Saturday, September 17, 2016

Trump Rally Miami: 16 September 2016

The Donald was in town last night for his rally.  Before that he had even had a big day "rick-rolling" the media re the Birthers, ha ha.  I took my lovely wife and a friend of hers (who came to the US from Cuba at age 20).

Trump entered after Giuliani's rousing speech.  Rudy played attack dog, and went after Hillary re Benghazi, etc.  There are lots of ex-NYC-ers in Miami, so Giuliani is without question an asset in winning Florida's electoral votes for Trump.

Trump had his new "Les Deplorables" up on his giant LED screen behind him (link below image in case it does not show up here):

Bastille Day? Donald Trump entered his Miami rally on Friday as the theme song from 'Les Miserables' played and the video wall behind the podium flashed to tribute artwork including an insult aired by Hillary Clinton a week ago


Link to image: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2016/09/17/00/38768B4400000578-3793718-image-a-1_1474068199674.jpg

*   *   *

The place was packed (2500 or so), and very high energy.  Trump was also coming off a big day having pwned the media ("rick-rolled") the MSM, much to the consternation of CNN and MSNBC.

Before the rally he visited the "Little Haiti" area of Miami, where he was apparently very well received.  Trump is now gathering supporters in the African-American community (at the rally) as well as the LGBTQ community (also there).

There were no George Soros operatives there causing trouble.  They would probably have been thrashed had they come...

Among the highlights:

-- his excellent comments on us, "The Deplorables" (that is backfiring on Hillary now)
-- his obvious high energy (contrast that with, oh, well you know who)
-- his comments on the plight of African-Americans, having had no favors done for them by Obama...
-- his staunch defense of the Second Amendment (asking why Hillary needs so many guns around her)
-- similarly, mentioning the 3000 people shot in Chicago this year alone despite strict gun laws...
-- his rousing remarks on Cuba and Venezuela (plays very well in Miami, immigrants)
-- comments on coal and jobs lost in mid-America

Perhaps the high point:

Trump (asking the crowd re The Wall): "And who will pay for it?"

Miami: MEXICO !!

*   *   *

The crowd was spontaneous in its cheers...  No need for cheerleaders or "Applause Now" on the screen.  Favorite chant:

"Lock her up!"

*   *   *

High energy.  Enthusiastic.  Even the music (Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA"):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E

(Compare this music to what you hear at the Clinton rallies...)


*   *   *

Pictures, although they do not turn out well as the LED screen was so bright, and I am a strictly amateur photographer...

Before the speakers (Florida state flag at upper right):



Rudy Giuliani:



Trump enters with his new "Les Deplorables" motif, the screen was too bright for my iPhone):



Trump will be very strong in Florida.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Unicorn


“A man’s problems arise because of some lack within him—and how can the same self that produced the problem overcome them?  The ox, the mule, or even the donkey will obediently pull your plow and your cart and take them exactly where you want them to go; but you have to have a destination and know how to get there.  The unicorn, on the other hand, will not do chores or follow a prescribed route.  He knows where he is going, and you couldn’t direct him because with your present consciousness you have never dreamed of such a place.  But someday the unicorn will suddenly appear at your side, eyes flashing, nostrils quivering, pawing the ground with impatience.  When that happens, do not try to put a bridle on him, or to look for some task for him to do.  He will not do it, and there will be no time.  No sooner does he appear than off he will go again.  So do not pause to think twice, do not turn to look behind you.  Leap upon his back, for he is a flying steed, and he will wing his way to the gates of the morning.  On that ride problems are not solved—they are dissolved.”

-Emmet Fox

Last night the unicorn appeared by my side.  I was not sure, how can one be?  This time I did not hesitate, I jumped on.  I almost did not, but I did.  I had my demonstration, and it made all the difference.

Monday, April 25, 2016

ZIRP And NIRP Pervert The Financial System


We are seeing an unusual phenomenon (very low interest rates) nowadays that is only partly being discussed in the press.  Many savers, however, are very aware of low interest rates as they receive next to nothing (or worse) for their money in the bank.  The general reason given for low interest rates is that they encourage economic growth (in that people would borrow more to invest).  Indeed, our own Federal Reserve (America’s central bank, the “Fed”) has lowered and kept rates low since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008/2009. 

Recently (December 2015) the Fed raised their overnight rate some 0.25% (a small amount), but since 2008 the trend has been to lower rates.  Until very recently most observers expected the Fed to RAISE rates perhaps four times in 2016 because of an improving economy and somewhat higher inflation.  The Fed’s latest opportunity (March 16) was to NOT raise rates, and most observers (including members of the Federal Reserve itself) believe that the Fed will not aggressively raise rates.

In fact, we are nearly at “ZIRP” (Zero Interest Rate Policy) here in the United States.  This has numerous effects (discussed below), most of them actually negative.  There is even talk here of instituting “NIRP” (Negative Interest Rate Policy”), following the lead of central banks in Europe and Japan.

Perverse Effects of ZIRP

In financial history, ZIRP is rarely seen.  In fact, this acronym only became well known in just the past year or two.  ZIRP has now been tried in all of the Western industrial countries with the idea of “stimulating” borrowing and investment to “get the economy moving” (the economy has grown very slowly since 2009).

Easily seen is one big effect: very low rates paid to savers in bank savings accounts and for CDs.  The rates that we receive hover around 0.1% (one tenth of one percent).  Yet there is inflation, the figures are disputed (and vary considerably), but price inflation is probably in the range of 2% - 4%.  This means that savers are LOSING money (in real terms taking into account inflation), and those losses are perhaps about 3% per year!  It is now very hard to get any real income, the 10-Year Treasury Bond currently yields under 2%.  And tying up money for 10 years seems risky for that 2% which at best matches inflation…

In fact, the picture is even worse for savers.  Pension funds, insurance companies and even Social Security are affected by low rates.  There are no good ways for the insurance companies, pension funds and even the “Social Security Trust Fund” to make any returns that they need to receive to be able to complete their financial commitments.  Social Security (already with separate financial problems) invests in Treasury Bonds, which do not make nearly enough interest income to be able to pay out to people in their coming retirements…

There is another effect that is rarely discussed but is important t understand.  In a financial environment that has interest rates going down, capital is actually destroyed rather than being created!  This can be explained as follows:

n  As money is borrowed in a declining interest rate environment, the “new borrower” gets a financial advantage versus his competitors: his borrowing costs are lower than his competitors who borrowed earlier (at higher rates, and so has to pay more than the new borrower).
n  As rates keep going lower, this effect magnifies, the “old borrowers” are at an even worse disadvantage.
n  There are ALWAYS more “old borrowers” than “new borrowers”.

Thus, the capital of “old borrowers” is destroyed at a faster rate than capital being created by “new borrowers”. 

The respected financial authority Dr. Antal Fekete has discussed this at length, many of his theories are easily available on the Internet.

If ZIRP is Bad, Then NIRP is Even Worse!

Again, NIRP (for regular people) means that you must PAY the bank to deposit (hold) you money.  You do not get paid interest, you pay.  This has not yet happened in the US (with a few quiet exceptions).  Negative interest rates are now seen in Europe and Japan.  Europe has been experimenting with NIRP since 2014, Japan has followed a roughly similar path.

Think about this for a moment: if you save money, you will LOSE some of it paying the banks!  Yet the economists say that what the USA (and Europe & Japan) need is more savings (and so investment, to invest there must be savings to put to work).  NIRP introduces a perversion to the financial system not yet seen in history.

The pension funds, insurance companies and Social Security all need to make money to pay their future obligations.  This becomes even harder under NIRP than with ZIRP.  Many pension funds and government obligations are already under-funded, NIRP makes it harder for them to come up with the money to pay.  Savers take note!  Do note, however, that BORROWERS like us would NOT get any “negative rate”, there is no way the banks would pay us to borrow from them!

Another perverse effect of NIRP would be that the lower rates going even lower means that even more capital gets destroyed.  Edward Chancellor recently wrote (in February: http://www.breakingviews.com/chancellor-negative-rates-negative-implications/21235245.article, that companies would likely NOT invest money in a NIRP, in that their expected profits of making products in the future would be less.

An even more interesting effect of NIRP would be the unusual one of saving cash, as in CASH money.  Holding cash itself means that that cash would not be losing money in a bank account (or CD).  Holding cash yourself means one would “earn more” than paying the bank for the privilege.  Similarly, having cash in the bank (that costs you money) means that there is an incentive to pay bills immediately rather than waiting (the opposite effect that is more familiar in inflationary times when it is better to WAIT on paying bills because inflation causes future dollars to be worth less after inflation’s effects).  An over-simplified example:

n  Let us assume a “Negative Interest Rate” of 2% (the approximate rate in Switzerland).
n  Let’s say you just bought a car for $20,000 and you have the cash to pay now.  You are given the choice to pay now or pay later (paying the $20,000 in one year let’s say).
n  If you pay now, you pay $20,000.
n  If you decide to put the money in the bank, and have to pay 2% for the “privilege”, than in one year you have only $19,600.  You would then have to pay that AND come up with $400 more to complete your obligation to pay $20,000.
n  You will likely pay the $20,000 right away, or hold the cash at home and then pay the $20,000 after that year.

Think that’s perverse?  It gets worse.  As implied in the above example, one way to avoid paying the bank under NIRP is to NOT deposit your money into the bank, and just to hold on to it.  If you would only have $19,600 after one year (in the above example) in the bank, while you would keep your $20,000 by holding the cash itself, many people will just hold onto the cash and be $400 “ahead”.

This effect of people holding cash has been discussed by the central banks (and even the Bank for International Settlements (the little known but very powerful institution in Switzerland that is considered “the central bank’s central bank”).  The talk among central bankers and other financial pundits (ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Harvard professor (and author) Ken Rogoff have discussed banning $100 bills, and even banning cash itself!  Sweden has a proposal to ban cash in five years, but in mid-March 2016 they are walking that back, as the elderly and the disabled would have problems not having the option of using cash.

Banning cash itself?  That idea is worth exploring:

n  Almost all payments would have to be by credit cards or debit cards.  Note that most retail sales involving credit cards incur a cost of about 3% (less for debit cards).  This 3% is now just “eaten” by the merchant.  This means, in essence, that prices would be up to 3% higher than now.
n  If all transactions had to be done by credit card (or debit card) that would make it very easy for the government (and the banks and card companies) to monitor your purchases!  Would you like that loss of privacy?  And, yes, the banks and credit card companies would be an even further juicy target by malicious computer hackers looking for big money.
n  There have been some examples of what happens when the power goes out, and gas stations (etc.) cannot take credit card payments because the machines don’t work due to storms, etc.  If there were a hurricane that came roaring through a city knocking out power in an environment where cash was banned, then you would not be able to pay!  No electricity, no credit cards would work.  And with a ban on cash, how would you buy food or groceries?

It gets even more perverse.  If the governments of the world decided to ban cash, then all money (not counting gold) would be in banks.  That introduces two other problems: the risk of money in the banks being frozen (as in Greece in 2015) or even seized (the “bail-in” that happened in Cyprus in 2013, the bail-in was a partial seizure of depositors’ money).  ALL money would be at risk of being frozen or “bailed-in”.  And bank account holders could do nothing about it.

Finally, scary as ZIRP and NIRP could wind up being, it is not clear that those policies would even work!  Japan and much of Europe have not gotten any better in the past year or two despite ZIRP and NIRP.  They have lowered rates to below zero in several cases, with apparently no good results!

In sum, the current policies of the major central banks to lower interest rates to zero (already here in the USA) and even to NEGATIVE interest rates (seen in Europe and Japan) create perverse incentives, incentives to NOT invest money (which the Western economies need), incentives to hold cash to protect savings, and incentives to pay bills more quickly with “hot potato” money in the banks are all unprecedented and perverse effects.  Yet, the central banks are reluctant to RAISE rates (which they probably should have done a few years ago) because of fears that the financial markets and the economies themselves would be wrecked.  The central banks are in a tough spot…

Afterword


I asked to interview an officer of one of the local banks on this topic so I would have his views.  He told me that he would not talk, that to talk with “the press” would have to go through their corporate offices.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Photos for Testing HTML re ameru.io


Today's post has several images that will eventually go to my new (inactive now!) website.

Bearings & Hub Assemblies for Hyundai Accent & Sonata:



Two Pallets of Hub Assemblies for Hyundai (Ameru Trading del Peru S.A.):



Afternoon Snack in Lima, Peru (at "Chantilly" in Surco):



Mt. Everest (Nepal):








Wednesday, December 9, 2015

10 Grams of .9999 Fine Goodness from India

We were just in India and Nepal for our 30th Anniversary.  A great trip, but not an easy one, not even on an expensive tour staying at very fine hotels.  If you are in India, odds are you will get sick along the way, but get the vaccinations!  There are a lot of microbes just waiting there for you...

*   *   *

It's well known that India has a genuine affinity for owning gold.  It took me some time hunting around, but I was able to buy this 10 gram coin in Jaipur (Rajasthan, India).  10 gm works out to almost 1/3rd of an oz.  The size is just slightly larger than a 0.25 oz Gold Eagle (so about the size of a US nickel).



The "double T" logo is that of Tata family, who owns the prestigious Tanishq jewelry store chain of India.  .9999 fine gold does not come from India as far as I know.  I believe these are minted in Switzerland for Tanishq.

*   *   *

The Tatas own a lot of other assets there as well, including Tata Motors (which has owned Jaguar since 2008).  Tata makes the world's cheapest car too (the Tata Nano) costing a mere $2300 new:



*   *   *

I will put up some other photos that *may* be of interest in the coming days on India and Nepal.  Both very interesting countries, but both with huge problems.  India in particular has made more progress than I had thought.

We'll see where my blog goes from here...



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Experiment: Saving a .pdf with proofofexistence.com


My blog is on "Hiatus", and for at least a while to be only used for my idiosyncratic uses...

The below experiment is sending a hash of a .pdf file (two pages) for permanent placement on the blockchain.

goo.gl hash of this article: http://goo.gl/va382z


*   *   *


-- File Name (Home Computer):

file:///C:/Users/Owner/Documents/Projects/IJG-141218AMERU.PDF


-- Description:

a .pdf file of our latest Invoice from Iljin of Korea


-- Downloaded and saved 4 March 2015, starting time approx. 23:30 US ET


-- proofofexistence.com hash ("Document Information"):

1bb311f3da1388bdde59926c8d0b0b77f673e8d4b6249b48c20c507fd3e5503b



-- proofofexistence.com wallet address:



-- Amount (Bitcoin) sent to above wallet ID:

0.006


-- Blockchain block number:

346236


-- Blockchain hash number (Transaction ID), my payment:



-- Blockchain hash number (Transaction ID), their placement of my document on the blockchain:

c047350beb9e40ee4a02cfd9e158d6c7bb01712dac1ec5c44a6a0a2264723e60


-- OP_RETURN via blockchain.info (c047350beb...):

OP_RETURN 444f4350524f4f461bb311f3da1388bdde59926c8d0b0b77f673e8d4b6249b48c20c507fd3e5503b 
(decoded) j(DOCPROOF � �� ���Y�l� w�s�Զ$�H� P��P;


-- Other output (coinsecrets.org):


346236
5 Mar 2015
5:29 GMT






--  






OP_RETURN (via blockchain.info, "decoded part") magnified, note symbol (red):

DOCPROOF � �� ���Y�l� w�s�Զ$�H� P��P;


-- Public Note (best viewed via blockchain.info, "my payment" transaction ID above):

Public Note: IJG-141218AMERU.PDF


Remarks:

1)  Yes, proofofexistence waits for a confirmation...  This takes an average of 10 minutes.  It can take quite a bit longer (and is in this case, this block took 40 minutes to be found).

2)  Yes, proofofexistence confirms my hashed document is now on the blockchain successfully encrypted, placed and hash number confirmed.


Monday, November 24, 2014

What If We BEARS Are Wrong?

For decades I have typically been bearish, very cautious re stock prices and other investments.  In my column today, I would like to review the performance of some investments followed by many, and these people include heavy hitters (eg, pension fund managers) who manage money on a professional basis for other people.

It is important to note that "cherry picking" time frames very much influences price performance of investments!  I am trying to show both long-term price patterns (20 years) as well as medium term patterns (3 years), but I will comment on price movements for other time frames as well.

Common stocks of US companies are a major component of almost all funds (pensions & retirement funds, mutual funds for general investors, etc.).  The "S&P 500" stock price index is probably the most commonly referred to index of investment pros (as the Dow Jones Industrials index has various well-known problems and is limited to just 30 companies).

The below chart shows the performance of the S&P 500 over the last 20 years or so (last price 2063 last Friday, 21 Nov).  Over this particular long period, the performance of the S&P is pretty close to its "long term average" of about 8% per year (not including dividends, nominal dollars (does not include inflation)).

These past 20 years have included such scary times as the tech crash in 2000 as well as the financial crash of 2008.  Note the two well-known "Double Tops" of 2000 and 2007, these are formations that technical traders follow.

8% plus dividends is not bad at all!  For 20 years...  Compared to many other longer-term investments, that is hard to beat.

If we look at the shorter-term, the percentage gains are even better.  "Exquisite timing" of buying at the March 2009 lows until now would yield a spectacular return of around 20% per year!

Just looking over the last three years ("weekly chart", from stockcharts.com) is spectacular in its own way as well (*click* this or any image for a clearer view):


Woooowww...  That is one of the most spectacular (unusual) charts I have ever seen.  The S&P 500 has gone almost straight up since about January 2012.  Why, it almost looks manipulated!

Doing the (approximate) math tells us that the S&P 500 is up about a mighty 20% per year (again not including dividends).  This pretty much matches the gains since the lows of March 2009.

20% per year (plus dividends, call it 1% more yields a total gain of some 21% per year) is a return very rarely seen among legitimate investments.

*    *    *

GOLD is perhaps the Bears' best investment.  I hold a pretty fair amount of gold.  I have owned physical gold since the late 1980s.  Most gold that I have bought has been since 2002, I have bought fairly regularly (and in about the same quantities).  Here is a 20 year chart of gold:

The time frame (Jan 1994:present) is the same as the first S&P 500 chart.  Note that these are monthly prices of gold, so the very peak price seen in 2011 (almost $1900) is not shown.  Still, the peak prices of gold are shown, as we holders of gold are aware...

Gold's price has been going up an average of about 6% in the above period.  Here are a couple of other quick comments on the two 20 year charts (S&P 500 vs. Gold):

-- the charts look very different even though BOTH are up moderately
-- stocks being up some 8% per year (vs. gold at 6%) is a MUCH better performance

And, to illustrate gold's performance over the past three years (stockcharts.com):


*    *    *
Below is a chart showing performance of both gold and the S&P 500 over the past 20 years, this is just a combination of the earlier two charts.


Stocks outperformed gold from 1994 to about January 2008.  Gold then was better until mid-2011.  And more recently stocks have performed better.  Being curious, I ran the 20 year data to get a correlation coefficient of 0.486, values around, say, 0.400 to 0.600 are considered "moderate" correlations by the statisticians.  But, 0.486 for asset price increases for a 20 year period is rather low, remember that almost all prices are up over 20 years...

Below is a similar chart, but only for the past three years:


Mmm...  Gold has gone down over the past three years while stocks have gone up.  Granted, three years is not a long time, at least for this three year time frame, stocks have performed much better than gold.  Correlation coefficient: an impressive -0.912!  Stocks have been in favor, gold out of favor.

For this three year period, we BEARS (defined as bullish on gold and bearish on stocks) have been wrong!

*    *    *

There are lessons to be learned here...

One topic I have written about at some length (and from different viewpoints) is on the idea of diversification.  I continue to believe that a proper diversification is a key to maintaining good and less risky returns on investments.  If I had had the "courage of my convictions" and gone "All Inn" on buying gold, say, three years ago, I would be down...  I am going to state that for all but a tiny minority, diversification is a better investment idea than concentration.

Secondly, all of the above analysis is looking at the past...  I still believe that we are in for rocky times ahead (even if I have believed THAT for a long time).  It is possible that we BEARS may be right before long. *

* Even broken clocks are right twice a day.


Um, do some of us see a "Part Two" coming...?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bitcoin No. 10, "The Ringer" And Provident Metals

A nice series of events has come together lately to provide some information that I hope is of use or interest to you dear readers.

I continue to dabble in Bitcoin, even with its price volatility.  Just today (Weds., 12 Nov) it has spiked majestically, up some $60 (or 16%)!  I was lucky to buy some BTC over the past 10 days or so while the price was in the $300s (so, yes, I "BTFD").

I bought an interesting new product from Fisch Instruments ("The Ringer"), a device which allows you to "ring" a gold coin (or silver or platinum) to check to see if it is counterfeit.  The Ringer will be discussed below.

Also discussed below (after The Ringer) is my buying experience with Provident Metals, which is one of at least four precious metals suppliers who accept Bitcoin as payment.

*  *  *

I have now gained some experience in a limited amount of the Realm of Bitcoinistan.  Almsot all of this I have written about in my various pieces in the "Fun with Bitcoin for Beginners" series I started late in 2013 as I was learning.  Recently I have continued buying, mixing and now spending BTC (spending for just the second time).

It is hard for me to find actual PEOPLE to buy BTC from in my area, so I have found that the service that works the best for me is trucoin.com, who now will sell BTC by credit (or debit) cards in some 22 states.

Once I have the new BTC, I like to "mix" (aka "tumble" or "launder") them through two different services, in sequence if possible.  These are the same two I have written about before:

bitmixer.io

and

sharedcoin.com

So now I typically buy some BTC through trucoin, then mix them through (first) bitmixer and then through sharedcoin.  I believe the latter service is only offered through wallets used with blockchain.info's wallet service.  (blockchain.info is perhaps the premier monitoring service of the vital BlockChain infrastructure of Bitcoinistan, I strongly encourage everyone to tour their interesting website)

So, Step One (for me) is buying the BTC from trucoin (the only real drawback is that you do not have the privacy offered if you are able to buy from a person that you meet).  Once the incoming BTC are "confirmed (typically 8 - 15 minutes, but can be as long as 12 hours...), I then will send them (Step Two) on to bitmixer at the first opportunity.  Their service takes anywhere from 20 minutes - 12 hours, depending on confirmation times (I do not know why sometimes it takes so long to get transactions confirmed).  Once the BTC arrived "mixed" from bitmixer (and confirmed), I then run them through sharedcoin (Step Three), doing the pair of transactions bitmixer first and sharedcoin second means that I am likely to have less "taint" after multiple transactions...  Less taint (and running the BTC through two different mixers with different algorithms) also means that very few hackers *as best I can tell) would be able to follow my BTC trail.  Privacy.  It's one of the things that Bitcoin is all about...

Simple, right?  Steps One, Two and Three.  Well, OK, I have a system down with which I am reasonably familiar, but there can be snags...  The Bitcoin Ecosystem is a little clunky (like the Internet was in 1994, say, or PCs when they used early versions of DOS...).  Clunky and (alas) somewhat error-prone.

I have had three "incidents" (problems) come up in the past three weeks or so. All three were resolved OK, I lost nothing, but my BTC did seem to be in peril.  I will mention a bit on each incident, how it was resolved and how you can try to prevent similar from happening.  OK, but, the very nature of the infrastructure of Bitcoinistan now is that these kinds of things are likely to happen.


  1. My problem with trucoin arose because I had a new debit issued (with a new expiration date, of course) which did not match the one in trucoin's system.  Updating and untangling this took part of a day, but I was not in a real hurry.  Their team solved the problem pretty quickly and amiably.  Bravo!  Apparently (a guess) my situation was that a debit card change was not programmed into their software, they actually thanked me for helping to improve their service.
  2. I also had a problem with sharedcoin, although this was several weeks ago.  There was a glitch that happened right during the mixing process, I never got my BTC, yet they were sent (left my wallet).  Yikes!  I got through to their Help Desk, where the man suggested I try to recover the "intermediary wallets" (part of their mixing system).  And I was able to recover them.  Whew!  But, I learned an angle, so on balance the experience was worth it.
  3. The other day I had my problem with bitmixer.  I am not sure exactly what happened, but the mixing process was taking very long, uncharacteristically so.  The transactions I sent them were possibly confusing as well.  It took a fair amount of back & forth with them to recover my BTC, my guess is that it was an involved process because they wanted to be sure that I was not scamming them and that they would be sure that the errant BTC actually DID belong to me, and that they needed to be SURE.  I am going to guess that there is a lot of scamming going on in Bitcoinistan, the fact that BTC transactions cannot be "undone" makes it attractive for cyberthieves to try taking away money...
I learned three general rules that may help:

--  Follow instructions carefully!  <== Very important!  Document your actions.
--  Work in a calm and considered way with the service provider, with all info possible
--  Be patient, some problems work themselves out on their own (confirmations)

*  *  *

In my travels around the Internet, I found out that Fisch instruments (the makers of the fairly well known, well known among people who collect gold coins anyway, Fisch balances to detect counterfeit precious metal coins) also came out with a new product called "The Ringer".

The Ringer is a plastic device that holds a coin in its jaw and that has a plastic hammer that strikes the coin to produce a characteristic "ring".  Most metals (in coin form) will ring at least a little bit (but not post-1982 pennies (zinc), lead "coins" or, importantly, tungsten).  Here is a photo of The Ringer (black plastic near the back) with a page from their notebook (showing pictures of coins on the right) as well as my recently arrived platinum coin (a Platinum Eagle (USA) from Provident Metals (center-left):

The Ringer, page from Fisch (right) and Platinum Eagle from Provident

All coins will have a distinctive ring.  The exact sound-signature of the ring depends on the metal (or alloy), the exact shape of the coin, and its size.  A fairly easy way to learn about different rings of coins is to get a modern (1965 and later) quarter and a silver quarter (1964 and earlier, you know, when those coins were made with silver), and drop one of each onto a hard surface (a granite countertop or bathroom tiling both work fine).  The silver quarter has a ring that is very distinctive vs the modern "clad" quarters.

The Ringer is precision-made to test the ring of coins, it works best on 1 oz coins, but will work on smaller ones as well.  I have not yet tested The Ringer on smaller coins, but I did test them on a few 1 oz precious metals coins I have in my own collection.  Here is a photo of my recently arrived platinum coin mounted in the jaw of The Ringer, ready to be tested:


The plastic hammer is not shown distinctly here, but is just below the left edge of the coin.

The Ringer is best used with a pen (or screwdriver in my case) to bend the hammer down so it will snap up and strike the left edge of the coin:


When the hammer strikes the coin, the coin will have a distinctive ring that is somewhat different than any other different coin.  In the case of a Platinum Eagle, it rings, but the ring is subdued and goes away in less than one second.  Here are some other "quick & dirty" results from my coin testing two nights ago (all 1 oz coins):

--  Platinum Maple (Canada), a dull ring similar to the Pt Eagle tested above
--  Palladium Maple, a nice ring, somewhat high tone, went on for several seconds
--  Silver Eagle, a decent ring, lasted several seconds
--  Gold Eagle, a very nice ring, went on and on (like a Chateau Latour...), beautiful!
--  Gold Buffalo (USA), a dull ring
--  Gold Kangaroo (Australia), another dull ring

I am very satisfied with The Ringer and will likely buy another.  And probably one of their balancesa as well (to test weight and dimensions of Gold Eagles).  The Ringer cost me $104.00 (delivered), it took a bit over a week to arrive from when I mailed my check.

See more (including an audio as well as a video) at their website: thefisch.com.

*  *  *

I was also very satisfied with my just arrived Pt Eagle from Provident Metals.  I bought the 2014 piece, which I have not seen (yet) at the coin shops I have been to.

The US Mint only re-started minting them after a pause of about six or seven years.  {latinum Eagles are kind-of hard to find!  For me anyway.  Also the price that Provident offers them at is at least $50 less than the coin shops (if the latter had them).

I received the coin in three business days after ordering.

I also paid with Bitcoin!  This was the second purchase I have made with Bitcoin (I bought a 0.25 oz Gold Eagle late last year).  They do want 1% more for BTC payment (vs. a wire transfer or check), but that is not much for the convenience and speed of paying by BTC.

Provident has a wonderful selection of precious metal coins!  Here is a link to their 2014 Platinum Eagle:

http://www.providentmetals.com/2014-1-oz-american-platinum-eagle.html

Provident has some kind of relationship with Elemetal LLC, my guess is that Elemetal owns Provident, but I am not sure of that, they do, at a minimum, have a special relationship.  See the very interesting website of Elemetal LLC:

http://www.elemetal.com/

Elemetal is a prime advertiser in American Hard Assets, the magazine I review on occasion.  I mentioned a while back that I was eventually going to try to learn more about Elemetal, as it seems to be very large (it owns Ohio Precious Metals, the largest gold refiner in the USA for example).

Watch this space, then...