Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Back In The Saddle

BIS swaps may be last gamble to suppress gold price
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:

Economist and former banker Alasdair Macleod today published some insightful speculation about the cover story put out by the Bank for International Settlements through the Financial Times about the bank's recent surreptitious gold swaps.

Macleod figures that an honest explanation by the BIS and its accomplices at the European Central Bank might go like this:

"The committee is aware of a general increase in the bullion liabilities of banks in the Euro area and is working with the ECB and relevant European central banks to ease market shortages."

Macleod writes: "The reason we will never get the truth this plainly is that any such admission would be rocket fuel to the gold price, bring on the bankruptcy of the bullion banks and the concomitant collapse of all paper currencies."

For the European central bankers to put so much more gold into the market "when China, Russia, India, and other nations are aggressively accumulating it and the ability of the bullion banks to return swapped or leased gold to its actual owners is one hell of a gamble," Macleod concludes. "We have probably just witnessed the last throw of the dice in the European central banks' attempts to suppress the gold price."

Macleod's analysis is headlined "The Gold Market and the BIS" and you can find it at his Internet site, Finance and Economics, here:

CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

Gold Movements Suspect
By Patrick A. Heller
A rough rule of thumb I follow is that once is a coincidence and twice is a pattern. There has been a run on COMEX silver inventories since June 16. Now there are strange developments with COMEX gold inventories.

There were unusual movements of COMEX gold inventories on July 28 and July 30 that 1) coincidentally roughly equaled what was needed for the sellers of contracts to meet delivery requirements, and 2) may indicate that unusually large quantities of COMEX gold will be withdrawn by the end of August.

On July 28, there was a sizable withdrawal of 96,592 ounces from dealer inventories. This is relatively close to the 89,400 ounces of gold standing for delivery of maturing July contracts, which is not particularly remarkable by itself. However, on that day, there were still 112, 977 open August contracts, representing 11.3 million ounces of gold. This liability exceeds the entire COMEX registered and eligible gold inventories. What is unusual this time around is that normally contracts maturing within a month have long since been closed out or rolled over into future months. Though only a small percentage of these maturing August contracts are likely to be delivered, there is a strong likelihood that deliveries in the next month will be much higher than usual. If this is developing, the move on this day to deliver so much gold against maturing July contracts may have been a ploy to create the image that available physical gold is plentiful.

Owners of August long contracts would need to state by July 30 whether they were going to close out (by selling their contract), roll over, or stand for delivery of their contracts. If the delivery option is selected, the contract must be fully paid by that day.

On July 30, a massive 367,716 ounces of gold (3.2 percent of all COMEX registered and eligible inventories) were reclassified from customer inventory to dealer inventories. The same day, JPMorgan Chase issued delivery notices of 368,500 ounces, virtually identical to the amount that was reclassified.

Gold and silver COMEX contract prices went into backwardation on July 23. In normal commodity markets, the prices of future month contracts are higher than the current or “spot” month, typically by the amount of the interest rate and transaction costs. The standard condition is called contango. When the spot month price is higher than one or more future months, the market is said to be in backwardation. If spot month prices remain higher than the near future months for more than two or three days, that is a sign of a physical supply squeeze, which often foretells a near term rise in the price.

At the close on July 29, the COMEX July, August and September gold contracts settled at the exact same price. While not technically in backwardation, it is also not a normal contango market. The moves of COMEX gold inventories on July 28 and July 30 could be indicators of one or more of the following conditions:

• There is a supply squeeze where there just isn’t enough gold to meet delivery requirements; or,
• One or more dealers such as JPMorgan Chase may literally have no metal immediately available to meet delivery requirements; or,
• Much larger than normal amounts of gold will be withdrawn from COMEX warehouses in the next month.

These moves of COMEX gold inventories are the akin to the run on COMEX silver inventories since June 16. If both are happening at the same time, as I suspect, they will almost certainly result in much higher precious metals prices by September. Roughly two months ago, I thought there was a high probability for much higher gold and silver prices by the end of July. That did not happen. I think my conclusion as to the direction of the market is still valid, but the timing will take one to two months longer than I originally thought.

China Officially Enters The Gold Market: Full Release Of PBoC's Plan To Expand And Develop China's Gold Infrastructure
Submitted by Tyler Durden
The moment many gold bulls have been waiting for - the Chinese Central Bank has just released a directive informing everyone it is commencing the development of a healthy gold market. In the release (below), the PBoC stressed the need to develop the market to serve the overall situation of China's gold industry, based on improving the competitiveness of China's financial markets, effectively strengthening innovation, and promoting the formation of multi-level market system. The PBoC has asked the Shanghai Gold Exchange, Shanghai Futures Exchange and commercial banks to become actively engaged in developing a national gold market. With China owning a mere 1,064 tonnes of gold (sixth in the world and well behind both France and the GLD ETF in terms of holdings), which represent just 1.6% of its reserve holdings, there is only one way to interpret this borderline revolutionary press release. China has now officially entered the gold market.

Beware the Dragon's gold teeth
By Lawrence Williams
Yesterday we learnt that China is further loosening its controls on the import and export of gold on the one hand, and on the other that it is also going to support Chinese company investment in overseas gold mining projects.

For long we have put forward the view on Mineweb that Eastern buying, and that from China in particular, will effectively put a floor under the gold price - and that floor seems to be rising continuously as seen in the gold price's stair step advances in recent months. A senior Chinese official has stated publicly that the country will buy gold on the dips so as not to disrupt the market and undermine the US dollar - and there is perhaps more than anecdotal evidence that the Chinese government is buying gold, effectively surreptitiously, for its reserves, but not disclosing this until it reckons it is opportune so to do. Last time it announced an increase in gold reserves it had in fact been accumulating the yellow metal for 6 years before it actually made the fact public.

But why should China hold back dissemination of this information? The Chinese know that an announcement that shows it has accumulated a further large gold holding will move the gold price sharply upwards. (Another reason why China has not bought any of the IMF gold.) A resultant gold price leap could well be seen globally as a devaluation of the dollar, leading to yet another nail in the greenback's coffin, and given the dollar-related element in China's huge currency reserve surplus, that could be seen as not being in China's best interest - at least for now.

There has also been considerable evidence that Chinese companies (all state-controlled) have been buying up western investments - in the resource sector in particular - at a phenomenal, and seemingly ever-growing, rate. Some would say this is an attempt to convert some of the nation's huge dollar currency surplus into hard assets, while at the same time helping secure future supply lines for the global industrial giant. Some of China's top economists have gone on record as saying that they have little confidence in the long term future of the dollar as the only real reserve currency, and replacing some of its dollar reserves in this manner is probably - certainly - government policy.

But what this does mean to the West in general, and to the U.S.A. in particular, is ‘don't screw with the Dragon'. It has golden teeth which can really cause financial damage to the status quo if it should so wish, and it is also gaining a position where it can dominate the supply of many militarily strategic metals and minerals, not just gold, should any other country try and resort to gunboat diplomacy! The time is perhaps not ripe - yet, but every move that China makes in the resource sector in general, and in gold and in some particularly strategic metals and minerals (think rare earths) could be interpreted as a long term plan to make China top dog in the global economy and, at the same time, make it secure from any nation which might want to try to prevent it reaching this position of global dominance by any means.

Time to Accumulate metals and mining stocks-UBS
We believe that ongoing pressure on sovereign debt markets, combined with persistent concerns over private sector credit contraction will raise the spectre of debt monetization repeatedly over the next few years," the analysts advised. "We expect that this background will remain very supportive for gold prices over the period, and that informs our above consensus gold price outlook and our inclusion of two gold stocks in our top ten picks..."

In their analysis, the analysts said they believe gold's spotlight will return to focus on European sovereign debt burdens and beyond.

"The fear of further debasement of fiat currencies follows closely," they said. "And in turn we expect the fear trade-very apparent through heightened physical demand for small bars and coins and rising ETF creations-will escalate in H2 2010 and into 2011."

UBS also noted 2010 will be a significant year for official gold sector activity. "While this supply source sold just 41 tonnes net last year, we expect central banks will move from the supply side of the gold fundamental equation to the demand side in 2010."

"Based on current available information, the official sector is very much on track to become net consumers of gold this year," the analysts said. "But in aggregate, we do not expect official sector sales will be voluminous this year; nonetheless this factor provides a very supportive element to the market over the medium term."

In their analysis, UBS noted, "A new trend in 2010 is the movement towards fully allocated physical gold. In H2 and 2011, we expect this type of gold exposure will deepen as new and existing investors diversify a portion of their gold reserves to purely allocated form. Quite simply, such customers are limiting their weight of paper gold exposure. In essence, this is diversification within diversification."

Deflation Threats Are Best Contrarian Indicator
The amount of deflation rhetoric in the mainstream media has been continuing to surge this week. Yesterday there was an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, "Defending Yourself Against Deflation" and on Monday Paul Krugman wrote an editorial in the New York Times entitled, "Why Is Deflation Bad?". We decided to do a simple Google News archive search to see when previous spikes in media chatter about the topic of deflation have taken place.

The largest spike this decade in articles about deflation came in May of 2003. At that time, the Dow Jones was 8,500, the price of gold was $350 per ounce, and the price of oil was $30 per barrel. The Dow Jones went on to rise for four years straight reaching a high in 2007 of 14,198 up 67%. Gold went on to rise for seven years straight reaching a high this year of $1,248 per ounce up 257%. Oil went on to rise for five years straight reaching a high in 2008 of $147 per barrel up 390%.

The second largest spike this decade in articles about deflation came in November of 2008. At that time, the Dow Jones was 8,000, the price of gold was $725 per ounce, and the price of oil was $50 per barrel. Since then, the Dow Jones has risen as high as 11,257 up 41%, gold has risen as high as $1,248 per ounce up 72%, and oil has risen as high as $88 per barrel up 76%.

NIA has come to the conclusion that the mainstream media talking about deflation is the most accurate contrarian indicator out there. The false threat of deflation in 2003 came at the beginning of the biggest rise in asset prices in U.S. history. The false threat of deflation in 2008 came almost exactly when stocks, precious metals, and commodities had reached their bottom. NIA believes that the threat of deflation today could mean that the biggest move to the upside for gold and silver in history is right around the corner.

Consumer Confidence: Into the Death Zone
Consumer confidence matched its low for the year this week, with the ABC News Consumer Comfort Index extending a steep 9-point, six-week drop from what had been its 2010 high.

The weekly index, based on Americans’ views of the national economy, the buying climate and their personal finances, stands at -50 on its scale of +100 to -100, just 4 points from its lowest on record in nearly 25 years of weekly polls, set in December 2008 and January 2009.

Underscoring its current deep weakness, the CCI has been -50 or lower just 27 times in 1,284 weekly polls – all but one of them since August 2008. (The other, February 1992.) It's in effect the death zone for consumer sentiment.

The CCI has been this low twice previously this year, in February and April, then advanced through late June before turning back down. Compare -50 to its 24-year average, -13.

The index's recent trend anticipated the latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, which today reported that personal expenditures and personal incomes alike were flat in June, the first time personal incomes hadn’t risen month-to-month in nearly a year. Like the CCI, these data signal the economy’s continued struggles and, with 9.5 percent unemployment, the pernicious effect of a jobs market that’s been so weak for so long.

US Treasury yields fall to record low on Fed's 'QE lite' plan
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Yields on short-term US Treasury debt have fallen to the lowest in history on mounting expectations of extra stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

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