With Western nations heavily indebted, including the hugely indebted U.S., Russia looks like the only realistic source of such funds. Geopolitical risk remains very much underestimated and there remains the risk of financial, economic and currency wars where the Kremlin uses gold as a geopolitical weapon to undermine the dollar.
More Reasons QE Is a Dud
UPDATE: AP reports Pro-Russian protesters declare independence for the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine.
With local reporters citing officials claiming "direct talks between the eastern regions of Ukraine and Kiev are now out of the question", Russia's foreign ministry has commented directly that:
*RUSSIA SAYS SEPARATIST REFERENDUMS SHOW 'REAL MOOD' IN EAST
*RUSSIA EXPECTS KIEV GOVT TO REACH OUT TO EAST, WANTS 'RESULTS'
Adding that the Dontesk and Lugansk referenda short evidence of the people's strong will to make decisions on their own, Russia wants "immediate" talks in Ukraine on state governance... and cites Kiev's criminal unwillingness to engage in dialogue with his people.
A Commodities Trading Titan Staffed With Former Goldman And JPM Employees Is Quietly Growing In SwitzerlandSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/12/2014 10:26 -0400
If there was any confusion about what may be coming next, now that the bulk of the TBTFs are liquidating their commodities trading divisions having been caught manipulating virtually every physical asset under the sun (except for Goldman: the bank will first stage a mutiny at the Fed before it is forced to spin off its legendary J Aron commodity division which spawned such taxpayer generosity recipients as Gary Cohn and Lloyd Blankfein), the most recent events at Swiss commodities giant Mercuria should clarify "next steps." Because after Mercuria last month acquired JPMorgan's physical commodities trading business for $3.5 billion however without the scandal-plagued Blythe Masters, the Geneva commodities group needed someone to fill in the big enough shoes which may now belong to the world's largest, and very much still under the radar, physical commodities trader. It picked Magid Shenouda, who was co-head of commodities for Goldman until the end of last year.
This week markets are likely to focus on a few important data prints in DMs, including Philly Fed in the US (expect solid expansionary territory) and 1Q GDP releases in the Euro area (with upside risks). In DMs, the highlights of the week include [on Monday] Japan’s trade balance data and Australia business conditions; [on Tuesday] US retail sales, CPI in Italy and Sweden; [on Wednesday] US PPI, Euro area IP, CPI in France, Germany and Spain; [on Thursday] US Philly Fed, CPI, capacity utilization, Euro area and Japan GDP; and [on Friday] US Univ. of Michigan Confidence. In the US, we expect Philly Fed to print in solidly expansionary territory (at 14, similar to consensus) and to inaugurate what we call the active data period of the month. We also expect CPI inflation to print at 0.3% mom (similar to consensus), and core CPI inflation at 0.18% mom (slightly above consensus).
The US approach to the Russia/Ukraine situation reflects a serious misunderstanding of the situation. Russia has little choice but to try to raise the price of products it is selling, any way it can. It needs to cut out those who cannot afford its products, including the Ukraine. If Europe increasingly cannot afford its products, Russia needs to find customers who can afford them. There is little chance that the United States is going to be able to help Europe with its natural gas needs in any reasonable timeframe. Our best chance at keeping the global economy “working” for a little longer is to try to keep globalization working as best we can. This will likely require “making nice” to countries we are unhappy with, and putting up with what looks like aggression. Policymakers like to think that the US has more power than it really does, and like to encourage stories suggesting great power in the press. Unfortunately, these stories are not true; we need policymakers who understand our real situation
Sometimes it's worth remembering that while the demise of the status quo may take a while, there are actions one should be taking despite the sound and fury each and every day. As Marc Faber warned, "I don’t trust anyone." Simply put, Faber blasts, "the monetary policies as they are implemented by central banks around the world, are actually preventing the markets from clearing and [not allowing] the economy to truly improve." His recommendation, he'd "prefer investors hold physical gold in a safe deposit box, ideally outside the US," because "Fed policy will destroy the world."
There should be no 'flexible currency' and no central planning of money. They are at the root of the boom-bust cycle, the very reason for the various crises that have beset Western economies in recent decades. Switzerland would be far better off if no-one had the power to meddle with its money supply. As it is, there has been plenty of meddling already, and quite a bit of suspension of disbelief would be necessary to conclude that there will be no price to pay. As always in monetary matters, the bill will be presented at an unknown future date, but it could be a very big bill in this case... but Switzerland's Keynesian dunderhesds are well on their way to that coming due as they blast any gold repatriation plans as "reducing the credibility of the SNB’s policy."
A month ago, it was alleged, that Ukraine - under cover of night - loaded its gold reserves onto a plane and shipped them off (for safekeeping) in the US, as the potential price of 'liberation'. So how ironic that, given the massive gas debts that Ukraine owes to Russia (and prepayments pending), and sizable bond maturities pending, the first thing that Ukraine's National Bank governor will be buying with his freshly minted loan from the IMF is... buy a billion dollars of gold.
This week, markets are likely to focus on US ISM Nonmanufacturing, services and composite PMIs in the Euro area (expect increases), ECB’s Monetary Policy Decision (expect no change in policy until further ahead), and Congressional testimony by Fed’s Yellen.
When one thinks of Switzerland, banking comes to mind easily but gold doesn’t as much. But, "it is said that the Swiss only love money... this is not true. They also love gold." A full two-thirds of the world’s gold goes through Switzerland and, in an average year, it refines grossly 70% of the world’s gold. Six of the gold refiners on the LBMA Good Delivery list make for 90% of global volume, and four of those are in Switzerland. Up until 1992, the Swiss franc’s 40% backing by gold was written in the country’s Constitution. When Switzerland became a member of the IMF it had to abandon this backing by gold. Today, Swiss citizens have asked for a referendum to be called in order to get back to that backing. As Gilles Labarthe wrote, "Switzerland is for gold what Bordeaux is to wine."
Italy’s central bank, the Banca d’Italia, has recently published an important document detailing the storage locations and composition of the country’s gold reserves. The document confirms that Italy’s gold is held across four vault locations, three of which are outside Italy. This is a significant announcement given that the Banca d’Italia is the world’s third largest official holder of gold after the U.S. and Germany. Italy officially holds 2,451.8 tonnes of gold, worth more than €72 billion (US$ 100 billion) at current market prices. In the detailed three page report focusing exclusively on its gold reserves (and only published in Italian), the Banca d’Italia reveals that 1,199.4 tonnes, or nearly half the total, is held in the Bank’s own vaults under its Palazzo Koch headquarters on Via Nazionale in Rome, while most of the other half is stored in the Federal Reserve Bank gold vault in New York. The report also states that smaller amounts are stored at the Bank of England in London, and at the vaults of the Swiss National Bank in Bern, Switzerland.
After a long and agonizing winter which was attributed to the so-called “Polar Vortex”, we thought it would be appropriate to highlight for precious metal investors the implications of what we call the “Chinese Gold Vortex”. Over the past year, we have been very vocal about what we consider an aberration: the complete disconnect between gold supply and demand fundamentals and the actual price of the metal.
What you have to realize is that this trend is inevitable... we are hopelessly lost in a declining spiral vortex of debt and corruption that will only change with war and civil unrest.
The coming week will be busy in terms of data releases in the US; highlights include an improvement in consumer confidence, anemic 1Q GDP growth, and solid non-farm payrolls (consensus expects 215K). Wednesday brings advanced 1Q GDP - consensus expected a pathetic 1.1% qoq, on the back of what Goldman scapegoats as "weather distortions and an inventory investment drag", personal consumption (consensus 1.9%), and FOMC (the meeting is not associated with economic projections or a press conference). Thursday brings PCE Core (consensus 0.20%). Friday brings non-farm payrolls (consensus of 215K) and unemployment (6.6%). Other indicators for the week include pending home sales, S&P/Case Shiller home price index, Chicago PMI, ADP employment, personal income/spending, and hourly earnings.