World Gold Council
In testimony yesterday on Capitol Hill before the Senate Banking Committee, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke remarked:
“Gold is an unusual asset. It's an asset that people hold as disaster insurance. A lot of people hold gold as an inflation hedge. But movements of gold prices don't predict inflation very well, actually. But anyway, the perception is that by holding gold you have a hard asset that will protect you in case of some kind of major problem.
Recent dramatic declines in gold prices and strong redemptions from physical ETFs (such as the GLD) have been interpreted by the financial press as indicating the end of the gold bull market. Conversely, our analysis of the supply and demand dynamics underlying the gold market does not support this interpretation. As we have shown in previous articles, the past decade has seen a large discrepancy between the available gold supply and sales. Many recent events suggest that the Central Banks are getting close to the end of their supplies and that the physical market for gold is becoming increasingly tight. The recent sell-off was all orchestrated to increase supply and tame demand. We believe that central planners are now running out of options to suppress the gold price. After taking a pause, the secular gold bull market is set to continue.
The recent decline in gold prices and the drain from physical ETFs have been interpreted by the media as signaling the end of the gold bull market. However, our analysis of the supply and demand dynamics underlying the gold market does not support this thesis. In our view, the bullion banks’ fractional gold deposit system is testing its limits. Too much paper gold exists for the amount of physical gold available. Demand from emerging markets, who do not settle for paper gold, has perturbed the status quo. Thus, our recommendation to investors is the following: empty unallocated gold accounts and redeem your gold in physical form (while you still can).
Gold is little changed near a one-week high, and is marginally higher in dollars as the dollar has retreated from a three-year high, and higher in most currencies. The gold market continues to digest the ramifications of gold borrowing costs surging to the highest since the post-Lehman Brothers scramble for gold bullion. Gold Forward Offered Rates (GOFO) or the cost to borrow gold remains negative and overnight the 1 month GOFO has gone from -0.106% to -0.11167%. Other durations eased marginally. The lack of liquidity in the the interbank London Good Delivery gold market (400 ounce gold bars) has pushed gold forward rates, known as “gofo”, into negative territory, meaning that gold for future delivery is trading at a discount to physical market prices – a rare situation that has occurred only after the Lehman Brothers collapse and near the bottom of the gold market in 1999. The last time forwards were negative was in November 2008, when a scramble for physical gold led a sharp price rally of 46% from $682/oz to over $1,000/oz between October 2008 and February 2009.
"Zero hour" - the day you can mark on a calendar when the price of real metal breaks away forever from the quoted price on media's ticker. The "zero hour" scenario is the ultimate emperor-has-no-clothes moment. Hans Christian Andersen’s original 19th-century tale The Emperor’s New Clothes has become a 20th- and 21st-century touchstone for obvious truths overlooked by the masses. It is almost a cliche. But it is singularly appropriate for our purposes today. The "emperor" here consists of central banks, commercial and investment banks and the commodities exchanges. The day everyone recognizes them as being buck naked — or in this case, stripped of the gold they claim to hold — will be "zero hour." At root, zero hour will come when everyone knows gold supply can no longer meet gold demand.
India should monetise their huge gold stockpiles of over 20,000 metric tonnes according to the World Gold Council (WGC) as reported by Bloomberg this morning.
“In the long term gold could be monetized as a financial asset," Aram Shishmanian, the CEO of the WGC said in India overnight.
The World Gold Council has approached the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to work with it so that bullion could be used as a financial asset, rather than just a physical asset.
Recent outflows from physical gold exchange traded products have been interpreted by the financial press as a sign of weakness in the demand for gold as an investment vehicle. However, a closer look at the evidence suggests otherwise - the evidence presented here suggests that, contrary to what has been stated in the financial press, the flows out of the SPDR Gold Trust may have been generated by the bullion banks to take advantage of an arbitrage opportunity in the physical market. This arbitrage opportunity occurred because of the intense demand for gold stemming from Asia and the inability of traditional suppliers to provide this gold (hence the large Shanghai premium). We believe that this activity further supports our hypothesis that there is a lack of availability of physical gold and an obvious dislocation between the physical and paper gold markets.
The store of wealth demand is not just from Chinese ‘aunties.’ There remains an under estimation of the demand coming from wealthy Chinese and high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals (HNWs and UHNWs).
This has not been commented upon or analysed but we have direct experience of wealthy Chinese people looking to store gold in Hong Kong and Switzerland, as have other storage providers.
About once or twice a month for the past few years, it's been a steady ritual of mine to conduct a Google search for the words "all-time high" and "all-time low". The results provide an interesting big picture perspective on what's happening in the world.
Gold edged higher today supported by strong physical demand internationally and especially in Asia.
Demand in the physical market continued to hold prices near $1,400/oz as the recent drops in the spot market encourage buyers internationally to accumulate bullion.
Russia, Greece, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan expanded their gold reserves for a seventh straight month in April, buying bullion to diversify foreign exchange reserves due to concerns about the dollar and the euro. Russia’s steady increase in its gold reserves saw its holdings, the seventh-largest by country, climb another 8.4 metric tons to 990 tons, taking gains this year to 3.4% after expanding by 8.5% in 2012, International Monetary Fund data show. Kazakhstan’s reserves grew 2.6 tons to 125.5 tons, taking the increase to 8.9% this year after a 41% expansion in 2012, data on the website showed. Turkey’s holdings rose 18.2 tons to 427.1 tons in April, increasing for a 10th month as it accepted gold in its reserve requirements from commercial banks. Belarus’s holdings expanded for a seventh month as did Azerbaijan’s. Interestingly, Greece’s gold holdings climbed for a fourth month, according to the IMF data. This could be a sign of rising economic nationalism in Greece or that the Greek central bank realises that if Greece leaves the euro and is forced back onto the drachma that gold reserves will offer a modicum of protection. Only a modicum, because Greece’s gold reserves remain miniscule especially considering the scale of their debts.
- Mine union threatens to bring South Africa to 'standstill' (Reuters)
- Russia Raises Stakes in Syria (WSJ) - as reported here yesterday
- Japan buys into US shale gas boom (FT)
- Bill Gates Retakes World’s Richest Title From Carlos Slim (BBG) - so he can afford a Tesla now?
- China Wages Rose Sharply in 2012 (WSJ)
- Regulators Target Exchanges As They Ready Record Fine (WSJ)
- Citi Takes Some Traders Off Bloomberg Chat Tool (WSJ)
- After Google, Amazon to be grilled on UK tax presence (Reuters)
- Apple CEO Cook to Propose Tax Reform for Offshore Cash (BBG)
- French, German politicians to pressure Google on tax (Reuters)
- Gold Bears Revived as Rout Resumes After Coin Rush (BBG)
- A stretched Samsung chases rival Apple's suppliers (Reuters)
There are no surprises in the latest World Gold Council Gold Demand Trends report other than the fact that statistics show global demand for gold in Q1 2013 was on the increase before the COMEX raid on April 15th. This is a clear indication that the fundamentals supporting a strong price for gold in the long term remain and also helps to explain why there was such a shortage of gold bars and coins in the weeks after April 15th.