A Follow Up To The Physical Gold Arbitrage Trade

Tyler Durden's picture

A few days ago, in "Hands down, the cheapest place in the world to buy gold coins" we presented Simon Black's thoughts on an interesting physical gold arbitrage (buy cheap physical in Hong Kong, sell it where it is expensive) which created quite a stir. Today, the "Sovereign Man" provides some additional information, and answers some of the most frequent questions he received in response to his article, with a particular focus on the question of whether taking gold out of Hong Kong or bringing it into the US is considered smuggling. The answers may surprise you...

Google is the Black Hole of Accurate Information

From Simon Black of Sovereign Man

I had a rather interesting meeting last night with a notable Chilean attorney who is the chief legal counsel of one of the country’s largest telecom firms. We talked about the growth of the local economy and the lengths to which the government here is trying to attract foreign investors and entrepreneurs.

We’ve discussed before in our daily conversations what I see as a new trend: governments competing for residents. Some countries– Chile, Latvia, Singapore, Panama, Estonia, etc. understand that their economic future depends on attracting the brightest minds possible.

(note: we covered unique residency options in two of these countries in our most recent edition of Sovereign Man: Confidential)

Other countries go out of their way to repel or even prevent talented foreigners from settling, as if the fundamental freedom to work hard and prosper is somehow derived from irrelevant, invisible lines on a map.

I’ll have much more to say about this next week; for now, I want to move on to our weekly q&a.

Earlier this week, I wrote to you about banks in Hong Kong such as Hang Seng bank which sell Canadian Maple Leaf coins for just 0.5% above spot price, and Chinese Panda coins as 4.9% above spot price.

This article triggered a host of questions that I’d like to address today:

1. “I googled gold prices in Hong Kong and noticed different prices than what you mentioned in your article. Why the discrepancy?”

Google is the black hole of accurate information. The intelligence on the ground always trumps the ether of the Internet, and my partner Tim was actually standing at the bank in Hong Kong speaking to the cashiers.

It’s common to see significant inaccuracies online, especially considering the banks don’t sell their gold over the Internet or the phone… only to walk-in customers. So naturally the most accurate pricing will be at the branch.

2. “Once I buy gold coins in Hong Kong, is there any restriction to taking them out of the country?”

No, there are no restrictions for transporting gold out of Hong Kong as precious metals are not a controlled or prohibited item listed by Hong Kong Customs (rough, uncut diamonds are).

We have transported gold out of Hong Kong numerous times in our carry-on luggage without so much as a glance from security.

3. “Are there restrictions on bringing in gold coins when I return home?”

It depends on where you are flying to and what you purchase. If you are flying to North America, neither the Canadian nor US government considers gold to be a monetary instrument.

Maple Leaf and Eagle coins are technically deemed legal tender in each country, so you would have to raise your hand if the aggregate face value of the coins plus whatever other cash you have on hand exceeds $10,000.

Bear in mind, customs officials in North America have unlimited authority to do whatever they want, even if you are well within the law. As such, it may be advisable to have a receipt for the coin purchase in Hong Kong, as well as evidence for your source of funds (bank statement is sufficient).

If you’re ever in doubt about the regulation, ASK.

4. “Are there any countries that I should avoid for transporting bullion?”

Yes, absolutely. To name a few: Mexico. Thailand. Most of Africa. Russia. Uruguay.

I would also generally avoid Panama as well– the country’s customs regulations value gold based on its market value, not face value… and anyone who brings more than a trivial amount of gold into the country could end up paying an unnecessary import duty.

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Cheesy Bastard's picture

Wow.  Face value of the coins needs to exceed 10 G's for reporting requirements, not melt down value.  Interesting.

Azannoth's picture

"..customs officials in North America have unlimited authority to do whatever they want, even if you are well within the law", so yes and no, they could detain you for 12 or 24 hours while doing a 'background' check on you

or even confiscate it, untill you prove that it's not illegal

faustian bargain's picture

Just melt it all down into a big trophy, and tell them you won it in a martial arts tournament.

goldmiddelfinger's picture

That will get you a quick trip to prision where you will no longer get paid for being a Butt Monkey.

goldmiddelfinger's picture

Somewhere there is an ass for you to wipe.

Cheesy Bastard's picture

Look in the mirror, there it is.

Calmyourself's picture

Power tripping are we?  Let me guess fresh out of the academy, big hardon the girls at the donut shop think you look swell in the uniform?

knukles's picture

God!  Do I have to think of everything for everybody?

Here's the solution.  Buy the stuff (I would recommend coins, the 1 oz variety should work just fine.) (good pun, fine, eh?) in HK and when on the way home, just before the plane lands, go into the commode and secrete the coins up your rectum.
Now, based upon rudimentary calculations and personal experience, I'd suggest that given one finger is not unlike another, nor a coin amongst other coins being any different, before trying this trick en-route, substantial practice be accomplished at home.  Preferably in the privacy of one's own home, for even my 96 year old mother became somewhat disturbed whilst I was attempting practice during our family holiday repast.

And further consideration should be afforded (pun, LOL get it, afford?) the weight of the coins, for with each coin weighing in at 1 oz, (so best go with the highest quality, .99999 fine) the weight might become somewhat disconcerting particularly ifstanding in line at customs for say 3 1/2 hours with 11 lb. of Pandas up the old bung.  Yes, practice does help make perfect, but I must warn, do not get too greedy, for double digit weight does comprise quite a volume of physical specie.

I might also recommend a reasonable supply of KY and Vicodin for obvious reasons as well as Ativan for the normally skittish, irritable or nervous as having the heee beee geeebies whilst complaining to the lady with the 3 year old screaming triplets person next to you if they've ever had the misery of attempting to sneak gold into the counrty in thier bung can draw unwnated attention.

Oh, and BTW, after practicing the temporary storage of the coinage, it is also good to re-learn walking unencumbered.  (Another pun, unencumbered, LOL)

Moreover, since the guardians of the universe have not yet stooped (another pun, get it, stoop?) so low as to initiate cavity searches on incoming passengers form Hong Kong as a standard operating practice, such might be accomplished multiple times with reasonable anticipation of success.

Good luck and good puckering!


nmewn's picture

Maw inspiring...LOL...perhaps Kevin Jennings can add a new curriculum to classrooms so the up & comers can be safe in retrieving said fist full of dollars.

I counted four ;-)

New World Chaos's picture

This would probably work.  I didn't have to go through a metal detector when entering the US via LAX, and later I requested an "enhanced pat-down" in protest and ended up skipping the metal detector!  They didn't even wand me.  That might have been a breach of protocol, so better test this first.

nmewn's picture

"They didn't even wand me."

See, that's what I'm talking about...we pay good tax money to be abused on a daily basis...they're completely incompetent!...slackers. 

DosZap's picture


Exactly how do you intend to keep said 11#'s lollygagging arould your orfice?.

I would suggest having said orfice pre-loaded, and temoraily sewn shut, and fake a Colo Bag.

At the very worst you could rupture your colon, and bleed out a wealthy man.(oh, and an enema would definitely be in order, several.)(>;

Cheesy Bastard's picture

As a plus, if your kegals are in good shape, and you squeeze them hard enough, you can lay golden eggs.  This can be useful.  See the U.S. army survival manual on laying golden eggs if you don't believe me.

Al Gorerhythm's picture

I shall be handling all 1oz coins with surgical gloves, from this day forward.

tinylittleguy's picture

ROFLMAO, that was absolutely hilarious. Thank you for that

Piranhanoia's picture

"Portnoy's Complaint"  will show you how to secrete the said discreteables.

Id fight Gandhi's picture

It would work, but smeling gold is a whole big process. You'd need resources on each country to pull it off.

Plus having actual coins that are universally recognized as gold is way better than some ingot.

Cheesy Bastard's picture

they could detain you for 12 or 24 hours while doing a 'background' check on you

True!  Plus, they can grab your balls.

JW n FL's picture

I am single... anything for a date!

Sudden Debt's picture

There are even guys who pay top dollar for that :)

RafterManFMJ's picture

True!  Plus, they can grab your balls.


For many that would be a bonus.

Hephasteus's picture

You're supposed to internalize the retardation. Not project it back out. Now swallow goldi.

Cheesy Bastard's picture

Its a given, Goldmiddle finger loves to swallow.

Cheesy Bastard's picture

Yeah, can't do anything right, that one.

nmewn's picture

Mean people suck...nice people swallow ;-)

Cheesy Bastard's picture

LOL.  Consider that stolen.

nmewn's picture

Why not?...I stole it from someone else ;-)

I think the phrase came about by all these college twerps running around with "Save the Planet"..."Free Tibet"...bumper stickers on their Subaru's.

One of the bumper stickers was "Mean People Suck"...now I just point at them and laugh when I pull up alongside them in traffic...LOL.

Hephasteus's picture

Grabbing em's easy. Letting em go is the hard part.

pacu44's picture

or even confiscate it, untill you prove that it's not illegal


But like guns confiscated during Katrina, you still may not get them back...

JW n FL's picture

why did you let someone take a gun from you to begin with?

you do understand what that makes you, right?

how is it someone else's fault? when you did it???

here watch this and get back to me doofus..



Idiot Savant's picture

I'm sorry, but you're a fucking moron if you try to bring a significant amount of gold into the U.S.. Customs is just as crooked as Wall Street et.al. and will find a reason to keep it. That, or they'll tie it up in court for a few years. Be prepared to spend the money you saved to prove you're not a terrorist and that the gold belongs to you.

Large bullion dealers in the U.S. will give a big discount for bulk purchases. I fail to see how it makes any sense to spend the time, money, and effort making the trek to HK.  

Cheesy Bastard's picture

 Customs is just as crooked as Wall Street et.al. and will find a reason to keep it. That, or they'll tie it up in court for a few years.

I vaguely remember Mel Fisher having numerous lengthy legal battles to keep the treasure he found from the Atocha, which was at the bottom of the sea. 

goldmiddelfinger's picture

Before or after his anti-semitic rants?

israhole's picture

Asked the wuss. Didn't you get the Megaphone alert?  Hasbara is a fail.

Cheesy Bastard's picture

Maybe if he takes the dick out of his mouth he will see the page better.  Fisher, not Gibson.

glenlloyd's picture

the proverbial "prove your innocence" game.

the problem here is seizure. Once they have it, and you do have to give it up to them, then you're screwed.

Spitzer's picture

The article is wrong on that. You must declare the metallic value if it exceeds $10,000. You could only bring 7.4 coins in priced at $1350 without declaring. You could not value the coins at the face $50 and bring in 200 coins.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Thank you Spitzer.  Spitzer is correct.  I had to declare my Gold Eagles a while back when I took out of the USA well over $10,000 (metal value) worth.  Filled out a Customs form.  And got a trick question from the "B Teamer" Customs Agent working the weekend at the airport.

If it is over $10,000 in liquid value DECLARE IT.

flacon's picture

I have an experience with silver coins - but not valued at $10k

Two years ago I flew from Newark, NJ to Toronto and back with a carry-on bag full of silver coins (American junk silver). Bag was placed on X-Ray machine and the man behind the counter stopped it - and said "coins?". I said "yep.". Bag cleared and I was on my way.

SilverIsKing's picture

but silver was only $10/oz at the time.  if you did the same thing now, he might frisk your privates and demand a tip paid in those coins.

bingaling's picture

I have the impression that it is less than 10k now . The patriot act or another like it reduced the amount to less than 10 . I am almost positive . Also you are stating that if you leave the US you must also declare it now . I am going to do a little more investigating but I am sure I read 5k + cash ,securites , gold or cow dung if it is over 5k in value a declaration must be made . Crazy .