Five Absolutely Spectacular Gold Charts

With incredible turbulence in the gold and silver markets, today John Hathaway sent King World News an incredible snapshot of the big picture for the gold and silver markets, along with 5 absolutely spectacular charts.  KWN was given exclusive distribution rights to this outstanding piece by superstar John Hathaway of Tocqueville Asset Management L.P..  John is without question one of the most respected institutional minds in the world today regarding gold, and his fund was awarded a coveted 5-star rating.

In our opinion, the severe pressure on gold prices since April 16, 2013 has been caused by a coordinated bear raid orchestrated by large bank trading desks and hedge funds.  The method used was naked shorting of gold contracts on the futures exchange (Comex), which means that physical gold was never sold, only paper.  Gold was rarely, if ever, delivered to a buyer.  Trades were settled in cash.

The notional amounts of the transactions on many days exceeded annual mine production, absurd on the face of it.  The motive was most likely to break the gold price for profit.  The result is that short positions of these traders are higher than at the bottom in 2008 (chart below), after which gold rallied 167% and mining shares 256% (basis XAU).

Traders exploited and exaggerated the technical vulnerability of gold in our opinion simply because it was possible to do so.  Because the gold futures market offers deeper capacity than almost any other physical commodity market, it was a perfect target for bonus seeking traders who have also profited (some of which are now being prosecuted or investigated) in the manipulation of Libor and Foreign Exchange rates.

The price decline in paper gold has been met with a surge in physical demand worldwide.  The most dramatic image is the disparity between paper and physical gold, which is depicted in the chart below showing the premiums over paper gold prices paid in China for physical.

While China is by far the larger market, U.S. coin sales are exceptionally strong as well, surpassing volume at the 2011 price peak by 23%.  The conclusion we draw is that the paper market has severely mispriced gold on the downside. The physical market indicates a shortage of gold at the same time the paper market is extremely short.

In April 2013, Dutch banking giant ABN Amro notified clients that they would no longer be providing physical delivery of precious metals including gold.  Claims would be settled in cash with account balances adjusted by the prevailing bid prices “offered by merchants.”????  The bank explained that new custodial relationships would no longer allow physical “extradition.”????

In January 2013, the WSJ reported that Germany, which stores 1500 of its 2600 ton gold reserve within the vault of the NY Federal Reserve bank, was taking steps to return 300 tons to Germany.  One would think this would be a simple matter, with 1000’s of tons trading daily on the COMEX and LBMA.  Not so fast, Germany.  The requested delivery of German gold will not be completed until 2020 even though 300 tons could easily be shipped overnight on a few jumbo jets. ????

Could it be that the NY Fed, in the heart of the NY financial district, had allowed many of the 6700 tons of gold held there for the account of foreign central banks, to be re-hypothecated to investment banks for the lucrative gold swaps, leasing, and derivative business?  As commercial (i.e., bullion dealers such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs) CFTC positions have swung sharply away from the short side (refer to chart on p.1), Comex warehouse stocks have dwindled precipitously, dropping 32% or nearly 100 metric tonnes since the beginning of 2013.

Since the beginning of 2013, physical gold held by ETF’s such as GLD has dropped by 586 tonnes.  Where does the liquidated gold go?  The final destination is impossible to know, but the first stop is into the accounts of “authorized participants”, aka, bullion dealers such as JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs.  There are quite a few dots to connect here, but in our opinion, (and it is admittedly our speculation) an historic short squeeze is looming, and the insiders (bullion dealers) see it coming.  By using the paper market to crush the price of gold, they have attempted to shake loose physical gold to reduce their short exposure in order to minimize the damage from what lies ahead.

 

Because the Fed has already cornered the market on longer term Treasuries (they own more than 40% of all maturities greater than five years, and have purchased 41% of new Treasury issuance since 2009), any valid attempt to exit will, in our opinion, drive interest rates to levels far higher than compatible with sustainable economic growth.  The same can be said for a reduced pace of asset purchases or tapering.

The Fed’s dilemma is that its actions have caused interest rates across the yield curve to be well below likely free market rates.  The thought that the gap between artificial and market rates can be closed gradually seems delusional.  The mere whisper of tapering has already lead to substantial markdowns of fixed income valuations.  The specter of tapering or exit will not go away.  The prospect of a controlled exit is likely to be extremely challenging.  If the markets force the Fed’s hand ahead of its schedule, as we expect, the second order effects on financial asset values could be as unprecedented as the Fed’s past five years of intervention.

Why gold now more than ever?

We believe the two year correction has created an unusually compelling entry point.  The market is positioned in a very similar manner to the 2008 bottom which was followed by substantial returns for the next three years.  Valuations of mining equities are at historic lows, which to us means that one is paying nothing for the potential upside in the gold price.

Rock bottom sentiment suggests extremely negative scenarios have already been priced into the metal and the equities.  In our experience, investing against the crowd has generally been rewarding across all asset categories.

We also believe that the macro economic rationale for gold has never been stronger.  Should the economy strengthen, inflation risks are high because of the political and practical challenge of shrinking the Fed balance sheet.  Should the economy continue to sputter or turn down, the possibility of a financial market downgrade of sovereign credit would result in politically intolerable high interest rates.

Finally, severe pullbacks have typically set the stage for significant advances to new all-time highs.

 

World Central Banks Buying Gold

Today is a national holiday in the United Kingdom and the USA.
Friday’s AM fix was USD 1,385.25, EUR 1,068.95 and GBP 917.81 per ounce.

Gold climbed $5 on Friday and closed at $1,390.25/oz in London and silver closed at 22.482 in NY.

Gold rose 0.45% this morning in quiet European trading with UK and U.S. markets closed for holidays. Silver, platinum and palladium also advanced this morning.

Gold’s gains come on the back of the best week in a month last week when gold rose 2%.

Gold is being supported by continued diversification from central banks and signs of increased physical demand which is countering continued outflows in ETF holdings.

Gold Price (Nominal) and Central Bank Net Buying/ Selling (1971-2013)

Russia,Turkey, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan expanded their gold reserves for a seventh straight month in April, buying bullion to diversify foreign exchange reserves due to concerns about the dollar and the euro.

Russia’s steady increase in its gold reserves saw its holdings, the seventh-largest by country, climb another 8.4 metric tons to 990 tons, taking gains this year to 3.4% after expanding by 8.5% in 2012, International Monetary Fund data show.

Kazakhstan’s reserves grew 2.6 tons to 125.5 tons, taking the increase to 8.9% this year after a 41% expansion in 2012, data on the website showed.

Turkey’s holdings rose 18.2 tons to 427.1 tons in April, increasing for a 10th month as it accepted gold in its reserve requirements from commercial banks.

Belarus’s holdings expanded for a seventh month as did Azerbaijan’s.

Interestingly, Greece’s gold holdings climbed for a fourth month, according to the IMF data.

This could be a sign of rising economic nationalism in Greece or that the Greek central bank realises that if Greece leaves the euro and is forced back onto the drachma that gold reserves will offer a modicum of protection. Only a modicum, because Greece’s gold reserves remain miniscule especially considering the scale of their debts.

IMF Greece Gold Reserves, in Mill Fin Troy Oz, (Quarterly 01Jan1956-27May2013)

Central banks are buying gold as an overall strategy of forex portfolio diversification and the recent price drop will not deter them from a long term policy of diversification into gold.

Central bank reserve managers are conservative rather than speculative and will ignore the day to day noise and price predictions emanating from certain banks in favour of passive allocations to gold as part of their foreign exchange diversification strategy.

IMF World Gold Reserves, in Mill Fin Troy Oz, (Monthly 31Mar2007-31Mar2013)

While not driven by price, some central banks may have made the most of the lower prices by increasing their holdings by more than they would have if prices had risen in value.

The long term trend for central banks to increase gold reserves remains intact and will support gold.

Central banks bought 534.6 tons of gold last year, the most since 1964, and may add as much as 550 tons in 2013, the World Gold Council estimates. While central-bank purchases fell 5.2 percent in the three months through March, they totaled more than 100 tons for the seventh straight quarter, according to council data.

IMF China Gold Reserves, in Mill Fin Troy Oz (Quarterly 01Jan1977-27May2013)

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.

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 and are at $3.4 trillion today.

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 54% in the last 5 years and 250% since 2004, with the registered volume little changed, according to data based on International Monetary Fund and World Gold Council figures.

China’s Foreign Exchange Reserves vs Gold Monthly (2004-2013)

By comparison, China’s reserves rose 721% from 2004 through 2012, while the combined total among Brazil, Russia and India rose about 400% to $1.1 trillion.

Continuing diversification into gold from the huge foreign exchange reserves by the People’s Bank of China and other central banks is a primary pillar which will support gold and should contribute to higher prices in the coming years.

We are confident that the PBOC is quietly accumulating gold and we expect another announcement from the PBOC, possibly this year, when they again disclose to the market that they drastically increased their gold reserves – possibly from 1,054 tonnes to between 2,000 and 3,000 tonnes.

Source: http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article40627.html

Krugman’s $1 Trillion Platinum Coin

“Well, the trillion-dollar-coin thing — deal with the debt ceiling by exploiting a legal loophole to have the Treasury mint one or more large-denomination coins, deposit them at the Fed, and use the cash in the new account to pay bills — has really taken off. Last month I spoke with a senior Fed official who had never heard of the idea; these days it’s all over. [It has been around for quite some time in monetary theory circles, where P.K. apparently does not dally - Jesse] Continue reading