All who thought that China was merely posturing when it announced a few days back it was creating a fund to allow its domestic investor base to allocated capital to foreign gold ETF, may wish to reconsider after it was disclosed late last night that China gold imports jumped by 500% in the first 10 months compared to all of 2009 on concerns of rising inflation according to the Shanghai Gold Exchange.Other concerns probably include what is happening to the FX and stock market which have now moved on from cash flow to Keynesian failure discounting mechanisms: ironically the higher the S&P is pushed by the Brian Sack cabal, the more sovereign bonds are bought by the ECB, and the more bankrupt European countries are said to be doing perfectly ok by their new dictator Olli Rehn, the more gold will be bought across the world. China does not disappoint: from Bloomberg: "Imports gained to 209 metric tons compared with 45 tons for all of 2009, Shen Xiangrong, chairman of the bourse, told a conference in Shanghai today. China, the world’s largest producer and second-biggest user, doesn’t regularly publish gold-trade figures and rarely comments on its reserves." And that would be in the form of JPM's bogeyman: physical.
This is only the beginning:
“The central bank may now be approving all gold import” applications, Albert Cheng, managing director of the World Gold Council’s Far East department, said in an interview. “The government hasn’t officially said that China is encouraging private gold investments, but we in the industry suspect it. And you can see the big jump in the delivered gold imports through the exchange has to be approved by them.”
Gold demand in China gained in the first half as government measures to cool the property market and falling equities spurred investment, the gold exchange said July 7. About 70 percent to 80 percent of the imports in the first 10 months were made into mini-gold bars, which Chinese investors like to hold, the exchange’s Shen said.
“Given China is the world’s biggest gold producer, the sharp increase in its imports is a big surprise,” said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, general manager of research at IDO Securities Co. in Tokyo. “People there need to buy gold to hedge against inflation as the country’s tightening monetary policy drives investors from stocks and properties to gold.”
At this point even the staunchest critics of gold may have to admit that price is determined by the intersection of the supply and demand curves. And demand is growing:
China’s investment gold demand may reach 150 tons this year, up from 105 tons last year, the World Gold Council’s Cheng said. That compares with 3 to 4 tons 10 years ago, Cheng said.
“The investment demand we estimate already reached 120 tons in the first three quarters, and it usually spikes in the fourth,” Cheng said. Global investment demand for gold of 1,901 tons last year exceeded jewelry consumption of 1,759 tons for the first time in three decades, according to London-based researcher GFMS Ltd.
China’s gold market may double in the next decade as retail investment and jewelry demand gain, the World Gold Council said Nov. 3. Consumption may climb to 800 tons to 900 tons in the next ten years, said Wang Lixin, the council’s Greater China general manager. China’s jewelry and investment gold demand was 428 tons in 2009, according to the council.
Which is not to say there won't be a speculative bubble about to rumble into the gold market:
China’s central bank in August said that it would let more banks import and export gold and allow overseas companies more access to trading. Gold demand growth in China will likely be supported by rising disposable income levels and the country could surpass India as the world’s biggest bullion consumer, Deutsche Bank AG said Aug. 6.
China’s plans to relax gold-trading rules may boost demand and increase trading volumes on the Shanghai Gold Exchange, the bank said. Demand will continue to grow, making China one of the top importers together with India, IDO’s Kikukawa said.
But the nuclear question is when will the PBoC itself start bidding gold: after all the country has less gold than the GLD (allegedly) has stashed away in HSBC's London cellars:
Gold accounts for 1.6 percent of the reserves held by the People’s Bank of China, according to the World Gold Council. The country increased reserves by 454 tons to 1,054 tons since 2003, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said last April.
At last check GLD "owned" 1,293 tonnes of gold.