World Gold Council
Gold fell $3.10 or 0.18% in New York yesterday and closed at $1,693.60/oz. Silver climbed to $33.24 then slid to $32.51, but finished after an afternoon rally with a loss of 0.33%.
Gold inched down on Thursday, near the monthly low reached in the prior session under pressure from a stronger greenback as players await the European Central Bank rate decision at 1245 GMT and US Initial Jobless Claims at 1330 GMT.
Physical buying of gold bullion has increased on the dip, particularly in Asia, and many are seeing these levels as a floor for prices.
In our first installment of this series we explored the concept of stock to flow in the gold markets being the key driver of supply/demand dynamics, and ultimately its price. Today we are going to explore the paper markets and, importantly, to what degree they distort upwardly the “flow” of the physical gold market. We believe the very existence of paper gold creates the illusion of physical gold flow that does not and physically cannot exist. After all, if flow determines price – and if paper flow simulates physical metal movement to a degree much larger than is possible – doesn’t it then suggest that paper flow creates an artificially low price?
Leveraged systems are based on confidence – confidence in efficient exchanges, confidence in reputable counterparties, and confidence in the rule of law. As we have learned (or should have learned) with the failures of Long Term Capital Management, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Fannie & Freddie, and MF Global – the unwind from a highly leveraged system can be sudden and chaotic. These systems function…until they don’t. CDOs were AAA... until they weren’t. Paper Gold is just like allocated, unambiguously owned physical bullion... until it’s not.
The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision is an exclusive and somewhat mysterious entity that issues banking guidelines for the world’s largest financial institutions. The Committee’s latest ‘framework’, is referred to as “Basel III”. The regulators have stubbornly held to the view that AAA-government securities constitute the bulk of those high quality assets, even as the rest of the financial world increasingly realizes they are anything but that. As banks move forward in their Basel III compliance efforts, they will be forced to buy ever-increasing amounts of AAA-rated government bonds to meet liquidity and capital ratios. Add to this the additional demand for bonds from governments themselves through various Quantitative Easing programs, and we may soon have a situation where government bond yields are so low that they simply make no sense to hold at all. This is where gold comes into play. If the Basel Committee decides to grant gold a favourable liquidity profile under its proposed Basel III framework, it will open the door for gold to compete with cash and government bonds on bank balance sheets – and provide banks with an asset that actually has the chance to appreciate. The world’s non-Western central banks have already embraced this concept with their foreign exchange reserves, which are vulnerable to erosion from ‘Central Planning’ printing programs. After all – if the banks are ultimately interested in restoring stability and confidence, they could do worse than holding an asset that has gone up by an average of 17% per year for the last 12 years and represented ‘sound money’ throughout history.
Gold edged down on a Monday as speculators took their profits as prices rallied on thin volumes on Friday to their highest in a month on technical buying. A strong fall in the greenback triggered rapid gains in commodities and options-related buying on Friday. Tonight US Congress will meet to attempt to devise a plan to avert the US fiscal cliff which will throw the US into a spiral of tax hikes and budgetary cuts that will lead the US economy deeper into a recession this January. Another short term ‘resolution’ will almost certainly be achieved which will allow the US to keep spending like a broke drunken sailor and which will again store up far greater fiscal and monetary problems. The scale of these deep rooted structural challenges is so great that they are likely to affect the US sooner rather than later. Global investment demand for gold remains robust with the amount in exchange-traded products backed by the metal rising 0.1% to 2,606.3 metric tons.
The Austrian central bank keeps most of its 280 metric tons of gold reserves in the United Kingdom, Vice Governor Wolfgang Duchatczek was quoted as saying in the finance committee of the country’s parliament today, according to Bloomberg. Answering lawmakers’ questions, Duchatczek said 80%, or 224.4 metric tons of the metal was stored in the U.K., 17% or 48.7 metric tons in Austria and 3% in Switzerland, according to a summary of a closed-door committee meeting provided by the parliament. The reserve has been unchanged since 2007, Duchatczek was quoted as saying. The central bank has earned 300 million euros ($385 million) over the last ten years by lending the gold, he said.
The World Gold Council issued a report “Global gold demand reflects challenging global economic climate: ETFs up 56% and India up 9% in Q3 2012” which showed that global gold demand fell 11% in the three months to September from record levels seen during the same period last year, which was curbed by a sluggish Chinese economy and stronger Indian demand limited the drop. In Q3 2012, gold investment demand (total bar and coin demand plus ETFs and similar products) was 429.9 tonnes down 16% from Q3 2011. Although the year-on-year snapshot for investment demand suggests falling interest, this is not the case. Rather, it highlights the strong demand seen in Q3 2011. Interestingly, demand for ETFs rose 56% to 136t, compared to Q3 2011. Demand for gold-backed ETFs in Q3 grew significantly in the quarter partially due to institutions responding to the additional QE measures in the US and Europe. At 87 tonnes, Q3 2012 investment demand for gold surged from 78 tonnes in Q2, a rise of 12%. Examining this over the longer term, Q3 represents the first quarter-on-quarter increase in Indian investment demand since Q2 2011.
Chairman of the LBMA David Gornall told the conference, “When comparing China to the U.S., it would seem that in China, gold asset allocation can only go in one direction. The country has only 2% of its reserves in the form of gold compared with the U.S. at 75%.” The People’s Bank of China hasn’t disclosed any changes to its gold holdings since 2009, when it said they had risen a whopping 76% to 1,054 metric tons. While the U.S., Germany, Italy and France keep more than 70% of reserves in gold, China’s share is less than 2%. “Prices have recently been supported by official sector buying,” Gornall said today, without listing any central bank. “Will the gap between the amount of gold held in reserve by the developing markets and that of the developed world close?” Brazil, South Korea and Russia have all added gold reserves this year data from the International Monetary Fund show. Nations bought 254.2 tons in the first six months and may increase to 500 tons this year, the World Gold Council said in August, exceeding the 456 tons added in 2011. China has the world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves, totaling $3.29 trillion in September, according to data by Bloomberg.
Gold is 3.35% higher and silver 4.53% higher this week in US dollars in the aftermath of Obama's re-election. Gold in euros looks set to break out above €1,400/oz and is 4.1% higher and in sterling gold has risen 3.7% so far this week. Silver is 5.25% higher in euros and 4.8% higher in pounds. Gold and silver are set for higher weekly closes in all fiat currencies which may negate the recent bearish short term technical picture and set the precious metals up for the traditional yearend rally. The data clearly shows that November is gold's strongest month and one of silver's strongest months. December, January and February are also strong months - prior to a period of weakness is often seen in March.
It seems engines are revving and it may be time to go forward to the past. Earlier this month, a large and well respected asset manager that has begun taking positions in gold expressions issued a report in which it began to justify gold’s relative value. One metric it used was comparing the quantity of currency in the world to the quantity of gold. The report concluded that using this metric, the relative value of gold would be about $2,500/ounce, a significant premium to its current spot price. The analysis posited gold’s value upon a return to the gold standard, posing the question: “what if the entire world’s gold were used to back the global supply of fiat currency?” We agree with the logic of dividing base money by gold holdings to find gold’s “intrinsic value” (as per Bretton Woods and our Shadow Gold Price), but we believe the reasonable value upon conversion to a gold standard would be many multiples higher than $2,500/ounce.
The World Gold Council issued a summary on gold’s price performance in various currencies during the third quarter. The report looks at influences that monetary policies and central bank actions have on gold. Gold’s 11.1% USD/oz return in 3Q was in response to central bank stimulus measures. Volatility decreased and generally correlated with other assets. Central banks announced a continuation of their unconventional monetary policy programmes in Q3 which mainly are used to lower borrowing costs and supporting financial markets.Financial assets have responded to central bank policy announcements, but gold's reaction has been the strongest. There is a consensus that these policies drive investment into gold purely due to inflation-risk impact. The World Gold Council believes that there are not one but four principal factors that provide further support to the investment case for gold: Inflation risk, Medium-term tail-risk from imbalances, Currency debasement and uncertainty, and Low real rates and emerging market real rate differentials.
Imagine if in 2007, Ben Bernanke, Mervyn King, Jean Claude Trichet et al, had actually possessed the analytical foresight to see what was coming, organised a meeting with the world's media and explained how, using their collective wisdom, they would solve the problem.
"There's going to be a massive global crisis, but there's no need to worry. We're just going to print money."
"Is that it?"
How would most people have reacted then? We think they would have laughed out loud. Why are so many of us reacting differently now? The nature of markets is that they periodically forget the lessons of history. Confidence in the status quo seems as entrenched now as it was in 2007 but Gold appears to be exhibiting 'Giffen-like' behavior where, instead of falling, demand is rising as prices rise.
Our analysis of the physical gold market shows that central banks have most likely been a massive unreported supplier of physical gold, and strongly implies that their gold reserves are negligible today. If Frank Veneroso’s conclusions were even close to accurate back in 1998 (and we believe they were), when coupled with the 2,300 tonne net change in annual demand we can easily identify above, it can only lead to the conclusion that a large portion of the Western central banks’ stated 23,000 tonnes of gold reserves are merely a paper entry on their balance sheets – completely un-backed by anything tangible other than an IOU from whatever counterparty leased it from them in years past. At this stage of the game, we don’t believe these central banks will be able to get their gold back without extreme difficulty, especially if it turns out the gold has left their countries entirely. We can also only wonder how much gold within the central bank system has been ‘rehypothecated’ in the process, since the central banks in question seem so reluctant to divulge any meaningful details on their reserves in a way that would shed light on the various “swaps” and “loans” they imply to be participating in. We might also suggest that if a proper audit of Western central bank gold reserves was ever launched, as per Ron Paul’s recent proposal to audit the US Federal Reserve, the proverbial cat would be let out of the bag – with explosive implications for the gold price.... We realize that some readers may scoff at any analysis of the gold market that hints at “conspiracy”. We’re not talking about conspiracy here however, we’re talking about stupidity. After all, Western central banks are probably under the impression that the gold they’ve swapped and/or lent out is still legally theirs, which technically it may be. But if what we are proposing turns out to be true, and those reserves are not physically theirs; not physically in their possession… then all bets are off regarding the future of our monetary system.
It appears that JPM and HSBC's monopoly in the warehousing of tungsten gold is coming to an end. Just two weeks after QEternity was announced, it has become obvious that the only things, literally, that will matter in the future are the ABCDs: Anything Bernanke Can't Destroy. And as a result of a surge in physical purchases, buyers need to store their metal somewhere. Sure enough, one of the the UK's most insolvent banks - Barclays - is more than happy to provide its brand spanking new warehousing services, with the opening of what will be on of Europe's largest PM vaults. From Dow Jones: "Barclays has opened its first precious metals vault in London in a bid to satisfy growing client demand for bullion as a store of value, the bank said Thursday. The vault, which houses gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium and began operating earlier this month, is one of the largest in Europe. While the bank already has extensive trading and clearing capabilities, this is the first time that Barclays has been able to offer its own precious metals storage facility to its customers, having previously relied on third-party storage." Of course, if and when the scramble comes and everyone demands their gold from the vault located in an unknown location, but somewhere in the inner loop of London's M25, Barclays will just say "Ooops." But we will cross that bridge when we get to it.
Desperate North Korea has exported more than 2 tons to gold hungry China over the past year to earn US $100 million. Even in tough times during the Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il regimes, North Korea refused to let go of its precious gold reserves. Chosun media reports that “a mysterious agency known as Room 39, which manages Kim Jong-un's money, and the People's Armed Forces are spearheading exports of gold, said an informed source in China. "They are selling not only gold that was produced since December last year, when Kim Jong-un came to power, but also gold from the country's reserves and bought from its people." This is a sign of the desperation of the North Korean regime and also signals China’s intent to vastly increase the People’s Bank of China’s gold reserves.
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,766.75, EUR 1,369.36, GBP 1,088.37 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,758.50, EUR 1,361.91 and GBP 1,084.96 per ounce.
Gold fell $8.60 or 0.49% in New York yesterday and closed at $1,764.50. Silver slipped to a low of $33.594 then rebounded in New York, but it still finished with a loss of 1.62%.