By Hubert Walker for Coinweek ….
Sales of gold bars and bullion coins at the Austrian Mint in 2015 were up 45% over the previous year’s total, with 1.32 million ounces sold. In 2014, the Austrian Mint sold 910,000 ounces.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Mint spokesperson Andrea Lang states that the jump in sales of gold is due in large part to the insecurity Europeans have about the economy – with the European Union’s negative interest rates being a particular spur to investment in precious metals like gold.
And it’s not just Europe. According to Bloomberg, the first quarter of 2016 has seen gold as a financial asset give its best quarterly performance in 30 years.
Because of this, the Austrian Mint expects its range of gold products to continue to do well over the remainder of the year.
Of course, sales of the Mint’s flagship bullion coin – the Gold Vienna Philharmonic – account for the bulk of this success. The World Gold Council, an international commercial lobbying group, declared the Vienna Philharmonic the world’s best-selling gold bullion coin in 1992, 1995, 1996 and 2000, and based on current figures it may be number one in 2015 as well.
Silver also continues to perform well for the Mint, with 7.3 million ounces sold in 2015. Compared to the United States Mint’s 47 million ounces sold in 2015 (the third consecutive record-breaking year for sales of the American Silver Eagle bullion coin), Austria’s 7.3 million doesn’t seem like much.
But consider how the U.S. Mint’s American Gold Eagle 1 oz coin did that same year, with a total of only 626,500 ounces sold. It isn’t all the gold the United States sold in 2015, but it demonstrates how consumer demand for gold and silver is reversed across the Atlantic. This is due to the fact that the member nations of the European Union charge a Value Added Tax, or VAT, on all sales of silver bullion but not on sales of gold. Roughly put, a VAT works by collecting taxes on all sales of goods regardless of whether or not the goods are meant for consumption and then refunding those buyers who use said goods for the purposes of business or capital.
Austria’s VAT on silver bullion is currently 20%.
Yet despite this disincentive to purchase silver, the Austrian Mint sold 57% more in 2015 over 2014’s total of 4.6 million ounces. It is commonly understood that last year’s low prices encouraged the jump, but first quarter sales in 2016 show no signs of a slow down even though the new year has seen an increase in the price of silver.
Austrian Vienna Philharmonic Silver Coins Currently Available on eBay