While it has been public for a long time that i) JPM is eager to sell its physical commodities business and ii) the most likely buyer was little known Swiss-based Mercuria, there was nothing definitive released by JPM. Until moments ago, when Jamie Dimon formally announced that JPM is officially parting ways with the physical commodities business. But while contrary to previous expectations, following the sale JPM will still provide commercial gold vaulting operations around the world, it almost certainly means farewell to Blythe Masters.
The last time the FT penned an article on the topic of gold manipulation, titled "Gold price rigging fears put investors on alert" it was promptly taken down without much (any) of an explanation. Luckily, we recorded the article for posterity here. Earlier today, another article on the topic appears to have slipped through the cracks of the distinguished editors of the financial journal that enjoys the ad spend of the status quo, when it reported that "Gold pricing scrutiny widens", hardly an update that will take the world by storm, however it is notable that "even" the FT, where for years goldbugs claiming gold manipulation had been ridiculed, is finally start to admit the glaringly obvious.
"Property taxes are equitable and efficient, but underutilized in many economies. The average yield of property taxes in 65 economies (for which data are available) in the 2000s was around 1 percent of GDP, but in developing economies it averages only half of that (Bahl and Martínez-Vázquez, 2008). There is considerable scope to exploit this tax more fully, both as a revenue source and as a redistributive instrument, although effective implementation will require a sizable investment in administrative infrastructure, particularly in developing economies (Norregaard, 2013)." - IMF
Precious metals (gold in particular) continue to push higher and along with copper (to the downside) hold 'center-stage' among world commodity markets. As Citi's FX Technicals group notes gold has traded above very strong resistance on the $1,350 to $1,362 range suggestng a test up to $1,434 and the next level at the 200-week moving average at $1,493. Gold is also getting close to the "golden cross" where the 50DMA will cross above the 200DMA. Such a move, if seen, would strongly suggest that the corrective low is in (at $1,182) and that a re-test of the all-time highs at $1,921 and beyond is highly likely.
The Indian government has imposed a duty of ~11.3% on gold imports. Additionally, they have created bureaucratic complexities, including a requirement from gold importers to export 20% of their imports. The government claims that this has resulted in a serious drop in imports, something they wanted, given consistently high, unsustainable current-account deficits. The spot price of gold is $1,300 per ounce. In India, however, it is trading at a premium of 18%, at a price of $1,534. One might ask who is pocketing this premium? Have imports really come to a stand-still? Let's look at the reality on the ground...
"I don’t think they’ve solved anything. I think they’ve compounded the underlying problems that caused the last crisis, and so now the next crisis will be that much worse because of what the central banks did, in particular the Federal Reserve...The Fed is building an economy that is completely dependent on that cheap money. And so if you take it away, the economy implodes, but if you don’t take it away, then it’s worse." The idea is to preempt capital controls - "get out the window before it slams shut!"
At the onset of the derivatives collapse in 2007/2008 it would have been easy to assume that most of America was receiving a valuable education in normalcy bias. As much as we are for people waking up to the nature of the crisis, there comes a point when those who are going to figure it out will figure it out, and the rest are essentially hopeless. The cultism surrounding the U.S. economy and the U.S. dollar is truly mind boggling, and by “cultism” we mean a blind faith in the fiat currency mechanism that goes beyond all logic, reason and evidence.
The last few days have seen credit markets weaken drastically, Treasuries rallying, precious metals bid, and copper prices collapsing... but amid all of that stocks are "staying the course." Perhaps the following 3 charts of the last few days will explain where that magical bid is coming from...
For the 2nd day in a row, US Treasuries and precious metals were well bid as it seems safe-havens were in strong demand. EUR strength (repatriation flows after risk-aversion in Europe from Ukraine - EURUSD closed at highest since Oct 11) drove the USD Index lower (-0.15% on the week) and while gold and silver benefitted from that modest weakness they are now up 2% on the week (with gold above $1365 and at 6-month highs). Oil slipped (on SPR release talk) and copper lifted modestly (as Yuan strengthen very mildly). Credit markets have lost all gains from Putin. Once again the magic elixir of the US day-session open spiked AUDJPY and supported stocks up to unchanged from overnight weakness but once Europe close (well in DST terms) US equities drifted sideways to lower leaving the Dow and S&P red into the last hour. Another late-day scramble to sell VIX managed to get the S&P just green!
Mt. Gox’s lawyers confirmed 750,000 Bitcoins belonging to the firm’s customers had gone “missing”, along with around 100,000 units that the company owned. Alleged that it came under some 150,000 DDoS attacks per second for several days ahead of its spectacular failure.
Personal sovereignty is a ‘State of Mind’ long before it is a state of being.
AUDJPY (and therefore US equities) is sliding this morning after the ubiquitous pre-open melt-up providing a green open for retail investors to believe in. Notably, from the close before Putin's press conference, the Nasdaq is underperforming all major indices (and Trannies soaring) but this morning has seen almost one-way traffic since the open. Treasuries are unch today as are precious metals (recovering from early losses) and the USD is modestly higher driven by AUD and GBP weakness.
£9.48 in 1973 would have the same spending power as £100 today. The rising cost of retail goods means someone who was a millionaire 40 years ago would need £10,553,000 today to enjoy the same spending power.
Just when it seemed that the ever deteriorating situation in the Crimean, the unexpected plunge in Chinese exports which has sent the Yuan reeling again, the Copper slam which is down some 10% in two days, and the outright collapse in Japan's capital flows, not to mention the worst GDP print under Abe, may not be quite "priced in" by a market that is now expecting well beyond perfection in perpetuity, further shown by Goldman over the weekend which reprorted that revenue multiples have never been greater, and futures may finally dip, here came - right on schedule - the USDJPY levitation liftathon, which boosted futures from down 10 to barely unchanged, and which should be green by the second USDJPY ramp some time just after 8 am.
A week ago, when the idea of sanctions against Russia was first officially announced, we made a statement, which was obviously in jest yet which, as so often happens, was so rooted in reality: "U.S. CONSIDERING SANCTIONS ON RUSSIAN BANKS, OFFICIAL SAYS. So short London/NYC real estate you say?" How is this an indication of reality? Well, for one, as we reported previously, the one country that has the most to lose from Russian sanctions, Germany, and specifically its industrial superlobby has already said "Nein" to any truly crippling trade blockade of Moscow would backfire on Germany's own economy and bottom line. But what about London? Here, the NYT explains why, once again, it was all about the money, and why were right even when we were being humorous: "It boils down to this: Britain is ready to betray the United States to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money. And forget about Ukraine."