelry production increased nearly 50% the first nine months of 1999 compared with the same period last year. Platinum jewelry has long been popular in Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, and sales are solid in those countries. In Japan, platinum jewelry is preferred to gold, and demand is expected to rise this year for the first time in four years. (Japan’s recession had a negative impact on all consumer spending there.)

As for the autocatalyst sector, demand peaked in 1996 as manufacturers shifted to palladium to meet stricter limitations on hydrocarbon emissions from gasoline vehicles. However, in Europe diesel cars, which require a higher platinum loading to meet emission standards, now account for 26% of new car sales. This has helped maintain platinum demand.

Additionally, with palladium having risen significantly in price over the last few years, it no longer has a price advantage over platinum. In fact, auto makers worldwide are increasing research on platinum-based catalysts for gasoline engines to reduce dependency on palladium. This research is due as much to unreliable supplies as to palladium’s price rise. Most of the world’s palladium (70%+) comes from Russia, with South Africa producing about 25%.

As is the case with palladium, most platinum comes from South Africa and Russia. However, the numbers are reversed; South Africa produces 70%-75% and Russia 20%-25%. That these two countries produce the bulk of the world’s platinum gives many investors reason enough to buy platinum.

Russia’s problems would be comical if they were not so tragic. At times, it is difficult to know who is running the country, Boris Yeltzen or the mafia. Laws are confusing and often not understood when passed. Supposedly, this is why platinum shipments were halted this year. Paychecks for workers in state operations are often late if not months in arrears. Funds for general maintenance, much less improvements, does not exist.

Because the mines in South Africa remain under private control, platinum production there is stable and increased steadily during the 1990s. To meet increased demand, other mines or expansions will come on stream over the next few years. However, the deteriorating political, economic, and social conditions in South Africa ultimately will negatively impact platinum (and gold) production.

Politically, South Africa has a “spoils system,” where positions are awarded on connections with the ruling African National Congress party. The government hires blacks and gives contracts to black-owned firms wherever possible, with slight regard to competence. Some within the ANC openly argue that merit should be a secondary consideration. Big companies scramble to hire the friends and children of the ANC’s bigwigs to gain favors.

By the government’s own reckoning, the country has 54,000 unneeded employees. Yet, one provincial minister argues that it would be “immoral” to sack them. ANC loyalists even head supposedly independent institutions such as the army, the central bank, and parts of civil service. The ANC is the dominant party, so change is not expected.

Eventually, the government will force the mines to hire cronies who know that they are getting the jobs because of their political affiliations and that they do not have to perform. Additionally, South Africa’s economic woes will cause the government to increase taxes on the mines. And, mining workers’ demands for higher wages will be sympathetically received in government circles. But, it is South Africa’s general decline that eventually will negatively affect platinum production.

Beautiful Cape Town has become the world’s murder capital, and in Johannesburg crime is so rampant that people booby-trap their cars with shotguns so as to kill or maim would be thieves. One car owner poisoned a bottle of whiskey and put it in the glove box so that a car thief would think he had received a bonus. In the seaside town Empangeni, rival taxi drivers wage gun battles to control lucrative commuting routes. A recent shootout left at least ten dead. Roughly a third of the workforce has no job. The formal sector has shed 500,000 jobs since 1994, and the ranks of those wanting to work swell by 1,000 each day.

As recently as 1990, less than 1% of pregnant South African women carried the AIDS virus. Last year, nearly 23% of pregnant women were found to be infected. By one estimate, AIDS could kill up to one third of the population. Another estimate has 40% of the miners infected. As the disease continues to spread and takes its toll, the cost of caring for AIDS victims will skyrocket. According to The Economist, “It may be the most tragic thing to have happened to South Africa in recorded history.” Yet, the government is doing practically nothing to avert the crisis.

South Africa’s educational system, which is supposed to educate blacks so that firms can meet racial hiring targets, is a joke. Most schools are a shambles, students are disruptive and textbooks scarce. In some schools, 90% of days involve no teaching, and many teachers are barely trained. Teachers sometimes inflate marks because pupils threaten to shoot them if they do not. At Venda University, students burned down campus offices because the administration would not give them beer for a party. To say that South Africa is unstable is an understatement. Perhaps platinum should be bought based solely on the potential for disruption of supplies.

Although CMI believes platinum to hold good long-term upside potential, we recommend that when the platinum to gold premium hits 50%, about $150 at present gold prices, investors trade their platinum for gold. As noted above, the price of platinum is quite volatile, and investors will have to move quickly take advantage of this opportunity when it arises. However, we want to make it clear that platinum holds great upside potential over the long run, but that only aggressive investors should buy at these levels.

One development that lends credence to platinum’s long term outlook is the commercialization of fuel cells for residential production of electricity. Although fuel cells for autos have been talked about for some time, their commercial use appears years away. However, General Electric recently announced plans to begin selling in 2001 home fuel cells that can produce electricity at prices competitive with conventional electricity sources. Fuel cells require platinum, and the residential use of fuel cells will lay a foundation for steadily increasing demand for this scare metal.

Fuel cells have been around for about 150 years and have been used on space flights for 30 years. Now, though, they are about to be mass marketed for home use by one of the world’s largest corporations. The model to be tested in 2000 is called HomeGen 7000, is the size of a refrigerator, and can provide 100% of a home’s energy needs. GE’s fuel cells can run on either natural gas or propane and are environmentally friendly, producing almost no dangerous or harmful pollutants. The unit can even be installed inside.

The HomeGen 7000’s major byproducts are heat (which can be used for heating water or even heating the home), water, and carbon dioxide (about the same amount given off by a typical home furnace). The HomeGen produces electricity by combining the hydrogen in natural gas or propane with oxygen in the air. Also important: fuel cells produce a high quality of electricity that is void of spikes, surges, and dips which damage electrical devices such as air conditioning units, televisions, and computers. GE claims the HomeGen 7000 to be nearly maintenance free because it contains almost no moving parts. It should require only an annual maintenance check and a component replacement every four to six years.

This is truly an exciting announcement. The HomeGen 7000 will provide homeowners an independent power source, free from power-grid shortages or weather-related outages. For people who want to live in remote places but still desire the convenience of electricity, the HomeGen 7000 will be a godsend. This applies not only to people in the United States but worldwide. New housing developments may offer HomeGen 7000s instead of bringing in power lines.

Also significant, GE’s HomeGen 7000 will provide electricity for homes at rates competitive with conventional utilities in some parts of the country. On GE’s Web site, viewers can plug in their locale, utility company, and natural gas supplier to approximate their cost savings (if any) by switching to a HomeGen. For this, it appears that GE is contemplating marketing their generators even in urban areas. The market for this generator could be huge.

Most consumers think of electricity as a clean source of energy. At the consumption end, it is. Oil and coal-fired plants, however, emit millions of tons of pollutants, some visible, some not. GE claims that the HomeGen reduces emissions of particulate matter and other ozone depleting byproducts-such as carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide to nearly zero. GE also maintains the HomeGen produces less than half the amount of carbon dioxide per kWh produced by traditional coal- and oil-burning power plants. Widespread use of fuel cells should lessen a home’s global warming impact (for those who believe the propaganda about global warming). A HomeGen 7000 weighs under 1,000 pounds and can be installed in less than a day.

Although it is common knowledge that fuel cells require platinum to operate, how much platinum the HomeGen 7000 uses remains unknown. In fact, the GE Web site (http://www.gemicrogen.com) does not even mention platinum, for obvious reasons. First, GE plans to sell fuel cells, not promote platinum. Second, if the HomeGen enjoys widespread acceptance, it will significantly increase the demand for platinum. So, why alert the world that platinum — which is essential to a fuel cell’s operation — is about to become in even more demand? If a HomeGen requires only a tenth of an ounce of platinum and sees widespread use, the demand for platinum, which is already in short supply, will increase tremendously.

CMI believes the impact of fuel cells on the price of platinum will be positive over the long run. Right now, though, we believe platinum’s big price premium over gold is more because of problems in Russia than demand or the shortage. When the premium reaches $150, investors should trade their platinum for gold. When the premium falls to $30-$40, switch back to platinum. By trading the changes in the platinum to gold premium, you can increase the number of ounces of platinum and gold that you own without laying out more cash.

China: Selling Everything

From Toothpicks To Rope

V.I. Lenin, in bragging how communism would win over capitalism, said that “Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” It was perhaps the greatest metaphor of the 20th century, and it almost became a reality. Western businessmen fell all over themselves to do business with the Russians at a time when they posed the greatest threat to the West. But, the accommodations given the Russians pale in comparison to what’s happening with China. In a few years, certainly within a decade, China will surpass Russia as a threat to the United States.

The standard argument to support trade and accommodations with China: “You can’t ignore a billion people.” Actually, China’s population is closer to 1.2 billion, and the thought of all those people buying American-made products causes free traders to salivate. But, the facts are that we’re buying Chinese-made tennis shoes and toothpicks, and they buy manufacturing equipment, components, and technology that are used to strengthen China industrially and militarily.

If not this year, certainly next year, our trade deficit with China will surpass Japan’s. In 1998, Japan enjoyed a $61 billion surplus with the U.S., and China sold to us $57 billion more than they bought from us. Their surpluses mean our deficits. This year, however, foreign direct investments in China fell for the first time in a decade, and the Chinese sorely want to set foreign investments on the upward path again. Therefore, they made “concessions” in the new trade agreement with the Clinton administration. (The agreement, nearly equivalent to a treaty, must still be approved by Congress, and a powerful lobby of businesses has already swung into gear to convince Congress of the deal’s benefits. Only a populous protest will stop it.)

The agreement virtually guarantees China’s entry in the World Trade Organization, a European-based bureaucracy that believes it has the authority to direct sovereign nations to change their laws to comply with WTO edicts. Supposedly, the WTO’s job is to see to it that all members conduct their trade policies in a “fair manner.” Globalists love the WTO because it “levels the playing field for all the world’s workers.” Economic nationalists (The media call them protectionists.) dislike the WTO because it makes American workers compete with peasant labor in Mexico and slave labor in China.

Here are some of the instant forecasts of the benefits to China for WTO membership:

  • A doubling of exports by 2005
  • An extra percentage point of economic growth for the next decade
  • A doubling of foreign direct investment in the next five years
  • Halving of China’s unofficial unemployment rate to 5%

In short, the Clinton administration’s deal has given a tremendous boost to our potentially most dangerous enemy.

Although China offers a bottomless pool of cheap, reasonably efficient labor, profits are hard to attain for foreign investors because of the tough deals the Chinese make. One study show the average return on equity of foreign-financed firms in China to be a mere 3.1%. Another study found that only 41% of 70 major operations in China were profitable. Still, we can expect the recent agreement to see a surge of more American money headed for China.

It is important to note that there’s a big difference between Japan and China. Although the Japanese take advantage of the mental midgets the U.S. sends to negotiate trade agreements, Japan poses no military threat to us. The same cannot be said for China, which has the world’s largest standing army with some 2.9 million personnel. China’s miliary is obsolete by western standards, but the Chinese are using their trade surpluses to modernize their military. In negotiating trade deals, they often require technology that can be used militarily. And, they steal a lot.

When the U.S. objects to some of China’s policies, China is not afraid to rattle sabers. In 1996, Chinese officials told The New York Times they were prepared to use nuclear weapons against Los Angeles if we tried to stop their takeover of Taiwan. Just a few months ago, the official Chinese newspaper warned that China was willing to use nuclear bombs against American aircraft carriers if they interfered in Chinese plans to invade Taiwan. And, this is the same China that tried to smuggle 100,000 automatic weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition into California.

If you believe the establishment media, the Chinese front attempting the smuggling operation had intended on selling the rifles to street gangs. However, that was never proven, and it remains a possibility that the guns were going to be stored for an even more sinister use. When the operation was exposed, the Clinton administration looked the other way. After all, the Chinese military had been Clinton’s benefactor in two presidential elections.

The Clinton administration hardly raised an eyebrow when the Chinese stole our nuclear secrets from Los Alamos. That was a theft that makes the Rosenberg’s transfer of atomic bomb know-how to Russia child’s play, and to this day, some administration spokesmen downplay the theft. China even got our neutron bomb technology. Coupled with what the Chinese got from Loral Corp., in a few years, China will be able to launch at every U.S. city the most destructive weapons ever devised.

And, here’s something most Americans haven’t even heard of: On December 31, 1999, the United States will officially hand over ownership of the Panama Canal to Panama, which will then hand over control to a Chinese front known as Hutchison Whampoa. This coup for China is second only to their raiding our nuclear secrets in Los Alamos.

The Canal is one of four major naval “choke” points in the world and is vital to our national defense. It eliminates the 8,000-mile trip around the southern tip of South America, saving as much as two weeks of transport time between the East Coast and the West Coast. In warfare, this could mean the difference between defeat and victory. Yet, control of the Canal is about to be transferred to China, and Americans remain virtually ignorant of the matter.

If you call your Representative or Senators and state your concern, most likely their staff will tell you not to worry, that Hutchison Whampoa is only a Hong Kong operating company. If the Canal is going to be operated by a foreign entity, why does not the United States remain the operator? Think of the strategic importance of the Panama Canal if we ever go to war with China — or any other country for that matter. Chinese agents could sabotage the Canal, and U.S. warships heading from the East Coast to the West Coast have to make the 8,000 mile trip around South Africa. And, what if China bases missiles there as the Soviets did in Cuba? How stupid are the people running this country? (Or, are they stupid?)

Over the past seven years, the Clinton administration has sent troops abroad on whims. Rarely were U.S. interests involved. Now is the time for U.S. military action. Marines should be landed in Panama, and the vacated U.S. bases should be re-occupied. Americans should again operate the Canal. But, it will not happen unless there is an uproar from the American people like never before seen. Probably, control of the Panama Canal will pass to Red China. In time, China will control Panama, perhaps even foment revolutions in surrounding countries as Cuba and the Soviets attempted. And, we will have handed them the platform from which to do it.

It is true that 1.2 billion people should not be ignored, but that does not mean we should help arm them, especially when they are openly hostile to our interests and to our friends. Because of U.S. trade with China, the Chinese now have the ability to deliver nuclear warheads to our shores. Those warheads could easily be stamped Made in America. And, we have financed it. We are selling them rope every time we buy products “Made in China.” It is difficult not to buy Made in China products. Two out of every three toys sold in the U.S. are made there. Still, it is stupid to do so.

Remember the controversy when Japan’s Toshiba sold silent running propellers to the Russians for their submarines? What an outcry. Every member of Congress wanted Toshiba punished. What Toshiba did pales in comparison to what the Clinton administration has permitted to happen. And, frankly, the Republicans have done little — if any thing — to stop it.

China is a rising power because of globalists’ efforts. Want a good reason for every American to have a few gold coins stashed away? China.

The Bear Still

Rules The Stock Market

Despite a rallying Dow Industrials and Dow Transports since late October, it is still a bear market for stocks. Although the Industrials have climbed back to the 11,000 level, they have not bettered their August high of 11,326, and the Transports remain well below their May 12 high of 3,783.50. The Industrials have marked time since May; the Transports, on the other hand, have sunk steadily lower. Although the Transports have had their rallies, all have died after two to three weeks. The down legs in the Transports average have been of longer duration than the rallies, therefore a declining average.

The Transports are now some 20% below their May high. For the week ended November 26, the Dow was virtually unchanged, down .14%, giving most observers the impression it was a ho-hum week for stocks. It was not. For the same week on the NYSE, 964 stocks advanced and 2472 declined; 121 reached new highs but 576 hit new lows. The advance-decline line now stands at a three-year low. When the A-D was last at these levels, the Dow Industrials stood at approximately 6,000.

An article in the November 22, 1999, issue of Fortune magazine summarizes Warren Buffett’s thoughts on the general price level of stocks. For investors still in stocks, the piece is well worth the $4.95 cost of the magazine. The crux of his thoughts: The stock market performed well over the last 17 years for two reasons. One, steadily declining interest rates; two, rising after-tax corporate profits as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Buffett warned that for stocks to continue to rise, interest rates must fall still further and corporate profits as a percentage of GNP must continue to climb. He doubts either will happen. Corporate profits as a percentage of GNP are near their upper limits. If interest rates have not bottomed, they are close to doing so.

Buffett said, “Let me summarize what I’ve been saying about the stock market: I think it’s very hard to come up with a persuasive case that equities will, over the next 17 years, perform anything like–anything like — they’ve performed in the past 17.” Buffett also laid out some other startling statistics.

One: in the 17 years between December 31, 1964, and December 31, 1981, the GDP rose 370%, almost quintupling; yet, the Dow Industrial average was essentially unchanged, 874.12 to 875.00. There goes the theory that the stock market parallels the economy.

Another: if you had invested in the Dow Industrials on November 16, 1981, and reinvested all dividends, you would have had an annual return of 19%. That beats anything in stock history, even surpassing what you would have realized if you had bought stocks in 1932 at the stock market’s bottom and held them for 17 years.

These statistics (and Buffett’s commentary) serve to prove what CMI has been saying for years. This is the greatest stock market in the history of the world. Never have so many people made so much money with so little knowledge. And, as Buffett points out, they expect it to continue. It will not.

These statistics also point out another danger of today’s stock market: the buy and hold concept. What if the next 17 years are like those between December 31, 1964 and December 31, 1981? No profits. And, blue chip stocks at these levels are yielding a about 1.25% while the high-flying .com stocks and some of the high-tech stocks do not have even profits, much less pay dividends. So, if stocks are unchanged over the next 17 years, stock holders will be little rewarded for their patience.

Worse yet, what if ten years from now, stock prices are 60% lower than they are today? That’s the case in Japan. The U.S. stock market has produced such fantastic returns over the last 17 years that it has skewered statistical analysis to the upside. But, many top analysts believe bear markets are still possible.

According to Dow Theory, a bear market in stocks has begun. However, most investors still hang on to hope that stocks will renew their upward climb. So, when the bear becomes recognized, the billions now pouring into stocks will look for other homes. Most will go to bonds, some to real estate, and some to the metals. Because the metals markets are tiny compared with stocks and bonds, it will not take much money moving from stocks to gold, silver, and platinum to push prices higher.

Recommendations

Although the price of silver has not been as volatile as has gold’s and platinum’s prices in recent months, we continue to believe it holds the greatest upside potential of the precious metals. Investors need to remember that silver did not go to a twenty-year low as did gold last summer. In fact, at $5.00 silver is some 40% above its 1993 low.

Meanwhile, gold at the $290 level is $36 or 11% below its 1993 low of $326. The price of silver over the last few years has strengthened. Gold’s troubles, of course, are well known.

This is not to suggest that gold is a bad investment. Below $300, gold is an excellent buy. Many investors regret not buying when gold hovered at the $250 level last summer. They should not expect to see those prices again. Circumstances changed with the European central banks’ announcement that put limits on their gold sales.

Because of the huge short positions, gold will probably see great volatility before those shorts are covered. Obviously, the shorts would like to cover at lower prices. Whether prices will move lower is another matter. But, as those short positions are unwound, the price of gold will move higher.

In the October issue, we recommended that investors holding platinum consider trading for gold. We conceded that aggressive investors may want to wait for a $150 premium. That has happened and all investors should consider trading their platinum for gold or silver. This is discussed more thoroughly on page 2.

Silver:

  • Best investment: 100-oz silver bars.
  • Best Y2K protection: 1-oz silver rounds.
  • Silver rounds are best for investors seeking both an investment and Y2K protection.

Gold:

  • Best investment: 1-oz Gold Eagles
  • Best Y2K protection: 1/10-oz Gold Maples Leafs; second: 1/10-oz Gold Eagles. This is because the 1/10-oz Gold Eagles carry a premium of about 6% over the 1/10-oz Gold Maple Leafs. If the premium shrinks, go with the Gold Eagles. Investors buying for both Y2K protection and investment should purchase a mix of 1-oz Gold Eagles and 1/10-oz gold coins.

Platinum:

  • Best investment: 1-oz Maple Leafs, followed by 1-oz Platinum Eagles.