The head of industrial and precious metals trading at Barclays, Cengiz Belentepe, has told Bloomberg that investors are selling their investments in gold ETFs and opting for the safety of allocated physical gold.
Barlcay’s Belentepe said “the question is whether the pace of buying has slowed, or whether the people have become a bit more sophisticated in recognizing the costs and liabilities.”
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.
- Ringing endorsement: Lithuania to Adopt Euro When Europe Is Ready, Kubilius Says (Bloomberg)
- Credit Agricole net plunges 67% on losses in Greece and a writedown of its stake in Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (Bloomberg)
- Europe finally starting to smell the coffee: ECB Urging Weaker Basel Liquidity Rule on Crisis Concerns (Bloomberg)
- Japan Cuts Economic Assessment (Reuters)
- France’s Leclerc Stores to Sell Fuel at Cost, Chairman Says (Bloomberg)
- China Eyes Ways to Broaden Yuan’s Use (WSJ)
- Berlin and Paris forge union over crisis (FT)
- Brezhnev Bonds Haunt Putin as Investors Hunt $785 Billion (Bloomberg)
- Republicans showcase Romney as storm clouds convention (Reuters)
- ECB official seeks to ease bond fears (FT)
- German at European Central Bank at Odds With Country’s Policy Makers (NYT)
Yesterday, Jens Weidmann called it a "drug addiction"; for the past 4 years we have called it sheer insanity (and other less polite words). Whatever one calls it, it is obvious that using monetary policy to delay the need for real (not theatrical) fiscal policy involvement that sees to restore debt credibility (i.e., deleverage) does nothing to fix the underlying problems, and merely provides an ever briefer respite from the symptoms of insolvency without ever addressing the underlying cause. Today, even Bank of America has realized this fundamental Catch 22 that is now the paradox at the heart of what remains of capital markets: more easing serves to appease politicians, who see no need to change any of their broken policies, in the process requiring even more QE in the future, and so on, until this always ending in tears game of extend and pretend comes to a sudden and violent end.
George Soros more than doubled his shares in the SPDR gold trust ETF. He increased his position in SPDR Gold to $137.3 million in the second quarter from $52 million previously. SEC filing for the second quarter showed Soros Fund Management more than doubled its investment in the SPDR Gold Trust from 319,550 shares to 884,400 shares at the end of June. In September 2010 (see chart), Soros called gold "the ultimate bubble" and largely dumped his stake in the ETF before gold recorded annual gains in 2010 and 2011 and rose to a nominal high of $1,920.30 per ounce in September. There was speculation at the time that he may have sold the SPDR trust in order to own far safer allocated gold bars. Another billionaire investor respected for his financial acumen is John Paulson and Paulson & Co increased its holdings by 26% by purchasing an additional 4.53 million shares of the SPDR Gold Trust to bring entire holding to 21.8 million shares. It was the first time Paulson & Co had increased its position in the SPDR Gold Trust since the first quarter of 2009, when the investment firm initially acquired 31.5 million shares. It means that Paulson's $21 billion hedge fund now has more than 44% of the company's assets allocated to gold.
Unlike Dan Loeb, David Einhorn did a far more calculated portfolio reshuffle in the three months of Q2, purging only 6 positions among which RIM, CA, Dell, HCA, the GDXJ Junior Gold Miners ETF, and Roundys. He appears to have also hired a new healthcare/insurance analyst after adding positions in Cigna, Coventry Health, UnitedHealth, Humana, Wellpoint, as well as Einstein Noah Restaurants, Virgin Media, Hess, Chipotle, Genworth and some Oaktree bonds. His top 5 positions are Apple, Seagate, Microsoft, Marvell Tech and Cigna. Overall, it does not appear as if he has had a major shift in perspective on the economy. Total reported long equity AUM as of June 30 was $6.4 billion.
Rumors are circulating that reports of the demise of the Chinese auto market may be exaggerated now that even David Einhorn is forced to defend his GM long (because it "has a strong cash position" - sure, and stuffs channels like no other) however stripped of stereotypes and hype, the reality is that even the one time impregnable ultra luxury car market in China is now faltering at an ever faster pace. BusinessWeek reports: "Waiting lists for ultra-luxury cars in Hong Kong are getting shorter and used-car lots are cutting prices on Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Bentleys in the latest sign of China’s slowdown. At first glance, the numbers are deceiving: Sales of very expensive new autos surged 47 percent in the first six months, according to industry analyst IHS Automotive. Look more deeply, however, and another picture emerges, especially in the city’s used-car lots." The picture is ugly: "“The more expensive the car, the more dry the business,” said Tommy Siu at the Causeway Bay showroom of Vin’s Motors Co., the used-car dealership he founded two decades ago. Sales of ultra-luxury cars have halved in the past two or three months, he said. “A lot of bankers don’t want to spend too much money for a car now. At this moment, they don’t know if they’ll have a big bonus.”" Sad: they should all just go to Singapore and manipulate Libor. Oh wait, too soon?
The insolvent banana continent is back. Recall back in May 2011:
“When it becomes serious, you have to lie." -Jean Claude Juncker
Ergo, things in Europe are very serious again because the Eurogroup's head, who until recently promised he was quitting his post because "he had gotten tired of the Franco-German interference in managing the region's debt crisis", only to spoil the fun and say he was lying about that too, is back to doing what he does best - lying. To wit: "the euro countries are preparing together with the bailout fund EFSF and the European Central Bank to buy government bonds if necessary clip euro countries." And now cue Schauble: "Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has rejected speculation about impending purchases of government bonds by Spanish EFSF and ECB."
David Einhorn throws France under the bond vigilante bus, last seen meandering back and forth all over Spain and Italy: "Under the new regime, France is now cozying up to its new anti-austerity, pro-money-printing allies, Italy and Spain. This makes sense when one considers that France's economy is more akin to that of its southern neighbors than it is to the German economy. Strangely, the French bond market hasn’t figured this out just yet."
JPM Admits CIO Group Consistently Mismarked Hundreds Of Billions In CDS In Effort To Artificially Boost ProfitsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/13/2012 06:52 -0400
Back on May 30 we wrote "The Second Act Of The JPM CIO Fiasco Has Arrived - Mismarking Hundreds Of Billions In Credit Default Swaps" in which we made it abundantly clear that due to the Over The Counter nature of CDS one can easily make up whatever marks one wants in order to boost the P&L impact of a given position, this is precisely what JPM was doing in order to boost its P&L? As of moments ago this too has been proven to be the case. From a just filed very shocking 8K which takes the "Whale" saga to a whole new level. To wit: 'the recently discovered information raises questions about the integrity of the trader marks, and suggests that certain individuals may have been seeking to avoid showing the full amount of the losses being incurred in the portfolio during the first quarter. As a result, the Firm is no longer confident that the trader marks used to prepare the Firm's reported first quarter results (although within the established thresholds) reflect good faith estimates of fair value at quarter end."
A lack of transparency, a lack of enforcement of law and a compliant media which failed to ask the hard questions and do basic investigative journalism led to the price fixing continuing and the manipulation continuing unchecked on such a wide scale for so long - until it was exposed recently. Similarly, the gold market has the appearance of a market that is a victim of “financial repression”. Given the degree of risk in the world – it is arguable that gold prices should have surged in recent months and should be at much higher levels today. The gold market has all the hallmarks of Libor manipulation but as usual all evidence is ignored until official sources acknowlege the truth. However, like LIBOR the gold manipulation 'conspiracy theory' is likely to soon become conspiracy fact. It will then – belatedly - become accepted wisdom among 'experts.' Experts who had never acknowledged it, failed to research and comment on it or had simply dismissed it as a “goldbug accusation.” Financial repression means that most markets are manipulated today - especially bond and foreign exchange markets.
By now we can only hope (pun intended) that everyone has seen the David Einhorn chart showing the circularity of the European "summit-based" decisionmaking process - somewhat relevant since we have had 21 summits since 2008 and Europe has never been in a condition quite as bad as last week when a historic move by the ECB to lower the deposit rate to zero and the refi rate below the critical threshold of 1.00%... and nothing happened. (that's not quite true: JPM, Goldman and Blackrock all made it quite clear European money markets are now officially dead). However, as the following empirical analysis from Credit Suisse shows, the "Einhorn" chart is not just a conversation piece at cocktail parties: there is an actual trade pattern which has made traders lots of money, and which makes Eurocrats the best friends of not only Belgian caterers, but short-sellers everywhere: go long into a summit when the clueless algos read headlines and send risk soaring, only to short the inevitable fizzles days if not hours later.
David Einhorn is kicking ass and taking names, currently in 4th at the WSOP 2012 with over $16 million in chips (having just won an all in with pocket Aces). Select US viewers can watch the live stream below direct from the ESPN2 website. To everyone else, we are confident a 3rd party livestream can be found elsewhere.
Just because there aren't enough traumatizing events in the next week to look forward to, the market has already set its sights on the next "big" (let down) event in Europe - the EU summit on June 28/29, which will only benefit just one class - Belgian caterers. But for some odd reason there is hope that Europe will, miraculously and magically, after years of failing at this, come to some understanding over either Eurobonds, a fiscal union, a deposit insurance, banking union, or some or all of the above (expect many daily rumors regarding any of the above to incite small but violent EUR and ES short covering rallies). However, as we have been observing for the past 3 years, and as David Einhorn summarized visually, nothing will come out of this latest summit. JPM explains why the one thing that can save Europe is a non-starter, and will be for years.