World Gold Council
The latest World Gold Council Gold Demand Trends report, which covers the period April-June 2013, confirms again how recent falls in the gold price were due to speculators selling paper gold rather than a decline in actual demand for physical gold.
It highlights, once again, that the price falls have generated significant increases in demand, most notably from store of wealth, jewelry, bullion coin and bar buyers in Turkey, Dubai and the Middle East, Vietnam, India, China and the rest of Asia.
Meanwhile speculators, primarily banks and hedge funds, exited their positions in the gold ETFs and futures markets. This led to liquidations of just 402 tonnes of ETF gold worth only $18.3 billion.
In a session that has been painfully boring so far (yet which should pick up with CPI, jobless claims, industrial production and the NY Empire Fed on deck, as well as Wal-Mart earnings which will no doubt reflect the continuing disappointing retail plight) perhaps the only notable news was that Japan - the nation that brought you "Fukushima is contained" - was caught in yet another lie. Recall that the upside catalyst (and source of Yen weakness) two days ago was what we classified then as "paradoxical news" that Japan would cut corporate taxes in a move that somehow would offset the upcoming consumption tax hike. Turns out that, as our gut sense indicated, this was merely yet another BS trial balloon out of Japan, which admitted overnight that the entire report was a lie.
The Chinese demand for gold essentially comes from three segments: (1) the People’s Bank of China; (2); the banking sector; and (3) Chinese citizens. We can count on the Chinese central bank to pursue the same steady course they have been pursuing for a while: buying additional gunpowder by increasing their gold reserves. More importantly, it is very likely that the current forced deleveraging will be accompanied by, for instance, a significant cut in interest rates or a lowering of the reserve requirements to offer the banking sector a helping hand (as the PBOC appears to be folding a little on its hard stance). This could have a major impact on gold. We’ll see why by observing that the bulk of Chinese gold demand comes from its third source: Chinese citizens. China has one of the world's highest saving rates, and the public faces few investment options. With negative real interest rates, in case the PBoC does lower rates to support the banking system, gold seems to be an opportune alternative.
The summer doldrums continue. Overnight news included an expected 25 bps rate cut in Australia to a new record low of 2.50%, although the statement surprised by not retaining its expected dovish outlook. Perhaps this is due to the PBOC finally folding and despite raging for weeks that it was dead serious about its tightening experiment, injected another CNY12 billion in its banks via 7-day reverse repos at 4.0% compared to the previous, July 30 CNY14 billion 7 day injection at 4.40%. The Chinese central bank came, saw, and didn't like what it found in the Chinese interbank liquidity situation. Whether and how this will change the Politburo's reform agenda, and whether the provided liquidity will do much if anything, remains to be seen. Elsewhere, in Europe, German factory orders soared 3.8% on expectations of +1.0%, however all driven by Paris airshow orders which boosted bulk orders, and without which orders would have fallen -0.7%. The UK upward momentum continues with Industrial Production's turn now to soar to the highest since January 2011, while Italian GDP declined less than expected, dropping -0.2%, on expectations of a -0.4% slide. In other words Europe continues to rep and warrant that it does not need any assistance from the ECB despite a complete lock up in private lending and credit creation. Good luck with all that.
The LBMA clearing statistics therefore essentially represent huge daily trading through unallocated accounts, most of which is classified as spot delivery, but which is backed by very small physical metal foundations. The clearing statistics while interesting, need to be made more transparent and granular beyond the headline data. Otherwise they tend to obscure rather than illuminate.
Silver, like gold, is largely subject to the same underlying supply/demand dynamics (whether legal or not) where on the margin it trades merely as a precious metal, and those misguided pundits out there who claim that the drop in gold Comex holdings is purely a function of ETF reallocation, are surprisingly mum when it comes to explaining Comex silver which has not followed the move of gold in physical holdings and is in fact near all time holding highs despite an even more aggressive plunge in its price. Alternatively if indeed gold's inventory plunge was driven by the permissive nature of Singapore vaults as willing recipients for all the gold that has departed the assorted Comex system vaults, and thus are merely a physical receptacle to absorb the pent up Chinese "golden" demand, it would explain why this has not happened to silver. At least not yet. That may change very soon because as Bloomberg reports, silver is the new gold when it comes to vaulting in Singapore, and thus China's precious metal warehousing ambitions.
Plunging Chinese manufacturing and an 11 month low PMI got you down? Don't worry: there's a Europe for that, which overnight reported that manufacturing and service PMI in Germany and, don't laugh, France soared far above expectations (German Mfg and Services PMIs of 50.3 and 52.5, up from 48.6 and 50.4, and above expectations of 49.2 and 50.8; French Mfg and Services PMIs of 48.3 and 49.8, up from 47.2 and 48.4 and an 11 and 17 month high, respectively, blowing away expectations of 47.6 and 48.8). The result was a composite Eurozone Manufacturing PMI of 50.1, above 50 for the first time since February of 2012, up from 48.8 and at a 24 month high - reporting the largest monthly increase in output sunce June 2011, as well as a composite Services PMI of 49.6, up from 48.3, and an 18 month high. In other words, European Composite PMI is expanding (above 50) for the first time since January 2012.
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.