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Ireland’s Mr Gold reveals his nuggets of wisdom for when the next crash comes

Extra.ie logo Extra.ie 19/11/2018 Bill Tyson
a close up of a sign © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

Mark O’Byrne is Ireland’s Mr Gold. The founder of GoldCore has just launched a storage facility in Dublin, where he says we should all stock up on gold bars to help survive a looming economic meltdown. Not everyone is listening but he’s not surprised – they didn’t the last time either. We can’t show you a picture of him, for security reasons, but if you see a guy in a pub buying a round of drinks with 0.00015 ounces of gold (three pints’ worth), it’s probably him.

Why buy gold? The wise old Wall Street adage was that one should have 10% of one’s wealth in physical gold and hope that it does not work. The implication is that if gold rises sharply in price, it usually means that stocks, bonds, property, and indeed one’s business may be losing value. This has been seen throughout history.

Are we really heading for economic meltdown? We may be. More likely is another financial crisis akin to the one seen on 2007 to 2012, and that was pretty brutal. We believe geopolitical risks, including the risks of cyber terrorism, terrorism and war, are underestimated by investors.


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Do you ever feel like the apocryphal guy with the placard saying ‘The end is nigh’ who gets taken for granted? A small bit. It can be a lonely place and it does not make you popular, especially in the media who have a strong ‘economic recovery’ narrative. I was early calling the global financial crisis as we were warning subscribers and clients in 2005 about the coming banking and property crisis. However, we are not Armageddonists and do not believe the end of the world is nigh. Otherwise, we would be selling canned beans and nuclear bunkers!

a display in a store: Gold © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland Gold

How has gold been doing lately? It is down about 1.6% in euro terms this year but has actually done reasonably well since 2014, despite the surge in stock and bond markets.

You advocate buying real gold. But how much does it cost to store? Our average lump sum investment is €30,000 and that would cost 1% per annum to store in ultra-secure, institutional-grade vaults.

Can investors visit their gold – maybe stroke it, while cackling fiendishly about the looming economic Armageddon that will make them a fortune? Ha! They cannot do this in the Dublin vaults due to security requirements but they can in our Zurich vaults, which remain our most popular storage location. Gold is a diversification – a hedge and financial insurance. Actually, they hope the price does not [shoot upwards] as if it does it generally means the rest of their investments – their pensions, savings, bank deposits etc – will likely have fallen in value.

a man standing next to a laptop: Gold © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland Gold

What about yourself? Are you a spender or a saver? I’m a saver but I allow myself to spend on good food, holidays and family.

Are you into bling? Not a big fan of jewellery at all: most of it is a rip-off as the mark-ups are massive (200% to 400%) and there is VAT on jewellery. This is in marked contrast to gold bars, which can be bought for 3% (mark-up) and no VAT due to the EU Gold Directive.

Are you wearing any gold jewellery at all? My wedding ring is a silver ring that my wife bought me in a gift store in Dingle. It cost €40 but has some interesting insignia symbolising the history of Ireland.

Gold © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland Gold

Best/worst investments? Best investment is in ongoing education and personal development.

Favourite film? (Apart from Goldfinger!) True Romance.

How did it go for you in the financial crash? Irish people began investing in gold for the first time and we were very busy with that and with UK clients.

a man and a woman sitting on a bed: Gold © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland Gold

How do you buy stuff? Cash? Credit card? Gold sovereigns? Diversifed. Cash, credit cards and a ‘real gold’ card, which I can use to buy things with actual gold stored in a vault in Zurich. With gold at €1,070 per oz, three pints costs 0.0015 of an ounce of gold.

Three things you’d do as finance minister? 1. Repatriate whatever national gold reserves we still have and mandate that 10% of the national pension fund be allocated to gold and that it be stored in institutional grade vaults in Ireland. 2. Introduce a flat income tax of about 25% and increase taxes on consumption (especially on luxuries like jewellery). 3. Introduce a graduated wealth tax on extreme levels of wealth – say over €10m.

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