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Gold has worked for Indians, billionaire investor Thomas Kaplan says

Section: Daily Dispatches

By the Press Trust of India
via The Times of India, Mumbai
Wednesday, March 4, 2015

NEW DELHI -- Telling Indians not to buy gold is like asking Americans not to consume liquor, billionaire investor Thomas Kaplan has said.

Appreciating Indians' appetite for gold, Kaplan said the precious metal has historically been a very good way to store wealth for India and pointed out that China is "specifically and overtly" encouraging its people to buy gold.

India is one of the largest consumers of gold in the world and imports as much as 800-1000 tonnes of gold each year.

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"I think trying to ban gold or to ban gold imports, you know, would have about as much success as trying to tell Americans not to drink alcohol. And prohibition did not work and eventually someone had to accept the reality," he told PTI on the sidelines of a CII event when asked whether India's efforts to curb gold imports would work.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Budget 2015-16 had proposed three schemes, including redeemable gold bonds and monetisation scheme, to curb gold imports and monetise large stocks of the precious metal lying idle in the country.

"The price of gold has shown that those Indians who purchased these metals over the years can look back and they can say, you know what, it worked. So, that's what known as positive reinforcement.

"If you tell people, particularly really smart people like Indians that they can't do something that has given them gratification for a very, very long time. They will find another way to get what they want," Kaplan, widely known as gold evangelist, said.

Referring in China, another huge consumer of precious metals, Kaplan said: "I was is Beijing a couple of weeks ago. The Chinese government, specifically and overtly, is encouraging its people to buy gold. They want to buy gold. China is importing almost as much gold as the world's annual production and they like India are sucking it out of West."

Kaplan, who figures in the Forbes 2015 list of world's billionaires, said that when people tell him gold and silver are commodities, he counters them saying they are currencies.

"In the world of massive money printing, they can't be debased. Gold and silver are the only financial assets that you can own that do not represent someone else' liability. When I used to explain that a decade ago, people found that whole concept to be very esoteric," he added.

Referring to the situation faced by Bank of Greece and the Royal Bank of Scotland, Kaplan said with these precious metals one does not have to worry about bankruptcy.

"Then the question is: What is the long-term price? I happen to be bullish and so I believe that the positive reinforcements that the Indians have on precious metals is going to continue," he added.

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