World Gold Council
Gold has surged 4.9% in dollar terms so far this week and is headed for its biggest weekly gain in one-and-a-half years. Gold has recovered in all currencies and is up by 4.8% in euro terms and 3.7% in sterling terms.
Therefore, gold has recovered nearly half of its recent sharp decline and is now just 7% below its price ($1,560/oz) prior to the futures induced sell off on April 12th and 15th.
The state of Arizona may become the second state to use gold and silver coins as legal tender. Last week, Arizona lawmakers passed a bill that makes precious metals legal tender. Arizona is the second state after Utah to allow gold coins created by the U.S. Mint and private mints to be used as currency. Utah has had the law on the books for the past 2 years and is working on a system for using the precious metals as currency. The Arizona Senate Bill 1439 would allow the holder of gold or silver coins or bullion to pay a debt. However, the coins must be issued by the U.S. government or approved by a court, like an American Eagle Coin. Oddly the government does not require that persons or business must use or accept gold or silver as legal tender in contravention of the U.S. Constitution. The sponsor of the bill, Republican Sen. Chester Crandell, would need a final state Senate vote after approval by the House, and if passed the law would not take effect until 2014. Crandell said, "The whole thing came from constituents".
The first time the Status Quo/Troika tried to force a (not so) stealthy gold confiscation on an insolvent European country was back in early 2012, when as part of the most recent Greek bailout MOU, it was disclosed that "Greece’s lenders will have the right to seize the gold reserves in the Bank of Greece under the terms of the new deal." However, the public outcry was so loud that the Troika had no choice but to shelve its plans and proceed with a full scale bondholder restructuring instead. Fast forward to last week, when Europe's appetite for physical gold came back with a bang, this time as part of the Cyprus "Debt Sustainability Analysis", and subsequent comments from Mario Draghi, demanding that tiny Cyprus, whose opposition, already weakened by the confiscation of uninsured deposits would be far less vocal than Greece's, sell off €400MM, or virtually all of its sovereign gold, over 10 of its 13.9 total tons, to cover the excess costs of its ever ballooning sovereign bailout. So who's next? It remains to be seen, although we are certain there will be a very clear correlation between the next country to see its gold "purchased" by the status quo, likely some time in the next 1-3 months, and the amount of total non-performing loans on said country's bank balance sheets. The usual suspects are presented below. And, in the parlance of Goldman Sachs, these countries better scramble to sell, sell, sell now before gold hits 0, or maybe even goes negative.
Update, and sure enough: PANICOS DEMETRIADES SAYS CYPRUS CENTRAL BANK INDEPENDENCE UNDER ATTACK. As a reminder, Panicos hold the now obsolete position of head of the Cyprus Central Bank.
As was noted two days ago (so certainly not the news catalyst for today's gold sell off as some are trying to make it appear) as part of its bailout expansion by 35%, Cyprus announced, then refuted, then re-admitted, it would need to fund a portion of the incremental €7 billion in cash demands by selling €400 million, or nearly all 13.9 tons, of its central bank gold. Today, we learn that this demand came from none other than the head of the ECB Mario Draghi. Bloomberg reports: "European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the profits of any gold sales by the Cypriot central bank must be used to cover losses it may sustain from emergency loans to Cypriot commercial banks."
Anyone who wants to get to the truth behind the inflationary threats to their wealth should ignore everything the Central Banks say about inflation and look instead at their actions.
Physical gold and silver demand remains robust in many markets internationally. Demand from the Middle East remains robust as seen in the near record imports of gold and silver into Turkey. Turkey’s gold imports climbed to an eight-month high in March as prices averaged the lowest since May, according to the Istanbul Gold Exchange. Silver imports rose 31% from a month earlier according to Bloomberg. Gold imports increased to 18.26 metric tons, the most since July. That’s up from 17.34 tons in February and compared with 2.91 tons a year earlier, data on the exchange’s website show. The country shipped in 120.8 tons last year. Turkey was the fourth-biggest gold consumer in 2012, according to the London-based World Gold Council. Bullion averaged $1,593.62 an ounce last month and is trading about 17% below the record nominal high of $1,921.15 set in September 2011.
An increase in safe haven demand, particularly in periphery European nations such Spain and Italy will likely support gold. Citizens in these countries are alarmed by how depositors in Cyprus were treated and the more aware and prudent ones are taking the requisite action in order to protect their families and businesses from the growing possibility of capital controls.
Whether to sell Italy's national gold reserves is an interesting question. A perhaps as interesting question and more important question in the light of the Troika expropriation of bank deposits is will Italians begin to diversify some of their savings in Italian banks into gold bullion?
Yi Gang, Vice Governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), recently made the headlines with his comments on Chinese gold reserves. On Wednesday, Mr. Yi stated that China's gold reserves remain static at 1,054 tonnes, and suggested that a sizeable increase in those reserves would be unlikely in the future. "We need to take into account both the stability of the market and gold prices," Mr. Yi stated, adding that as the world's largest gold producer and importer, China produces about 400 tonnes of gold annually, and imports an additional 500 to 600 tonnes of gold every year. "Compared with China's 3.3-trillion-U.S.-dollar foreign exchange reserves, the size of the gold market is too small," Yi said, rejecting speculation that China would further diversify its foreign reserve investments into the precious metal. "If the Chinese government were to buy too much gold, gold prices would surge, a scenario that will hurt Chinese consumers ... We can only invest about 1-2 percent of the foreign exchange reserves into gold because the market is too small," Yi stated.
The World Gold Council noted that central banks increased gold buying 17% to 534.6 tons last year.
Central banks are among the shrewd investors who buy gold bullion on dips. It was reported that South Korea bought 20 tonnes of gold last month rumoured to be below the $1,600/oz mark. This is the first purchase this year for South Korea, after they purchased 30 tonnes in 2012. Previously they purchased in July 2012 at the same price levels.
While Stocks Soar Towards New Highs, Sophisticated Investors Are Already Prepping for the Next, Bigger CollapseSubmitted by Phoenix Capital Research on 03/04/2013 11:10 -0400
While the mainstream financial media continues to trumpet the wonders of stocks closing in on all-time highs, larger, more sophisticated players are preparing for a financial meltdown in a much larger market: bonds.
China’s foreign currency reserves have surged more than 700% since 2004 and are now enough to buy every central bank’s official gold supply -- twice. The Bloomberg CHART OF THE DAY shows how China’s foreign reserves surpassed the value of all official bullion holdings in January 2004 and rose to $3.3 trillion at the end of 2012. The price of gold has failed to keep pace with the surge in the value of Chinese and global foreign exchange holdings. Gold has increased just 263% from 2004 through to February 28, with the registered volume little changed, according to data based on International Monetary Fund and World Gold Council figures. By comparison, China’s reserves rose 721% through 2012, while the combined total among Brazil, Russia and India rose about 400% to $1.1 trillion.
While the recent move in gold lower, attributed primarily to the fickle rotations of assorted hedge funds who have gotten crushed on their AAPL holdings and thus forced to liquidate profitable positions mostly in ETFs and other paper gold representations (as demand for physical precious metals has never been greater), has seen many pundits scream (as they do every year) that the move higher in gold and precious metals is over, what everyone as usual forgets is that the big move up in gold in 2011 was not driven by Soros or Paulson or Einhorn buying (or selling) laughable amounts of the yellow metal but by relentless end consumer demand out of China and India, when inflation was surging. And with the entire world now openly reflating the one country that has the lowest buffer to hot external money - China - is about to see prices for all products go parabolic once more. It's just a matter of time. Of course, last week's Lunar New Year and closed exchanges bought some time for the bearish gold thesis, but that is now over, quite literally with a bang as demand out of both China and India explodes out of the gates, proving that the sensible money is merely waiting for every dip in the PM complex to buy.
China has been a very active purchaser of gold for its reserves in the last few years, as we extensively covered here and here, but another nation has taken over the 'biggest buyer' role (for the same reasons as China). Central banks around the world have printed money to escape the global financial crisis, and as Bloomberg reports, IMF data shows Russia added 570 metric tons in the past decade. Putin's fears that "the U.S. is endangering the global economy by abusing its dollar monopoly," are clearly being taken seriously as the world's largest oil producer turns black gold into hard assets. A lawmaker in Putin's party noted, "the more gold a country has, the more sovereignty it will have if there’s a cataclysm with the dollar, the euro, the pound or any other reserve currency." It appears Russia-China is now the 'hard-money' axis and perhaps, to some extent, it is the relative price of oil that defines their demand for the barbarous relic.
Back in December, as always happens every year for the past 3, a margin call driven liquidation wave pushed the price of the gold to multi-month lows, providing merely yet another lowball buying opportunity (for which let's all thank John Paulson, again). One buyer who certainly would love to thank whichever marginal seller was liquidating their gold, is none other than China, which as was reported a few hours ago, imported an all time record 114.4 tons of gold in the month of December, or more than all the gold held by the Greek central bank (assuming it hasn't been confiscated by ze Germans or the ECB, or deposited in G-Pap or Venizelos' private HSBC safe in Geneva yet: a very aggressive assumption).
Gold market analysts have a tougher job than other financial analysts. It is more difficult to analyze the yellow metal than equities because quantitative measures such as yield, cash flows, balance sheet leverage, and growth rates that provide a fundamental basis for analysis do not exists for gold. The fundamentals of gold are the current purchasing power of money; expectations about the future purchasing power of money; the growth rates of various national money supplies; the volume of bad debts in the system; expected growth rates of bad debts; the attractiveness of other available investments; and the investor’s preference for consumption rather than investment. These factors do not act directly on the gold price. Instead, they are focused through the prism of investor preferences, which are not measurable. The price is the ultimate measurement of how investors view these factors. Gold presents a paradox: that which drives the price cannot be measured, that which can be measured does not drive the price.