February 26, 2009

Despite Gold's setback, Local Pawnshops flourish

goldThe setback in the price of precious metals have suddenly caused some analysts to wonder about the real trend. As soon as Jim Kramer, the host of CNBC's Mad Money made a recommendation about buying and investing in gold, and after Rick Santelli made a bullish statement about the metal's future, gold and other precious metals have started declining.

"If Kramer has predicted it, I'll do the opposite! I think the price of gold and other precious metals will eventually return to its upward trend after some minor corrections. Even so, I consider this setback as an opportunity to stack-up some more." one bullion trader commented.

Meanwhile, local pawnshops are flourishing amid the global financial crisis due to the rise on the number of borrowers desperate to raise needed cash for their daily needs. Pawnshop owners and lenders have reported that the increase of customers was due the rising unemployment and deteriorating economic conditions due to the rise of cost of living.

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Local authorities have again warned the public that smaller denominations such as 10 and 5 centavo coins should be spent and accepted by the local communities in order to avoid further inflation. "Hoarding or disregarding these coins means further lost to the current purchasing power of the peso and to productivity since our government allocate funds for the production and circulation of these coins." a BSP official explained.

February 25, 2009

The Banknote Errors of 2003

In the year of 2003, a rare printing error occurred in the Bangko Sentral facility where banknotes were being printed. This affected the production of the 20 peso bill which resulted to some 20 pesos note's reverses to either exhibit light printing or totally lost the whole design itself which should have resulted to a uniface 20 peso bill.

Other special errors were recently sold via Ebay, belonging to the same batch but one apparent error I have managed to save the images was a unique 20 peso note where a second printing of obverse occurred on the note's reverse which therefore resulted to overlapping images.

Modern error notes rarely surface since the Mint are very strict and to stumble upon such kind of error is like winning a lottery.

The reason why I became particular with this date is because several collectors also cited the same abnormalities on the 20 peso notes dated 2003. Some notes exhibited lightly printed reverse which were particularly obvious only with this date and denomination. Click this link to view more...

Apparently, uniface note is one of the toughest type of errors in collecting notes since Mint employees should have easily recognized the oddity and apparently destroyed it after being isolated.

Luckily this note escaped scrutiny and now belongs to the exclusive collection of this site.

Gold, Silver, & Platinum fell despite Investor's confidence

Gold fell to $900 level after President Obama and FED Chairman made statements that the United States recovery will already be realized within the year of 2009. Despite the confidence of Obama in his speech before the officials, cabinet members, and legislators in Washington, several analyst are in doubt whether the stimulus package can revive the ailing American economy.

Silver and Platinum also dropped, yet Silver remained constantly closed to the $14 level as market confidence sunk to one of lowest level in years.

Meanwhile local mining companies are bullish on shifting to gold production, Philex Mining Corp., the Philippines’ largest mining company, is now more focused on producing Gold than copper as the precious metal hits $1,000 per ounce.

With gold prices prices recovering from slump and copper costs falling to record lows – owing to “declining demand in the US and European housing and automobile industries," values of the company’s concentrate shipments have recently reversed.

“The company’s latest export now indicate that gold accounts for 72 percent of the concentrates’ value while copper accounts for only 28 percent," Philex said in a statement.

Gold values in Philex’s concentrate shipments have consistently outstripped copper values since the last quarter of last year, the company said.

“This trend is expected to remain as the world recession continues to hit the entire developed world and has begun to spill over into the developing world," the company said.

Besides being considered as a safe investment haven, gold is also considered as hedge against inflation, a commodity whose prices rise as major currencies fall. The precious metal “has been testing new price highs while copper, which is very dependent on housing and automobile markets have seen prices decline by more than half since its highs in 2008," the company said.

“Thus, Philex is a good “natural hedge" against base metal prices because gold prices are expected to stay up during this financial crisis and as the financial crisis subsides, gold prices are expected to soften while copper prices will firm up as the world recovers from depression," the company added.

Currently, the company is drilling and developing only gold properties and copper deposits with gold values (in dollars per ton of ore) higher than the dollar value of the copper in the ore. These gold/copper projects take at least three years to develop.

The company’s board recently declared a stock dividend of 25 percent to be presented for shareholders’ approval at the special meeting to be held on April 21, 2009.

Shares of Philex fell P0.30 to P5.10 during Wednesday’s trading at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

February 23, 2009

Gold Rally Paused, US Mint Sales Up

bullion sales
When it seems that Gold is on the track for a bullish run, the move has become apparently stagnant as terrible financial news cloud the market. Rumors about bank nationalization has been circulating in Wall Street amid the decline of stocks of financial giants Citigroup & Bank of America.

Newly elected president Obama admitted on his speech that the previous government of president Bush left the current administration with $1.3 Trillion dollar deficit. The news immediately struck the charts of Wall Street which send the Dow Jones plunging more than 250 points.

Silver has the modest gain among the precious metals registering 44 cents increase in a single day trading and almost touching the $15 mark. While trading in the precious metal sector seem showing the sign of volatility, experts believe that it is because of the intervention by bankers which caused the temporary pause of gold. However, most of them agree that gold has finally lose grip from the financial and is now moving independently.

Meanwhile, U.S mint reported sales on bullion coins skyrocketed to 92,000 ounces four times more than the sale from the previous year.

Investors are purchasing record amounts of gold bars and coins, shunning risky assets for the relative safety of bullion amid renewed fears about the health of the global financial system.

February 22, 2009

Commentary: The Global Financial Crisis

Most people would have agreed that saving is the noblest of act in this time of crisis but if bank failures and the whole financial system on the brink of collapse how can we recommend saving to an ordinary man?

The crisis that we have right now is far from the common person’s understanding since the jargon that are being used by economist and bankers are complicatedly designed to keep the ordinary man blank of the events and deprived of facts.

If a common person would have asked the most reputable and highly respected financial consultants that we have today, they would always recommend everybody to do the cliche and naïve advice that is “to go to the bank and deposit their money as savings.”

Certainly that would have made everybody agreed that it is the rightful thing to do but of course, would you deposit your money in a bank that is on edge of bankruptcy?

To understand money, we have to trace its history, evolution, and significant changes in order to keep track of its meaning and intention. Basically, money as we understand it is, is not the same money that we have today contrary to what the experts have been explaining to us.

History narrates that money evolved through trade and the necessity of convenience. Before money become tangible enough to be held by a single hand it took several forms such as wheel curve out of a rock, that should have made an ordinary market day a feat for a common man.

That suggested the theory that the cumbersome nature of the stone age money made man seek other medium until they found Gold. Gold has been the modern man's money since ancient times due to its aesthetic appeal, scarcity, and convenience.

Aside from Gold's aesthetic value, the recent industrial revolution and technological innovations increase the value of Gold into several more folds, and together with that it pulled other precious metals such as Silver & Platinum, and metals such as Copper & Nickel to join the trend as man's way of life become dependent to technology.

Unknown to many, Gold, Silver, and Platinum are so useful that majority of their household appliances, gadgets, vehicles, power supplies, and devices cannot function without these.

Intrinsically, these metals have proven their worth to the modern man as more and more advancement in science and technology will be expected, demand for more of these metals will definitely increase.

Until 1964, currency and coins are either redeemable in Silver or made out of Silver, and in 1931, either redeemable in Gold or made out of Gold. Gold and Silver were used as reserves to back-up all the notes printed by the government so they can become legal tender.

Technically, even though in the form of paper, they represent Gold & Silver value which you could notice written on notes printed in the early up to the mid 1900 the caption "Gold Certificate" or "Silver Certificate" together with "redeemable in silver or gold coin" written on the notes front.

After the Gold standard was abolished, the financial system moved to a seemingly attractive but very unstable period of Fiat currency.

In a Fiat monetary system, there is no restrain on the amount of money that can be created. This allows unlimited credit creation. Initially, a rapid growth in the availability of credit is often mistaken for economic growth, as spending and business profits grow and frequently there is a rapid growth in equity prices. In the long run, however, the economy tends to suffer much more by the following contraction than it gained from the expansion in credit.

The inflationary & magical characteristic of the Fiat monetary system is vulnerable to predation, usury, greed, corruption, speculation, manipulation, and of course, magic!

Sounds funny, but "magic" is literally inherent in today's monetary system. For a common man who have been bombarded by deceptions and the constant lies by the false economic experts such statement would have been automatically discredited or perhaps the person making such statement would have been maliciously ridiculed.

Unknown to many, the collapse of the entire financial system is caused not by an accident or by a temporary but normal cyclical glitch in the system itself but because of the unregulated power of credit which should be expected of that of the current Fiat monetary system.

The Modern Money Mechanics explain that banks have the power to create 90% money out of the 10% reserve that they have which enable them to facilitate loans at speed and without much effort.

However, the creation of money that is needed by the public can only be accomplished by way of loans, and loans as we know require attachment of property or properties as guaranty for repayment. Therefore, enabling the banks to hold a person's property in exchange of a loan from the 90% they created on top the 10% money reserve they have in their books.

Of course, the money that is 90% money created from the 10% reserve money that a certain bank possesses which has been collected by the borrower shall be deposited to another bank which would again become part of the reserve money of that bank, and so the process repeats itself up to infinity.

And of course, after all these, the bank's "INTEREST" has not yet been discussed which when equated to the whole process would have produced a catastrophic financial blackhole, which by the way, is the current crisis that we have right now.

Since banks are the only entities allowed to issue and print money, it is impossible for the public to pay its debt literally because even the banks themselves don't have the capacity to meet the obligations they themselves issued. As a consequence, future generations will be drowned in debt hundred of years before they will even be conceived.

The funny thing is, after all these, bankers are still the one being consulted regarding "savings" and other important financial matters. Its like putting a sticker saying "smoking is dangerous to your health" on the side of a cigarette pack as part of a campaign against the increase of cases of lung cancer.

I have heard and read recently advices concerning on how to adapt to the current financial crisis and all of them are in a chorus. For a very short term solution, that can become fairly effective but if you would like to be in the safe side, change should come in the form of inner discipline and not about the tautology of what has already been proven wrong for so many times.

The influence of the United States has aggravated the effects of the crisis. Basically,their transformation from a producing country to a service industry have destroyed their capacity of self-sufficiency which has otherwise become the role model for other emerging and industrialized countries.

Another factor that should be considered is the public's perception of wealth which is inclined toward over consumption and materialism. Since the Earth's resources is limited, our attitude and consumption should correspond to what is available and what can only be provided. It is dangerous to believe that we are on top of the situation.

Saving should not be in the form of money but conservation. Remember, money has no intrinsic value. You can't save something that can either be declared demonetized in a snap of finger or losing value on a daily basis.

For those who would like to preserve their wealth; Gold, Silver, and other precious metals are highly recommended safehavens. In this time of crisis, the most effective & advisable strategy that I can recommend is for you not getting poorer by hedging your wealth against inflationary moves.

And of course, one should become less dependent with the system and that is, as much as possible, your capacity of providing your own basic needs. Learning some fundamental and survival skills should do the trick.

Finally, keep your life simple. Life has no other purpose except "LIVING", and the only way you could appreciate and fulfill your life is if you still have it.

February 20, 2009

Gold passed $1000 on More Bad Financial News

gold bars
Gold surpassed $1,000 an ounce while Platinum jumped almost $100 in New York for the first time in almost a year as investors, hurt by plunging stocks and a deepening recession, sought to protect their wealth.

Banks are the worst performers on this trading day as banking giants such as Citigroup and Bank of America topped the list of companies posting losses amid the plunge of the stock market worldwide.

The financial situation remains extremely fragile and precious metals seems to be the only safe haven. Currencies are losing value and holders of currencies are losing confidence. Gold may break through $1,000 and silver may climb up to $20 as the global financial crisis wreck havoc to the global financial system.

Gold above $1,000 may attract more investors seeking to take advantage of the longest streak of annual advances in the metal’s price in 60 years. Assets in some of the industry’s largest exchange-traded funds are at all-time highs.

Silver futures for March delivery climbed 55.5 cents, or 4 percent, to $14.49 an ounce in New York. The metal has surged 28 percent this year, the best performance among the 26 contracts on the Maturity Commodity Index. The metal lost 24 percent from its peak in 2008.

"The downward momentum of the stocks is the opposite in the precious metal index, it seems that these commodities have already separated bottomed out of the deflation and its now its way up. These past weeks have been obvious because precious metals have been gaining faster than we expected." one investor commented.

Local numismatic club members are even cautious about selling their silver crowns because they don't want to end up as losers if the metal regain its former glory in the coming months. "I think I'll just have to wait for four more months before I could start thinking of going back to selling some of my stuff (coins). Meanwhile, I'm on a buying mode right now." a club member commented.

Local coin dealers have been busy lately looking for supplies as their inventories started dwindling. Some are even doing their homework to trace some old timer's hoard before they become short of stocks.

February 19, 2009

Gold Mining Village under threat of Landslide

Mount Diwalwal has been a home for so many residents now where rags-to-riches stories were made and gold struck tales were as common as the people's lives. In fact, the whole community itself sit on top of the gold mine, and the whole village ground as the mine itself.

Several years ago, Mt. Diwalwal was a no man's land and was known as the "Wild West" until recently when the villagers started organizing themselves, Peace settles in the community.

Students there were even given with medals literally made out of Gold which were donations by residents to encourage and uplift the literacy rate of the community, since most residence are illiterate themselves.

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Now, due to landslide hazards, Mount Diwalwal (Mt. Diwata) in the southern province of Compostela Valley has been declared a no-man's land, not fit for human habitation, an online news site reported.

Poor environmental practices and lack of precautions among the miners themselves who have literally made crisscrossed underground tunnels under the village loosened the soil. Cracks have developed in three areas amid heavy rains that pounded Diwalwal.

The crisis committee formed after the threat was discovered announced that the place is not safe and villagers should be moved to safer ground.

February 18, 2009

Local Coin Dealers Update Prices as Precious Metals move Upward

Local coin dealers have been struggling to fill the demand in the rise of silver and gold coin buyers as the recent jump in the prices of precious metals suggests that the world economy is in a deeper recession. Silver has been trading well lately indicated by the daily climb in the chart this week.

Lately, local dealers have been cautious about selling their silver coin inventories as trend indicates that a major opportunity is coming.

Catching-up the sudden increase of price made some coin shops in Manila to temporarily halt their sale in order to update the price of their coins, and even required orders be placed in advance.

Local clubs are even short of silver and gold coins for their auctions and most that were put on in the floor were numismatic coins and smaller denominations.

"If the current trend will continue, we could still conduct our auctions but a little bit short of crown size silver coins and gold coins." a local numismatic club officer commented.

Meanwhile, authorities are giving warning to the public to carefully check larger paper bill denominations before accepting it as a precaution against the proliferation of counterfeit money.

An alleged syndicate member's operation has been foiled by authorities when a vendor filed a complaint against her after she identified that the money she accepted was fake.

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

February 17, 2009

Philippine Bullion Report: Platinum, Gold, & Silver Rise ( Update )

Precious metals have made a surprising comeback from its previous lowest levels last November of 2008. Platinum, Gold, Silver have been bullish recently after several bad financial news rocked Japan and Europe during the past few days. Today Silver peaked at $13.92 while Gold climbed more than $20 surpassing its record last week since it bottomed out. Platinum meanwhile is gaining momentum leaving behind one of its previous worse performance when it went down at the price level of Gold.

News about investors rushing to buy precious metals have been reported in Tokyo as the financial crisis in Japan deepens.

Tokyo bullion dealers are reporting an unprecedented drought of platinum ingots and coins, blaming the economic downturn and dwindling faith in the Government for a rush by middle-class Japanese families to buy precious metal.

With dealers turning away would-be platinum customers for lack of stock, retail investment interest is turning towards the even rarer Canadian Maple Leaf palladium coin.

Some dealers are predicting volatile palladium prices as Japanese investors compete with the car industry, palladium's main industrial buyer.

A government think tank is predicting that Japan's economy shrank by an annualised 10.59 per cent in the final quarter of 2008 - rather than the 5.14 per cent contraction they were predicting four weeks ago.

As if this was not enough for concern, there is a growing sense that the Japanese Government is not responding adequately to the economic crisis.

Jonathan Allum, chief Japan strategist at KBC Securities, is among a number of analysts with deep scepticism over the plans laid out by Kaoru Yosano, the Economics Minister.

“Some of Mr Yosano's previously expressed views do not wholly inspire confidence. This is a man who said on January 28 that a rise in the consumption tax could ‘lay the foundations for increased consumption',” he said in a note to investors yesterday.

Although precious metals dealers are thriving, Tiffany's said yesterday that it would cut prices in its Japanese stores by 9 per cent - a reflection of the stronger yen and dire times for the mainstream jewellery industry.

Platinum sales at Tanaka Kikinzoku, the largest Japanese bullion dealer, have soared by 430 per cent over the past 12 months.

The World Gold Council's latest figures suggest that total Japanese gold bullion sales for investment purposes soared by 61 per cent last year. Platinum is popular because the price is about 50 per cent lower than it was this time last year. -TIMESONLINE

Meanwhile, the local economy is still clueless at the current situation in the global market as seen by the lax defenses and preparation of the current government against the onslaught of the global financial crisis.

Despite several worrisome reports regarding the situation of the Pre-need industry and bank mergers, local coin dealers have not prepared with their current inventories as supply of bullion coins dries up due to the jump in demand.

More and more investors now seek to convert their paper investments into tangible investments as prediction on the rise of precious metals is now materializing. "This is really amazing, I never thought that this rise would happen. I should have bought them (bullion coins) when they were cheaper. Now its too late, bad news already plague the market." one investor commented.

February 16, 2009

Philippine Bullion Report: Platinum, Gold, & Silver remain Steady

Platinum, Gold, and Silver remain steady this week despite the seemingly endless downward trend in the world market for industrial, automotive, and logistics industry. The sudden rise in the price of oil opened the week with an announcement from an independent oil company to hike the price of its gasoline and diesel between 20 to 50 centavos per liter while commuters demand that fare should be lowered by 1-peso due to the ample reduction in the prices of fuel.

The local financial market is in a somber mood after some still unnamed preneed firms were disclosed by the Securities in Exchange Commission (SEC) to suffer the same fate as the defunct Legacy Plans.

Preneed firm Pryce Plans Inc. remains solvent and liquid though it is barely able to pay planholders in cash owing to trust fund illiquidity, data from the Securities and Exchange Commission showed.

In a letter to Sentaor Mar Roxas, Jose Aquino, SEC director for Non-Traditional Securities and Instruments department, said Pryce Plans trustees ChinaBank and Asiatrust Bank informed the SEC of the trust funds’ illiquidity.

The SEC also noted that Pryce Plans has a trust fund deficiency of P56.17 million since it only has reserves of P113.23 million consisting of listed equities and a little cash as against the required 20 percent reserve of P168.4 million.

Aquino noted that the firm has chosen to deal with its maturing obligations to holders and surrendered plans by giving them the option to avail of the cash settlement or dacion en pago, provided the consent of the availing planholder is secured.

The dacion is by way of liquefied petroleum gas from sister company Pryce Gases Inc., medicine from another sister company Pryce Pharmaceuticals Inc., and memorial lots provided by other Pryce companies.

For those availing the swapping option, their maturity benefits are in effect converted into capital for dealership of liquefied petroleum gas or medicines which are given immediately to them upon signification of their assent.

However, for those availing the settlement mode by way of cash, the SEC said Pryce Plans is implementing a queuing program due to the illiquidity of the assets of its trust fund.

Pryce Plans has assets of P1.28 billion as of the end of 2008 as against total liabilities of P974.56 million. The firms assets have dwindled by 31.7 percent from 2004 when its total assets amounted to P1.87 billion.

As of the end of 2008, Pryce Plans trustee banks reported a total trust fund equity of P846.99 million, of which P590.73 million is for educational plans while P256.26 million is for Pension plans.

However, the cash portion of these trust funds amounted to only P106,839.00 or a mere 0.01 percent of total trust fund.

This is because the bulk of these trust funds have been invested in real estate, primarily condominium units (P518.45 million), and memorial lots (P216.84 million) as well as some in listed equities (P113.12 million).

The company has stopped selling new plans since 2006 and has since continued to service planholders only. GMANews.TV

Meanwhile, local coin dealers are experiencing the pressure from the rising demand of bullion coins as the price of precious metals became apparently toward the upward trend. Mostly sought after, are crown size coins like the United States and Philippine Peso and the Spanish 8 Reales.

Recently, the price of the small peso bullion climbed to P350 from its previous worth of P220 to P250 last month.

February 14, 2009

The 1884 Alfonso VII 10 Centavos Mated Pair Capped Dies

Error coins from the Spanish period are hard to come by and most of those that survived times are not in better condition. One collector explained to me that after he discovered a hoard of Spanish-Philippine coins, he noticed that there were varieties of 1880 Fifty Centavos of the Alfonso VII reign. He uncovered a specimen which has a different design on the reverse, particularly the crown’s pearls and the columns on its sides. “At the same time, those were the first time we saw varieties such as double dates like 1885 over 3, 1880 over 1, and errors such as die rotation is some denomination particularly the 50 and 20 centavos.” He added.

In the past, several 1880 Fifty Centavos Pattern have surfaced in the market and were even sold at online auctions such as Ebay. The coin which is struck in brass and has a plain edge bears a slightly different design compared to the regular 1880 Fifty Centavos coin. The coin has a mintage of 127, 050 and belongs to the list of most sought after coin in the field of Philippine numismatic however, only a few number of collectors are aware of the existence of the pattern until recently through the help of the Internet. Pieces were sold at lesser value compared the regular struck coin because most collectors were doubtful of the coin's origin due to the coin's obvious inconsistency with the regular struck coin.

One considerable factor that have affected the suspicion of collectors with the existence of Alfonso VII pattern were the sudden introduction of counterfeits which have mysteriously appeared that same period.

Of all the set of coins from the Alfonso VII reign, the 1884 is unanimously considered as the rarest among the sets, from the smallest 10 centavos to the still unconfirmed 4-peso gold. Unlike the coinage from Isabel II, there were no 1-peso and 2-peso denomination minted for the series and the coins were fewer and tougher to complete due to the events that had affected not only the Philippines as a colony of Spain, but Spain itself under a crisis of its own.

The sophisticated errors yet documented by some collectors were specie of rotated dies, defective planchet, die-cracks and over dates. However complicated errors such as off-centers, double denominations, and others have not surfaced until today which reflect how strict the Mint's employees when it comes to the immediate destruction of error coins.

Still, among the types of errors, the mated pair die cap where the obverse and reverse of a coin are capped and mated is considered as one of the rarest impossibilities in the world of coin errors. However, recently a rare error from the Alfonso VII series was discovered.

The coin, an 1884 Alfonso VII 10 centavos is considered to be among one of the rarest Philippine coins. Seeing an error such as mated pair capped dies happening in a coin as rare as the 1884 Alfonso VII 10 centavos is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity for collectors of Philippine numismatic materials.

A die cap is caused when a struck coin sticks to the upper hammer die. Once the coin is stuck to the die face, the reverse of the struck coin becomes the new die face. The coin's weight just under 2 grams and an edge thinner than a human hair is a product of two capped dies from the 10 centavos which is obviously indicated by the overlap in the coin's obverse and reverse and the absence of the planchet's edge.

The coin's obverse and reverse seem to be shaped like of a nimble which is manifested by the slightly bulging and stretched legends. The supposed to be flat edge of the coin was instead comparable to a knife's edge due to nimble shaped obverse and reverse.

While the coin's mintage of 10, 045 is enough to declare it as among the rarest. The fact that no similar error have been reported with any Philippine coins make this coin as one of its kind in the rarest coin of Philippine numismatic.

Amazingly, despite the torture of time and human handling, this very small coin survived to tell its story.

February 12, 2009

Public warned on "Gold Bar" Scam

gold bar
The slowing demand in electronics and automobiles have reached the Philippine shore as Berong Nickel Mining Corp. announced that it would slash its manpower by 600 as a countermeasure against the declining price of Nickel in the world market. Nissan Philippines, a Japanese automaker production unit in Laguna will also be affected by the worldwide cuts by Nissan Corp. which recently announced that 20,000 employees will be laid off this year.

Nissan Philippines also added that it would cut its working hours from 6-days to 5-days and eliminate overtime pays to save other employees from being laid-off.

Meanwhile, a recent "gold-bar" scam was foiled by authorities in Cebu, as more and more people seek this metal on this time of uncertainty.

A suspect selling a fake gold bar was arrested by members of Philippine National Police following a transaction inside a small inn in Cebu City, Tuesday evening.

Felix Lahinaw, 59 years old and from Barangay Guizo in Mandaue City, told ABS-CBN News that he knew the gold bar was fake but still tried to sell it.

His victims were from Zamboanga City.

Lahinaw added that he got the gold bar from a certain Ramon Tornado of Bogo town in the northern part of Cebu province, for just P10,000.

Lahinaw sold the gold bar to the two victims from Zamboanga City for P1,000,000.

The victims from Zamboanga, who asked that their names be withheld, said they are suppliers of gold to various pawnshops in the country.

“Bong,” not his real name, said he knew the gold bar was fake when he weighed it.

Bong added real gold bars weigh in at 6.2 kg or more but the gold bar he bought from Lahinaw only weighed 3.9 kg.

"We are experts of this transaction, we've been to so many places, we never think we will be fooled here in Cebu," said Bong.

Senior Inspector Henry Binas, Talisay City police chief, said he immediately planned the arrest of Lahinaw with members of Carbon police after the victims asked for help.

"The victims called me because they knew a relative of mine, and told me that they will pay the suspect tonight so I coordinated with Carbon police, because the inn is in their area of responsibility," said Binas.

Police said they are now looking for Lahinaw's companions identified as Vilma Tornado and Pablo Tornado who reportedly got the P70,000 down payment of the victims.

Lahinaw is currently detained at Carbon Police Station. He is set to face swindling charges.--abs-cbnnews

The government debt stock is up by 12% to P4.236 Trillion as the country braces for more spending to stimulate the economy. Recent bad news from the overseas labor industry have been bothering local authorities as it braces to absorb more returning OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) out of work.

Recently, a proposal to tap the fund from the SSS (Social Security System) for government infrastructure projects has been questioned by members and the senate as a desperate attempt of the government to fill its deficit.

"That is a confiscation of private wealth. We need those fund for our own needs since it is our money in the first place!" a member commented.

February 11, 2009

Precious Metals Rally on Bad Financial News

Precious metals have been bullish this week as Gold ($938.250, Platinum ($1,063.50), and Silver($13.52) gained better positions in line with more negative news coming from the financial industry. Silver and Platinum soared to record levels in a single day trading as Gold remained stable in the $900 position. "This is one of the best performance yet of these commodities after it hit lowest points third quarter last year." one trader said.

The once-mighty UBS today confirmed investors' worst fears by declaring an £11.3bn loss for 2008 and announcing it would axe around a further 2,000 jobs at its shrunken investment bank.

The bank made Swiss corporate history by losing a record 19.7bn Swiss francs after running up a further net loss of Sfr8.1bn in the final quarter of last year, including Sfr3.7bn in exposures to toxic assets. It has scrapped the dividend.

Confirming it had cut bonuses by 85%, UBS said it planned to reduce staff at the investment bank to 15,000 by the end of this year, after shedding more than 1,700 in the last three months of 2008 alone.-guardian.uk

Local coin dealers meanwhile are feeling the pressure from the rising demand of bullion coins as more buyers prefer to make reservations to assure they are getting the coins at lower prices. "Business is better right now but we are still short of supply because everyone is holding on with their coins." one dealer commented.

"They are anticipating that the rally will continue in the coming days---and that will assure them of selling their coins for better prices."

"Mostly in demand right now are crown size coins or coins mainly between the half-ounce and ounce level especially those minted before the 1940's or those still with 75% to 90% silver because its cheaper than a gram of gold which is affordable for everybody" he added.

Meanwhile, a legislation is being proposed right as countermeasure from the abusive tactics and usurious policies of credit card companies.

A Senate Bill seeks to put a ceiling on the interest rates and surcharges being levied by credit card companies, as well as prohibiting the practice of including hidden charges in the billing process.

Senate Bill 1438 puts a cap of 1 percent per month or 12 percent per annum on the interest rates that can be charged by credit card companies. It also seeks to put a ceiling of 1 percent on the surcharges and penalties imposed by these companies.

Currently, the lowest interest rate among credit card companies is at 2.5 percent while the highest is at 3.5 percent.

"The state has to come in to regulate the interest rates charged by these companies so that a healthier economic environment will prevail for the benefit of the consuming public and credit card companies," said Senator Francis G. Escudero, who chairs the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies.

The senator is also looking into the reinstatement of the Anti-Usury Law, which was suspended by the Central Bank in 1982. As a result, it lifted restrictions, allowing parties to agree on interest rates.

Despite the law’s suspension, it still didn’t give credit card companies the license to charge prohibitive interest rates.

"We, at one time or another have heard a lot of horror stories involving credit cards, particularly the billing process and the abuses in the manner of collection. It is high time that we take a hard look at the issue and pass legislation that aims to protect the interest of the public," Escudero said

He also cited the prevalence of five-six, a lending practice in many urban and rural poor communities which results in the debtor getting deeper into debt.

"Banks, which are essentially established and formal institutions, are being watched. But not informal ones, such as 5-6, which has zero track record," Escudero said. - GMANews.TV
The investigation to the bankrupt pre-need firm Legacy Plans belonging to the Legacy Group led to an admission from the Security and Exchange Commission that there are still other similar firms experiencing shortage of capital, however the agency has not revealed the names of these firms to avoid the escalating tension between the plan holders and the company owners.

February 10, 2009

Platinum comeback to $1000 level, gold & silver remain steady

Platinum made a comeback after posting extensive gain since it slowed down mid-year 2008. The industrial metal made a $44 rise in a single day trading outperforming other commodities. Meanwhile, gold remained steady in the $900 after dipping the $800 level last week, silver gained its foothold on the $13 territory after one of its best performance last week.

Bullion coins in the local market remain scarce as more and more people seek silver and gold in exchange of insurance and other paper investments on fear of becoming the latest victim of fraud and pyramid scams as investigation to Legacy Group get into deeper level.

Latest information revealed that owners of the bankrupt company were able to dupe their investors on promise that their investments would double in a short period of time. Owners were said to have paid the first level investors with the promise which had enticed others to believe the investment scheme is working.

Celso Delos Angeles, the company owner made accusations that his company failed due to faulty regulations and red tape in the Central Bank which the bank officers have disregarded as a desperate move by Delos Angeles to sway the flow of the investigation.

The local banking sector is also preparing for drastic measures as gossip about bank mergers circulate in the market. Early this year, East West Bank made one of its biggest deal by acquiring Philam Savings Bank, a local subsidiary once under the international insurance giant AIG. PNB and Allied Bank of business magnate Lucio Tan, is also on talks of a possible merger in the near future as the damage of the global financial crisis deepens in the local economy.

Local mining sector is still making some "ups and downs" headlines as several bad and good news hit the industry this week.

Apex Mining said about 32,000 kilograms of ore with visible gold were discovered during the first week of exploration at a new vein in its mining project at Davao del Norte.

The company said information from this activity will form the basis of further exploration drilling and feasibility studies in its project in Maco town.

The listed company told regulators that it entered into a contract with a cooperative composed of villagers and local government units to explore the new vein system called Sagaysagay, which was discovered by locals last year.

"On the cooperative's first week of operation it gathered 800 bags at 40 kilograms per bag of ore," Apex said.

Sagaysagay contains ores with visible "free-gold" which is expected to result in higher gold recovery.

Apex said there had earlier been an influx of small-scale mining activities at the Sagaysagay vein system without consent from the company.

Apex said it decided to stop the illegal mining activities without antagonizing the locals by entering into a service contract with the local cooperative with members from the indigenous peoples and 15 barangays in Maco.

February 9, 2009

A Typical Day for a Filipino Numismatist

There were times in the life of a typical Filipino numismatist that he is about to give-up with his collection due to several reasons. Much of it because of the pressure from people dearly close to himself, and sometimes from the complicated system that seems to be in an endless entanglement from the ego and politics among hobbyists.

Ridiculed and frustrated he turns to his collections for divine answers and comfort, as he carefully hold each and every coin for inspection. He usually spend his pastimes looking at them and scrutinizing every details using his jewelry loupe in search of that particular characteristic that would usually help him identify each coin from others.

Luster, relief, toning, grade, and others are the aesthetic points he is familiar with and appreciate the dates and mintmarks more if that correspond to scarce varieties, low population, or mintage. He is usually quiet, isolated, and eccentric as he is regularly seen travelling on foot in the busy streets of Manila, in search of his own version of treasures.

He like the scenes of clutter, antiquity, dustiness, and imperfection as it represents opportunity, adventure, and excitement. The sidewalks, flea markets, and pawnshops are his turf and not the usual coin shops which, he considers as only for neophytes.

He usually walk alone and in most times in a hurry as he anticipate the principle of “timing” as his key to rare opportunities. He races against dealers, jewelers, and sometimes, fellow collectors in a hope to snatch some few bargains before somebody attempts to bid for a higher price.

At the end of the day, after the heart pounding dash and crafty haggling, he would usually settle for the leftovers, for reason that he either failed to compete or someone was early at the scene.

Yet despite of that never-ending frustration, he would still consider himself as passionate and committed in his quest of assembling that “Greatest Collection” one-day---the day that everybody will be envious, he told himself.

He sits in a corner at one of his favorite places in the Metro, making some quick glances at the pieces he gathered for the day before heading home. As he lift the coins one by one, his mind is already at work visualizing his next step, carefully planning the preservation and protection of his newly acquired treasures.

The planned itinerary rewarded him of a safe and early arrival. He quickly walked to that particular place in the house where he hides his collection. There he met his wife dusting the cabinets, and seems at the stage of putting the finishing touch as she smiled back, her feet on the newly waxed floor.

Then he asked for that box, “Where is it?” His wife answered “I threw it in the garbage!”

February 7, 2009

Weekend Economic Report

Local Mining industry made some headlines these weekend as foreign investors pulled-out some projects in an attempt to mitigate their losses from the onslaught of the worldwide meltdown in industrial metals. After a mining company decided to shut their mining operation in Northern Luzon, another foreign company prepares for take-over from a local mining giant Philex Mining corporation.

Publicly listed Philex Mining Corp. said Friday it now has full control over the Bongoyan copper-gold project in Surigao after it bought out partner Anglo American Plc. in the venture.

In a statement to the local bourse, Philex said it has acquired the 50 percent stake of Anglo American in the mine project through 81-percent owned subsidiary, Philex Gold Philippines Inc.

The acquisition was done via a share and asset purchase agreement covering the purchase by Philex of the shares of Anglo in the joint venure companies, Silangan Mindanao Mining Co. Inc. and Silangan Mindadao Exploration Co. Inc., as well as the acquisition of various assets, receivables and obligations of Anglo in the project for a total consideration of $55 million.

"(The transaction) paves the way for the continued development of Boyongan and the adjacent areas expeditiously and for the best interest of Philex," said Renato Migriño, Philex vice president for finance.

Philex and Anglo American earlier argued about the viability of the Boyongan project. A previous study conducted by the latter showed the mine would not produce an acceptable rate of return.

The 25,184-hectare Boyongan project was estimated by the government to have ore reserves of 300 million tons.

Philex said production at Boyongan could start by 2012.

Another sector is currently facing a major crisis at this moment, as more people are now starting to question the stability of their pre-need plans. "Despite the Security And Exchange Commission claiming to have loosen their policy on pre-need firms, they cannot guarantee that we will still get our money from the bankrupt company!" one policy holder commented.

Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) conducted a depositor's forum in front of more than a thousand depositors from Cebu City who were affected by various bank holidays of the bankrupt Legacy Group of Companies at the Mandaue City Sports Complex.

The PDIC panel was composed of Ferdinand Beluan of Receivership and Liquidation Dept., Atty. Elaine Deticio- AVP for Claims Processing Dept., Teresita Gonzales- Recounting and Liquidation Group, and other PDIC Executives.

More than 130,000 depositors in Central Visayas were affected by the bank holiday, 25,000 of whom are from Cebu depositors in 5 banks under the Legacy Group of Companies.

During the forum, PDIC announced the schedule of claims, where depositors with deposits 100,000 and below can claim their P 250,000 insurance starting February 13.

Depositors with deposits above P 100,000 can start claiming their insurance starting March 1, 2009.

Depositors are reminded to bring the original Pass Book, an ID issued by the government and the accomplished claim form.

On the good side, inflation dropped further in January to 7.1 percent year-on-year from 8 percent in December, the lowest since March last year. Lower prices of fuel and transportation and communication services, and slower increases in the prices of most commodity groups accounted for the continued slowdown of inflation in January. Core inflation, which excludes certain specific food and energy items to obtain an underlying measure of generalized price pressures, was also lower at 6.9 percent year-on-year in January from 7.3 percent in December. Meanwhile, month-on-month headline inflation turned positive in January at 0.3 percent after being negative for four consecutive months. --- quotes courtesy of www.abs-cbnnews.com

February 6, 2009

Philippine Bullion Report: Nickel Mine Shutdown in Isabela as demand slow-down in Electronics

Price of Gold in the world market went-down, up, down, and up before finally setting to a convincing $900 level. Silver on the other hand made a comfortable performance in the $12 level making it the best performer among the precious metals. "In this times of financial turmoil, nothing is predictable even what had been claimed as certain." a analyst commented.

Local mining industry has not been spared by the brutal impact of the global financial crisis as the slow-down in demand of electronics triggered a domino effect which has now reach minor and medium scale mining companies.

Plunging prices of nickel have forced a mining company in Isabela province to discontinue operations.

The Platinum Group Metals Corp. (PGMC)-Dinapigue Nickel Project has shuttered operations after prices of nickel – a metal used for making coins and magnets – plummeted to $4 currently from $14 a pound last year, said Jerrysal Mangaoang, the company’s manager.

Besides causing massive investment withdrawals by the project’s financiers, 400 workers have also been laid off, Mangaong said.

The workers have already received their severance pays and other benefits to help them start their own livelihood.

Last year, PGMC has signed an agreement with Geograce Resources Philippines, Inc. (Geograce) for an exclusive right to operate and develop a portion of the PGMC’s mining project in Isabela province.

In its disclosure, Geograce announced that it would exclusively operate 45 hectares out of the total 2,391 hectares covered by the Isabela Nickel project in Dinapigue, Isabela through a profit sharing agreement.

Geograce’s board has also reallocated P40 million as a reimbursement to PGMC for the production cost of the ore in stockpile from the mineral property,

However, it remains unclear if Geograce will take over the mining project, now that its local partner has bowed out of the mineral exploration business.

PGMC is allowed to mine up to two million metric tons of ore every year in its Isabela mine site. - GMANews.TV

February 4, 2009

Finest 1906-S One Peso offered at Stack's

The 1906 San Francisco mint 1 Peso enjoys the status as "King of Philippine coins" not because of its mintage, but because of the history behind it. There were more than 200 thousand of this coin produced dated 1906 aside from the proof coin minted by the Philadelphia mint. But because of the scarcity of silver and its importance to the economy of mainland United States, its former colony, the Philippines undergone several transition including the reduction of size of the United States colonial coins as well as its alloy. From the standard of 1 ounce, the Philippines adopted 3/4 of an ounce for the equivalent of peso in silver unit.

1 Peso, 1906-S. MS-62 (PCGS). This is the finest known example of the 1906-S Peso, accompanied by a partial Type Set of First Issue Philippine Coins. Students of the U.S. Philippine coinage estimate that perhaps only 200 1906-S Pesos survive today in all grades. Most have seen substantial circulation and have been cleaned. Even Extremely Fine specimens without a trace of original surface are routinely sold for a couple of thousand dollars and the few About Uncirculated pieces known are all five-figure coins. The few Uncirculated pieces known are the stuff of legend to the ever-increasing number of enthusiastic aficionados collectors of this historic series. The present 1906-S Peso boasts fully original, unaltered surfaces, lustrous flash beneath the handsome russet and blue toning shared by the other Silver coins in this historic group.

Stack's is proud to have been selected to introduce this example of the greatest rarity of the U.S. Philippine series to the collecting public! This is the first appearance of this finest known 1906-S Peso, MS-62 (PCGS). The population reports underline its rarity: PCGS has certified two in MS-61, two in MS-62; NGC has certified one in MS-60, one in MS-61.

Joining the Peso are the other three coins comprising this historic grouping, who have journeyed together for more than a century: * 1904-S 50 Centavos, MS-62 (PCGS) * 1903 20 Centavos, MS-63 (PCGS) * 1903 Bronze Half Centavo, MS-64 RB (PCGS). Here is a truly historic offering whose like may never be seen again. The possessor of this group will have custody of a unique window into the beginnings of American coinage for this unique Far Eastern possession. (Total: 4 pieces) (80,000-100,000)

During World War 2, most of the remaining 1906-S 1 Peso being held by the Philippine treasury were dumped in the waters of Manila bay as a drastic measure to avoid confiscation by the invading Japanese Imperial Army. Thus, only a few specimen survived in excellent condition including the one from the Golden Horn Collection.

This group of four exceptional coins was formerly the property of a Major in the American forces that "pacified" the islands in the early 1900's. He stored the coins in his Army footlocker, and there they were to remain for more than a century. The first, large-size coins were struck from 1903 to 1906 when skyrocketing silver prices had caused the Silver value of the Peso and minor coins to exceed their face value. The change-over to reduced sizes and weights took place during 1906, after the San Francisco Mint had already struck 201,000 Peso pieces. The Mint halted distribution after a very few coins were released. The balance of the issue was returned for melting and recoinage into the new small-size Pesos of 1907.

According to elder numismatists from the Philippine Numismatic And Antiquarian Society, Felipe Liao, a former officer of the club himself was the only known local collector who had acquired more or less than 40 pieces of the 1906-S 1 Peso, discovered only after his collection broke down after his death. Several of his prize possessions were donated by his heirs after his death to De La Salle University museum. -"quotes from coinarchives"

February 2, 2009

Gold vs. Financial

The surge of investors flocking at the mint and coin shops during the time when there were not yet online stores around happened during the 1980's when Gold reached a record high. Such was the first time the modern world witnessed the natural instinct of man toward the precious metal. "A decade ago before that during the 70's, currencies backed by gold were replaced by the money what we know today as "paper currency" or "fiat currency" or money back by nothing except trust and confidence." an economist said.

Today, as the Global Financial Crisis devastate the world's economies, another round of panic grips the market as more and more people seek to preserve their wealth through the hoarding of this precious metal.

The combination of central banks spending trillions of dollars to prop up the banking system in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression will cause gold to appreciate at least 17 percent this year from $882.05 an ounce on Dec. 31, surpassing the record of $1,032.70 in London, according to 16 of 24 analysts surveyed by the London Bullion Market Association. The metal rose to a three-month high of $927.36 today.

Investors are typically cautious about investing in Gold because of the bad experience after the 80's when the market started to stabilize. But this does not deter investors from accepting what has gold proven to the financial industry as it cemented its role as the number one choice against the surge of inflation.

Investors typically buy gold during times of financial turmoil as a store of value. The commodity has gained in five of the past six U.S. recessions.

Last year, manifestation of shortage has already been registered by the U.S. Mint as it suspended the sales of its gold bullion coins.

he U.S. Mint suspended sales of American Buffalo 1-ounce gold coins in September after supplies ran out. The Perth Mint, producer of so-called Kangaroo and Nugget coins in Australia, said in October that it doubled output in six months. Muenze Oesterreich AG, the Austrian mint, almost quadrupled production of its Philharmonic coin in the first nine months of 2008.

Investment demand for gold bars may climb 49 percent to 201 metric tons in the first half of 2009, according to London-based researcher GFMS Ltd. Frederic Panizzutti, senior vice president at Geneva bullion refiner MKS Finance SA and the most accurate forecaster in the 2008 London Bullion Market survey, said the peak will be breached before July.

Local financial firms have already expressed their vulnerability to the crisis, as Legacy Consolidated, a local pre-need company succumbed to bankruptcy. Investors told authorities that they were enticed to invest in the company because of the promise that their investment would double in a short period of time.

“Gold is the ultimate currency hedge,” said Michael Darda, chief economist at research company MKM Partners LP in Greenwich, Connecticut, who expects gold to surpass $1,000 this year. “If central banks are going to shovel massive amounts of paper out there, gold will ultimately respond to that.”

The firm which has an asset of Php300 million in asset, owes 1 billion pesos to its investors as their plans are beginning to reach maturity.

Bullion rose 11 percent in euros last year and 44 percent in British pounds, protecting holders of those currencies as the dollar strengthened. Gold reached a record in pounds on Jan. 23.

The gain in gold denominated in euros and pounds “represents a mistrust of global economies,” said Gerry Schubert, a director at Fortis in London.

Last December, a Citigroup senior officer predicted that Gold will surge to $2000 an ounce when the price was still under $800.

“It would be absurd to think that Bernanke would be able to nail a 1 to 2 percent Goldilocks inflation rate coming out of this,” Brynjolfsson said. “What you have is competitive devaluation of all currencies around the world. Precious metals are the only hedge in this kind of environment. The trend of gold over the next five years is a straight line toward $1,700.”

Based on the data garnered by the trading of Gold versus Financial companies, local investors could have taken more profit and less risk if they have invested it in Gold. But sad to say, not everybody else can see this change coming. - quotes are from Bloomberg

February 1, 2009

Wreck of renowned British warship found in Channel

Two years ago, the famous Deep Sea Marine exploration vessel "Odyssey" made a controversial discovery off the coast of Spain. The exploration company salvaged gold coins believed to be from a lost Spanish galleon which sank before it reached Spain's shores. The exploration vessel's succes was said to have caused minor protest over the issue of territorial claim since the vessel, according to some analyst, might have found the wreck inside the territorial waters of Spain. However, the issue died down and the coins, majority of which are gold, were lifted and brought to the United States.

Deep-sea explorers who struck it rich two years ago say they have made another big find – the wreck of a legendary British warship.

Odyssey Marine Exploration is still looking for the 100,000 gold coins believed to be aboard the HMS Victory when it sank in the English Channel in 1744. The Florida-based company found the shipwreck in May and has recovered cannons and other artifacts.

The ship was the largest and most heavily armed vessel of its day.

Odyssey made a splash two years ago when it brought up coins from the wreck of a Spanish galleon that could turn out to be worth $500 million. The coins from the Victory could be worth even more.

Odyssey executives are discussing the find at a Monday news conference in London.-AP

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