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Do Gold and Silver ETFs Make Good Investments?

IAU, iShares Comex Gold Trust

IAU has been around since January 2005 and its claim to fame is that it's the cheapest gold ETF. The fund has $4.2 billion in assets and holds 3.2 million ounces, or 99.70 tons of gold. The trustee recently lowered the expense ratio from 0.40% to 0.25%. According to the prospectus, there can be no unallocated gold held at the end of each business day. The trustee is allowed to request up to 430 ounces of unallocated gold for delivery from the custodian.

The trustee is Bank of New York Mellon and the custodian is JPMorgan. The gold is held in New York City, London and Toronto by the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS). According to the Web site, the vault was last inspected in December 2009 by Inspectorate American Corporation. At that time the 8,553 gold bars in both Toronto and NYC all had purity of 99.50% to 99.99%. There has not been an audit since that date.

According to its most recent 13-F filing, Schroder Investments initiated a position in IAU with 1.74 million shares. Blackrock Institute holds the most shares at 12.2 million followed by Wells Fargo (WFC) and Bank of America with 8.6 million and 7.4 million shares respectively.

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