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Buying gold proving to be a challenge for the world’s wealthy

Ludwig Karl is stuck at home, worried about his elderly relatives. All the while his business is booming.

He’s a board member of Swiss Gold Safe, an operator of high-security vaults in the Alps that’s storing growing sums of precious metals for wealthy foreigners as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens. The company usually helps customers buy gold, but governments have closed scores of businesses amid the crisis, making it increasingly difficult for people to get their hands on the physical product.

Grounded flights are disrupting plans to transport bullion around the world and gold mining firms are scaling back activities, decelerating the precious metals industry as demand for gold increases.

Grounded flights are disrupting plans to transport bullion around the world and gold mining firms are scaling back activities, decelerating the precious metals industry as demand for gold increases.Credit:Bloomberg

“It’s absolutely crazy what’s going on,” Karl said. “Right now, if somebody wants to buy gold, I wish them all the best in finding it. Most of the bullion dealers are closed.”

Switzerland’s refining industry, a major international hub for processing gold into bars and coins, has largely shut because of efforts to contain the global virus. Grounded flights are disrupting plans to transport bullion around the world and gold mining firms are scaling back activities, decelerating the precious metals industry as demand for gold increases.


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