Straight Talk from Al Jacobs
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
The full page advertisement in the February 8, 2019, edition of USA TODAY is certainly impressive. With a headline proclaiming “U.S. State Silver Bars go to residents in 49 states,” accompanied by a formidable picture of the numbered bars inscribed “.999 Fine Silver Certified,” each bar presents an image of quality. And most certainly, for those persons who are swayed by an enticing offer, the opening lines will attract their attention: “The phone lines are ringing off the hook. That’s because U.S. State Silver Bars sealed away in State Vault Bricks are being handed over to U.S. residents at just the state minimum of $59 set by the Federated Mint for the next 2 days.”
For those of you inclined to pursue the ad in greater detail, you’ll discover an advisor to the Federated Mint is none other than Mary Ellen Withrow, the Treasurer of the United States during the administration of President Bill Clinton, from March 1, 1994, to January 20, 2001. She voices her approval with the claim that “These bars are solid .999 pure fine silver and will always be a valuable precious metal which is why everyone is snapping up as many as that can before they’re all gone.”
There’s one item not prominently displayed on the ad, but if you scrutinize it closely you’ll find a small squib alongside the picture of one of the bars which says: “Weights and measures full troy ounce solid .999 fine silver.” If, as a prospective purchaser, this is a detail you find of no interest, I’d advise you avoid all precious metals investment. This is because the actual value of the silver bar, despite the hoopla emblazoned in its promotion, is dependent solely upon the weight of the silver it contains – in this case, one ounce. You should be aware that on the date of the ad, the price of silver on the world market was $15.85. Thus, if you were to purchase one of the silver bars at $59.00, you’ll be incurring a markup of $43.15. This works out to paying a premium of about 275 percent. If this is the sort of investment you find acceptable, then I have some crisp new dollar bills I’m willing to sell to you for $3.75 each.
A final thought: Most of the offerings you’ll encounter for investments of all sorts are little more than blatant scams. This is true whether they’re for precious metals, annuities, corporate securities, timeshares, work-at-home projects, or any of the myriad of orchestrated promotions which bamboozle countless individuals. Simply be aware that in the mass marketing business, connivery is the rule of thumb.