Nervous French savers start gold rush

PARIS, October 9, 2008 (AFP) – The gold merchants of Paris may trade from shops in the shadow of the historic stock exchange building, but their business is booming even as the share market collapses. Nervous investors, who have seen house prices, equity markets and interest rates falling, are seeking shelter for their savings in what many see as the ultimate in safe investment options: gold.

“For us, business is pretty good,” noted a smiling Serge Siauvaud, whose shop in Rue Vivienne is a stone’s throw from the palace that once housed the Paris stock exchange, in streets still full of brokers’ offices.

Siauvaud says his custom is up by 50 percent since the repercussions of the US credit crunch hit Europe, confirming that depositors are increasingly putting cash aside in the form of precious metal.

“People come because they don’t like having all their eggs in the same basket,” explained another trader, David Levy, who said his shop had seen “many, many customers” in recent days.

“They prefer gold to cash. If there’s any problem, they can sell it anywhere in the world,” he said.

The basic unit for gold investors in France is the Napoleon Franc, a 6.45 gramme (0.23 ounce