The MGS Precious Metals Blog

Manhattan Gold & Silver is an industry leader in precious metal pricing and refining with more than 30 years of experience. During our time in the business, we’ve found the topic of precious metals to be a vast and interesting one. Here on our precious metals blog, we write in-depth posts about the science of precious metal refining, historical and modern uses for precious metals, market news, and much more. Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay current, and discuss the latest posts on our Facebook page.

Third Basel Accord’s New Definition of ‘Monetary Gold’ Now in Effect

April 1, 2019 07:00
Third Basel Accord’s New Definition of ‘Monetary Gold’ Now in Effect

The Basel Accords refer to the global, voluntary regulatory framework on banking regulations related to capital adequacy, stress testing, and market liquidity risk. The third installment of Accords, Basel III, was finalized in 2010 in response to the financial regulation deficiencies revealed by the financial crisis of 2007–08. Although scheduled to be completely implemented during a two-year window between 2013 until 2015, the implementation deadlines for various changes have all been extended repeatedly. However, some changes regarding definitions of "Tier 3" capital are finally in effect.

The overall intent of Basel III is to strengthen bank capital requirements by increasing bank liquidity and decreasing bank leverage. By April 1, 2019, all Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFI) must comply with Basel III's new rules for Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSF) and Liquidity – which includes an updated definition for monetary gold as banking capital: “[...] physical gold held in [the bank’s] own vaults or in trust.”

Under Basel II, gold was classified as Tier 3 capital and treated as a risky and illiquid asset. This meant that gold reserves on a financial institution's balance sheet were subject to a Risk Weighting Assessment (RWA) of 50%. In other words, banks could only apply half of gold's market value towards their solvency requirements. Under Basel III, monetary gold now qualifies as a Tier 1 asset, and is 100% valued in calculations establishing banking viability. However, gold derivatives (which are not considered the same as monetary gold), are excluded from this new framework.

So basically, monetary gold is now counted as risk-free capital among banks. On top of that, SIFIs are now required to quadruple their reserves compared to the minimum requirements established in Basel II. Although these regulations aren’t getting tons of publicity right now, we think it’s safe to say that the changes in gold supplies, market demand, and prices will ripple on for years as a result. As for how quickly and drastically these changes develop, only time will be able to tell. To keep a close eye on developing gold prices, download our app and start setting those price alerts.

Scientists Create New 'Gold-Like’ Catalyst from Copper

March 20, 2019 07:00
Scientists Create New 'Gold-Like’ Catalyst from Copper

According to a study published in Science Advances, a team of researchers with the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Liaoning have discovered a way to transform copper into a new material with catalytic properties similar to gold.

To create the new material, the researchers shot a copper target with a jet of high temperature, electrically charged argon gas. The fast-moving ionized gas particles blasted copper atoms off the target. The atoms then coalesced onto the surface of a specialized collecting device to form a layer of sand-like matter with individual grains measuring only a few nanometers in diameter.

Using this material as a catalyst, the scientists were able convert carbon (as coal) into an alcohol at a level of efficiency similar to what could be achieved with a gold catalyst.

Compared to gold (or other precious metals), normal copper catalysts are inefficient to work with because they corrode too quickly. This is because copper atoms have fewer electrons in less stable arrangements compared to gold atoms. According to the study's lead researcher, Professor Sun Jian, the electrified argon gas "inject[s] a large amount of energy into copper atoms [to make] the electrons more dense and stable." This is what enables the resulting material to resist high temperatures, oxidization, and erosion at levels comparable to gold.

Although this form of modified copper may not totally replace gold, the researchers are hopeful that their discovery will significantly reduce the use of precious metals in industrial applications.

Tech Innovations Made Possible with Silver in 2018

March 13, 2019 07:00
Tech Innovations Made Possible with Silver in 2018

In addition to being a store of value, silver is a metal with lots of useful physical and chemical properties. It's antimicrobial, has a high level of plasticity, and has the best thermal and electrical conductivity of any metal on the periodic table. These characteristics (to name only a few) place silver at the forefront of raw materials used in the development of new technologies across a variety of industries.

According to the Silver Institute, electronic and electrical applications are expected to drive a higher demand for silver in 2019. To give you an idea of how this industry sector uses silver, here are some new technologies that were made possible in 2018 thanks to this precious metal.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists designed an ingest-able capsule that can carry and release dosages of medicine via commands received over a Bluetooth connection. By equipping additional sensors, scientists hope that the capsule can also be used detect infections, allergic reactions, gastric juices, fever or other conditions - and then release a drug in response. To ensure it will be able to function in the body for months at a time, the capsule uses silver-oxide battery technology to achieve the ratio of power capacity to size.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IITRoorkee, India), have developed an eco-friendly nanocomposite made with silver nitrate and Kappa Carrageenan – a polymer derived from red seaweed that is used as a thickening and emulsifying agent in foodstuffs. The nanocomposite substance is capable of penetrating the bacterial biofilms that form on medical equipment like catheters and ventilators to kill microbes and prevent infections.

Scientists from the Singapore University of Design and Technology developed a new material that improves the light absorption capabilities of solar panels. Dubbed "Black Silver," the material consists of silver particles arranged in a nanoscale structure that allows it capture greater amounts of visible and infrared light.

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