Remember when banks were exposed manipulating virtually everything except precious metals, because obviously nobody ever manipulates the price of gold and silver? After all, the biggest "conspiracy theory" of all is that crazy gold bugs blame every move against them on some vile manipulator. It may be time to shift yet another conspiracy "theory" into the "fact" bin, thanks to Elke Koenig, the president of Germany's top financial regulator, Bafin, which apparently is not as corrupt, complicit and clueless as its US equivalent, and who said that in addition to currency rates, manipulation of precious metals "is worse than the Libor-rigging scandal." Hear that Bart Chilton and friends from the CFTC?
While victory was declared yesterday, today was a let-down for the exuberant. High beta (NASDAQ and Russell) pushed on but the S&P, Dow, and Trannies slid leaving the NASDAQ YTD best performer (+1%) and the S&P back into the red for 2014. Financials underperformed, Utilities outperformed. Treasuries rallied all day - with the long-end underperforming and a notable flattening across the curve (30Y -2bps on the week, 5Y +2bps). The USD had a quiet day as JPY strengthened modestly (hence the weakness in the S&P) as overnight AUD weakness (poor jobs data) left that carry pair alone in the dark. VIX and credit markets have been notable underperformers relative to stocks in the last 2 days. Commodities were quiet all day with some early downside pressure in the precious metals unwound (leaving then down 0.5% on the week). Of course, it wouldn't be the US equity market without the ubiquitous VIX slam attempt to ignite momentum and get the S&P green - it failed for once!
Why the dollar may have a huge rally in 2014
The positive momentum in equities slowed in Asian trading with losses seen on the Nikkei (-0.4%), and HSCEI , the SCHOMP unchanged and EM indices such as the Nifty (-
0.1%). In Australia, a disappointing December employment report saw a 23k fall in jobs for the month against consensus expectations of rise of 10k. The 10yr Australian government bond has rallied 5bp and the front end is outperforming as a number of investors expect the RBA to continue its easing bias over 2014. AUDUSD has sold off -1.1% to a three year low of 0.881. The ASX200 closed up 1.2% however, boosted by mining-giant Rio Tinto (+2%) who reported better than anticipated Q4 production. Amid recent fears of a Chinese growth deceleration, Rio Tinto reported record levels of production of iron-ore, coal and bauxite. In FX, USDJPY is finding further support in Asia, adding 0.1% to yesterday’s 0.38% gain to trade not too far from the 105 level. Which is also why the S&P futures are trading modestly lower: without a major breakout in the Yen carry, there can't be a sustained ramp in the US stock market which is driven entirely by the value of the Yen, which in turn is a reflection of the expectations of future BOJ easing.
As India continues its anti-gold stance (and does nothing but drive the undergound smuggling business), China is continuing its opening of the world's biggest physical bullion market. As India's Economic Times reports, China has granted licenses to import gold to two foreign banks for the first time. "China is actually increasing its transparency," noted on analyst, allowing more banks to import gold could increase the supply of the metal into the country, easing local prices that are higher than in most Asian nations (premiums are currently about $15 an ounce over London prices, compared to less than $2 in Singapore and Hong Kong). They rose to a record high of $30 in April-May last year. "This is the first step that the regulators are taking to ensure that its gold futures contract in the free-trade zone can take off."
Delighted by the Goldman Sachs et al commodity cartel hoarding aluminum inventory in one of their warehouses and pushing prices artificially higher? Happy that JPM is reprising the role of Enron (without admitting or denying it) and creating "schemes" with which to boost prices for end consumers (and have FERC furiously slap its wrist in response)? Ecstatic by that whole "precious metals" manipulation 'thing' by assorted unnamed banks (aside from the London fix of course - that has now been confirmed)? Then take this opportunity to tell the Fed how happy you really feel.
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of commodity-shipping rates, has collapsed 39% in just the nine trading days of 2014. It has fallen from 2277 at the end of December 2013 to 1370 today (see chart). This key indicator of global economic health is a warning signal for the global economy in 2014.
Well that escalated quickly... As Europe closes, the precious metals complex is slaughtered on the altar of higher stocks and lower bond prices...
Following some early strength in the Asia session, which saw Gold over $1255 (its highest in a month), the European session has seen pressure on the precious metals leak lower. That 'leak' was then helped on its way by the almost ubiquitous 8amET volume dumptaking gold and silver down markedly (though not catastrophically for now). The only other asset class showing any real action is GBPUSD (with GBP being sold aggressively) with Treasuries flat and stocks down modestly but stable for now.
The Perth Mint's Bron Suchecki has written an interesting blog post regarding the real risk of gold coin shortages and rationing happening again. This is another reason why if you are considering buying coins or bars for delivery or bullion storage in Zurich or Singapore, it is best not to wait. "Don't wait to buy gold and silver. Buy gold and silver and wait".
US Treasury yields broke down sharply Friday, confirming a near-term, potentially medium-term, turn in trend; and, as BofAML's Macneil Curry notes, this Treasury turn should prove to be a headwind for select USD pairs, (although BofAML remains bigger picture USD bulls); particularly USDJPY. However, the weakness in the Canadian USD - which was the only currency not to rally against the greenback on Friday - suggests the downtrend in the Loonie has significant legs. Precious metals - most notably silver - could also benefit from the Treasury trend change.
Doing some detective work.
First Janet Yellen makes the cover of Time, and concurrently so as not to be left behind, Businesweek, well-known for its suggestive covers (housing, hedge fund managers, the Tea Party), has posted an even more provocative creature on its own cover: a Unicorn - one which is supposed to symbolize, you guessed it, Bitcoins - and serves as the anchor for the Bloomberg-owned magazine's extensive profile of the digital currency, with the following teaser: "Why are investors so crazy for an alterantive currency invented by a phantom?"
If Americans in particular want to pursue any solution to the threat of globalism or dollar collapse, they are going to have to start with themselves, and the community around them. Online trade is the last thing they should be worried about. Only when neighborhoods, towns, and counties become producers and self suppliers will they be safe from financial instability. Only when those same communities band together for mutual aid and self defense will they be safe from tyrannical political entities. Bitcoin accomplishes nothing in either of these categories, making it possibly the most popular non-solution for liberty to date. Bitcoin is consistently touted as a superior option to precious metals as a way to decouple from central bank fiat. Under examination, though, it appears to me that bitcoin is instead a deliberate distraction away from gold and silver, and other tangible solutions; in other words, we believe it to be a form of controlled opposition.
With 10Y Treasury yields pressing up agaist 3.00% once again (and equities shrugging off the taper-confirming news from ADP), precious metals are under pressure. Despite a few positive days, the last two have seen silver give back all 2014 gains and push back into the red for the year. Gold remains modestly green (still outperforming stocks for now).