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Golden Retriever
August 29, 2011 5:16 AM   Subscribe

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela wants to bring his country's gold back home. Eleven billion dollars worth of Venezuelan gold (211 tonnes ) is currently deposited among a number of US and European banks, at least some of which will have difficulties meeting the call. Transporting the gold will be expensive and complicated - not because of the physical volume but because of its immense value. (via)

In case anyone is interested - here's Theo Gray's formula for creating convincing gold bars - and an address to order them from! Let me know how it goes.
posted by Joe in Australia (83 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Gold is a fungible commodity. He does not need to move it at all; and can simply sell the gold in US/Europe and buy gold in Venezuela. If he does choose to move it then he's simply putting national pride ahead of security.
posted by alby at 5:30 AM on August 29, 2011


Assuming there's a party in Venezuela with 211 tons to sell ...
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:30 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, for the movie, I'm seeing Garry Shandling as Hugo Chavez (seriously, it's uncanny) and Will Smith as the wisecracking thief who pulls off the heist of the century.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:30 AM on August 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


*queue the unmistakable super-spy-like music*
*a man walks into view with a fake mustache*

Yes Mr. Bank Pres, I'm da pilot. You can trust me
posted by zombieApoc at 5:31 AM on August 29, 2011


I wonder if forcing a bunch of physical calls will jack the price up, and if he can make a nice penny selling into that.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:32 AM on August 29, 2011


Gold is a fungible commodity. He does not need to move it at all; and can simply sell the gold in US/Europe and buy gold in Venezuela. If he does choose to move it then he's simply putting national pride ahead of security.

The real problem is that there really isn't 211 tonnes of gold in Venezuela to buy. There are other ways you can solve this problem - I forget where I read it, but someone suggested he just declare "I will buy your gold" and wait for people to show up in Caracas with gold bars, eg, doing the transport for him - but the fact of the matter is, if for whatever reason he really does want 211 tonnes of gold in his front yard, there's no real way to do it other than large-scale logistically-problematic transport.
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:37 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I'm amazed nobody sees the real goal here: It's not to get 211 tonnes of gold to Venezuela. The idea is to jump-start the Venezuelan movie industry via several badass heist films about the theft of hundreds of tonnes of solid gold bars.
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:39 AM on August 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm sure he's going to put it to good use, perhaps he's planning to build a 211 ton solid gold statue of Hugo Chavez, you know, for the people.
posted by joannemullen at 5:42 AM on August 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


If this is what it takes to get Shirley Bassey to play Venezuela, I can't say I blame him.
posted by pracowity at 5:45 AM on August 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I forget where I read it, but someone suggested he just declare "I will buy your gold" and wait for people to show up in Caracas with gold bars

Felix Salmon at reuters, which I found via. a link at Marginal Revolution
But here’s one last idea: why doesn’t Chávez crowdsource the problem? He could simply open a gold window at the Banco Central de Venezuela, where anybody at all could deliver standard gold bars. In return, the central bank would transfer to that person an equal number of gold bars in the custody of the Bank of England, plus a modest bounty of say 2% — that’s over $15,000 per 400-ounce bar, at current rates.
posted by russm at 5:47 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Somehow this all seems like one of those Cash 4 Gold schemes, just can't quite get the angle.
posted by edgeways at 5:48 AM on August 29, 2011


He just wants his gold back in Venezuela before the US goes back on the gold standard and claims all reserves inside our borders as US property.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:50 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Difficult? Expensive???

Pff.

El Guapo always gets his gold.
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:50 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is that conversion ("nearly 6,000 US bushels") meant to be a dig at American measurement systems? Because it seems like it would be much simpler to just use short tons, which is what Americans actually use for such large weights. It would be ~232 tons.
posted by Hargrimm at 6:06 AM on August 29, 2011


currently deposited among a number of US and European banks

"Gimme my gold."
"Mr. President, we retroactively accept your, um, 'offer' to 'buy' all our foreign businesses. The sale price was 211 tonnes of gold. Kthx."
posted by resurrexit at 6:18 AM on August 29, 2011


Difficult? Expensive???

Pff.

Why don't those wacky South Americans economic policies like us.
posted by larry_darrell at 6:21 AM on August 29, 2011


Neal and Mozzie are all over this.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:45 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


211 ton solid gold statue of Hugo Chavez

ALL HAIL HUGO. HUGO IS LIFE. *pigeon*
posted by quite unimportant at 6:48 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I missing the part where the article explains why? This seems like a nutty thing to do, with great expense and risk, unless Chavez has a reason to believe the gold is not safe abroad. Or is he just doing it because it's popular with the flag-wavers?
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:54 AM on August 29, 2011


No, but you...you...
Hugo you're thinking of this place all wrong.
As if I had the gold's back in a safe.
The, the gold's not here.

Well, your gold's in JP's house...
that's right next to yours.

And in the Barclay's House, and Mr. Chase's
house, and, and a hundred others.

Why, you're lending them the money to create cds, cmcds, cpdos, cdo's and cppis and then, they're going to pay it
back to you as best they can.

Now what are you going to do?
Foreclose on them?
posted by any major dude at 7:01 AM on August 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


This calls to mind the movie Danger: Diabolik, where a similar scenario is presented, except because the government expected the super-thief Diabolik to steal the gold en-route, they melted it down into one enormous ingot, the size of a cargo container, to make it harder to steal. He managed to steal it anyway.
posted by jabah at 7:06 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why not melt it down and cast it into the shape of a ship? Then you could sail the ship to Venezuela and melt it back down again and cast it into bars.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 7:13 AM on August 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why not just fly a couple bars over on every plane from England to Venezuela? Just have a squad of highly-trained, super skilled in counter-theft procedures whose job it is to go back and forth on commercial flights or UPS planes with a duffel bag full of gold for two months.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:21 AM on August 29, 2011


Why not bring it back in empty drug-smuggling submarines?
posted by pracowity at 7:24 AM on August 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Am I missing the part where the article explains why? This seems like a nutty thing to do
And Chavez is a complete nut. QED.
posted by louie at 7:25 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I missing the part where the article explains why?

From the first article:
The government may move to repatriate reserves before arbitration case rulings to avoid a so-called attachment risk that could freeze international assets, Boris Segura, a New York-based strategist at Nomura Securities, said in a research note.
Basically, he's been nationalising the assets of foreign companies, and he's scared that they may retaliate by seizing Venezuala's assets via a court order. The same article makes a thinly-veiled suggestion that once the gold is in Venezuala and under his physical control nobody will know whether he's stolen any.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:31 AM on August 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


So Chavez is a Tea Bagger too?
posted by The Violet Cypher at 7:32 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Am I missing the part where the article explains why? This seems like a nutty thing to do, with great expense and risk, unless Chavez has a reason to believe the gold is not safe abroad. Or is he just doing it because it's popular with the flag-wavers?

Yes.

BLOCK: Let's walk this back a little bit, Jack. Why does Hugo Chavez want the gold repatriated to Venezuela?

FARCHY: Well, it's to do with the fear that it could be thieved or frozen due - for political reasons. I mean, obviously he's seen what happened in Libya, where Libya's foreign assets have all been frozen, at least those that are in Europe and the U.S., and is quite explicit about the concern that the assets could be frozen.


And,

The government may move to repatriate reserves before arbitration case rulings to avoid a so-called attachment risk that could freeze international assets, Boris Segura, a New York-based strategist at Nomura Securities, said in a research note.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:33 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've got an idea. Get all that gold to the southern coast of the US, and then load it up on a bunch of huge ships. Then, hoist the Spanish flag and start sailing for the ...wait... this has been done before, right?
posted by thanotopsis at 7:45 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sure he's going to put it to good use, perhaps he's planning to build a 211 ton solid gold statue of Hugo Chavez, you know, for the people.
...
And Chavez is a complete nut. QED.

Is there a reason for the people smearing Chavez in this thread beyond the fact that he's an eeeeeeeeeevil socialist?
posted by indubitable at 7:57 AM on August 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is there a reason for the people smearing Chavez in this thread beyond the fact that he's an eeeeeeeeeevil socialist?

You don't have to be a teabagger to think that Chavez is crazy and evil. Also, Che Guevara? Kind of a dick.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:01 AM on August 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


stupid and lucky evil socialist.
posted by clavdivs at 8:02 AM on August 29, 2011


You don't have to be a teabagger to think that Chavez is crazy and evil.

So I take it your answer is "no".
posted by indubitable at 8:05 AM on August 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


indubitable: "Is there a reason for the people smearing Chavez in this thread beyond the fact that he's an eeeeeeeeeevil socialist?"

Chavez is a proto-dictator that hijacked the democratic system of Venezuela in a scheme to stay perpetually in power. He drove Venezuela's economy into the ditch, while all other countries in the region (none of them oil exporters) were showing great results. He has intervened in the affairs of Colombia by supporting the FARC, he has also shown great support and developed commercial and diplomatic ties with Putin, Ahmadinejad and Fidel. In the latter case, his financial support is one of the last things still keeping the Cuban regime intact. It's not because he's a socialist, but that certainly doesn't help his case.
posted by falameufilho at 8:26 AM on August 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


he has also shown great support and developed commercial and diplomatic ties with Putin, Ahmadinejad and Fidel.

He's also one of the last people left mourning the Qaddafi regime.
posted by Copronymus at 8:37 AM on August 29, 2011


I would say Fidel is helping him.Sure, Hugo has some cash to spend but his political capital is about gone.
posted by clavdivs at 8:37 AM on August 29, 2011


Is there a reason for the people smearing Chavez in this thread beyond the fact that he's an eeeeeeeeeevil socialist?

I don't think he's as evil as all get out, but I think he does a decent job of smearing himself sometimes. Let's take foreign policy for instance. He's been quite buddy-buddy with Iran and Ahmadenijad, going so far as to announce together last year their plan to start a "new world order." He's described Israel as starting a "new holocaust" and "the assassin arm of the United States." He's been a major backer and friend of Gadhafi, and he regularly provokes diplomatic crises.

Also, he's been president for 12 years and wants to stand for re-election. He's actually discussed ruling through 2030 and pushed through a referendum to remove term limits. Again, not inherently evil, but perhaps a bit power hungry...
posted by zachlipton at 8:39 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


...with a short shelf life at this point.

oh, look, some context.
posted by clavdivs at 8:46 AM on August 29, 2011


Again, not inherently evil, but perhaps a bit power hungry...

Is there a difference?

Power attracts the corruptible.
posted by kmz at 8:51 AM on August 29, 2011


Also, I'll take this chance to bring up this amazing picture of Chavez fist-bumping Maradona while Castro watches.
posted by Copronymus at 8:58 AM on August 29, 2011


No one has yet mentioned that Chavez appears to have gone bald... I would suggest that he's bringing back the gold to electroplate his noggin in the shiny stuff. Black gold, meet Gold gold.
posted by dbiedny at 9:05 AM on August 29, 2011


211 tonnes of gold huh?

You all can up with what whatever plan seems best for stealing it, but I'm going old school Batman villain and turning it into a golden tank.

What could possibly go wrong?
posted by quin at 9:08 AM on August 29, 2011


My real point though isn't a laundry list of "what nutty thing has Chavez said this week," but is rather that his primary approach to governance involves attention-grabbing stunts rather than substantive policy-driven discourse. Chavez frequently compares his enemies and their policies to Hitler and the Holocaust, which any student of Godwin's Law can tell you is not a productive debating tactic. Whenever virtually any foreign policy event emerges anywhere in the world, Chavez is quick to release a statement supporting [nearly universally despised leader X] and condemning [broad coalition of nations Y] (see Gadhafi and bin Laden for two recent examples). He'll blame natural disasters on political and social causes (not that we don't have a number of folks who do this in the US...).

These stunts may get him attention, and a few might even lead to some short-term gains, but basically he's just trolling, which isn't something I support no matter what political party is involved.
posted by zachlipton at 9:08 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


No one has yet mentioned that Chavez appears to have gone bald... I would suggest that he's bringing back the gold to electroplate his noggin in the shiny stuff. Black gold, meet Gold gold.

Dude has cancer. Doesn't seem like something we need to make fun of.
posted by zachlipton at 9:09 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


alby writes "Gold is a fungible commodity. He does not need to move it at all; and can simply sell the gold in US/Europe and buy gold in Venezuela. If he does choose to move it then he's simply putting national pride ahead of security."

There isn't that much gold floating around in Venezuela, it would create a market for the already existing problem of illegal mining in Venezuela, and it might not be fast enough plus the risk of crashing the market.

joannemullen writes "I'm sure he's going to put it to good use, perhaps he's planning to build a 211 ton solid gold statue of Hugo Chavez, you know, for the people."

That would make it hard to steal.

This doesn't seem to be that huge of a logistical nightmare. Venezuela has war ships, submarines and cargo helicopters. And they are somewhat friendly with Russia if they need additional support. The $400 million quoted in the article can buy a lot of protection. Or just contract the shipment out to Russia outright:
  1. Load the gold into 20' containers.
  2. Weld them shut.
  3. Transport the containers from the bank directly to the deck of the Admiral Kuznetsov.
  4. Steam for Venezuela.
  5. Off load to whatever secure facility you want when you get there.
  6. Melt the commercial bars into 5000 pound cubes to lessen the risk of casual theft during storage.
Though the ideal of just trickling it over a few hundred pounds at a time via regular commercial transport is appealing.
posted by Mitheral at 9:10 AM on August 29, 2011


Chavez, started out with interesting potential. I actually would count myself as having some socialistic sympathies (not in the absolute, one party/one ruler sense but in the limiting of upper class wealth to provide a sane range of income and increased public sector benefits) sense, and was interested when Chavez first came to international attention. gotta admit though I quickly soured on him. I don't know if it was good intentions corrupted, or he just started that way but Chavez is pretty sketchy and a poor leader. By no means is he in the same league as Gaddafi, Ben Laden, Ahmadinejad, or whomever is running N Korea nowadays, despite all Chavez's rhetoric. But right now? yeah I'd kind of place him alongside say, Sarah Palin, perhaps a little smarter (and I think she is smarter then most people give her credit for). That is to say, a big opportunist and just a tad divorced from being able to play nice with others.
posted by edgeways at 9:23 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


He must have googled Ron Paul.
posted by rfs at 9:26 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


edgeways: "Somehow this all seems like one of those Cash 4 Gold schemes, just can't quite get the angle."

Wait - lemme use some Glenn Beck logic... Cash 4 Gold is hawked by Glenn Beck. Chavez wants gold. Chavez is a communist. GLENN BECK IS A COMMUNIST!

(Am I doing it right?)
posted by symbioid at 9:47 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's actually discussed ruling through 2030 and pushed through a referendum to remove term limits. Again, not inherently evil, but perhaps a bit power hungry..

No limit on the number of terms isn't uncommon. We don't limit the number of terms a prime minister can serve in Canada either. That said, I have no idea to what degree elections in Venezuela are free from corruption, so if that's a concern then term limits are definitely desirable.
posted by Hoopo at 10:25 AM on August 29, 2011


What I can't figure out is why he would buy gold at this time. It is trading at unrealistically high values and most speculators would prefer to not hold very much of it.
posted by dgran at 10:45 AM on August 29, 2011


I would also add that many of us come from countries that have cozied up to leaders and regimes with less-than-stellar records in the past and many still do. Countries do this out of necessity and convenience, and will often turn a blind eye to some pretty disgusting behavior on the part of countries they choose to ally with at any given point. Often even when we do take a principled stand against a regime it is largely illusory. I am reminded of Canada's recent "sanctions" against Syria, which apparently allow Canadian companies operating there to conduct business as usual and are more for appearance than anything else.

I'm not as convinced as some of you that Chavez's choice of allies are really the problem with how he governs. The root problem is that he's prone to making outlandish statements and decisions that serve to isolate Venezuela from the international community, which inadvertently necessitate those close relationships with Putin, Amedinejad, and Castro.
posted by Hoopo at 10:48 AM on August 29, 2011


Am I missing the part where the article explains why? This seems like a nutty thing to do...

President Perry and the Axis of Evil Part III: Conquistador's Gold
posted by ennui.bz at 11:14 AM on August 29, 2011


Probably done for fear of what happened to Qadaffi, but I think there's a chance this is part of a plan to attack the US dollar by setting up an oil-trading bourse (meant to expand to other extractables) not denominated in dollars, where the currencies used-- if not a new currency altogether-- are stabilized by being backed with gold.

Now, if he could just get Russia and South Africa to play along (Iran is right there already, of course).
posted by jamjam at 11:30 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Is there a reason for the people smearing Chavez in this thread beyond the fact that he's an eeeeeeeeeevil socialist?"

Making lists of your political enemies and making the companies that employ them fire them is socialism?
He blacklists people who have opposition politics from working. Oil workers went on strike he fired almost 20,000 of them. And revoked the unions rights to elect their own leadership.
He's eliminated the independence of the courts from the political process and revoked the broadcast licenses of journalists who criticize him. Three journalists had their cars set on fire outside their homes. Napoleon Bravo was looking at 15 months for "insulting" the Chavez government (insinuating the Supreme Court was not doing a good job). Plenty of other examples (Julio Balza, Henry Crespo, etc.) Throwing your political enemies (Oswaldo Álvarez Paz) in jail, sort of a big flag there.
So freedom of expression, yeah, not so much.
Political discrimination is eeeeeeeeeeeevil, yes. Whatever one calls oneself.

More to the topic, Schneier's solution on crowdsourcing is nifty.

But the entire premise - I'd speculate he wants the gold physically back in his own country as a sort of hedge against economic catastrophe. Perhaps he has been listening to a lot of talk radio. I dunno.
He can diversify his interests without doing this. On the other hand, if he's expecting his assets to be seized for some reason, this could be a pre-emptive move to protect them.
But he's really into keeping his cards close to his vest anyway. I mean, it's a security non-issue. There are plenty of ways to do this with almost zero expectation of a problem. Schneier's solution is great, but omits (what I perceive to be anyway) a fast track timetable.
All this is an issue only because it's Chavez.
I think he's one of those guys who really likes being not liked. He's f'ing Woody Woodpecker.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:44 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Obviously, no conventional means of transporting the gold will be nearly secure enough. Here's my suggestion: the gold should be shipped to unmarked, temporary spaceports, where it can be transported aboard one of the recently-decommissioned space shuttles; they would be impossible to hijack.








I have owned a copy of the Space Shuttle Operator's Manual for nearly thirty years
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:44 AM on August 29, 2011


but the fact of the matter is, if for whatever reason he really does want 211 tonnes of gold in his front yard, there's no real way to do it other than large-scale logistically-problematic transport.

No.

Hi there. I move stuff around the world pretty easily. Granted its not nearly even a ton, and its certainly not nearing the value of 2000 lbs of gold. But what I'm wondering is why this plan is considered to be "moving 211 tonnes of gold" rather than "moving 211 tonnes of gold over a period of time from different sources".

Another option I thought of in dealing with getting 211 tonnes of this fungible is this:
1. Sell that gold at a decent price. Hell, 211 tonnes would go for much cheaper than the price of an ounce x 16 (oz) x 2000 (lbs) x 211. Why not sell it to the locals for a bit more than market price like they do on ebay?

2. Get that dolla...and bring it back to venezuela.

3. Start up a kiosk in the mall that will pay you 65% of the value of your gold. Of course venezuela may be lacking in 211 tonnes of gold for sale...maybe, maybe not. Probably, though. But having a general callout for gold that pays more than other kiosks in other malls would have a benefit. Shit, he can even send out envelopes for this like the other scammers.

4. In the end, he would probably have about 300+ tonnes of gold from all around the world...without having to worry about transporting gold from england to venezuela.

win win!
posted by hal_c_on at 11:48 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why not sell it to the locals for a bit more than market price like they do on ebay?

By locals I mean: 99 tonnes at the bank of england. Great. Send 10 people over to england and get them to ebay that shit. Gold may cost $xxx/ounce. But selling it in small quantities to average joes would yield a bit more than the market value which kinda gives the buyer a volume discount.

Basically, he'd be converting one fungible to another. One that is easy to transfer to venezuela...even by electronic means.



The other thing I'm wondering about is WHY venezuela wants this gold. If this was something like burkina faso, I'd be saying "ahhh...I see. They want something solid to back up their economy/currency/ etc" . But with venezuela...they have oil. People NEED oil, they just WANT gold.

Oh...maybe thats why he's kinda crazy.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:56 AM on August 29, 2011


He should just do what the U.S. Mint does. When you buy a box of a circulation grade dollar coins, they ship them to you in a plain brown wrapping, without an obvious name for the return address. People assume it's your latest dildo arriving, and the postman can just leave the package on your front door step, and no one touches it.
posted by nomisxid at 12:01 PM on August 29, 2011


...except for roving gangs of dildo thieves.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:16 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is there a reason for the people smearing Chavez in this thread beyond the fact that he's an eeeeeeeeeevil socialist?

Is your imagination that cramped that you can't understand why someone would dislike Chavez, even if you intellectually disagree with that assessment? I don't particularly like Chavez but I can, simultaneously, both dislike him and understand the reasons someone would like him.
posted by Falconetti at 12:22 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


hal_c_on writes "The other thing I'm wondering about is WHY venezuela wants this gold."

It's not that Venezuela wants the gold. It's that they don't want other people to have the gold via freezing and seizing an asset they don't physically control.
posted by Mitheral at 12:31 PM on August 29, 2011


I actually would count myself as having some socialistic sympathies (not in the absolute, one party/one ruler sense...

Wha?
posted by stinkycheese at 12:59 PM on August 29, 2011


stinkycheese, I think what he's saying is that not every form of socialism is the nice democratic kind of socialism. And he's right, but it's a little disheartening to see that people here feel it needs to be qualified and pointed out that what they support is not the socialism of Mao, Stalin, or Tito. I guess to some people there's no difference.
posted by Hoopo at 1:18 PM on August 29, 2011


When I think socialism, I think primarily of the so-called Nordic model. Or Canada or the UK's more left-leaning governments. Nothing scary, more like caring for those less fortunate. Some supporters of socialism have believed in a one party state sure, but then again, some supporters of capitalism have as well. There's nothing intrinsically dictatorial about socialism.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:29 PM on August 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


He's described Israel as ... "the assassin arm of the United States."

Stopped clock, etc
posted by goethean at 1:33 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


NPR's planet money podcast, where felix salmon is a contributor, did a full episode on this story. I am not sure if you didn't mention this because you picked it up at a later point or if you're hiding the source.
posted by krautland at 1:39 PM on August 29, 2011


Gold is a fungible commodity. He does not need to move it at all; and can simply sell the gold in US/Europe and buy gold in Venezuela. If he does choose to move it then he's simply putting national pride ahead of security.
All that's doing is outsourcing the transport.

Well, the question is whether or not the gold has the same spot market price in Venezuela and London. If he tried to do that, he would probably create a price differential, one that could be pretty high.

He could give credits for gold held in US/UK vaults in exchange for physical gold locally. But what about, erm unsavory characters who might hold local gold but might not want to deal with banks in the US/UK?

Simply buying gold locally doesn't necessarily solve the problem, it just moves it. And he's going to have to pay a 'market rate' to get people to do that.

It might actually be cheaper to move it all at once.
I'm sure he's going to put it to good use, perhaps he's planning to build a 211 ton solid gold statue of Hugo Chavez, you know, for the people.
If you're just planning on holding the gold as an asset, there's no reason not to mold it into badass statues, instead of gold bars.
Am I missing the part where the article explains why? This seems like a nutty thing to do, with great expense and risk, unless Chavez has a reason to believe the gold is not safe abroad. Or is he just doing it because it's popular with the flag-wavers?
If the U.S went to war with Venezuela, or imposed sanctions then the gold could be inaccessible. If there was an coup or civil war, then the U.S/UK could recognize the new government, and grant access to them. (Other people mentioned court settlements)

Given the low-level antagonistic rhetoric it's not a bad idea. Remember when the Libyan thing started the UK held back a boat full of Libyan currency over some embargo thing. Money Gadaffi probably wanted to fund his government.
Why not melt it down and cast it into the shape of a ship? Then you could sail the ship to Venezuela and melt it back down again and cast it into bars.
that's actually not too bad of an idea. If they form it into huge multi-ton bricks then it would become really difficult for thieves to steal it.
posted by delmoi at 2:06 PM on August 29, 2011


If they form it into huge multi-ton bricks then it would become really difficult for thieves to steal it.

Except that banks rarely permit large-scale gold smelting operations in their vaults. Leaving you to transport the gold in individual bars again, only this time to an industrial intermediary that may or may not be proximate to the bank, so you may not end up with a simpler operation in the end.

Granted, you may be shipping the individual bars a shorter distance, but I'm not sure what the additional risk prompted by the existence of an intermediary might be.
posted by aramaic at 2:11 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing he might do is ship the gold to Venezuela, install it in his bank to great fanfare, and then secretly sell part of it off while the price is high. I've seen lots of web pages alleging that this has already been done with part of the gold in Fort Knox - that it was secretly replaced with gold-plated titanium bars. It doesn't seem like the sort of thing which would be easy to prove or disprove, and I'm not entirely sure that it should matter to anyone except gold refiners. After all, the value of gold is a social construct. If you think it lives in gold bars then it lives in gold bars. If you think it can be found in gold-plated titanium bars, well, it's there too.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:47 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Getting it there is one thing; keeping it there is another. That would be a tempting prize for more than a few South American criminal rings.
posted by Ardiril at 4:33 PM on August 29, 2011


Note to US right-wing: Here is what a genuine loony leftist looks like.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:46 PM on August 29, 2011


4. In the end, he would probably have about 300+ tonnes of gold from all around the world...without having to worry about transporting gold from england to venezuela.

The thing is, that's still large-scale logistically difficult transport of lots of gold. It's just that the solution to the difficult problem is "outsource it to a large number of people," rather than "do it yourself."
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:37 PM on August 29, 2011


I actually would count myself as having some socialistic sympathies (not in the absolute, one party/one ruler sense...

Wha?


Well as already mentioned, there have been plenty of "socialist" government that approach, and embrace, dictatorship under the banner of socialism. Just because we can assume amongst ourselves that socialism does not automatically equate to quasi-dictatorship does not mean that everyone would read "I actually would count myself as having some socialistic sympathies" and think oh he must mean Canada, not Cuba (hell there are plenty of folks who distrust Canadian socialism, perhaps even Harper), so yeah we live in a world of qualifications.
posted by edgeways at 5:38 PM on August 29, 2011


On the other hand, words have meanings. Cuba isn't a socialist country, it's a communist country (whether it's scary or not is another argument).

I guess ultimately, yes, everything depends on context. The problem is that you're positing a socialist-friendly viewpoint on Metafilter as the minority opinion versus the standard U.S. boogeyman image of socialism, whereas I see that same boogeyman of commuist dictators as the minority opinion in an international world where socialism is a legitimate, democratic system of governance.

If someone says they have some socialist sympathies, I take them at their word, in good faith; I assume they mean socialism as it exists in the real world, not some right-wing fantasyland version of "socialism" that includes gulags and secret police.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:16 PM on August 29, 2011


Also: I don't think Harper trusts the people in his own party, let alone members of other parties or the political systems they espouse.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:28 PM on August 29, 2011


If they form it into huge multi-ton bricks then it would become really difficult for thieves to steal it.

Zombies. The cause of, and solution to, most security problems.

Seriously, if he announced zombies would transport the gold it would be so crazy awesome I'd become a fan. Double if they were dildo wielding zombies.

Y'know, I think that's his problem. He's crazy enough to be a dick but not so crazy that's it's fascinating how bizarre he is.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:17 PM on August 29, 2011


I don't think this is a good deal for the people of Venezuela. Assuming all 211 tonnes safely get to Caracas, that gold is going to make one hell of a tempting target, both for thieves without and underpaid government workers within the central bank. 17 000 gold bars just sitting there... No one would notice if a few disappeared. And thus the horde will shrink over time.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:29 PM on August 29, 2011


I know I am late to the thread but Chavez believes that the scenes from Tripoli this week are all false, filmed in a hollywood style set in Qatar. That the Libyans celebrating are Qatari actors and that Tripoli is still under Gaddafi control.
yeah, he's crazy
posted by mulligan at 10:57 PM on August 29, 2011


I don't think this is a good deal for the people of Venezuela. Assuming all 211 tonnes safely get to Caracas, that gold is going to make one hell of a tempting target, both for thieves without and underpaid government workers within the central bank. 17 000 gold bars just sitting there... No one would notice if a few disappeared. And thus the horde will shrink over time.

Uh, why would Venezuela be any less capable of protecting the gold then the US or UK? Both have "underpaid government workers" and both have massive gold supplies.
posted by delmoi at 11:37 PM on August 29, 2011


Because Venezuela has a large and growing income disparity between its rich and poor people. (Like mansions and shanty towns large.) In a situation like that there's a lot of incentive for people to take whatever they can get and not worry about the consequences. And when there's a massive horde of gold just sitting there...
posted by Kevin Street at 11:58 PM on August 29, 2011


On the other hand, words have meanings.
Well yes, but not necessarily the same meanings to different people. Especially when talking about social institutions. If you say "I am Christian" (for example) to some that signals one set of things things to others completely different set, when all it really means is the belief in a Christian god, and maybe not even that.
No government says we are "Capitalist system of governance, because as much as they might be, and you and I could agree on 9/10ths of what defines one.

If someone says they have some socialist sympathies, I take them at their word, in good faith

And that's cool, if it where you and I talking that can be assumed and we can get down to the nub of things a lot faster and argue finer points in less time. As someone who is a-religious when I talk to my pastor friend I don't have to give him a whole bunch of caveats (nor he to I) when talking about religion because we already know one anothers starting point and can assume respect for it. When talking to, essentially, a field of strangers you have no idea what their preconceived concepts are and most times it doesn't really matter. Few people are going to argue the finer points of what "red" means (although I suppose on MeFi that is quite possible), but, as we are doing, when you talk about social situations/institutions and you align yourself with one of them that does have some potential public nasty elements it generally does no harm to clarify.

Anyways.. big load of beans, not meant in confrontation.

cheers
posted by edgeways at 5:20 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because Venezuela has a large and growing income disparity between its rich and poor people. (Like mansions and shanty towns large.) In a situation like that there's a lot of incentive for people to take whatever they can get...

I think it has become pretty clear that the income disparity exists also in the US. Yet the poor workers around Fort Knox are not successfully stealing the gold. There is something to be said about police and military forces paid for by the few rich.
posted by knz at 5:22 AM on August 30, 2011


delmoi: "Uh, why would Venezuela be any less capable of protecting the gold then the US or UK? Both have "underpaid government workers" and both have massive gold supplies."

There is something called "rule of law". It's what differentiates civilized* countries like the US and the UK from Venezuela.

*Yes, there is such a thing.
posted by falameufilho at 12:49 AM on September 2, 2011


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