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Not Your Grandfather's Bank Holiday

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Eighty years ago last month, in March of 1933, Franklin Roosevelt presided over a seven-day bank holiday in the United States, designed to head off a run on U.S. banks.

Some 100 democrats, just elected to office, were determined to show resolve in attacking the nation's fiscal woes. When the banks opened again on March 13, Americans lined up at their banks to redeposit cash taken out just days earlier. A collective sigh of relief could be heard at the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and at the White House.

It almost seems quaint today. A strong, central power acts swiftly and solves a problem. Today, more sinister forces seem to be at work, and there are implications for savers and investors. To get more insight into these implications, I spoke with Jim Rickards, lawyer, former investment banker, and the author of "Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis," which was published in 2011.

To Rickards' way of thinking, the solution to the banking crisis in Cyprus should be taken as a warning shot to all savers and investors around the world. "There is a lesson here," he said recently on my radio show, "and the lesson is arrogance. Arrogance in the financial community, in the IMF and among the financial leaders of the world. The message here is: 'Take depositors' money, because the big financial institutions have to live another day.'"

My advice is to learn all you can about how global currency markets affect you. Go out and grab a copy of Rickards' bestseller" Currency Wars," now in paperback with new information.

Rickards says savers and investors need to take what happened in Cyprus very seriously. He has two pieces of advice.

First, if you have large deposits, spread them out among several banks. If the unimaginable happens here, spreading your money out might offer some protection by keeping you, on average, below any minimums that might be imposed.

Second, he says, is to buy hard assets including gold, a sentiment with which I agree. Of course, he's not suggesting a fire sale of your assets to buy gold. Rather, the amount of gold appropriate for any one individual is a subjective figure. But that notwithstanding, a new gold rush could, or perhaps should, be on following the events in Cyprus.
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