Forget gold, sink your savings into a metal so toxic it can't be touched


NEWTON'S OPTIC:Mercury, both solid and liquid, beats gold

AS A financial adviser I am alarmed by the number of “buy gold”articles increasingly appearing in less reputable newspapers.

Obviously, with civilisation on the brink of collapse, savers can overlook certain issues like zero interest, high commission, storage fees, insurance or the fact that a piece of paper from your broker is clearly no safer than a piece of paper from your government. But these are mere secondary concerns.

What the newspapers never mention, while encouraging people to hoard gold in an economic crisis, is that hoarding gold is usually outlawed in an economic crisis.

Even free market democracies like the US and Australia have forced all citizens to surrender gold for banknotes, on pain of imprisonment, within living memory. In fact between 1933 and 1974, it was illegal for Americans to own any gold other than jewellery.

Far from being a safe haven in a depression, gold is the first asset governments come after in a depression. Far from being a “harder” currency than paper, gold is just easier for the authorities to find.

Buying bullion to avoid inflation makes about as much sense as buying property to avoid Phil Hogan.

If you want to protect your savings, you need a precious metal the authorities will think twice before confiscating. That’s why I recommend mercury, the investment that’s both solid and liquid.

Mercury offers all the usual benefits of a precious metal plus one particular advantage. It is reliably scarce in its purest form, coming mostly from a single source in France known as the Hg Wells.

It is heavily used in mining silver and gold, linking it to those more traditional commodities. The price of mercury has long been seen as an economic barometer, especially if it is actually in a barometer.

But the main advantage of mercury is that handling it is a complete nightmare. It spills, evaporates, reacts with common substances and best of all it is very, very toxic.

So there is no chance of anyone from the Department of Finance or the Revenue Commissioners simply turning up and seizing it. Most public employees aren’t allowed anywhere near the stuff without a hazmat suit, a year’s specialist training and a 600-page risk assessment form.

Even then they need so much equipment to check a safety deposit box that you can be half way to Switzerland before they’ve even calibrated their pipettes. Just don’t go on the plane, because you’re not allowed liquids on the plane – and because mercury fumes dissolve aluminium.

As an extremely dangerous and inconvenient store of wealth mercury is also less likely than gold to suffer from mass-market speculative bubbles. Indeed, blowing bubbles in mercury would be instantly fatal.

Frankly, by the time ordinary people are offered a commodity on the high street, the smart money has already moved on and there is no doubt that smart people are putting their money into mercury, then putting their mercury into airtight iron containers.

I realise some of you will compare this to my “buy uranium” column two years ago, which left several readers banned from American airspace.

However, the present situation is completely different. Two years from now, nobody with mercury in the bank will care about being banned from a Third-World country like America.