Europeans trying to protect their wealth from global economic uncertainty have been stashing bank cash and gold bullion coins and bars in safety deposit boxes and depositories in Switzerland.
The euro zone debt crisis and fear that ultra loose monetary policy by central banks will stoke inflation have sent investors in search of extra security according to Reuters.
With central banks around the world flooding markets with liquidity, some people fear spiralling inflation. People are turning to assets that will keep their value if prices rise.
“So much money has been pumped into the system that people are worried about inflation down the road”, said Bruno S. Frey, professor of economics at the University of Zurich. “You counter that by buying real assets of material value”.
Gold is an increasingly attractive option.
An Italian businessman was recently caught trying to smuggle gold bars into Switzerland under his car seat.
Further evidence of rising interest in gold is seen in the fact that due to the increased flow of gold bullion into Switzerland, the respected depository, Via Mat International is currently adding capacity in their storage facility in Zurich airport.
Private-banking clients in Switzerland and Austria are holding wealth in less risky assets as confidence in the financial system and the ability of advisers to secure investment returns remains low, according to a study by LGT Group and Johannes Kepler University which was reported on by Bloomberg.
“The majority of private-banking clients remain risk-averse”, Vaduz, Liechtenstein-based bank LGT Group and Linz, Austria-based Kepler University said in a joint report. “The high level of risk awareness and loss of confidence are reflected in the high cash share of portfolios”.
In Switzerland, 77 percent of investors described themselves as “risk averse” or “risk neutral”, compared with 78 percent in Austria.
More than half of those surveyed said confidence in the financial system had been “severely dented”, while 22 percent expect the euro region to “collapse”, a scenario that prompted Austrians in particular to ditch their home-currency holdings in favor of Swiss francs and some are also turning to gold bullion.
European clients including German, Austrian and Swiss clients have definitely been adding to allocations in recent weeks as the debt crisis contagion risk rose again.
There remains a preference for allocated accounts in Zurich but allocated accounts in Perth, Singapore and Hong Kong have seen increased interest.