The Belgian Central Bank said yesterday that about 25 tons of the European nation’s gold reserves have been lent to bullion banks according to Bloomberg. Nearly 10% or about 25 metric tons of the National Bank of Belgium’s remaining 227.5 tons of gold reserves are currently lent to bullion banks, Director and Treasurer Jean Hilgers told the central bank’s annual meeting in Brussels. The proportion of gold reserves on loan declined from 84.3 tons on December 31, 2011, and averaged 48.1 tons in 2012 as loans matured and some gold loans were reimbursed early. Hilgers said that the Belgian central bank sees gold lending decreasing further this year. During the 1990’s, Belgium sold some 1,000 tons of gold into the market - more than three quarters of its remaining holdings. The Belgian gold reserves, which had already seen sizeable liquidation in late 1978, fell from 33.7 million ounces on 12/31/88, to just 5.7 million ounces on 03/31/98, or a fall of 83% in less than 10 year.
- Global shares sink, following 7.3 percent drop in Japan's Nikkei (Reuters)
- When all fails, pull a Kevin Bacon: Japan Economy Chief Warns Against Panic Over Stock Sell-Off (BBG)
- White House Feeds IRS Frenzy by Revising Accounts (BBG)
- In any scandal, lying to Congress is tough to prove (Reuters)
- Debt limit resets at higher level, budget impasse grinds on (Reuters)
- China factory data to test political calculations (FT)
- European Leaders Saying No to Austerity (BBG)
- And yet, nobody wants in anymore: Iceland’s new coalition government suspends EU accession talks (FT)
- Oil Manipulation Inquiry Shows EU’s Hammer After Libor (BBG)
- The Fed Squeezes the Shadow-Banking System (WSJ)
- Diamond Said to Weigh Backing Barclays Alumni in Venture (BBG)
- Spain’s Private Jets Disappearing as Tycoons Cut Flights (BBG)
Yesterday afternoon, following the rout in the US stock market, we made a spurious preview of the true main event: "So selloff in JGBs tonight?" We had no idea how right we would be because the second Japan opened, its bond futures market was halted on a circuit breaker as the 10 Year bond plunged to their lowest level since early 2012, hitting 1% and leading to massive Mark to Market losses for Japanese banks, as we also warned would happen. That was just the beginning, and suddenly the realization crept in that the plunging yen at this point is not only negative for banks, but for the entire stock market, leading to what until that point was a solid up session for the Nikkei to the first rumblings of a ris-off. Shortly thereafter we got the distraction of the Chinese Mfg PMI which dropped into contraction territory for the first time since late 2012, and which set the mood decidedly risk-offish, although the real catalyst may have been a report on copper from Goldman's Roger Yan (which we will cover in depth shortly) and whose implications may be stunning and devastating and may have just popped the Chinese credit bubble (oh, btw, short copper). And then all hell broke loose, with the Nikkei first rising solidly and then something snapping loud and clear, and sending the index crashing a massive 1,143 an intraday swing of 9% high to low, leading to an over 200 pips move lower in the USDJPY, and leading to a global risk off across the world.
Silver’s recovery yesterday from being 10% lower at one stage to recouping these losses and then rising over 2% was very positive technically. The key reversal is leading some to postulate that we may have seen the bottom or are close to a bottom.
Another event-free day in which the only major economic data point was the release of UK CPI, which joined the rest of the world in telegraphing price deflation, despite bubbles in the real estate and stock markets, printing 2.0% Y/Y on expectations of a 2.3% increase, the lowest since November 2009 and giving Mark Carney carte blanche to print as soon as he arrives on deck. In an amusing twist of European deja-vuness, last night Japan's economy minister who made waves over the weekend when he said that the Yen has dropped low enough to where people's lives may be getting complicated (i.e., inflation), refuted everything he said as having been lost in translation, and the result was a prompt move higher in the USDJPY, quickly filling the entire Sunday night gap. That said, and as has been made very clear in recent years, data is irrelevant, and the only thing that matters, at least so far in 2013, is whether it is Tuesday: the day that has seen 18 out of 18 consecutive rises in the DJIA so far in 2013, and whether there is a POMO scheduled. We are happy to answer yes to both, so sit back, and wait for the no-volume levitation to wash over ever. The US docket is empty except for Dudley and Bullard speaking, but more importantly, the fate of Jamie Dimon may be determined today when the vote on the Chairman/CEO title is due, while Tim Cook will testify in D.C. on the company's tax strategy and overseas profits.
Central bankers overshadow the economic data in the week ahead.
Not a day passes without the financial media denouncing gold as an investment option and hailing the bureaucrats heading the world's monopolist monetary central planning agencies as superheroes. It began prior to gold's recent breakdown, with widely cited bearish reports on gold published by Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, among others. Never mind that most of their arguments were easily unmasked as spurious. It should be no wonder though: gold's rise was the most conspicuous evidence of faith in central banking being slowly but surely undermined. The banking cartel relies on the fiat money system remaining intact; the legal privilege of fractional reserve banking provides it with what is an essentially fraudulent profit center unparalleled by any other in the world (fraudulent in terms of traditional legal principles, but not in terms of the current law of course). As a subtle reminder, in October (before the Nikkei began its 80% rally), a full 76% of the 'big money' fund managers surveyed declared themselves bearish on Japan. Currently, 69% of the managers surveyed in the most recent Barron's poll are bearish on gold.
The Administration simply doesn’t want to get run over by the momentum of the oil and gas industry
The idea that a weak yen is positive for countries outside Japan is gaining traction. This is preposterous and we'll see why as currency wars soon accelerate.
Aside from light volume there’s no argument with the tape. It’s quite positive but much overbought. Earnings news is beginning to wane leaving less for bulls to respond to. Many previous reliable technical indicators are succumbing to all the money printing. Looking at those markets where QE is not taking place perhaps reveals the real market conditions.
Previously, when looking at the real underlying national interests responsible for the deteriorating situation in Syria, which eventually may and/or will devolve into all out war with hundreds of thousands killed, we made it very clear that it was always and only about the gas, or gas pipelines to be exact, and specifically those involving the tiny but uber-wealthy state of Qatar. Needless to say, the official spin on events has no mention of this ulterior motive, and the popular, propaganda machine, especially from those powers supporting the Syrian "rebels" which include Israel, the US and the Arabian states tries to generate public and democratic support by portraying Assad as a brutal, chemical weapons-using dictator, in line with the tried and true script used once already in Iraq.On the other hand, there is Russia (and to a lesser extent China: for China's strategic interests in mid-east pipelines, read here), which has been portrayed as the main supporter of the "evil" Assad regime, and thus eager to preserve the status quo without a military intervention. Such attempts may be for naught especially with the earlier noted arrival of US marines in Israel, and the imminent arrival of the Russian Pacific fleet in Cyprus (which is a stone throw away from Syria) which may catalyze a military outcome sooner than we had expected. However, one question that has so far remained unanswered, and a very sensitive one now that the US is on the verge of voting to arm the Syrian rebels, is who was arming said group of Al-Qaeda supported militants up until now. Now, finally, courtesy of the FT we have the (less than surprising) answer, which goes back to our original thesis, and proves that, as so often happens in the middle east, it is once again all about the natural resources.
Natural resource speculators know that past uranium bull markets offered some ’explosive’ (pun intended) upside. I have been fortunate enough to experience two uranium bull markets: the 1970s bull market, which saw a tenfold increase in the uranium price and a hundredfold increase in some uranium equities, and the bull market of the last decade, which saw a repeat of the earlier performance.#0066cc;"> If past is prologue, the stage may be set for a third uranium bull run.
- Controversies give Obama new governing headaches (Reuters)
- About that Capex... BHP to Rein In Investment, Chief Says (WSJ), considers returning cash to shareholders (FT)
- Bloomberg users’ messages leaked online (FT)
- Japanese mayor sparks China outrage with sex-slave remarks (Reuters)
- Economists Cut China Forecasts (WSJ)
- U.S. oil boom leaves OPEC sidelined from demand growth (Reuters)
- U.S. banks push back on change in loan loss accounting (Reuters)
- Fed’s Plosser Says Slowing Inflation No Concern for Policy (BBG)
- Watchdog probes 1m US swap contracts (FT)
- Used Gold Supply Heads for ’08 Low as Sellers Balk (BBG)
- Ex-BlackRock Manager Said to Be Arrested in U.K. Probe (BBG)
ConvergEx's Nick Colas undertook a recent trip to Afghanistan. As he notes, the country has a long way to go to reestablish a viable economy and political stability, but he saw enough to be optimistic on both counts. Security around the capital is tight, and Afghan troops look professional and disciplined. There is ample food on display in countless local grocery stands. Girls go to school throughout the city, although women are a less common sight on the streets. Scarcity makes for odd economic outcomes – the only passenger car you’ll see is a Toyota Corolla, imported from different countries. No Afghan will be surprised that you are a tourist in their country – they are still very proud of its history and resilience. Westerners there will assume you are “On business.” Here are seven “Postcards from Kabul” with his last observations from this trip.
Premia for gold bars (physical over paper) rallied to their highest since late-2008 according to SocGen, even as 'professional' investors look to position the exact other way. The combined short positions of futures and options speculators in COMEX gold is now at a record high for the third week (having surged from 4.3 million ounces in late September to a a stunning 13.9 million ounces short now. At the same time, Gold ETFs have only seen one in-flow day in the last 34 days. It seems investors are well-and-truly on one side of this boat - even as price continues to buck the supposed structural weakness.