Trading Physical Gold As Easily As You Trade Stocks: Is Gold Becoming A Tradable Currency After All?Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 12/03/2011 10:41 -0500
Not many know that you can trade physical gold & precious metals OTC through your brokerage account, and take physical delivery on demand. This is the first of several interviews that explores this model.
Some thoughts on FX interventions and the job the ECB has in front of it.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2011 TO ALL OF ZERO HEDGE!!!
As every central banker, politician (except Chuck Schumer), and bank CEO looks towards Chinese central planners as their apparent bottomless pit of dumb money, it seems that perhaps the cupboards are bare. Reuters, via The China Post, highlights in a recent article that while there are indeed reserves, they are gainfully employed and the unwinding of those positions (in size enough to matter) to provide the cash that is so desperately needed to keep the ponzi going, will itself cause a vicious circle of negative sentiment. In fact, analysts reckon China's armory has only about US$100 billion to spare.
For the first time since 1949, when the Communist Party took power, China will open the regional authority debt markets (muni markets) to the public. Much is being made of the fact that this first issuance - for Shanghai no less - enabled it to dramatically cut its interest expense - as investors were clearly comforted by the increasingly transparent documentation. However, we worry that that this will cause a multi-tier market to evolve very rapidly between the haves and have-nots as we suspect the more than 6000 companies set up by local governments will bifurcate just as the Chinese IPO market did in the US. Color us even more skeptical but when we read the Wall Street Journal's story on Wenzhou's Annus Horribilis this evening, even vibrant thriving (over-stretched and over-levered) city-states are feeling the recoupling pain of a European recession, US residential construction depression, and European bank deleveraging impacting credit conditions in Asia. The bottom-line is more openness is better, more transparency is better, and meeting the demands of yield hungry money managers is reasonable but we hope they go in with eyes wide open as we suspect this move is much more about $1.7tn risk transfer from the public central planner's balance sheet and on to the private capital markets of the world.
The miracle that is a global economy in which everyone is looking for export growth has been discussed here at length along with the simple math that makes it nonsense. Today's 'wonderfully' positive improvement in the trade deficit data for the US - which will be extrapolated into a spike in GDP growth and why the S&P should be at 1500 by month's end - does seem a little odd given all the uncertainty. Sure enough, thanks to Sean Corrigan of Diapason Securities, we have our answer. A massive spike in Exports to - drum roll please - Hong Kong!!A 76% rise in exports to this once glorious colony. The US trade deficit fell by $1.8bn thanks to a $2.5bn rise in exports (of which $2.03bn was to Hong Kong). Has Hong Kong become the channel-stuffing center of the world? It appears so since China's exports to Hong Kong have remained extremely high.
UPDATE: While the on-the-run 2y yield did trade above the 10Y yield on 9/26 (2s10s inverted), Bloomberg's generic 2Y CNY yield index has not updated in three weeks meaning Mr. Darda's analysis is based upon faulty information. We do not ethat since late September's inversion, however, the curve has begun to steepen - which fits with the cycle turn analysis he discusses.
As we have heard a million times on hundreds of business media outlets, the US 'cannot' be in recession because the yield curve has not inverted. Well, unfortunately for the savior-of-the-universe Chinese economy, their yield curve (the 2s-10s differential) has just inverted for the first time - suggesting, as per Mike Darda of MKM, the Chinese economy is “set to slow rather sharply” and that has “negative implications” for commodities tied to industrial growth. Following on from our discussion of the 1tn RMB deposit infusion bailout, Darda also points out (via Bloomberg) the 8 months-in-a-row of OECD Leading index drops, weakness in the China PMI sub-indices, and the fragility of the shadow banking system via cracks in the real estate market and notes, with a wonderfully indignant note on CB success: "It is worth remembering that the Fed has engineered only one soft landing in six decades of post-war monetary policy-making (1995)". Further to these concerns, the FT reports HSBC's CEO's concerns over the potential for an Asia credit crunch. Paging Dr. Copper?
US Mint gold coin sales fell in October leading to further speculation that this was another sign that the gold bull market was over. Rather than idle speculation it is important to look at the facts and analyse them. Dr Constantin Gurdgiev, a non Executive member of the GoldCore Investment Committee, has analysed the data re US Mint coin sales in October and has looked at them in their important historical context going back to 1987. The data since 1987 until today and the evidence from the US Mint regarding the behaviourally anchored, long term demand for gold coins as wealth preservation tool for retail investors does not support the view of dramatic over buying of gold or piling into gold by ‘Joe Public’, the shoeshine boys or the fabled speculatively crazed retail investor that some commentators suggest is happening today. The man and woman in the street in the western world continues to be a bigger seller of gold (jewellery into scrap) than buyer as seen in the western world phenomenon that is ‘cash for gold’.
Gold has retraced over 60% of its September swing high to low - rallying almost 12% off late September lows. Whether by cause or effect, it seems our stimulus-driven, vendor-financing, USD-heavy, mercantilist neighbors across the Pacific have decided the time is right to BTFDs in gold and gold miners as today's South China Morning Post notes "China Gold to buy Central Asia mine". Jery Xie Quan, VP of China Gold, further noted that was also negotiating potential mine acquisitions in Canada and Mongolia, which are either in advanced development or close to starting production. Are the Chinese using their excess USD to purchase gold-producing assets? Who knows but it may help explain the relatively strong performance of the EUR against the USD as the former region deteriorate fast.
Remember how virtually all "experts" speculated that the drop in the price of gold would set off a liquidation cascade in China, where everyone was "loaded to the gills" and at the first hint of deflation would dump all holdings (not to mention that economic Ph.D. proclaimed the gold "bubble" popped two months and $200 lower)? It seems that as so often happens when all experts agree on something, it is precisely the opposite that happens. The FT reports that "Chinese gold imports from Hong Kong, a proxy for the country’s overall overseas buying, leapt to a record high in September, when monthly purchases matched almost half that for the whole of 2010....After hitting a nominal all-time high of $1,920.30 a troy ounce in early September, the yellow metal fell to a three-month low of $1,534 an ounce later in the month. Chinese investors snapped up the metal as prices fell." Fair enough: this means the natural bid under gold will pretty much always be there, especially since the SHCOMP plunged at the same time, and if there was truly cross asset liquidation, imports would hardly rise. Which begs the question: if not China, then who sold? Was the move purely a function of fears that Paulson was liquidating? Or were rumors that various central banks are liquidating gold, actually true? We will likely find out when the next WGC report is filed. WE will also know that the Chinese number for total gold holdings is grossly underreported.
The following cable from US ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy ("Ambassador Murphy spent 23 years at Goldman Sachs and held a variety of senior positions, including in Frankfurt, New York and Hong Kong, before becoming a Senior Director of the firm in 2003, a position he held until his retirement in 2006") "CONFIDENTIAL: 10BERLIN181" tells us all we need to know about what has been really happening behind the smooth, calm and collected German facade vis-a-vis not only Greece, but all of Europe, and what the next steps are: "A EUROZONE CHAPTER 11: DB Chief Economist Thomas Mayer told Ambassador Murphy he was pessimistic Greece would take the difficult steps needed to put its house in order. A worst case scenario, says Mayer, could be that Germany pulls out of the Eurozone altogether in 20 years time. In 1990, Germany's Constitutional Court ruled that the country could withdraw from the Euro if: 1) the currency union became an "inflationary zone," or 2) the German taxpayer became the Eurozone's "de facto bailout provider." Mayer proposes a "Chapter 11 for Eurozone countries," which would place troubled members under economic supervision until they put their house in order. Unfortunately, there is no serious discussion of this underway, he lamented." This was In February 2010. The discussion has since commenced.