Some Irish Seen Turning to Gold, Shunning Banks


"Ireland's banks have suffered large outflows of deposits."

Disgusted by how the banks have wrecked the economy and worried their savings are no longer secure, some Irish people are buying gold and diamonds or storing their money in safes until the crisis blows over.

Ireland's government has guaranteed deposits but anxiety about what the future holds, particularly after Dublin was forced to seek a bailout from the EU and the IMF last month, has some savers seeking alternatives to the banks.

"There has been an increase in demand, sustained over a period of months. There's been a slight increase in the last month. We get that every single day. From mom and pop investors to high net worth individuals," Mark O'Byrne, executive director of bullion dealer GoldCore, told Reuters.

"We had a few (corporate deposits) per year before; now we have a few per week," he said.

Tony Cahill of the Retail Jewelers of Ireland also said he was seeing a similar trend.

"The reality is gold was never as expensive as it is now. . .More people are looking at investing in diamond rings and gold," he said.

Gold hit record highs above $1,425 an ounce last week, partly due to investors spooked by the euro zone debt crisis. A year ago gold was about $1,200 an ounce.

Ireland's banks have suffered large outflows of deposits, largely among corporate customers, due to uncertainty over a growing financial crisis with its roots in years of reckless lending.

Allied Irish Banks lost 12 billion euros in deposits since the middle of the year while Bank of Ireland lost 10 billion euros in the third quarter.

An EU/IMF 85-billion-euro aid package is meant to restore confidence in the sector, but in the meantime, a small minority of people feels more comfortable putting their money in security boxes at home.

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