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Stick it to the Federal Reserve: Use sound money

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Bernard von Nothaus gave a speech about Liberty Dollars at The Eris Society this year. His enthusiasm is contageous, but I don't like the underlying concept: In the Q&A, a precious metals dealer pointed out that while the Liberty Dollar is backed by silver, it is not backed by an amount of silver commensurate with its face or purchase value (exchange rate).

Following up on my own, the $10 Liberty is backed by 1oz of silver. I checked, and that's worth about $7.60USD right now, but it's sold for $10USD, so you're losing about 30% to move to a currency that you can't even use in many places. Buying back to USD is based on the value of silver, so the loss is permanent. There is not parity in the exchange rate.

Worse, according to the Liberty Dollar website when silver hits $10/oz, they're going to change over to the $20 Liberty Dollar bill representing 1oz, and the $10 representing only half an ounce, so you'll be looking at a 50% loss when you buy Liberty Dollars if they're still selling them at $1USD per Liberty Dollar, and you'll have two versions of the $10 Liberty Dollar bill in circulation with one worth twice as much as the other.

If that's not all silly enough, you can get some discounts by buying your Liberty Dollars "wholesale" or by participating in a multi-level marketing program where you get money for signing others up. This kind of flexibility in exchange rate is not compatible with a real currency.

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so you're losing about 30% to move to a currency that you can't even use in many places.

Thanks for this info McGroarty. One of the questions I had was about its recognition as currency by merchants in everyday life.

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Thanks for this info McGroarty.  One of the questions I had was about its recognition as currency by merchants in everyday life.

In the talk, he claimed that Texacos, Wal-Marts, Blockbusters and Pizza Huts were accepting them, and that 95% of the stores in Austin Texas were accepting them. If anyone is in Austin and would like to dial up a few random stores, I'd love to have my skepticism proven wrong.

By the way, I just checked the site to see where I can get Liberty Dollars in Illinois. Here's one of our exchange centers:

Karl Marx Center for The Peoples Currency

No joke!

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They say "A fool and his money are soon parted."

Well, if some stranger said he'd give you IOUs for a certain amount of gold if you gave him a certain amount of dollar, you would probably be suspicious.

So, the stranger puts an ideological spin on it.

I light of the recent "return of the Christians", I wonder if some con man is selling "Jesus Dollars". As in, "don't use the currency of a government that allows the killing of innocent babies....", or, "they plan to strike God from pledge, make sure He stays on your dollar" :D

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Well, if some stranger said he'd give you IOUs for a certain amount of gold if you gave him a certain amount of dollar, you would probably be suspicious.
You can buy the Liberty Dollar as $10 silver coins.

Following up on my own, the $10 Liberty is backed by 1oz of silver. I checked, and that's worth about $7.60USD right now, but it's sold for $10USD, so you're losing about 30% to move to a currency that you can't even use in many places. Buying back to USD is based on the value of silver, so the loss is permanent. There is not parity in the exchange rate.

Worse, according to the Liberty Dollar website when silver hits $10/oz, they're going to change over to the $20 Liberty Dollar bill representing 1oz, and the $10 representing only half an ounce, so you'll be looking at a 50% loss when you buy Liberty Dollars if they're still selling them at $1USD per Liberty Dollar, and you'll have two versions of the $10 Liberty Dollar bill in circulation with one worth twice as much as the other.

As to all of this: You are not buying just the silver, you are buying the silver plus minting costs plus storage costs. You don't get angry when you have to buy bread for much more than the cost of wheat do you? Silver bullion and silver coins are two different commodities. The change over does not work the way McGroarty says it does. If you have a ten $ certificate when the change over happens, you can exchange it for a 20 $ certificate right away. That is because your old $10 certificate is backed by one ounce of silver, and that is written on the certificate.

By the way, I just checked the site to see where I can get Liberty Dollars in Illinois. Here's one of our exchange centers:

Karl Marx Center for The Peoples Currency

As to this, you should probably stop using the USD then, because Marxists, Christians, Libertarians, hedonists, Kantians, etc. all use it too. What a ridiculous objection.

If that's not all silly enough, you can get some discounts by buying your Liberty Dollars "wholesale" or by participating in a multi-level marketing program where you get money for signing others up. This kind of flexibility in exchange rate is not compatible with a real currency.

The Liberty Dollar is not a multi-level marketing program. It is a single tier referral program. The company that offers the Liberty Dollar is a nonprofit as well, so I don't see how it could be a MLM.

In the talk, he claimed that Texacos, Wal-Marts, Blockbusters and Pizza Huts were accepting them, and that 95% of the stores in Austin Texas were accepting them. If anyone is in Austin and would like to dial up a few random stores, I'd love to have my skepticism proven wrong.

There was a local news station that did a story on the Liberty Dollar. It's on the Liberty Dollar site and it shows people using the currency in everyday situations.

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You are not buying just the silver, you are buying the silver plus minting costs plus storage costs.  You don't get angry when you have to buy bread for much more than the cost of wheat do you?

So you are suggesting that we "buy" currency in the same way that we buy bread or any other product? Just a cusory examination suggests a serious flaw in reasoning to me. You are suggesting that we should be satisfied or understanding of the idea of paying for the minting and storage of our currency "purchase".

I can understand paying a service fee to a bank or institution for the service of exchanging one type of currency for another, but I would not want to pay a production fee for the exchanged currency as well. Non-profit doesn't mean "non-expense", and that expense is being passed on the the "currency consumer".

A more appropriate analogy to "buying" money is called investing. The Liberty Dollar doesn't appear to be a good investment when viewed in that fashion.

Certainly you a free to utilize this currency if you want, but I doubt you are going to convince many others that its a good idea or a good investment.

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The Liberty Dollar is not a multi-level marketing program.  It is a single tier referral program.  The company that offers the Liberty Dollar is a nonprofit as well, so I don't see how it could be a MLM.

Being a nonprofit doesn't mean that nobody is making a profit.

The nonprofit behind the Liberty Dollar is NORFED. From their own profit statement, they have a two person staff. 8% of all money taken in is paid to these two people. If the Liberty Dollar is being exchanged in any significant volume, one or both of these people are making a very handsome profit. I don't begrudge them the profit, but with these margins I have further trouble with this being represented as a currency.

As far as the MLM aspect, I was refering to the Liberty Associate program. Buy buying in, you take a $150 loss ($174 with the confiscatory exchange rate), but are then entitled to a $100 ($74 after exchange) profit every time you get somebody else to sign up as a Liberty Associate. You're right, this isn't multi-level. It's single tier.

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As to this, you should probably stop using the USD then, because Marxists, Christians, Libertarians, hedonists, Kantians, etc. all use it too. What a ridiculous objection.

To date, I haven't done my banking in a church, a bathhouse, or the Berkley philosophy department. It's an amusing thought, however.

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McGroarty: I wasn't saying that you had done any banking in any of those places. And I was not suggesting that you must exchange your money in that Marx house. The way you presented that information however made it seem like you were objecting to the currency merely because people of objectionable moral standing utilized it. I was not able to find where the NORFED sote said they had only two paid employees. If you could point me in the right direction I would be much obliged.

So you are suggesting that we "buy" currency in the same way that we buy bread or any other product? Just a cusory examination suggests a serious flaw in reasoning to me. You are suggesting that we should be satisfied or understanding of the idea of paying for the minting and storage of our currency "purchase".

I can understand paying a service fee to a bank or institution for the service of exchanging one type of currency for another, but I would not want to pay a production fee for the exchanged currency as well. Non-profit doesn't mean "non-expense", and that expense is being passed on the the "currency consumer".

Why is that so objectionable? The costs of minting currency must be absorbed somewhere. They don't just dissapear. I don't see how a precious metal backed currency could work any other way. This is how it was done when there was a backed currency earlier in America's history. Not to say that there isnt a better way. I'm only asserting that this system has been utilized in the past and has worked efficiently. And many times more so than this absurd fiat money system. Addtionally the means of exchange are not supposed to be an investment. They are the means for making investments. You wouldnt have to pay the storage and minting costs, but try getting a store to accept a lump of silver, the quality and weight of which they may not be able to verify on hand. What you are esentially paying for is the ease of use that minting provides. Try paying for a $200 grocery bill in silver bullion. You wouldn't. You would use warehouse certificates representing $200 of silver. You are paying for the ease of use of storage. I don't understand from where your objection stems. Is a non-value backed...I take that back...a DEBT backed currency worth more to you than a commodity backed currency? Are you for a commodity backed currency at all?

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It appears that they haven't quite managed to circulate even a million Liberty Dollars per year since inception. So even with only two people getting that 8%, and assuming no other sources of income, nobody is making out like a bandit on that much. There are much easier ways to make $40k/year.

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I think this thread is telling. I have said in earlier posts that the US dollar is on its way down as with other paper currencies to follow. Gold is primarily traded as a monetary instrument and has risen to 16 year highs. Until the US gets its deficits under control which I think will not be any time soon, paper money as such will continue to debase. Gold will rise. Gold is money and is slowly emerging once again a replacement for paper.

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Why is that so objectionable?  The costs of minting currency must be absorbed somewhere.  They don't just dissapear.

Because I'm already paying (by way of taxes) to have one currency manufactured. I'm not going to get that currency (from my job as my job doesn't pay in liberty dollars) and pay for yet another currency to be manufactured. I'll stick to the currency I initally get and invest it in a more profitable manner than some other currency which causes an immediate loss at the beginning and grows, if at all, very slowly.

I don't see any realistic advantages of taking my initial currency and buying a different currency at a loss, when I know the currency I started with is already accepted everywhere I do business and the other currency represents a questionable investment at best. In other words, I don't view currency as a product I care to buy with different currency.

But as I said, you can feel free to invest all the money you wish into this "Libery Dollar" organization. If you profit better in the end then you'll have made the better investment.

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If one wishes to buy gold in the form of coins, there are many options that have been around for decades. Gold coins have been minted by various governments. The ones from South Africa, Canada, USA, among others, have very wide acceptance. If you walk down the main street in a Swiss city, you will often see bars of gold advertized in bank windows. Only buy "liberty dollars" in bullion form if they are better than these.

If one wishes to buy gold more efficiently, but for the shorter term, the best bet for US residents would be to buy the Exchange Traded Fund (symbol: GLD) that trades on the NYSE. ITs current price of $44.xx represents the current price of 1/10th of an ounce of gold. This fund comes with a 0.5% annual charge.

Many very respectable financial analysts have been predicting the fall of the US Dollar. So, I would not argue against investing in gold. However, if one does decide to invest in gold, because of its reliability, then do so in a way that minimizes the risk.

Do not let the sellers ideological message convince you of his reliability. Rather, look to track record and other forms of insurance.

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Why is that so objectionable?  The costs of minting currency must be absorbed somewhere.  They don't just dissapear. 

Yes, but it should be more like 3%, not 30%. I have some 1 oz. Maple Leaf gold coins; their sales price was only a few percent above their bullion value. If you want to buy gold or silver, buy coins or bullion bars that do not have huge markups.

I should also mention that I bought my gold coins 20 yrs ago and they have gained little or no value. Meanwhile stocks have gone up substantially. I do agree the dollar has fundamental problems, but don't buy gold expecting a quick profit. I don't regret buying it, but I see it mainly as a safety net against a currency collapse.

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The manufacturer of these "liberty dollars" is indeed tacking on a huge premium if he's selling one ounce of silver (worth about $7.50 now) for $10. If somebody owed me $10, I would most certainly not accept something with only $7.50 value as payment.

As others have pointed out, there are undoubtedly ways of buying silver or gold without paying such a hefty premium.

Historically the fee levied for the coining of money is called "seigniorage"; when nations were on the gold standard, I'm pretty sure seigniorage was a very small percentage.

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Historically the fee levied for the coining of money is called "seigniorage"; when nations were on the gold standard, I'm pretty sure seigniorage was a very small percentage.

Thanks for that definition. I think the reason his mark-up is so great is that there are not a great deal of people offering the kind of product he offers. And he does a decent job marketing it. I'm sure if he had some more vocal competitors his prices would fall.

To be honest, this is the first I have heard of people attempting to return to a precious metal standard (though relative to most of you probably, I haven't been around all that long). I was excited just to see that. The initial appeal to me was the effectiveness with which Bernard claims the currency can be used. My problem is, I don't have the kind of money I would need to buy gold bars, or even coins for that matter.

Anyone want to make predictions on the fall date of the USD?

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If anyone really wants to start buying sliver for use as money or as a safety net in case of the fiat money's collapse start with generic silver rounds from a reputable mint. They are 1oz 999 fine silver. They can be bought for ~6% above spot. If you are willing to buy in bulk (>=100oz) you can get it for around 3% above spot. There's always the US silver Eagle as well, although the premium is higher. Again it's less if you buy it in bulk, though "bulk" for Silver Eagles generally means 500 coin mint boxes. Not inexpensive.

Junk silver is a good way to buy silver as well. Junk silver is old US coins like dimes, quarters, and half-dollars that have a known percent of silver content but that are worthless as collector coins. For example, the old Franklin half dollars are 36.169% silver. The silver was mixed evenly in an alloy, so even though they are old and worn, they are still 36.169% silver. If you have one, or a bag of them, weigh it, multiply by .36169 and then by the spot price of silver. That's what it's worth. If you actually need to spend it some day, every one will know how to do this. You'll be able to spend it easier than a twenty dollar bill. It will probably even buy more. ;)

Silver is silver, gold is gold, and if the fiat money crashes prices will be in ounces of gold and silver anyway, the face value of the coin will be meaningless. Really, it already is for precious metal coins. There won't be any need to revalue the coin, as NORFED is going to try to do. Once the money is in circulation people will ignore them if they are out of touch with reality. The market will set the value of the currency. Any attempt by them to manipulate the price with guaranteed exchange rates will just bankrupt them. They don't have the resources to pull something like that off. Heck, neither do most central banks.

As for gold, there is no need to buy 1oz coins. You can get 1/10 oz coins for around $51 right now, $49 if you shop around. I've seen them for ~$47.5 each if you can spring for a mint tube of 50. The premium is higher on the smaller coins, roughly $490 an oz with premium compared to roughly $465 an oz with premium for the 1 oz coins. But, if you ever need to actually spend it, 1/10 oz will probably be as big as you want to go. It's the equivalent of a 50 dollar bill right now, and there is no inflation to speak of. If the dollar really collapses that little coin will be the equivalent of a $100 bill, at least, and any premium you paid will be forgotten. Trying to spend a 1 oz coin will be like trying to spend a $1,000 bill.

If you're buying as an insurance policy, never pay more than spot plus the standard premium. If there is ever hyperinflation and the dollar hits rock bottom, no one will care that your gold coin is one of only 1,000 of that type that came from the Denver mint that year. The only thing they'll care about is how much gold is in it. Same goes for silver.

None of this is really investment advice, just some ideas for people who want to start using gold and silver as money or who want to put some away for a rainy economic day.

Currently, you can even link an egold, or other emetal, account to a debit card and use real money the next time you go to a Wal-Mart, or pay a professional for his services. If a significant percent of the population did this, say 10% ?, the Fed would go into convulsions. The good money would be worth much more than the bad. Then again, they'd probably just make it illegal. Who knows?

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Currently, you can even link an egold, or other emetal, account to a debit card and use real money the next time you go to a Wal-Mart, or pay a professional for his services. If a significant percent of the population did this, say 10% ?, the Fed would go into convulsions.

Sounds like a plan!

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Currently, you can even link an egold, or other emetal, account to a debit card and use real money the next time you go to a Wal-Mart, or pay a professional for his services. If a significant percent of the population did this, say 10% ?, the Fed would go into convulsions. The good money would be worth much more than the bad. Then again, they'd probably just make it illegal. Who knows?

This is a good idea, but I don't see why the Fed would have convulsions. Why would they care?

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I'm pretty sure that "Liberty dollars are accepted in 95% of the stores in Austin Tx" thing is total crap. I've never even seen one and I live here. I mean, I know there's a significant libertarian population here, but there's simply no way that's true.

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I spent some time telephoning and emailing different minting companies today, including Sunshine Mint, who produce the Liberty Dollar coins.

I can produce 1oz .99 pure silver coins for about $9 apiece in a quantity of 250 or so.

The Liberty Dollar moves to $20 for 1oz silver backing shortly, so I'm thinking of producing "The Libertarian Dollar." This would have a panic stricken chicken and "CAELUM ES CERNUUS" on one side and "LIBERTARIAN $20" on the reverse.

If I could get $16-$20 apiece on ebay for these, I'd double my money. My coin would be every bit as legitimate and sound as the Liberty Dollar, could be verified by the very same people producing and auditing NORFED's currency, but would be a whole lot more amusing.

Thumbs up? Thumbs down?

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