In the run up to the end of the year during December, a remarkable sight emerged across Germany – long lines of customers queuing up outside the country’s precious metals shops and gold dealer showrooms.
Was it seasonal gift buying by Germany’s citizens, a population well-known for its love of physical precious metals? Or perhaps the onset of panic about negative interest rates in Europe’s largest economy?
As it turns out, panic it was, but of a different type, with the long lines triggered by the realization that from 1 January 2020, new national legislation was to take effect that would dramatically reduce the threshold on anonymous buying of precious metals from the existing €10,000 limit to a far lower limit of €2000, all under the guise of money laundering prevention.
With a staggering 9,000 tonnes of gold held by the German population, 55% of which is in the form of physical gold bars and gold coins and the rest in gold jewelry, Germany’s citizens are savvy about gold and are active savers and investors in the yellow precious metal. Add to this the fact that the German bullion market is one of the most sophisticated and developed in the world, supporting an extensive set of industry participants from banks and gold refineries, to nationwide gold dealers and distributors, to smaller regional and local bullion retailers.
Panic buying – We are being overrun
So when the German government throws up restrictions on such a fundamental right as anonymous buying of gold and other precious metals, Germany’s citizens were going to sit up and take notice and do what any rationale economic actor would do in the circumstances – buy as much gold as they can get their hands on before the 1 January deadline. Hence the queues and long lines outside the gold shops including some of Germany’s biggest gold dealers such as Degussa and Pro Aurum.
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