For a long time the private financial seminar was almost exclusively the province of the European banker and his moneyed clients but now it is coming to America in a big way. Introduced here by men such as Dr. Franz Pick, the concept really seemed to take hold with the advent of Dr. Harry Schultz's highly publicized, notably expensive seminars held in Bermuda and other exotic locations around the world. But what will bring people from thousands of miles away and encourage them to incur the expense of seminar fees and travel to attend what is generally a two-day meeting, listening to groups of speakers (some quite marginal) tell the attendee something that in most cases he already knows? The answer partially lies in the energy and devotion of the "gold bug" to his metal and the warrior-like frame of mind that goes with that commitment. It seems that most of the really successful seminars have orbited around a discussion of the metal and in consideration of the investment opportunities it offers: bullion trading and futures, coins, stocks, and all possible permutations therein. The ancillary, but nonetheless important topics generally include foreign currencies, tax avoidance/evasion, overseas banking services, and attacks on the government's meddlesome involvement in personal financial matters—all in all a delightful and worthwhile combination of subjects that bring people back again and again.
This enthusiasm is fully understandable upon the realization that many of these people got their first introduction to the world of gold investments at one of these seminars and were solidly committed to gold when it was still $35 an ounce, so for a time many of them suffered seemingly unending harassment of doubting friends, smug stockholders, and indirectly, an unsympathetic financial press. All that has changed now as their gold investments soar to heights that even the more ardent believers might not have believed possible several years ago. They've had their judgment vindicated by the market and they're enjoying it, and the money, to no end. On one occasion a somewhat detached observer quipped "even a stopped clock is right twice a day" and went on to comment about all the sluggish times gold investments have had. He is partially correct, but then, when you become aware of some of the truly phenomenal gains the "gold bug" has had recently, the sting of past losses (if there were any at all) would probably be insignificant by now. Incidentally, the term "gold bug" is an unfortunate one in that it does not adequately convey the comprehensive financial sophistication that many of these investors have.
The people who attend these seminars are by-and-large a friendly and gregarious lot. Of course, there is an occasional "mystery man." He stays at another hotel, won't give you his name, invariably carries a dirty shopping bag and dresses in early Ellis Island. At lunch you can see him in the lobby, a thermos bottle propped on one knee chewing a ham sandwich he made the night before, while the other attendees are comfortably lunching and trading ideas. No one knows where he came from or where he's going. After hours most of the group will gather at prearranged cocktail receptions and later in the hotel bars (on balance they seem to be moderate or nondrinkers) where they talk to all hours in tight little groups. The men trade anecdotes about their stockbrokers rather than women, and the ladies talk freely of the Carbon Leader Reef and Eurobond yields. Foreign currency parities of years past roll off lips like they were being read directly from a Reuters ticker and business cards with addresses and telex numbers in Zurich, Beirut and Johannesburg shuffle from hand to hand like Cribbage cards. Deals, appointments, and contacts are made until the sun comes up again—commerce at its refreshing best. Many of these people are to a measurable degree de facto Libertarians and in a few cases you'll find some de jure ones as well.
To give the reader a more comprehensive picture of what transpired at the three seminars I attended I have prepared the following detailed listing of events along with some supplementary information.
Looking back over all the speeches and opinions I heard the general consensus seemed to be that gold was going higher, and probably much higher (estimates ranged from $200 to $5,000 an ounce by 1976). Opinions on silver as an investment were divided and most commonly cited as a negative factor was the feeling that its value would not hold up in a depression. It was generally agreed that all paper currencies were in for a bad time but that one should still have some cash in a foreign bank account for contingencies. The stock market was viewed as fundamentally weak although it could demonstrate occasional rallies in the near term.
The question now arises as to whether or not you should go to a financial seminar? My answer is yes with some important qualifications. First, be extremely selective in the one you attend. Success breeds imitation and it's no different with financial seminars. Look for speakers with publicly established academic, publishing and consulting service records and you probably will be all right. Second, do your homework before you go. This may make for some duplication during the lectures (they tend towards the basic) but will make your questions much more thoughtful and increase your overall understanding of what's going on. Look for seminars with special workshops held after the speakers have been on the podium. These smaller groups are much more effective in conveying information to the attendees, and perhaps your special investment problems can be discussed. Also most speakers are available at the cocktail hours and luncheons so that you'll have even further opportunities to have your questions answered. Of course the more topics the better if the speakers are quality men. Finally, never forget that the best advice in the world isn't worth a damn unless you act on it.
For further information on upcoming seminars, and to purchase detailed printed transcripts and tape sets of those seminars mentioned here use the following addresses: Harry Schultz, 170 Sloane St., London S.W. 1, England; James Dines & Co., Inc., 18 East 41st St., New York, NY 10017; National Committee to Legalize Gold, 1524 Hillary, New Orleans, LA 70010.
International Monetary Seminar. Sponsored by Harry D. Schultz. October 12-14, 1973, Montreal, Canada. Approximately 450 in attendance. $600 admission included room and assorted meals and a trip to a gold mine on the 14th.
The list of speakers and their topics follows:
- "Monetary Mud Pie" (View From American Banking) by John Exter, a former vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He is also a director of the American South African Investment Company.
- "United Kingdom Economics: Weimarism or Latinism" (A Voice From England) by John Biffen, M.P.
- "Investing in Gold and South African Gold Shares" by David Lloyd Jacob, Joint Resident Gold Expert for Consolidated Gold Fields of South Africa.
- "The International Investor-Problems of Living and Investing Abroad" by Dr. Harry D. Schultz.
- "Australia and the Orient—Is the Mining Boom Over?" by Maxwell Newton, owner-publisher of half a dozen publications on and near the continent of Australia.
- "The Limited German Role in the Monetary System" by D. Franz Josef Strauss, former Defense Minister of Germany and also leader of Bavaria's Christian Social Union Party.
- "Gold: Barbarous Relic or Eternal Backing for War and Commerce?" by Ira U. Cobleigh, feature editor of the COMMERCIAL & FINANCIAL CHRONICLE and of the OVER THE COUNTER CHRONICLE (OTC CHRONICLE).
- "The Currency Chaos" by Dr. Nicholas L. Deak, founder of the largest foreign money exchange firm in the Western Hemisphere: Deak & Co., Inc.
- "Liberty in an Age of Uncertain Currency" by Dr. Phillip M. Crane, U.S. Congressman from Illinois.
In addition to the regular speakers, workshops were held on silver, Swiss banking, gold coins, currencies and the stock market.
1974 Monetary Symposium. Sponsored by the National Committee to Legalize Gold. January 18-20, New Orleans, Louisiana. Approximately 750 in attendance. $300 fee did not include room.
The list of speakers and their topics follows:
- "Value in General, Monetary Value in Particular" by Dr. John Hospers, Director of the School of Philosophy, University of Southern California and the 1972 Libertarian Party Candidate for President of the United States.
- "The Gold Standard and the Supply of Gold" by Dr. Hans Sennholz, Chairman of the Economics Department at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa., and a leading financial analyst.
- "Humanity, Energy, and Gold" by C. Vern Myers, editor of MYER'S FINANCE & ENERGY newsletter.
- "The Monetary Future" by John Kamin, consulting economist and publisher of THE FORECASTER, a hard-money investments newsletter.
- "Singing in the Rain" (Will Gold Shares Peak in the Coming Months?) by Thomas J. Holt president of T.J. Holt & Co., publisher of THE HOLT INVESTMENT ADVISORY newsletter.
- "The Gold Curve" by Douglas E. Johnston, a gold share expert known for his timely prediction of the 1972 gold move.
- "Gold, the International Money" by Alden R. Wells, author of the ALDEN R. WELLS MONETARY REPORT, an investment advisory service, and of the ALDEN R. WELLS QUARTERLY, a general review of society with an emphasis on money and taxes.
- "International Monetary Credit Structure" by John Exter.
- "The View from Washington" (prospects for gold legalization, etc.) by Sen. James A. McClure.
Workshops were held on South African gold shares, Canadian gold shares, penny gold stocks, gold and the Dow Theory, Swiss banking, gold and silver coins, currency trading, and tax resistance for profit.
The conference was moderated by John Mc Falls owner of Value-Action Advisory Service of Seattle, Washington.
Dines Gold Seminar. Sponsored by James Dines. February 8-9, 1974, New York City. Approximately 260 in attendance. The $250 fee did not include a room; luncheons and cocktail hours were included.
The list of speakers and their topics follows (several titles have been changed to better reflect the contents of the speeches):
- "The Fallacy of Paper Money and the Renaissance of Gold" by Ira U. Cobleigh.
- "An Examination of Canadian Gold Mines" by Paul Penna, president of Agnico-Eagle Mines.
- "Swiss Banking" by Otto Roethenmund, Senior Vice President of Deak & Co. Inc., and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foreign Commerce Bank of Zurich.
- "The Psychology of the Coming Gold Fever" by Richard Russell, editor of the DOW THEORY LETTER.
- "A Balanced View of South African Gold Share Investments" by Michael West, editorial director for the MINING JOURNAL'S QUARTERLY REVIEW OF SOUTH AFRICAN GOLD SHARES.
- "Gold Share Investments" by John McFalls.
- "Investing in Gold and Silver Coins" by Ben Stack of Stack's Coin Company, New York City.
- "The American Gold Mining Scene" by William Nash, president of Geo Surveys, Inc., Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The sponsor, James Dines, was moderator and periodically addressed the group on issues such as silver investments, inflation and one's personal financial security.