June marks the beginning of summer - a season of beach vacations, garden bounties, and general disinterest in the market. It is well-known that precious metals and other commodities typically face malaise at this time of year as speculators unwind their trades and potential buyers spend their spare cash on hotel rooms and recreation.
But in recent years, June has come to mark a time of great rejoicing for those of us most passionate about a sound money economy. Two weeks ago, many of us returned from what can only be described as the largest face-to-face alternative currency economy in the world. The Porcupine Freedom Festival just celebrated its tenth year, dubbed "PorcFest X," with record attendance and alt-currency activity.
PorcFest is a production of the Free State Project, an effort to get 20,000 liberty activists to concentrate in New Hampshire in order to achieve their motto of "Liberty In Our Lifetime." The festival started as a way to introduce people to the state and persuade them to move (as I did two years ago), but it has quickly grown to become a mecca of the what Jeffrey Tucker of Laissez Faire Books called the "bohemian bourgeoisie."
Apart from the right to carry a sidearm, there is likely no other issue more important to this crowd than monetary freedom. And in this crowd, they practice what they preach. At PorcFest, everything from festival tickets to gourmet food to custom clothing to film screenings can be purchased with silver or gold.
The most commonly circulated precious metals are fractional silver coins, such as the Mercury dimes you might find in a bag of junk silver or similar-weight rounds from a private mint. As precious metals barter has expanded outside the hardcore sound money community, junk silver bags have actually gone into short supply. That is why Euro Pacific Precious Metals will soon be announcing the release of our own Silver Barter Bags, filled with fractional silver rounds from top-grade private mints.
The festival has a vendor area called "Agora Valley" where these silver rounds traded freely. "Agora" refers to "agorism," a philosophy of freely trading goods and sound money without submitting to government taxation and regulation. Products on offer included cold-brew lattés from fresh-ground beans, pasture-raised burgers, Ron Paul campaign souvenirs, bitcoins, fresh-squeezed juices & vegan fare, consignment goods from a pop-up flea market, comic books, wood furniture, breakfast burritos, handmade jewelry, and a spectrum of goods and services.
Gold obviously appears less often in this context because most purchases are less than the ~$125 spot price of a 1/10 oz of gold, the smallest unit commonly traded. As Peter Schiff has emphasized numerous times in his Gold Letter and elsewhere, gold is primarily for saving and silver for spending. However, that is not to say gold didn't make an appearance. Thursday night, there was a competition called The Agorist Pitch - like Shark Tank, in which entrepreneurs compete for funding. First prize was a full ounce of gold! Needless to say, the competition was intense.
Finally, it's worth noting that the festival itself actually created a trading silver currency that was liquid for the week. The privately minted rounds (pictured below) were sold and bought back at the same price, so attendees could spend them at vendors and the vendors could turn them in for dollars if they wished. Only one person sold back his silver. After all, when you spend silver or gold, you're not only paying your tab, you're actually giving the recipient an investment that requires no further action on their part! It's a win-win, which is what trading on the free market is supposed to be.
Overall, PorcFest X was a wondrous week full of people that believe in sound money, personal liberty, and free trade. Of course, Team Schiff was there in full force. Andrew Schiff, Director of Marketing/Communications at Euro Pacific Capital, played mandolin by the campfire. The Peter Schiff Show's Paul Maresca piloted the massive tour bus some attendees affectionately dubbed the "Schiffmobile." And Peter himself was on hand to partake in the sound money economy and provide a warm introduction to two-term Governor of New Mexico and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.
For those of us who spend our career anticipating a post-dollar economy, PorcFest was living proof that the world will go on. Gold and silver have always been money, with only the past few generations taking a bizarre turn into worthless paper currency. It is astounding how quickly people adapt to trading directly with precious metal coins. And that is fortunate, because we are now in an era in which users of paper currency are losing their purchasing power - fast. I encourage all of you to take a page from the PorcFest playbook and start forming barter communities where you live. Each step into the stable precious metals economy is one step further away from the crumbling US dollar.
This article first appeared in the July 2013 edition of Peter Schiff's Gold Letter, a monthly newsletter featuring original contributions from Peter Schiff, Casey Research, and other leading experts in the gold market. Click here for your free monthly subscription. To learn more about Peter Schiff's gold & silver dealer, visit www.europacmetals.com.