People's Bank Of China
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Russia has increased its gold holdings by 7.247 tonnes to 1,042 tonnes in February. Turkey and Kazakhstan also raised their bullion reserves, data from the International Monetary Fund showed today. Turkey's gold holdings rose 9.292 tonnes to 497.869 tonnes, the data showed. Many analysts are ignoring the important context of today's new geopolitical backdrop. Russia alone has some $400 billion in foreign exchange reserves - mostly in U.S. dollars. If they were to diversify just 5%, worth some $20 billion, of those reserves into gold - it would be equal to nearly 500 tonnes of gold or nearly 25% of global annual production. It will be interesting to see what Russian demand is in March and indeed in the coming months. Sanctions could lead to materially higher demand from the Russian central bank, Bank Rossii.
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In the aftermath in the recent surge in China's renminbi volatility which saw it plunge at the fastest pace in years, many, us included, suggested that the immediate next step in China's "fight with speculators" (not to mention the second biggest trade deficit in history), was for the PBOC to promptly widen the Yuan trading band, something it hasn't done since April 2012, with the stated objective of further liberalizing its monetary system and bringing the currency that much closer to being freely traded and market-set. Overnight it did just that, when it announced it would widen the Yuan's trading band against the dollar from 1% to 2%.
Yuan volatility is part of a major rebalancing of global trade. The next phase of EM turmoil will involve banking crises in several countries including China.
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"The PBOC has not—repeat not—asked Citibank to stop customers from wiring funds. Customers can still log on to their account to put in fund transfer requests at any time. The receiving bank (non-Citibank) will process the funds to be transferred on the next business day, as it always does. Because of the Lunar New Year break, the next business day is Friday Feb. 7. This is no different from the practice of banks throughout the world. Chang's understanding of Chinese culture evidently does not extend to the timing of bank holidays."
Shanghai Daily: "China may soon announce an increase in its official gold reserve from 1,054 tons to 2,710 tons, Jeffrey Nichols, managing director of American Precious Metals Advisors, said. The People’s Bank of China has not reported any increase in official gold holdings since 2009, when the central bank said the official reserve was at 1,054 tons, which accounted for only about 1 percent of its multi-trillion foreign exchange reserves. The PBOC has been “surreptitiously” adding to its official gold reserves. It has bought a total of 654 tons in 2009 through 2011, another 388 tons in 2012, and more than 622 tons last year, mostly from domestic mine production and secondary supplies, Nichols said in a commentary posted on NicholsOnGold.com yesterday. Central bank purchases comprise the smallest fraction of global gold demand — less than 10 percent. “If China announces an increase in gold reserves, there would be an immediate drag-up force in the gold market,” Albert Cheng, managing director of the industrial association World Gold Council for the Far East, told Shanghai Daily. China is the biggest gold consumer and producer in the world."
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As reported yesterday, following a surge in various short-term and money market rates in the aftermath of the Fed's taper announcement, the PBOC admitted after the close that it used Short-term Liquidity Obligations (SLO) to add funding to the market, and in doing so, bailing out money markets - the same product that nearly collapsed the financial system in the aftermath of Lehman. The bank didn't specify when it added the funds but, in another direct echo of the June panic, the PBOC said it is prepared to add more. However, it seems the market was less the convinced, and despite an early plunge in the seven day repo rate by over 2%, it suddenly and rapidly reversed direction and instead blew out hitting a whopping 9%, the highest since the June near-crash of the Chinese banking sector. The outcome: China said it injected another $50 billion to bailout and stabilize its money markets in what is increasingly looking like a replay of this summer's liquidity lock up. Perhaps the PBOC hinting at tapering at a time when the Fed is actually doing so is not the smart choice...
Overnight we warned that short-to-medium-term money market rates had spiked to record highs (1-Year rate-swaps over 5.06%) and that the PBOC was bravely standing firm on its (lack of) liquidity injections... that didn't last long. Despite the PBOC's veiled ongoing attempts to 'taper' its own liquidity provisions, as MNI noted, echoes of the June liquidity crunch were heard again in the Chinese money market Thursday and authorities moved to extend trading amid a surge in rates which quiet injections of funding by the People's Bank of China failed to stem. Jitters in the Chinese interbank market since the PBOC tried to force deleveraging in June highlights the nervousness of an overstretched banking system that is reliant on the central bank's largesse to ensure stable operations. It seems clear that the Chinese banks' PBOC taper tantrum will not allow the central bank to withdraw painlessly.
In every organization, including the Chinese Communist Party, there are forces of movement and forces of order. The forces of movement have moved into ascendancy in China and this was signaled by establishment of the special economic zone in Shanghai and the program emerging from recent Third Plenary Session. However, the uncertainty over implementation kept domestic and foreign investors cautious.