Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Gold traded lower on Friday, moving towards a third straight week of losses on the backdrop of a recovering US economy, which prompted investors to put their money in other vehicles, while India’s plan to double the import duty on gold bullion erased some early gains. On news that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee proposed to double the 4% customs duty on gold from April 2012, physical dealers saw some panic buying from India, the world’s largest gold consumer. In January, India raised the gold import duty 90% and doubled the tax on silver as the government is struggling with a growing fiscal deficit and looked to increase revenues. Growing subsidies for fuel and food have left the government struggling to meet its budget target. Indian investors, who are the largest consumer group of gold in the world, rushed to buy gold in advance of the government’s plan to increase the 4% customs tax in April 2012. The resulting gains where then eroded by stronger then expected US economic growth numbers.
Citigroup have said that they believe that gold will rise to $2,400/oz in 2012 and by $3,400/oz in “the coming years”. However, Citi’s Tom Fitzpatrick warned of price weakness in the short term and said there is a “real danger” that there may be a correction to $1,600/oz which would provide an even better buying opportunity. Citi are also cautious near term on oil and silver. Production of gold in Australia slid again last year, despite gold fetching higher nominal prices than ever before. According to gold experts, Surbiton Associates, 264 tonnes of gold were produced last year, two tonnes less than in 2010. The 264 tonnes equated to about 8.5 million ounces and ensures that Australia remains a major player in gold, with only China producing more last year. The United States was the world's third-biggest producer with 240 tonnes. Australia's gold production was well below the nation's production peak in the late 1990s. This further suggests the possibility of peak gold production. Of the world’s four biggest gold producers (China, Australia, the U.S. and South Africa), only China has managed to increase gold production in recent years and this Chinese gold is used in China to meet the rapidly growing demand for gold jewellery and coins and bars as stores of value in China.
Gold and Silver Plunge – Called “Intervention”, “Window Dressing”, “Temporary Smash”, “Paper Fiasco”Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/01/2012 09:11 -0400
The positive PMI data would ordinarily result in some price weakness as would the testimony from Bernanke which suggested that the Federal Reserve's ultra loose monetary policies may not continue much longer. However, the scale of the selling and size of the price falls was unusual. Respected analysts such as legendary Jim Sinclair, John Embry and Jean-Marie Eveillard suggested that the sell off was due to manipulation by bullion banks. Sinclair said it was an “intervention” and was “window dressing” that long term bullion investors should not be concerned about as inflation was coming due to “QE to Infinity.” Embry said that it was a “smash down” and a “paper fiasco.” Jean-Marie Eveillard suggested that central banks may have intervened, as they are doing in fx and bond markets, and sold gold in volume into the market. It is of course very difficult to ascertain what caused the sharp falls in the precious metals yesterday however it would be naive to completely discount what Sinclair, Embry and Eveillard believe may have happened.
The IMF data on central bank demand in January showed that Sweden raised its gold reserves by 18.3 metric tons to 144 tons in January. The data on the International Monetary Fund’s website was gold bullish showing continued demand for gold by central banks internationally. Belarus added 5 tons to reserves, Kazakhstan raised reserves by 7.6 tons and Turkey increased gold reserves by 4.1 tons. They were two quite odd minor reductions in gold reserves. Mexico reduced bullion reserves by 0.1 ton and Tajikistan cut them by 0.3 ton, according to the IMF. However soon after the increase in Sweden’s gold reserves was reported by Bloomberg, Sweden’s central bank gold reserves contradicted the IMF data and denied that they had increased their reserves. Joanna Gerwin, acting head of communication for the Riksbank, told Bloomberg that Swedish gold reserves were unchanged at 125.7 metric tons in January. Officials at the IMF’s office in Paris said nobody in Europe was able to comment. Alistair Thomson, a spokesman for the IMF in Washington, didn’t immediately reply to a voicemail and e-mail from Bloomberg outside normal business hours. Interestingly, the Riksbank sold 36.6 tons under the Central Bank Gold Agreement (CBGA) from 2007-2009. An increase in reserves of 18.3 tonnes is exactly half of the amount sold and would mean that the Riksbank had bought back half of the gold sold from 2007 to 2009.
Market focus tends to be almost solely on Chinese and Indian demand but demand is broad based throughout increasingly important Asian gold markets. Demand for gold remains robust in most Asian countries where consumers are buying gold as a store of wealth due to concerns about their local paper currency. This phenomenon is happening throughout Asia including in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam and other large Asian countries (see news below regarding demand for gold by investors in Thailand). AFP have a very interesting article on Vietnamese ‘gold fever’ which recounts how “stashing gold at home rather than having cash in the bank is a generations-old habit in communist Vietnam”. And old habits are dying hard even if an ounce of gold bullion can now cost up to US $100 more in Hanoi than anywhere else in the world due to government meddling in the gold market. AFP quote 60-year-old retiree Truong Van Hue “I still like to keep my savings in gold. It's safe for retired people like me. I can sell the gold any time, anywhere, when I need cash,” he told AFP. Although the treasure has long been perceived as a safe haven, the recent gold rush has alarmed Vietnam's government, which is faced with an 18 percent inflation rate and an unstable national currency, the dong.
The surge in the U.S. money supply in recent years has sent gold into a series of new record nominal highs. Money supply surged again in 2011 sending gold to new record nominal highs. Money supply has grown again, by more than 35% on an annualized basis, and this is contributing to gold’s consolidation and strong gains in January. The Federal Reserve's latest weekly money supply report from last Thursday shows seasonally adjusted M1 rose $13.2 billion to $2.233 trillion, while M2 rose $4.5 billion to $9.768 trillion.
Gold has followed the now familiar trading pattern of gains in Asia followed by weakness in Europe. While gold has fallen and is weaker in most currencies gold remains higher in euro terms due to euro weakness on the concern of a Greek default. Spot gold bounced back in Asian trading Monday as investors snatched up bargains after a 2% dip the previous session. The Greek debt debacle is still supporting the price as a deal remains elusive. There continue to be concerns of a “Lehman moment” but markets remain fairly sanguine of a positive outcome despite the continual risk of a Greek default. Gold remains an essential diversification as central banks keep money loose with record low interest rates and Asian powerhouses China and India still drive demand. Silver has also fallen this morning. Barclays Capital, who have been quite bearish on silver in recent years, say that they are “expecting prices to rise in the next few sessions, along with gold, pegging silver's next resistance level at $35.70/oz and support near $33/oz.”
There continues to be no coverage of silver in the non specialist financial media and little coverage of silver in the specialist financial media. However, both the Financial Times and Bloomberg cover silver today which might be a harbinger of short term weakness. The majority of articles on silver are bearish and most bank analysts remain bearish on silver again in 2012 – as they have been in recent years. Prices will average $37.50/ounce in Q4, according to a survey of 13 analysts by Bloomberg. The lack of coverage of silver and consequent “animal spirits” in the silver market is of course bullish from a contrarian perspective. Analysts look set to get the silver market wrong again as recent rocketing industrial demand for silver, from solar panels to batteries to medical applications and growing investor demand for coins, and small & large bars is “diminishing a supply surplus” according to Nicholas Larkin of Bloomberg. This has led to silver’s best January gains in 30 years with silver up over 20% from below $28/oz to nearly $34/oz. Barclay's estimates that manufacturers will need a 2.5% increase of the metric tons used last year and investment demand continues to grow due to risks posed by both inflation and systemic risks. Silver supply shortages are something we and other analysts who are bullish on silver have been warning of for some time. This is because the silver market is small versus the gold market and tiny versus equity, bond, currency and derivative markets. This is why we believe silver should rise to well over its nominal recent and 1980 high of $50/oz in the coming months.
3 Months After The MF Global Bankruptcy, We Find That $1.2 Billion (Or More) In Client Money Has "Vaporized"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/30/2012 00:58 -0400
On the three month bankruptcy anniversary of the company whose rehypothecation gimmicks will one day be seen as a harbinger of everything that is broken with the multi-trillion ponzi system, but not just yet despite loud warnings otherwise, we are getting close to a final verdict of where the $1.2 billion (and possibly more as originally predicted by Zero Hedge - see below) in commingled client money may have gone. Note the use of the passive voice because using the active, as in money that MF Global executives stole from clients, is prohibited in a legal system in which nobody goes to jail for something as modest as $1.2 billion in theft. That verdict? "Vaporized." No really (and yes, in the passive voice of course). From the WSJ: "As the sprawling probe that includes regulators, criminal and congressional investigators, and court-appointed trustees grinds on, the findings so far suggest that a "significant amount" of the money could have "vaporized" as a result of chaotic trading at MF Global during the week before the company's Oct. 31 bankruptcy filing, said a person close to the investigation." Uh huh... Because money simply vaporizes. Which means one of two things: i) the "vaporization" is merely the phrase that so called investigators use to avoid the far more troubling sounding "stolen" as it would imply guilt, something which the former NJ governor and Goldman CEO (and not to mention JP Morgan which most likely was on the receiving end of the $1.2 billion + transaction) will, under guidance from counsel, sternly disagree with, or ii) the capital markets are such an unprecedented and manipulated fraud, that nobody has any clue at any moment, where any client money is, and that any residual capital still "invested" in mythical representations of "assets", which are likely rehypothecated so many times, that not even Bank of America's robosigning division would have a clue where to start unraveling, will promptly be converted into tangible manifestations of capital. So when someone asks what happened to stock market volume, and to investor confidence in the "stock market" feel free to use just that phrase: "it vaporized."
A peek into the 60's manipulation and why the CFTC is a joke.
Overnight Long/Intraday Short Gold Fund More Than Doubles In Just Over A Year: Generates 43% Annualized ReturnSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/15/2012 14:03 -0400
Back in August 2010, we presented an idea proposed by our friends at SK Options trading for a very simple trading strategy: being long gold in the overnight session, and shorting it during the day. At the time of writing, such a strategy would have returned $2.16 billion from a $100 million initial investment in 10 years, a 37.46% annualized return. Today, we provide a much needed follow up to this quite stunning divergence. As SK notes: "we have revisited the article and written an update. Not only does the discrepancy still exist but it has been actually increasing. That fund would now be worth $5.26B, way up from $2.16B when we last wrote about it - in other words an increase of 143% in just over a year. When we wrote about this in August 2010, the annualized return of the Long Overnight/Short Intraday gold index was 37.46% since the start of 2001. However if we measure from now the annualized return since 2001 is 43.24%, with the annualized return of the Long Overnight/Short Intraday gold index standing at roughly 64.4% since 2009." So for those who wish to layer on an additional alpha buffer on top of what is already the best performing asset of the past decade, the SK Options way just may be the strategy. As for the reasons for this gross arbitrage - who cares. Is it manipulation? is it the early Asian buying offset by London pool selling? It is largely irrelvant - the point is that this is "the divergence that keeps on giving" - kinda like a Stolper trade, or an inverse Tilson ETF, and until it doesn't, or until something dramatically changes in the precious metal market, it is likely that this trading pattern will continue for a long time.
2011 was a merry-go-round of more bailouts, more deferrals and more denial. Everyone is tired of the Eurozone. It’s not fixable. There’s too much debt. The politicians don’t know what’s going on. Nothing has structurally changed. We’re still on the wrong path. There’s more global debt than there was a year ago, and it’s the same old song: extend and pretend, extend and pretend,… around and around we go,… and it isn’t fun anymore. Just as we wrote back in October 2007, and again in September 2008, we feel compelled to state the obvious: that the financial system is a farce. It’s a complete, cyclical farce that defies all efforts to right itself. This past year continued the farcical tradition with some notable scandals, deferrals and interventions that underscored the system’s continuing addiction to government interference. With the glaring exception of US Treasuries and the US dollar (which are admittedly two of our least favourite asset classes), it was not a year that rewarded stock picking or safe-haven assets. Many developments during the year bordered on the ridiculous, and despite some positive news out of the US, we saw little to test our bearish view. If anything, our view was continually re-affirmed.
1 of the 2 Administrative Judges at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Vowed NEVER to Let a Complainant Win. He's Kept His Promise for 20 YearsSubmitted by George Washington on 10/20/2010 18:59 -0400
Is America a great country or what?