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Project Mayhem Research: Multiple Anomalies Detected In Silver ETFs

Tyler Durden's picture


Project Mayhem has released its first working paper on statistical and factual anomalies in silver ETFs. The conclusion is distrubing:

During our research into the inventory lists of the iShares SLV and London-based ETFS physical silver funds, we discovered multiple anomalies which cannot be easily dismissed. These included the presence of internal duplicates, rough internal duplicates, weight duplicates, statistical clustering, and cross-reference duplicates. Taken together, these anomalies are cause for concern, and we suggest that more capable teams conduct further research into these issues, as they effect price discovery within the precious metals market, as these ETF shares are being used for settlement and possibly pricesuppression on the COMEX.

If these problems are caused by accounting errors, they are disturbing and perhaps profoundly incompetent, and we suggest both these funds should have their senior management replaced.


In our opinions, the only way for all of these anomalies to occur together as noted in this paper, is via systemic fraud or gross accounting error bordering on jaw-dropping incompetence.

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Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:27 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 08/04/2009 - 20:43 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Fri, 04/22/2011 - 02:17 | Link to Comment Amschel
Amschel's picture

I have experience with this jazz.

I bought Bank Of Russia issued gold coins from Sberbank of Russia,only to find them rusting,and probably being smelted with Depleted Uranium  (its mass is pretty much identical to Au-gold).

Theres an article on zerohedge about this.Sold em back to the bank the same day I found out,and kept only one to send it for analasys to a lab,just for fun.

So to see duplicates from KRASNOYARSK_RUSSIA_... is nothing new,from my experience.

Bastards are well known for it,"Krasvestmet" might have played a role in this.


Fri, 04/22/2011 - 04:28 | Link to Comment Amschel
Amschel's picture


I can make a list of phony numbers m'self as well,add a cute etf name, "Lucky Silver ETF",hold 50% of the fund in actual physical,for those pesky people who do not trust the ETF and want physical delivery,giving the naysayers proof that the fund has deliverable physicals,while the other 50% in phony paper.Same scheme over and over...

Bank-run economics.If everyone pulls out and takes delivery,theyll find only 50% is delivered,and the little guys get the paper,or are not qualified for delivery since they do not hold enough shares to be eligible for redemptions.So there will always be someone left that has to hold paper,and on the other side of the equation,the person lucky enough to get delivery disproves the naysayers and conspiracy theorists by taking actual physical delivery.Perpetuating the scam.


And if people get too clever,they will simply raise the required share limits for physical redemptions,which will be a sign that,well,its game-over.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:32 | Link to Comment Project Mayhem
Project Mayhem's picture

this article sucks imo!  ;)

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:33 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 21:36 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 00:37 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:28 | Link to Comment D.O.D.
D.O.D.'s picture

The Dark Years piece says it all, if you want to own precious metals, then hold it in your hands...guns gold and ammo baby...

thanks for all the info sir...

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:34 | Link to Comment D.O.D.
D.O.D.'s picture

actually to expand on this I would suggest to stop trading ETF's entirely, beyond decay, I've noticed price anomolies buying botht the long and short version, and ending up down on both EOD...something strange is afoot at the circle K....

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 20:08 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Thu, 07/30/2009 - 13:45 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:06 | Link to Comment andy55
andy55's picture

What's mind-bending is trying to figure out what will happen to metals prices if/when there's ever massive fraud uncovered with SLV or GLD...  You've got the people holding GLD or SLV trying to sell while they're buying it back in physical metal.   Given the premise, that GLD and SLV are bogus (to at least some degree), the physical buyback ultimately would push spot prices up.

It'll be interesting to see how this story unfolds, for sure!

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:50 | Link to Comment VegasBD
VegasBD's picture

When they eventually default investors will get paid in dollars (if they ahve any to pay out). No big deal. Little guy gets screwed again. Nothing to see here, move along.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:35 | Link to Comment lizzy36
lizzy36's picture

I luv the way that @ 2:30 pm everyday, analysis of the market converges and brings us a strong buy signal.  Those Wall Street analysts are fucking geniuses (and so consistent).

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:44 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 22:16 | Link to Comment gammaman
gammaman's picture

SEC Regulation NMS Final Rules (523 pages

For the reasons discussed above in section V.A.1, the Commission is retaining the current consolidation model and adopting the consolidation requirements of Rule 603(b) as proposed and reproposed. All of the SROs currently participate in Plans that provide for the dissemination of consolidated information for the NMS stocks that they trade. The Plans were adopted in order to enable the SROs to comply with Exchange Act rules regarding the reporting of trades and distribution of quotations. With respect to trades, paragraph (b) of Exchange Act Rule 11Aa3-1 (redesignated as Rule 601(a)) requires each SRO to file transaction reporting plans that specify, among other things, how its transactions are to be consolidated with the transactions of other SROs. With respect to quotations, paragraph (b)(1) of Exchange Act Rule 11Ac1-1 (redesignated as Rule 602(a)(1)) requires an SRO to establish and maintain procedures for making its best quotes available to vendors.


To confirm by Exchange Act rule that both existing and any new SROs will be required to continue to participate in such joint-SRO plans, adopted Rule 603(b) requires SROs to act jointly pursuant to one or more NMS plans to disseminate consolidated information for NMS stocks. Such consolidated information must include an NBBO that is calculated in accordance with the definition set forth in adopted Rule 600(b)(42).* In addition, the NMS plans will be required to provide for the dissemination of all consolidated information for an individual NMS stock through a single processor. Thus, different processors would be permitted to disseminate information for different NMS stocks (e.g., SIAC for Network A stocks, and Nasdaq for Network C stocks), but all quotations and trades in a stock must disseminated through a single processor. As a result, information users, particularly retail investors, will be able to obtain data from a single source that reflects the best quotations and most recent trade price for a security, no matter where such quotations and trade are displayed in the NMS.


*Adopted Rule 600(b)(42) of Regulation NMS defines “national best bid and national best offer.”

NASDAQ's Reglation NMS FAQ

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:57 | Link to Comment Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh's picture

Tyler, can I suggest that you publish a post around 2:30pm every day and title it something like one of these?:


"Stop Hedging!"

"Stop Shorting!"

"Stop Buying ETFs!"

"Stop Whatever You Are Doing and Buy SPY!"


I'm sure someone could be a bit more creative.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:17 | Link to Comment aldousd
aldousd's picture

You could do what CNBC does and post "Analysts: Zero Hedge Stock Price could Triple!"

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:41 | Link to Comment Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh's picture

Followed by the next post "Pros Say: Prepare for Zero Hedge Correction"

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:38 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:43 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:45 | Link to Comment Project Mayhem
Project Mayhem's picture

Yup.  Here's a sample.

Cross Referenced Duplicate Detected: KRASNOYARSK_RUSSIA_2683

Cross Referenced Duplicate Detected: KRASNOYARSK_RUSSIA_2684

Cross Referenced Duplicate Detected: KRASNOYARSK_RUSSIA_2685

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:12 | Link to Comment gammaman
gammaman's picture

"Some bar manufacturers restart their numbering each year, but either prefix the number with letters to indicate the year, or stamp the year on the bar. This means that identical numbers on a listing, but with different weights, can mean that the person recording the bar number failed to include the year prefix. The only way to prove this is not the case and that the two numbers are actually the same bar is if the bar weight is the same, because the probability of exactly the same weight and exactly the same number across different years would have to be next to zero."

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:43 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:43 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:56 | Link to Comment D.O.D.
D.O.D.'s picture

I should think at this point the answer to that is obvious....

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:43 | Link to Comment Charley
Charley's picture

There is no doubt about this fraud. Suppression of gold and silver prices was indentified as late as 1988 as the means of keeping them out of circulation as an alternative medium of exchange, and maintianing low interest rates. Here is a paper written by none other than Larry Summers on the subject while a professor at Harvard University:


GATA has noted that this discovery was used by Rubin as Goldman Sachs. They also showed that sometime after Rubin and Summers arrive in Washington to join the treasury, the Gibson Paradox apparently disappears.

Tyler, this effort to suppress gold and silver prices required a very liquid derivatives market, hence deregulation toward the end of the Clinton administration. There is an almost straight line from there to our present catastrophe...

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:47 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:54 | Link to Comment nicholsong
nicholsong's picture

Thank you for a very enlightening post.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:45 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:14 | Link to Comment Miles Kendig
Miles Kendig's picture


Tue, 07/28/2009 - 20:16 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:11 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:57 | Link to Comment nicholsong
nicholsong's picture

Sometimes people ask me if I am talking to myself. I respond that I am, but it is the only way I can be sure I am having an intelligent conversation.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:56 | Link to Comment ShankyS
ShankyS's picture

I blogged on Mark's article that day and the day after up came a big story about Canada's "imbalance" on some massive amt of gold stores in Canada. I imagine they swept that one under the rug as well. He was trying hard to avoid the conspiracy label but should have grown a set and stuck with it. 

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 17:30 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 17:31 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:45 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:04 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:43 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Sun, 08/02/2009 - 12:28 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 08/04/2009 - 20:27 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 08/04/2009 - 20:36 | Link to Comment Cheeky Bastard
Cheeky Bastard's picture

while i might agree with you, i also would like to ask you not to publish that here because all the media monitoring this site gets, and this would only benefit their goal to discredit both Tyler, the readers and commenter's on this blog ..

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:47 | Link to Comment Veteran
Veteran's picture

Killer research!  Thanks

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:54 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 14:57 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:02 | Link to Comment Project Mayhem
Project Mayhem's picture

I know... I couldn't believe my eyes.  I mean, I really thought I could trust JPM, especially after all we'd been through together. Apparently Jamie Dimon doesn't care about all the hookers and blow we'd shared -- Staying up all night, trading yen on the TCE, laughing and yelling at the computer screen... not caring because we were the kings!!    I was shocked -- *shocked* -- to find these anomalies, let me tell you...

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:08 | Link to Comment Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh's picture

The next thing you know, there'll be an 'inventory discrepancy' at Fort Knox.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:37 | Link to Comment glenlloyd
glenlloyd's picture

probably is but we'll never know, they won't allow an audit, and the last one was done when...half a century ago?

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:24 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:58 | Link to Comment ShankyS
ShankyS's picture

We only work with customers that have actual money in the bank. Next. 



Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:48 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 08/04/2009 - 20:30 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:07 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:10 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:52 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 17:00 | Link to Comment ShankyS
ShankyS's picture

Haven't you heard - the jails are at capacity. They can't take any more prisoners. 

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:12 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:02 | Link to Comment nicholsong
nicholsong's picture

I agree: Stop trading.  Stop the mechanism that is skimming and directing--some might say confiscating--your funds.

"I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces."

---Étienne de la Boétie, circa 1550

Wed, 07/29/2009 - 20:29 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:14 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:24 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:25 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:15 | Link to Comment Stuart
Stuart's picture

The fact that people still debate whether the SLV and the GLD are used to rig the price is astonishing. These same people probably also still believe no one set foot on the moon too. Just the fact that the COMEX says it can use GLD shares in lieu of physical gold to settle contracts better be a smack to the brain cells that the markets are rigged. Over subscribed gold and silver...really debated anymore? C'mon, maybe by simpletons and Alice in Wonderland believer types.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:50 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:18 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:23 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:39 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:00 | Link to Comment andy55
andy55's picture


A good and fun piece -- thanks for sharing.  I added The Denial_of_Death to my must-read list (everyone should have one imho).

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:54 | Link to Comment ptoemmes
ptoemmes's picture

Tugging at the Silver Oligarchs Cape...


Hey you, yes you, over here you silver POS.  I got your ETF right here and I'm about to shove it up your a$$



Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:00 | Link to Comment Fish Gone Bad
Fish Gone Bad's picture

The only way to play the market, is to just stop playing the market.  Eventually the robots will consume themselves.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:45 | Link to Comment Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh's picture

Nice game of chess, anyone?

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:00 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 21:50 | Link to Comment Project Mayhem
Project Mayhem's picture

Thanks. I looked for other ETF lists but did not notice ZKB also published a list.  I will download and include it in any future data runs.

Also, the names of the bars have been standardized via a data map.  So it won't matter if a manufacturer is mispelled... they all get converted to a standard representation anyway, via manufacturer_map.txt.



Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:02 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:53 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 00:33 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:05 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:57 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:13 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 12:48 | Link to Comment Project Mayhem
Project Mayhem's picture


I converted the latter to HTML using pdf2html.  The former I simply cut and pasted into a flat file.  There is also another bar list from a European fund which I did not use yet, which is available here:

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:15 | Link to Comment Bubby BankenStein
Bubby BankenStein's picture

Settlement of Gold / Silver futures with Gold / Silver ETF'''''s!

You show me your's & I'll show you mine.  This is a derivatve circular jerk that is likely to end badly.

If you want PM for a long term hedge, you need control of the physical.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:44 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 16:57 | Link to Comment dnarby
dnarby's picture

...In Russia, silver ingot duplicates YOU!

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 17:26 | Link to Comment whacked
whacked's picture

Hmmm have the same feeling I had when COMEX accepted USD rather than the real McCoy... nothing will change.


Same bar numbers same weight, then you have a problem.


In the meantime just usual hot air.


Note to oneself .. Great Wall and Russian bar smelters ... need to loan them some money to buy a new stamp ...

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 18:15 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 18:15 | Link to Comment ChristopherWhite
ChristopherWhite's picture

I tried to post the link to this article on Yahoo message boards for CDE and HL and my post was immediately deleted and I was unable to post again.  Nice work!

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 18:19 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 18:23 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 19:07 | Link to Comment Jim_Rockford
Jim_Rockford's picture

Silver certs that are not backed by real silver?  WallStreetPro is not going to like this .... can't wait to see the video.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 19:20 | Link to Comment KidDynamite
KidDynamite's picture

question for the author:

is a standard silver bar 1000oz?  or "950-1000 oz" ? in other words - why would they be normally distributed around this range? shouldn't they be massively concentrated at one size (ie, 1000 oz?)


Tue, 07/28/2009 - 21:58 | Link to Comment Project Mayhem
Project Mayhem's picture

I haven't had the opportunity to calculate the average and median values for bar weight, but they seem centered slightly under 1000oz.  That is, there are many more bars less than 1000oz than more than 1000oz.  This would be something to check in the future.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 23:12 | Link to Comment KidDynamite
KidDynamite's picture

i guess what i was trying to ask is, "if there is a standardized weight for a bar of silver, why would it be surprising that there are a lot of "weight duplicates" ? "

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 23:28 | Link to Comment Arm
Arm's picture

Because in real life it is impossible to cast at exactly the same exact weight.  Each bar is a unique special snowflake

Wed, 07/29/2009 - 00:08 | Link to Comment Project Mayhem
Project Mayhem's picture

Statistically, when a bar is casted, they will rarely be *exactly* 1000 ounces.  Some are a bit more, some are a bit less (some even as low as 700-800oz!).   So there is a rather wide distribution of bar weights. Now, keep in mind that weight is measured to at least four significant figures, ie. 849.3oz.   To find the same manufacturer with an identical bar weights is not unusual, but beyond some expected statistical occurance it is. 

I do not know yet whether my findings of inventory reductions of 82% and 50% fall within the expected Gaussian probability distribution for inventories of approx 200,000 bars and 20,000 bars for the iShares SLV ETF and the ETFS funds, respectively.  I suspect they do not (ie. they fall outside expected statistics).  I decided to release my findings now rather than wait another several weeks to calculate probability distributions, as this would take some time to make sure I did the calculations properly (my background is in computer science, not statistics).  However, this is something I plan on determining in the future.  That is, once you calculate the average, median, standard deviations, variance etc of the bar weights of a given manufacturer, you may be able to determine the specific probabilities of getting a specific weight (to four significant figures), and thus you can use laws of combinatorics to determine whether we are seeing higher than expected numbers of bars with identical weights.  If these exceed what would be predicted by the Gaussian bell curve, one explanation which may be considered is bar "cloning".

    Again, I want to reiterate that weight duplicates were not the only anomaly, but I am taking this in the context of multiple strange data occurences.  This is why I suggest this is a subject of future research by statisticians.  If there are explanations for all these anomalies, I would love to hear JP Morgan's statements.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 20:15 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 07/28/2009 - 22:10 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 00:09 | Link to Comment Project Mayhem
Project Mayhem's picture

I am using the July 24 2009 list from JP Morgan from their iShares SLV fund.  Perfect internal duplicates were only detected in iShares SLV.  I just double-checked and these do exist in my version of this list. For example, see page 509 of 7137.  One of the duplicates listed in Appendix A are present there.

Britannia Refined Metals U.K 2283 9990 966.8 966.8
Britannia Refined Metals U.K 2283 9990 966.8 966.8


Tue, 07/28/2009 - 22:27 | Link to Comment glenlloyd
glenlloyd's picture

the findings don't surprise me at all....but I'm glad to see someone working on this topic, it would be even more interesting to see what the gold situation is.

it would also be interesting to compare the old bar data with the "corrected" bar data.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 22:31 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 00:02 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 04:38 | Link to Comment Fabio
Fabio's picture

Hi from Germany,

first of all (1. post here): you guys rock!

Now to the topic:

The only Silver-ETF I trust is the one from Zurich Kantonalbank (ISIN for EUR-Tranche is CH0047533556). I`ve called them today, because their list has some oddities as well. They have some barrs with "0,000" as "weight":

As soon as I get the answer as to what that means, I`ll post it here.





Wed, 07/29/2009 - 05:08 | Link to Comment Fabio
Fabio's picture

Got a call from ZKB:


The barrs with O-weight are those which have already been physically delivered. ZKB makes it an explicit right to get the metalls delivered in their prospectus. They may drop the entries from the next report or separate those barrs in another list, because it might confuse people.

They ponder whether to publish a press release in reaction to the ZH-article.

Wed, 07/29/2009 - 12:57 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 16:20 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 18:26 | Link to Comment Project Mayhem
Project Mayhem's picture

I asked for independent confirmation from the online community specifically for this reason.  I did not ask for ad hominem attacks or misrepresentation of the facts.


some points:


"rough internal duplicate"  -  You write this is equivilent to cutting off car licence plate prefixes , resulting in duplicates.  This analogy is false.  Clearly you do not understand.  A proper analogy would be equivilent to cutting off one letter off two different car license plates, yet both the remaining truncated plate ids AND the weights of the cars are identical.  This suggests we are talking about the same car. 


"weight duplicate" - Your understanding here is correct.  We have not had the opportunity to run the histograms or calculate weight statistics which is why we asked for independent confirmation.  This was an experimental data run.  First of all, you should probably be breaking the histograms down by brand to obtain accurate results for predictions of the combinatorics.  You calculate 7500 bars must necessarily become weight duplicates, but we are talking approx 10,000 bars become weight duplicates for the ETFS fund.  How many standard deviations away is this?  Furthermore  to calculate this properly, you must use a probability distribution -- and that cutting off the bell curve at 920-1050 oz is not a proper representation of reality.  While you are correct that in this region there are 1300 'slots' available, the question involves how many collisions are expected vs how many appear in the data?  This question has not been answered, and to answer it properly requires high level statistics, not simply rough approximations.   We concede that it is possible there is no weight duplicate anomaly, but to know requires analysis of a Gaussian probability distribution.  If you conduct such research please email it to us, we will include your analysis in our follow-up paper.


Leaving out these categories... you have not addressed the 80 bars which appear on both the London and U.S. inventory lists ('cross reference duplicates'), nor the mere presence of duplication within the lists ('internal duplicates').  These 80 bars published in Appendix C are a major red flag. These are multimillion / multibillion dollar funds.  If these funds cannot maintain accurate, duplicate-free lists which add up to their published totals (we might note that iShares is approx 193,000 ounces short of the published total), they should not be trusted with your money.


Appendix C:  Bars claimed by both iShares and ETFS


Thu, 07/30/2009 - 15:27 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 16:59 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 18:32 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 20:41 | Link to Comment Project Mayhem
Project Mayhem's picture

First of all, please keep your snarky ad hominem comments to yourself.  The goal here is analysis of these funds in the context of massive financial system fraud which seems to grow by the day.  We have done the best we could do considering our area of expertise is computer science , not statistics. 


To our knowledge, this is the first public analysis of the silver ETFs using data mining.  So we can not expect the results to be perfect, nor do we expect everyone to agree with our methods or conclusions.  To some people, the fact that 80 bars with the same manufacturer and serial number are listed across two funds in two different countries is enough for them to pull their money out of these ETFs and never purchase them again.  Other people do not seem to care that there is duplication between iShares and ETFS across multiple brands.  As human actors with free will this is their decision whether to trust these funds in the context of such information.  Our goal here was simply to attempt the first public analysis of the inventory of these funds.


As mentioned previously, the analysis of 'weight duplicates', was an experimental afterthought for which we specifically asked for additional analysis by third parties.  We included this data run because it was easy to do (that is construct new primary keys and check for collisions) given the setup of our software.  Obviously there will be duplication as there are a finite number of 'positions' from which the primary key can be formed. The question is how many collisions are expected in a normal distribution vs. how many do we see per manufacturer? Perhaps we should not have included these questions , considering the amount of obnoxious commentary it has generated from statisticians.  But alas,  this was the original intent, to generate discussion and analysis of the inventory of these funds.  In any case, the 'weight duplicates' should not be the focus here, -- unless those with the ability want to post a full analysis using a Gaussian distribution and statistics broken down by bar manufacturer --  if you would like to detail these specific calculations and email them to us , we will gladly include them and credit you in our planned follow-up paper.  []



As for your questions "Anonymous Wed, 07/29/2009 - 18:32"  , regarding the 'rough internal duplicates', the following are the bars which match with rough duplication enabled, where we remove alphabetical identifiers from the serial number, if present.  This process generally removes prefixes and suffixes, which tend to be alphabetical.  This form of searching increases the number of 'perfect internal duplicate' matches from 69 bars to 198 bars. 


Let me give you an example of how this works.  In our iShares bar list we find the following entry.


Britannia Refined Metals U.K 858 9990 949.3 949.3

(pg 400)


No duplication here, just one entry.


But once we analyze the list minus alphabetical prefix modifiers, we find an identical bar with an 'X' alphabetical prefix, but same serial number, and same weight. 

Here is the second entry, which generates a primary key collision when 'rough match' is enabled.


Britannia Refined Metals U.K X858 9990 949.3 949.3

(pg 1068)



There are 198 such bars total.  Do these results exceed what is to be expected using proper statistical calculations, broken down by manufacturer (as this is part of the primary key)?    This question remains unanswered at the present time.


Here is the list of perfect duplicate matches with 'rough match' enabled (the removal of alphabetical prefixes or suffixes).  To obtain the specific list, any bar which is on the following list, but not listed in Appendix A is a 'rough internal duplicate'.


---@---:~/silver$ cat SLV_perfect2.txt

Note the primary keys listed above have alphabetical prefixes and suffixes removed.  --^ 



Does this exceed what is to be expected?    You tell me.


Wed, 07/29/2009 - 18:33 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 19:12 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 07/29/2009 - 20:17 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Thu, 07/30/2009 - 06:28 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Thu, 07/30/2009 - 14:51 | Link to Comment Project Mayhem
Project Mayhem's picture

Nice work -- thanks. 


I will include your comments in the future runs which will include the German ETF.

Thu, 07/30/2009 - 15:04 | Link to Comment lins216
lins216's picture

Great work, bonus:  anon comment with actual substance less snark!


Thu, 07/30/2009 - 08:46 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Thu, 07/30/2009 - 17:20 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Thu, 07/30/2009 - 23:51 | Link to Comment Bron Suchecki
Bron Suchecki's picture

Interesting that Project Mayhem (comment #19701) sees my work as constructive but comment #19961 sees it as a rebuttal.

I would suggest Project Mayhem also download the bar listings from (the beauty of GoldMoney is that they have all their past bar lists so you can build a history), (note that GoldMoney and Bullion Vault both store with Via Mat, but I'd doubt you'd find any duplications) and

The point of this is that it will increase the sample size, leading to increased accuracy around weight distributions as well as helping to confirm bar serialisation protocols.

Sat, 08/01/2009 - 13:19 | Link to Comment Project Mayhem
Project Mayhem's picture

Thanks.  I have provided a link to your story as well for those who have emailed me with questions.  One other interesting link those who follow the precious metals markets may want to check out are the 24h gold and silver price trackers.  These track retail coin premiums on a daily basis based on sale data from ebay worldwide.


This applet tracks daily gold coin prices on ebay

This applet tracks daily silver coin prices on ebay



Sun, 08/02/2009 - 08:27 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 08/03/2009 - 12:28 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 08/05/2009 - 18:12 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 10/06/2009 - 10:01 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 10/06/2009 - 10:06 | Link to Comment Anonymous
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