Central bank gold demand remains robust as central banks continue to diversify out of the euro and the dollar. Further central bank demand is confirmed in the news this morning that Kazakhstan plans to raise the share of gold in its international reserves from 12% to 15%. So announced central bank Deputy Chairman Bisengaly Tadzhiyakov to reporters today in the capital, Astana. “We’ve already signed contracts for 22 tons,” Tadzhiyakov said. Bloomberg report that immediate-delivery gold was little changed at $1.620.41 an ounce at 10:50 a.m. in Moscow, valuing 22 metric tons of gold at about $1.2 billion. “The bank is ready to buy when suppliers are ready to sell,” Tadzhiyakov said. Kazakhstan said yesterday it will cut its holdings in the euro by a sixth. It was reported in the Reuters Global Gold Forum that the central bank buys all the gold produced in Kazakhstan and owned 98.19T at the end of April, according to the IMF's most recent international finance statistics report. Meanwhile, supply issues remain and South African gold production continues to plummet. South African gold production fell 12.8% in April from a year earlier, Juan -Pierre Terblanche, a spokesman for Statistics South Africa, told Bloomberg.
On the surface, the overnight Spanish bond auction, in which the country sold a tiny €2.1 billion of 2, 4 and 10 year bonds was a success, simply because it wasn't a failure. Anywhere below the surface and things get fishy. The Treasury sold €638 million of a 2-year bond, €825 million of a four-year bond and €611 million of a benchmark 10-year bond. And while the bid-to-cover ratios were higher than at recent auctions, with the 2012, 2014 and 2022 bonds covered 4.3, 2.6 and 3.3 times respectively, so were the yields: the 2014 bond was issued at a yield of 4.335 percent, the 2016 bond at 5.353 percent and the 2022 bond at 6.044 percent, a lower price than the 6.14 percent the same maturity bond trades at in the secondary market. In other words, Spain is back to using the same tricks it did back in the fall when bonds would magically price well over 10 bps inside of fair value. Just don't ask why. More notably, as Bloomberg reminds us, this was the lowest amount allotted to a 10 year note since 2004. In other words Spain sold the bare minimum of the longer-bond just to keep up with appearances: an amount likely recycled by its broke banks, which scrambled to get the last remaining LTRO cash and to show just how strong the demand for the country's debt is. In fact as Nicholas Spiro of Spiro Sovereign said, "If it wasn't for its banks' continued support at auctions, Spain would be unable to sell its debt. Right now confidence in Spain is at an all-time low." Either way, the good news is that according to Spain it has now covered 58% of its borrowing needs for 2012. the bad news: 42% remains uncovered. Especially in the aftermath of an EU announcement that not only has it not received an aid request from Spain, but that there is no EU rescue plan for Spanish banks. Europe has now completely lost the script and is making up day by day.
The end game of this global monetary crisis is the imposition of a 100% digital monetary system that would permanently end what little economic freedoms we still retain today. Educate. Resist. Fight Back. Win.
Today, short-term interest rates are set by the diktats of the central bank. And long-term interest rates are set in a “market” in which the central bank is obliged to keep coming back to buy ever more bonds, and speculators front-run the central banks to buy ahead of them. The result has been that, for 30 years and counting, the bond price has been rising, which is the same as to say that the rate of interest has been spiraling into the black hole of zero. When it gets there (and probably sooner) the entire monetary system will collapse. This is the terminal stage of the disease of irredeemable paper currency. They have banished money (gold) from the monetary system, and the result is a positive-feedback-loop that destabilizes the rate of interest. The rate of interest has a propensity to fall, just like the value of the paper currency itself. This leads to the question of how interest rates are set by a free market under a gold standard. This is a non-trivial question, and the answer is profoundly important as we debate what sort of role gold ought to play and evaluate the various gold standards being proposed.
What's the difference between today's global finance system and a Ponzi scheme? This is the question that a 56-year-old veteran Russian financial scammer has been asking his victims. As Bloomberg points out, chillingly, he almost has a point. Sergei Mavrodi is one of the most infamous names in Russia's recent history. Back in February 1994, amid the turmoil of the country's transition to a market economy, the mathematician organized a Ponzi scheme called MMM. Now he's back with an even more audacious endeavor: the honest scam. Last year, he announced the new project, MMM-2011, by stating boldly that it would be another Ponzi scheme. Depositors would be paid solely from funds invested by other depositors. There would be no attempt to generate income in any other way. This, he said, was perfectly all right, and no different than the way some of the largest institutions in global finance operated, from the Russian pension fund to the U.S. Federal Reserve. Perhaps most notably, Bloomberg reports his perspective on "What is money?" he wrote. "Nothing! Nihil. A phantom. … It is backed by nothing at all and printed by the masters in any quantity, at will."
As we look forward to tomorrow's scorched-earth policy-fest from Draghi-et-al., Jefferies' David Zervos, in his typically understated manner, notes "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. We are back in the kill zone - Apocalypse Europe." There will be no more strategizing, no more war games, no more speeches imploring the politicians to act. This is the real deal - a full scale European led global financial crisis that requires immediate and aggressive response from the only entities with the authority to act in the world financial "theatre". We should all keep in mind that the Europeans have not been able to generate an effective response to their debt/deflation crisis as of yet, and of course it is having global consequences. This is why we are here again looking into the deflationary abyss. The ECB was only set up with a price stability mandate, and its leaders are hence much more constrained than Federal Reserve officials. Simply put, the European armies were not set up with effective weapons.
Yesterday, the progressive "think-tankers" from the CEPR first voiced the idea that it is time for America to finally come to the aid of Europe, because you see, the liberals, ever so generous with other peoples' money, have had enough of a sinking financial system brought to its knees by the intersection of a financial system perpetually bailed out at the taxpayers' expense, and a insolvent global welfare state, and just wish it was all back to where it was a decade ago, where everyone lived in perpetual bliss and stupidity. We truly hope Messrs Baker and Weisbrot lead by example and dispose of all their net worth, by dispatching it in Europe's direction, post haste: after all, anything less would be just seem so very hypocritical. Today, to nobody's shock at all, the "think tank" is joined by everyone's favorite TV hobby economist: Steve Liesman, who in an op-ed on CNBC writes: "It’s time to change the narrative and for the United States to step up and abandon its policies of praising Europe’s incremental progress, gently prompting it to action and insisting that it be a Euro only solution... The US should lead the world in creating a large pot of money available to the Europeans to recapitalize their banks. A $2 or $3 trillion fund should get the market’s attention." It should Steve. And just like in the case of CEPR, we hope you can lead the US by creating a large pot of all your money that you would send to Spain and Greece first. Then everyone promises to follow in your so very generous footsteps.
Stripped of acronyms and pseudo-economics, Central banks have one lever: monetary easing. Whatever the name offered for creating money electronically and suppressing interest rates, it boils down to making money abundant and cheap to borrow, at least for banks and other favored players, such as buyers of homes using 3% down-payment FHA mortgages. The problem is that easy money doesn't fix what's broken. Incentivizing debt and leverage does nothing to reduce leverage or debt, and incentivizing speculation does not reduce household debt loads or increase household incomes. And without improving household incomes, you have a recessionary economy held aloft by unsustainably profligate Federal borrowing and spending.
Is this a "solution"? No. Is this sustainable? No.
Thus we have the world’s three most important Central banks as well as the global economy’s “economic miracle” retreating from aggressive monetary intervention.
All you need to read and some more.
A picture says more than a hundred words, so I wanted to present in graphical terms what happened at the Swiss National Bank over the last few quarters. Central banks have tried to “manage” currencies in the past. Sooner or later, market forces win. As all other major central banks keep printing additional Euros, Dollars, Yen etc., the SNB looks prone to lose this game. A run on the Swiss Franc could lead to a further increase in prices of Swiss government bonds. Swiss equities however would decline, at least measured in Swiss Francs.
We will get a test once again as to the effectiveness of the central bank/MoT confidence game.
A month ago we were delighted to counterpoint Charlie Munger's prior remarks about the level of "civilization" of a given consumer based on their sentiment vis-a-vis gold, by demonstrating that Chinese purchases of gold from Hong Kong rose to a record. To wit: "Imports from Hong Kong were 135,529 kilograms (135.53 metric tons) between January and March, from 19,729 kilograms in the year-earlier period, according to data from the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong government. Shipments in March rose 59 percent from February, yesterday's data showed." We have just gotten the April update, and, lo and behold, the country which is now the biggest buyer of gold, having surpassed India, just set a new record: "Gold imports by mainland China from Hong Kong climbed 65 percent to a record in April, advancing for a third straight month as investors sought a hedge against financial-market turmoil and an economic slowdown. Shipments totaled 103,644.5 kilograms (103.6 metric tons) in the month from 62,913 kilograms in March, according to export data from the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong government today. In the first four months, imports were 239,174 kilograms from 27,114 kilograms a year earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations. China doesn’t publish such figures." In other words: in the first four months of 2012 Chinese purchases have increased by an unprecedented 782% over 2011.
Guest Post: A Central Bank Running Suicide? SNB Prints At Pace Not Seen Since EUR/CHF Parity In August 2011Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/04/2012 14:41 -0400
The most recent money supply data from the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has shown increases of huge amounts. As compared with its loss of 19 bln. francs in 2010 (3% percent of the Swiss GDP), the central bank printed tremendous 17.3 bln. in the week ending in June 1st and 13 bln. in the one ending in May 25th. These numbers were not seen since August 2011 when the SNB increased money supply by 50 bln and 40 bln per week buying the EUR/CHF at rates between 1.00 and 1.13. Now, however they are buying at 1.20 and are risking extreme losses, especially because many other central banks are dumping euros.