Posts Tagged ‘gold’
The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There’s no price the big banks can’t fix
by Matt Taibbi
April 25, 2013 1:00 PM ET
Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.
You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it “dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets.”
That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world’s largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.
Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It’s about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.
It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks – including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland – that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates. In fact, in recent years many of these banks have already paid multimillion-dollar settlements for anti-competitive manipulation of one form or another (in addition to Libor, some were caught up in an anti-competitive scheme, detailed in Rolling Stone last year, to rig municipal-debt service auctions). Though the jumble of financial acronyms sounds like gibberish to the layperson, the fact that there may now be price-fixing scandals involving both Libor and ISDAfix suggests a single, giant mushrooming conspiracy of collusion and price-fixing hovering under the ostensibly competitive veneer of Wall Street culture.
Why? Because Libor already affects the prices of interest-rate swaps, making this a manipulation-on-manipulation situation. If the allegations prove to be right, that will mean that swap customers have been paying for two different layers of price-fixing corruption. If you can imagine paying 20 bucks for a crappy PB&J because some evil cabal of agribusiness companies colluded to fix the prices of both peanuts and peanut butter, you come close to grasping the lunacy of financial markets where both interest rates and interest-rate swaps are being manipulated at the same time, often by the same banks.
“It’s a double conspiracy,” says an amazed Michael Greenberger, a former director of the trading and markets division at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and now a professor at the University of Maryland. “It’s the height of criminality.”
The bad news didn’t stop with swaps and interest rates. In March, it also came out that two regulators – the CFTC here in the U.S. and the Madrid-based International Organization of Securities Commissions – were spurred by the Libor revelations to investigate the possibility of collusive manipulation of gold and silver prices. “Given the clubby manipulation efforts we saw in Libor benchmarks, I assume other benchmarks – many other benchmarks – are legit areas of inquiry,” CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said.
But the biggest shock came out of a federal courtroom at the end of March – though if you follow these matters closely, it may not have been so shocking at all – when a landmark class-action civil lawsuit against the banks for Libor-related offenses was dismissed. In that case, a federal judge accepted the banker-defendants’ incredible argument: If cities and towns and other investors lost money because of Libor manipulation, that was their own fault for ever thinking the banks were competing in the first place.
“A farce,” was one antitrust lawyer’s response to the eyebrow-raising dismissal.
“Incredible,” says Sylvia Sokol, an attorney for Constantine Cannon, a firm that specializes in antitrust cases.
All of these stories collectively pointed to the same thing: These banks, which already possess enormous power just by virtue of their financial holdings – in the United States, the top six banks, many of them the same names you see on the Libor and ISDAfix panels, own assets equivalent to 60 percent of the nation’s GDP – are beginning to realize the awesome possibilities for increased profit and political might that would come with colluding instead of competing. Moreover, it’s increasingly clear that both the criminal justice system and the civil courts may be impotent to stop them, even when they do get caught working together to game the system.
If true, that would leave us living in an era of undisguised, real-world conspiracy, in which the prices of currencies, commodities like gold and silver, even interest rates and the value of money itself, can be and may already have been dictated from above. And those who are doing it can get away with it. Forget the Illuminati – this is the real thing, and it’s no secret. You can stare right at it, anytime you want.
The banks found a loophole, a basic flaw in the machine. Across the financial system, there are places where prices or official indices are set based upon unverified data sent in by private banks and financial companies. In other words, we gave the players with incentives to game the system institutional roles in the economic infrastructure.
Libor, which measures the prices banks charge one another to borrow money, is a perfect example, not only of this basic flaw in the price-setting system but of the weakness in the regulatory framework supposedly policing it. Couple a voluntary reporting scheme with too-big-to-fail status and a revolving-door legal system, and what you get is unstoppable corruption.
Every morning, 18 of the world’s biggest banks submit data to an office in London about how much they believe they would have to pay to borrow from other banks. The 18 banks together are called the “Libor panel,” and when all of these data from all 18 panelist banks are collected, the numbers are averaged out. What emerges, every morning at 11:30 London time, are the daily Libor figures.
Banks submit numbers about borrowing in 10 different currencies across 15 different time periods, e.g., loans as short as one day and as long as one year. This mountain of bank-submitted data is used every day to create benchmark rates that affect the prices of everything from credit cards to mortgages to currencies to commercial loans (both short- and long-term) to swaps.
Dating back perhaps as far as the early Nineties, traders and others inside these banks were sometimes calling up the company geeks responsible for submitting the daily Libor numbers (the “Libor submitters”) and asking them to fudge the numbers. Usually, the gimmick was the trader had made a bet on something – a swap, currencies, something – and he wanted the Libor submitter to make the numbers look lower (or, occasionally, higher) to help his bet pay off.
Famously, one Barclays trader monkeyed with Libor submissions in exchange for a bottle of Bollinger champagne, but in some cases, it was even lamer than that. This is from an exchange between a trader and a Libor submitter at the Royal Bank of Scotland:
SWISS FRANC TRADER: can u put 6m swiss libor in low pls?…
PRIMARY SUBMITTER: Whats it worth
SWSISS FRANC TRADER: ive got some sushi rolls from yesterday?…
PRIMARY SUBMITTER: ok low 6m, just for u
SWISS FRANC TRADER: wooooooohooooooo.?.?. thatd be awesome
Screwing around with world interest rates that affect billions of people in exchange for day-old sushi – it’s hard to imagine an image that better captures the moral insanity of the modern financial-services sector.
Hundreds of similar exchanges were uncovered when regulators like Britain’s Financial Services Authority and the U.S. Justice Department started burrowing into the befouled entrails of Libor. The documentary evidence of anti-competitive manipulation they found was so overwhelming that, to read it, one almost becomes embarrassed for the banks. “It’s just amazing how Libor fixing can make you that much money,” chirped one yen trader. “Pure manipulation going on,” wrote another.
Yet despite so many instances of at least attempted manipulation, the banks mostly skated. Barclays got off with a relatively minor fine in the $450 million range, UBS was stuck with $1.5 billion in penalties, and RBS was forced to give up $615 million. Apart from a few low-level flunkies overseas, no individual involved in this scam that impacted nearly everyone in the industrialized world was even threatened with criminal prosecution.
Two of America’s top law-enforcement officials, Attorney General Eric Holder and former Justice Department Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer, confessed that it’s dangerous to prosecute offending banks because they are simply too big. Making arrests, they say, might lead to “collateral consequences” in the economy.
The relatively small sums of money extracted in these settlements did not go toward reparations for the cities, towns and other victims who lost money due to Libor manipulation. Instead, it flowed mindlessly into government coffers. So it was left to towns and cities like Baltimore (which lost money due to fluctuations in their municipal investments caused by Libor movements), pensions like the New Britain, Connecticut, Firefighters’ and Police Benefit Fund, and other foundations – and even individuals (billionaire real-estate developer Sheldon Solow, who filed his own suit in February, claims that his company lost $450 million because of Libor manipulation) – to sue the banks for damages.
One of the biggest Libor suits was proceeding on schedule when, early in March, an army of superstar lawyers working on behalf of the banks descended upon federal judge Naomi Buchwald in the Southern District of New York to argue an extraordinary motion to dismiss. The banks’ legal dream team drew from heavyweight Beltway-connected firms like Boies Schiller (you remember David Boies represented Al Gore), Davis Polk (home of top ex-regulators like former SEC enforcement chief Linda Thomsen) and Covington & Burling, the onetime private-practice home of both Holder and Breuer.
The presence of Covington & Burling in the suit – representing, of all companies, Citigroup, the former employer of current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew – was particularly galling. Right as the Libor case was being dismissed, the firm had hired none other than Lanny Breuer, the same Lanny Breuer who, just a few months before, was the assistant attorney general who had balked at criminally prosecuting UBS over Libor because, he said, “Our goal here is not to destroy a major financial institution.”
In any case, this all-star squad of white-shoe lawyers came before Buchwald and made the mother of all audacious arguments. Robert Wise of Davis Polk, representing Bank of America, told Buchwald that the banks could not possibly be guilty of anti- competitive collusion because nobody ever said that the creation of Libor was competitive. “It is essential to our argument that this is not a competitive process,” he said. “The banks do not compete with one another in the submission of Libor.”
But Wise eventually outdid even that argument, essentially saying that while the banks may have lied to or cheated their customers, they weren’t guilty of the particular crime of antitrust collusion. This is like the old joke about the lawyer who gets up in court and claims his client had to be innocent, because his client was committing a crime in a different state at the time of the offense.
“The plaintiffs, I believe, are confusing a claim of being perhaps deceived,” he said, “with a claim for harm to competition.”
Judge Buchwald swallowed this lunatic argument whole and dismissed most of the case. Libor, she said, was a “cooperative endeavor” that was “never intended to be competitive.” Her decision “does not reflect the reality of this business, where all of these banks were acting as competitors throughout the process,” said the antitrust lawyer Sokol. Buchwald made this ruling despite the fact that both the U.S. and British governments had already settled with three banks for billions of dollars for improper manipulation, manipulation that these companies admitted to in their settlements.
Michael Hausfeld of Hausfeld LLP, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs in this Libor suit, declined to comment specifically on the dismissal. But he did talk about the significance of the Libor case and other manipulation cases now in the pipeline.
“It’s now evident that there is a ubiquitous culture among the banks to collude and cheat their customers as many times as they can in as many forms as they can conceive,” he said. “And that’s not just surmising. This is just based upon what they’ve been caught at.”
Greenberger says the lack of serious consequences for the Libor scandal has only made other kinds of manipulation more inevitable. “There’s no therapy like sending those who are used to wearing Gucci shoes to jail,” he says. “But when the attorney general says, ‘I don’t want to indict people,’ it’s the Wild West. There’s no law.”
The problem is, a number of markets feature the same infrastructural weakness that failed in the Libor mess. In the case of interest-rate swaps and the ISDAfix benchmark, the system is very similar to Libor, although the investigation into these markets reportedly focuses on some different types of improprieties.
Though interest-rate swaps are not widely understood outside the finance world, the root concept actually isn’t that hard. If you can imagine taking out a variable-rate mortgage and then paying a bank to make your loan payments fixed, you’ve got the basic idea of an interest-rate swap.
In practice, it might be a country like Greece or a regional government like Jefferson County, Alabama, that borrows money at a variable rate of interest, then later goes to a bank to “swap” that loan to a more predictable fixed rate. In its simplest form, the customer in a swap deal is usually paying a premium for the safety and security of fixed interest rates, while the firm selling the swap is usually betting that it knows more about future movements in interest rates than its customers.
Prices for interest-rate swaps are often based on ISDAfix, which, like Libor, is yet another of these privately calculated benchmarks. ISDAfix’s U.S. dollar rates are published every day, at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., after a gang of the same usual-suspect megabanks (Bank of America, RBS, Deutsche, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, etc.) submits information about bids and offers for swaps.
And here’s what we know so far: The CFTC has sent subpoenas to ICAP and to as many as 15 of those member banks, and plans to interview about a dozen ICAP employees from the company’s office in Jersey City, New Jersey. Moreover, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, or ISDA, which works together with ICAP (for U.S. dollar transactions) and Thomson Reuters to compute the ISDAfix benchmark, has hired the consulting firm Oliver Wyman to review the process by which ISDAfix is calculated. Oliver Wyman is the same company that the British Bankers’ Association hired to review the Libor submission process after that scandal broke last year. The upshot of all of this is that it looks very much like ISDAfix could be Libor all over again.
“It’s obviously reminiscent of the Libor manipulation issue,” Darrell Duffie, a finance professor at Stanford University, told reporters. “People may have been naive that simply reporting these rates was enough to avoid manipulation.”
And just like in Libor, the potential losers in an interest-rate-swap manipulation scandal would be the same sad-sack collection of cities, towns, companies and other nonbank entities that have no way of knowing if they’re paying the real price for swaps or a price being manipulated by bank insiders for profit. Moreover, ISDAfix is not only used to calculate prices for interest-rate swaps, it’s also used to set values for about $550 billion worth of bonds tied to commercial real estate, and also affects the payouts on some state-pension annuities.
So although it’s not quite as widespread as Libor, ISDAfix is sufficiently power-jammed into the world financial infrastructure that any manipulation of the rate would be catastrophic – and a huge class of victims that could include everyone from state pensioners to big cities to wealthy investors in structured notes would have no idea they were being robbed.
“How is some municipality in Cleveland or wherever going to know if it’s getting ripped off?” asks Michael Masters of Masters Capital Management, a fund manager who has long been an advocate of greater transparency in the derivatives world. “The answer is, they won’t know.”
Worse still, the CFTC investigation apparently isn’t limited to possible manipulation of swap prices by monkeying around with ISDAfix. According to reports, the commission is also looking at whether or not employees at ICAP may have intentionally delayed publication of swap prices, which in theory could give someone (bankers, cough, cough) a chance to trade ahead of the information.
Swap prices are published when ICAP employees manually enter the data on a computer screen called “19901.” Some 6,000 customers subscribe to a service that allows them to access the data appearing on the 19901 screen.
The key here is that unlike a more transparent, regulated market like the New York Stock Exchange, where the results of stock trades are computed more or less instantly and everyone in theory can immediately see the impact of trading on the prices of stocks, in the swap market the whole world is dependent upon a handful of brokers quickly and honestly entering data about trades by hand into a computer terminal.
Any delay in entering price data would provide the banks involved in the transactions with a rare opportunity to trade ahead of the information. One way to imagine it would be to picture a racetrack where a giant curtain is pulled over the track as the horses come down the stretch – and the gallery is only told two minutes later which horse actually won. Anyone on the right side of the curtain could make a lot of smart bets before the audience saw the results of the race.
At ICAP, the interest-rate swap desk, and the 19901 screen, were reportedly controlled by a small group of 20 or so brokers, some of whom were making millions of dollars. These brokers made so much money for themselves the unit was nicknamed “Treasure Island.”
Already, there are some reports that brokers of Treasure Island did create such intentional delays. Bloomberg interviewed a former broker who claims that he watched ICAP brokers delay the reporting of swap prices. “That allows dealers to tell the brokers to delay putting trades into the system instead of in real time,” Bloomberg wrote, noting the former broker had “witnessed such activity firsthand.” An ICAP spokesman has no comment on the story, though the company has released a statement saying that it is “cooperating” with the CFTC’s inquiry and that it “maintains policies that prohibit” the improper behavior alleged in news reports.
The idea that prices in a $379 trillion market could be dependent on a desk of about 20 guys in New Jersey should tell you a lot about the absurdity of our financial infrastructure. The whole thing, in fact, has a darkly comic element to it. “It’s almost hilarious in the irony,” says David Frenk, director of research for Better Markets, a financial-reform advocacy group, “that they called it ISDAfix.”
After scandals involving libor and, perhaps, ISDAfix, the question that should have everyone freaked out is this: What other markets out there carry the same potential for manipulation? The answer to that question is far from reassuring, because the potential is almost everywhere. From gold to gas to swaps to interest rates, prices all over the world are dependent upon little private cabals of cigar-chomping insiders we’re forced to trust.
“In all the over-the-counter markets, you don’t really have pricing except by a bunch of guys getting together,” Masters notes glumly.
That includes the markets for gold (where prices are set by five banks in a Libor-ish teleconferencing process that, ironically, was created in part by N M Rothschild & Sons) and silver (whose price is set by just three banks), as well as benchmark rates in numerous other commodities – jet fuel, diesel, electric power, coal, you name it. The problem in each of these markets is the same: We all have to rely upon the honesty of companies like Barclays (already caught and fined $453 million for rigging Libor) or JPMorgan Chase (paid a $228 million settlement for rigging municipal-bond auctions) or UBS (fined a collective $1.66 billion for both muni-bond rigging and Libor manipulation) to faithfully report the real prices of things like interest rates, swaps, currencies and commodities.
All of these benchmarks based on voluntary reporting are now being looked at by regulators around the world, and God knows what they’ll find. The European Federation of Financial Services Users wrote in an official EU survey last summer that all of these systems are ripe targets for manipulation. “In general,” it wrote, “those markets which are based on non-attested, voluntary submission of data from agents whose benefits depend on such benchmarks are especially vulnerable of market abuse and distortion.”
Translation: When prices are set by companies that can profit by manipulating them, we’re fucked.
“You name it,” says Frenk. “Any of these benchmarks is a possibility for corruption.”
The only reason this problem has not received the attention it deserves is because the scale of it is so enormous that ordinary people simply cannot see it. It’s not just stealing by reaching a hand into your pocket and taking out money, but stealing in which banks can hit a few keystrokes and magically make whatever’s in your pocket worth less. This is corruption at the molecular level of the economy, Space Age stealing – and it’s only just coming into view.
This story is from the May 9th, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.
August 16th, 2012
In a harbinger of what may be coming our way in the Fall of 2012, billionaire financier George Soros has sold all of his equity positions in major financial stocks according to a 13-F report filed with the SEC for the quarter ending June 30, 2012.
Soros, who manages funds through various accounts in the US and the Cayman Islands, has reportedly unloaded over one million shares of stock in financial companies and banks that include Citigroup (420,000 shares), JP Morgan (701,400 shares) and Goldman Sachs (120,000 shares). The total value of the stock sales amounts to nearly $50 million.
What’s equally as interesting as his sale of major financials is where Soros has shifted his money. At the same time he was selling bank stocks, he was acquiring some 884,000 shares (approx. $130 million) of Gold via the SPDR Gold Trust.
When a major global player with direct ties to the White House, Wall Street, and the banking system starts off-loading stocks and starts stacking gold, it suggests a very serious market move is set to happen.
While often lambasted for his calls to centralize global banking, increase government intervention in the economy and his support of what he has called an “emergence of the new world order,” if there’s anyone with an inside track of where things are headed next it’s Soros.
Soros, who has written extensively of a coming global paradigm shift in his book The Crash of 2008 and What It Means, calling the current economic and political model ”an end of an era,” has recently suggested that the financial and economic situation across the world is so serious that Europe could soon descend into chaos and conflict. He also notes that the world is entering “one of the most dangerous periods in modern history”, and foresees violent riots in America and a brutal clamp-down by the government that will dramatically curtail civil liberties.
This is an individual who not only predicted the collapse of 2008 and took action to insulate himself, he also proposed the various fixes that governments in Europe and the US would eventually implement in order to stave off a deflationary depression. In his aforementioned book he suggested that central banks infuse the system with massive amounts of monetary expansion, but also warned that not injecting enough money would simply extend the onset of deflation and printing too much could lead to hyperinflationary currency collapse.
Based on recent activity in Soros’ US held accounts, it seems that governments and central banks have failed at those efforts to stabilize the system. As such, Soros is getting out of those companies which are most at risk should the financial system buckle like it did in 2008 and he’s shifting his assets into what may be the only asset class left standing when it’s all said and done.
Read the entire article HERE.
by Bix Weir
The silver markets are rigged. Every day. Every trade. Every option. Every derivative. The silver markets have been rigged since the early 1970′s when Alan Greenspan introduced computer market trading systems to the world beginning the long term commodity market rigging operation.
Since that time there has not been a day when the silver markets have been “freely traded”. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, knows the true “Fair Market Value” of silver!
But like all price suppression schemes, the silver manipulation must come to an end and we are on the brink of that moment. The only remaining question should be “What is the true value of silver in terms of money?”
First a little background to set the stage.
Computer Commodity Trading
Beginning in the early 1970′s, computers were introduced to control the order flow in financial markets. Order processing was drastically changed with the New York Stock Exchange’s “designated order turnaround” system (DOT, and later SuperDOT) which routed orders electronically to the proper trading post to be executed manually, and the “opening automated reporting system” (OARS) which aided the specialist in determining the market clearing opening price (SOR; Smart Order Routing).
Today we have algorithmic trading, auto trading, algo trading, black-box trading, robo trading…and the list goes on. Algorithmic Trading is widely used by pension funds, mutual funds, and other buy side institutional traders, to divide large trades into several smaller trades in order to manage market impact, and risk. Sell side traders, such as market makers and hedge funds, claim to provide “liquidity to the market”, generating and executing orders automatically. In “high frequency trading” (HFT) computers make the decision to initiate orders based on information that is received electronically, before human traders are even aware of the information.
Over the years computers have played an increasingly important role in everything related to our “free and open market system” such that today’s financial markets CANNOT function without computers. The Federal Reserve, US Treasury, Wall Street insiders and the Exchanges were all instrumental in the integration of computers but they also gained access to secret trading information before the order hit the open market. This information coupled with the fastest computers on earth made market manipulation easy.
This power, the power to control markets, was too much for anyone to resist. Over time those who were given the official key to the back office operations have used and abused their position to its manipulative fullest. Although some of the time they used this power in an official capacity (for the good of the country), more often than not it was used in an unofficial capacity… for the good of themselves.
Bernie Madoff, the ex-head of the NASAQ, was a great example of this public to private transition as his private trading firm was all computer algorithm based market rigging operations. There are many other ex-Exchange/Wall Street officers that went on to open computer trading operations. Many continue to thrive such as EWT, LLC which became a dominant trading/market making firm using “state-of-the-art technology and algorithmic models”. EWT was founded by Vincent Viola (ex NYMEX Chairman) and David Salomon (reported to Robert Ruben at Goldman Sachs) and are also an “Authorized Participant” in the iShares Silver ETF (SLV).
Are you beginning to see the problem? He who has the biggest, fastest and smartest computers (or programmers) can set the price and will ALWAYS WIN! No longer is there any kind of true supply/demand factors related to commodity exchanges or prices. Computer trading should be outlawed…the convenience and efficiency it provides does not offset the detrimental effects and potential for total and complete market manipulation.
CFTC Created to Cover Up the Manipulation
When the computer rigging programs were implemented there needed to be some kind of cover to ensure secrecy and maintain a false confidence in free markets. In 1974 Congress passed the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act that overhauled the Commodity Exchange Act and created the CFTC as an independent agency with powers greater than those of its predecessor agency, the Commodity Exchange Authority.
From that moment the CFTC has been run by board appointees that showcased a revolving door of Wall Street insiders ensuring that the computer market rigging operations were not interfered with. The only notable exception is Brooksley Born who was fired by President Clinton when she found out the truth about our supposed “free markets” and tried to warn everyone. (see The Warning)
Listen to Brooksley Born explain the problems in her own words when she accepted her JFK Profiles in Courage Award in August 2009.
A while back I gave up my fight against the CFTC as I determined that they were NOT protecting the best interest of the investor but rather they were protecting the computer market rigging operations and the people involved. Here is one of my last articles on the subject:
Road to Roota III — Who’s the little man behind the curtain?
Now that you have some background let’s get back to $8,000 Silver!
Historically, when any price rigging operation stops the violence of the ensuing price changes are determined by the length and scale of the manipulation as well as the underlying fundamentals of the item being rigged. Take for example the famous 1980′s case of the Hunt brothers trying to corner the silver market. From early 1974 the Hunt brothers started accumulating silver which ultimately drove the price from $6/oz to $50/oz until January 21, 1980 when the CFTC finally pulled the plug on their operation. Within 2 months the price of silver plummeted from $50/oz to $10/oz and the silver price was back under control of the US Government and Banking Cabal. An excellent account of what transpired can be found here:
This account shows what can happen to the price of a manipulated commodity when the price manipulation is ended. In the case of the Hunt Brothers the manipulation lasted 6 years and involved approximately 130M oz of physical silver and 90M oz of COMEX silver contracts. This was an attempt at a Long Silver price manipulation but it was going on while the Short Silver Official manipulation was going on trying to keep the price down. The only way the Hunt’s accumulated so much silver without the price heading into the many thousands of dollars was the official computer price suppression operation.
The manipulation was ended when the CFTC stopped all COMEX Silver purchases and allowed only silver liquidation sales instantly driving the price down. In 1980 the US Government held 3B oz of silver and in order to maintain the lower silver price levels they sold the entire stock of silver into the market over the next 25 years. That excess supply combined with other governments divesting their silver was enough to continue the price suppression scheme for almost 40 years. That supply is now gone.
One Bank has the Hot Potato
So here we are 40 years after the official manipulation of silver began and the world is finally awakening to the situation. The CFTC, having investigated silver manipulation allegations twice previously, has had an open investigation into silver market manipulation for over 3 years. They have even stated that the investigation was moved to the “Enforcement Division” within the CFTC which pretty much tells you what the conclusion of the investigation revealed. The FBI has separately stated that they are investigating JP Morgan for silver market manipulation.
These two facts and the absolute SILENCE from JP Morgan were strong indicators that the long term manipulation of silver was about to end but on April 5, 2012 JP Morgan broke their silence about silver manipulation. The “Wicked Witch” of silver, Blythe Masters, (the head of JPM Commodities and the creator of the mammoth Credit Default Swaps complex) came on a scripted CNBC interview and denied that JP Morgan manipulates the silver price.
JPMorgan Not Speculating on Commodities: Blythe Masters
Of course she is lying through her teeth when she claims that JP Morgan only has neutral positions. The obvious “tell” is that JPM booked almost $3 BILLION in revenue from their commodities division in 2011! Either they have the highest commission structure in human history or she is LYING THROUGH HER TEETH! As a matter of fact, Blythe’s boss Jamie Dimon recently claimed that they need to get rid of the Volcker Rule so they can continue to offer their customers THE LOWEST prices possible…
Dimon on Price Wars, Volcker Rule, Stock Prices
Here’s the specific quote just over 2:00 into the piece: “When the client calls up JP Morgan, if we don’t give them the best price then we don’t get the business.”
So tell me Blythe…how did you make $3B off your commodity clients by offering them “the best price” and NOT trading for your own book?!
Looks like Blythe has cracked the age old secret for turning lead into gold…PILE ON THE PAPER DERIVATIVES!
*The REASON that Blythe gave this article is that they are about to be BUSTED for silver market manipulation and she is trying to start the defense early…nice try Blythe but you are about to be MELTED!
Ted Butler of Butler Research has been exposing the official manipulation of Silver for the past 25 years. His research was instrumental in exposing the gold/silver leasing operations and the massive concentrated short positions in both gold and silver. On September 3, 2008 Butler published a report entitled Fact Versus Speculation where he showed how one bank, JP Morgan Chase, took over the Bear Stearns Silver COMEX Short position of 30,000 contracts or 150M oz.
Since this report was published JP Morgan has continued its silver market rigging antics in an effort to get out of this precarious short position. After Butler exposed JPM as the culprit there have been wild orchestrated swings in the price of silver as JPM attempts to cover their massive COMEX short position. The price of silver has risen from $13 to currently over $30 in this time frame and the size of the short position held by JP Morgan has gyrated wildly between 30k and 40k contracts as they desperately try to shake the longs to cover their shorts. But even with this rise in price the short position is STILL around 20k contracts according to the CFTC’s latest Bank Participation Report.
Add to this various silver market manipulation tools such as naked shorting silver ETF’s, falsifying COMEX warehouse data, unallocated silver, leasing and swapping metal and you have a situation that dwarfs the Hunt brothers case.
Of course, JP Morgan is no ordinary bank because they are also the LARGEST derivative holder in the WORLD at over $75 TRILLION! Do remember Warren Buffett calling derivatives “Weapons of Mass Financial Destruction”? Well, JP Morgan holds the mother load when it comes to silver too with over $19 BILLION of Silver derivative contracts!
(OCC Report table 9: Classified as “PREC METALS”… might be a little platinum but not much).
This report was for the quarter ending September 2011 when the price of silver was slammed down to $30 from $42/oz at the beginning of Sept. Interesting: Had silver NOT been slammed down almost 30% in Sept 2011 then JPM would have had to declare silver derivative of close to $25B instead of just $19B. Talk about “painting the tape”!
At $30/oz silver the JPM $19B silver derivative position is representative of over 630M ounces of paper silver.
COME ON PEOPLE! I’m starting to think my $8,000/oz silver call is too conservative!
What’s going to happen when JP Morgan’s derivative monument comes crashing down?
Here’s where I get to $8,000 per oz for silver.
1) I know silver has not been freely traded in 40 years so today’s price if irrelevant.
2) I, like many, estimate there is only about 1B ounces in above ground physical silver for investment purposes.
3) I, like many, estimate there is only 5B ounces of above ground physical gold for investment purposes.
4) If the price of gold is not manipulated, like the banks claim, then the price of silver should be 5x the price of gold due to its supply/demand fundamentals.
CONCLUSION: The price of gold is around $1,600/oz so the true Fair Market Value of Silver should be around 5x the price of gold or $8,000/oz in a FREE market!
It’s simple, if you remove ONE BANK from the supply side of the equation the price of silver will SKYROCKET overnight.
ONE BANK controls the price of silver.
ONE BANK controls the fate of our monetary system.
ONE BANK is behind the curtain pulling the silver manipulation levers.
ONE BANK has control over a nation that was founded by “We the People”.
ONE BANK MUST GO AWAY TO SAVE OUR LIBERTY!
May the Road you choose be the Right Road.
Read the entire article HERE.
by Michael Maloney
December 19, 2011
Just last week we wrote about the dangers that MF Global revealed in the global banking system. The basic idea is that MF Global and probably every other Wall Street bank is gambling with their clients’ wealth. What’s clearly a fact is that these firms’ fiduciary responsibility is to themselves and their shareholders—it’s their clients that are the ones being taken out back for slaughter.
A Barron’s article today, published in Yahoo! Finance, proves many of those clients’ worst fears—that lost assets including cash, stocks, commodities, futures, and gold and silver will be commingled by MF Global’s trustee, and losses will be shared amongst all of MF Global’s creditors. But the holders of gold and silver had warehouse receipts identifying individual bars and coins that the clients believed were theirs. These clients, of course, assumed that their metals were safe and sound in the custody of MF Global, but as we have talked about before, when a bank goes under, anyone storing metals becomes an unsecured creditor—and in that case you are at the whim of the bank—or more accurately the bank’s bankruptcy trustee.
When we wrote this in July of 2010, many thought we were crazy. Ownership is ownership, they claimed, and it didn’t matter if you owned gold in ETF format, pooled account, or with a bullion bank.
Just as when you deposit your currency at a bank, the bank doesn’t keep your dollars separate from everyone else’s dollars; the bank simply tells you in your bank statements how much it owes you. But, legally, when you buy into a gold pool or certificate program, the bank becomes the owner of the gold.
If the bank gets into financial trouble (gasp!) it can sell your gold to maintain its assets at a level where it won’t get shut down and where it will avoid a run on the bank. In that instance, you won’t be paid back in gold, but rather in currency—less currency than the value of the gold the bank owed you—because logically a bank in trouble almost certainly would be forced to sell assets at fire-sale prices. If you live in a country with some kind of bank deposit protection (such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in the United States or Financial Services Compensation Scheme in the U.K.), your gold will not be covered. That’s because deposit insurance only applies to currency—meaning that, in the event of a bank crash, currency deposits are safer than unallocated gold.
When we first heard the story of Jason Fane of Ithaca, NY, having his precious metals held from transfer by the bankruptcy trustee, we smelled something fishy, and assumed that something more sinister was going on.
Today’s Barron’s article proves exactly those fears—that precious metals owners who seemingly owned their metals outright will actually lose a portion of the value of their precious metals. Barron’s says this:
That has investors fuming. “Warehouse receipts, like gold bars, are our property, 100%,” contends John Roe, a partner in BTR Trading, a Chicago futures-trading firm. He personally lost several hundred thousand dollars in investments via MF Global; his clients lost even more. “We are a unique class, and instead, the trustee is doing a radical redistribution of property,” he says.
But a redistribution of property is exactly what is planned—with “owners” of precious metals held by the former-MF Global being forced to take a 28% haircut on the value of their metals. But it gets worse:
So the big secret is out in the open now—and maybe, people won’t think we are crazy any more. As Mike Maloney has said for years: “If you can’t hold it, you don’t own it.”
Read the entire article HERE.
Earlier this morning the anti-gold brigade was foaming in the mouth on the news that the German central bank had for the first time in a year sold gold. As it turns out they were half right: the bank indeed sold gold: a ‘whopping’ 150,000 toz or about $250 million worth… But not in the open market, and not even to natural buyers of physical like Sprott and everyone else not infatuated with voodoo theories of infinite repoability of debt. They sold it to the German ministry of Finance… to mint commemorative coins. Coins which we are now confident will be promptly mopped up by the general public. Following the sale Germany will be left with a modest 109,194,000 troy ounces, enough to allow the country to gladly tell Europe to do some anatomically impossible things and to fall back to a hard asset baked currency if and when it should so desire.
Germany has lowered its gold reserves for the first time in almost a year, selling 150,000 troy ounces in October while central banks of developing economies continued to beef up their bullion holdings in a bid to diversify their foreign reserves.
Bundesbank, the central bank of Germany, reduced its reserves to 109.194 million ounces in October, from 109.344 million ounces in September, according to International Monetary Fund data seen by Dow Jones Newswires.
A spokesman for Bundesbank confirmed 150,000 ounces of gold had been sold to the Ministry of Finance to mint commemorative coins. The last time Germany’s reserves were lowered was in December 2010, when the Bundesbank reduced total holdings by 27,000 ounces, from 109.371 million ounces.
This simply means that any fears of the demise of the Bundesbank’s gold are greatly exaggerated:
“There is no reason to start speculating about the future of German gold reserves,” he said. “The German gold reserves are there for the impartial Bundesbank…There is no reason to change that.”
The Bundesbank spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires that all gold sold by the Bundesbank since 2004 had been only for the minting of commemorative coins.
Germany is the world’s second-largest official gold holder, with about 71% of its foreign reserves held in bullion, according to the World Gold Council. The only country with higher reserves is the U.S., at 261.499 million ounces.
As for the others…
Other central banks added to their reserves. Russia, a regular buyer from its own domestic market, continued its program of gold accumulation, lifting its reserves by 627,000 ounces to 28.005 million ounces.
Kazakhstan also reported significant additions in a second consecutive month of gold buying. Its reserves totaled 2.366 million ounces at the end of October, up from around 2.265 million ounces in September.
Recent purchases by the official sector have helped drive gold prices higher, because those purchases absorb supply and boost market sentiment.
“Day to day, gold is still trading against the dollar, but in the long run, this is very gold-positive,” said VTB Capital Andrey Kryuchenkov. “Central banks are diversifying, and it has intensified to a rate that nobody had expected.”
So while everyone is obviously seeing the writing on the wall, various theoretical economists who would be broke 10 times over in the real world if they put their money where their mouth is continue to preach what nobody cares about:
Read the entire article HERE.
by Tyler Durden
11/05/2011 22:49 -0500
Going back to the annals of brokeback Europe, we learn that gold after all is money, after the G-20 demanded that EFSF (of €1 trillion “stability fund” yet can’t raise €3 billion fame) be backstopped by none other than German gold. Per Reuters, “The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) reported that Bundesbank reserves — including foreign currency and gold — would be used to increase Germany’s contribution to the crisis fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) by more than 15 billion euros ($20 billion).” And who would be the recipient of said transfer? Why none other than the most insolvent of global hedge funds, the European Central Bank.
Also, in addition to gold, the ECB had set its eyes on that other “fake” currency that DSK had succeded in protecting throughout his tenure, all his other undoings aside, “The Welt am Sonntag newspaper, citing similar plans, said 15 billion euros would come from special drawing rights (SDR) that the Bundesbank holds.” Naturally, these discoveries prompted a prompt and furious rebuttal from the very top of German authorities: “Germany’s gold and foreign exchange reserves, which the Bundesbank administers, were not at any point up for discussion at the G20 summit in Cannes,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said. The WSJ adds, “A plan to have the International Monetary Fund issue its special currency as a powerful weapon in Europe’s efforts to contain the widening euro-zone debt crisis was blocked by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to a report in a German newspaper.”
There are three observations to be made here: i) when it comes to rescuing insolvent countries, Germany is delighted to sacrifice euros at the altar of the 50-some year old PIIGS retirement age; ask for its gold however, and things get ugly; ii) the Eurozone, the ECB and the EFSF are dead broke, insolvent and/or have zero credibility in the capital markets, and they know it and iii) due to the joint and several nature of the ECB’s capital calls, while Germany may have had enough leverage to tell G-20 to shove it, the next countries in line, especially those which are already insolvent and will rely on the EFSF for their existence once the ECB’s SMP program is finished, may not be that lucky, and in exchange for remaining in the eurozone, the forfeit could well be their gold.
WSJ brings details on how German SDRs would be used as a temporary (temporary as in European financial short selling ban, and temporary reduction of initial margin to maintenance for everyone to appease MF Global clients) backstop for Europe:
The idea of using SDRs to fight financial contagion isn’t new. When the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 unleashed a financial crisis, the G-20 in 2009 approved a $250 billion SDR allocation to help backstop efforts to fight the spread of the crisis.
The European Central Bank has been buying euro-zone bonds in an effort to keep borrowing costs of weakened members from exploding. But the ECB’s efforts are considered by some experts to be outside of its central mandate to maintain price stability. And the ECB has said that its special measures – buying euro-zone debt — should be temporary and limited in scope. That is another reason why some people are advocating the IMF play a greater role in propping up weakened euro-zone members and become the lender of last resort.
Speaking to reporters at the close of the Cannes summit, Merkel indicated that G-20 leaders agreed in principle that the IMF and EFSF could work together, but the summit could not agree on any specifics.
“We have an interesting process ahead of us and the discussion is not yet concluded,” she said.
Reuters brings more on the the logical German reaction to the EFSF and ECB’s extortion attempts:
“We know this plan and we reject it,” a Bundesbank spokesman said.
Seibert said several partners had raised the question in Cannes whether SDRs could be used to strengthen the EFSF but Germany had rejected this plan and discussions at Monday’s Eurogroup on Monday would not discuss this topic.
The newspapers had said the issue was taken off the agenda at the G20 following Bundesbank opposition but that it would be debated on Monday at a Eurogroup meeting of euro zone finance ministers.
Why will it be debated? Because when at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Germany may be crossed off the list, but here is who is next in order of appearance. Sooner or later, Europe will stumble on that one “leader” whose gold is less valuable than their political stability, because after all, a “united”, “EMUed” Europe has the biggest MAD trump card of all.
Read the entire article HERE.
Friday, October 28, 2011pm
What do you get when the producer of the world’s reserve currency takes on too much debt? Nothing less than the end of the US Treasury-based monetary system.
So says Eric Janszen, economic and financial market analyst and proprietor of iTulip.com. In chronicling the decline of the global economy over the past decade, Eric has formulated a framework called the “Ka-POOM” theory, which endeavors to understand how the immense run-up in global debt will be resolved.
In short, it looks at the credit bubble that began in the early 1980′s, started accelerating in 1995, and has now reached epic proportions. The amounts are so staggering at this stage that Eric believes it is too politically undesirable to let natural market adjustments clear them away — the magnitude of the deflationary pain this would create is simply unacceptable for politicians looking to get re-elected. The only other available option is to service these debts via a dramatically devalued currency. Hence the key role the Fed is playing today.
The Fed is at the epicenter of this process, intervening heavily to keep the natural corrective market forces at bay. In this, it has a dual strategy. The first is to keep asset prices high (i.e., fight asset deflation), which it is doing by keeping interest rates historically low. The second is to keep wage and commodity costs under control, which it primarily does via devaluing the currency (maintaining a “weak dollar”).
And, of course, through its intervention, the Fed is doing all it can to keep the current financial system in place to perpetuate the process for as long as possible. The end result is a fundamental shift in risk from Wall Street to the taxpayer.
So the big question is: How long can this last? Is there a point at which confidence in the system breaks and market forces finally overwhelm the intervention?
Eric’s answers: “Much longer than most people expect.” And “Yes.”
First off, as the most important central bank in the world, the Fed has supernormal powers. In theory, it can expand its balance sheet infinitely. Its ability to absorb massive amounts of new liabilities is theoretically limitless, much of which can be easily concealed from an accounting standpoint.
And since the US is both the world’s largest economy, as well as the provider of its reserve currency, other countries are compelled to support the current regime. A mortal crack-up in the US economy would deliver undue pain to all its trading partners, so they continue to buy Treasuries in sufficient amount to fund US economic activity.
But that’s not to say they’re happy about it. And here’s where attention should be paid (and where the importance of gold comes in).
For much of the past century, the United States comprised approximately 54-58% of the global economy. Today, its share has shrunk down to about 18%, meaning its relative importance to the global system has diminished.
Issuing the world’s reserve currency is a privilege that must be continually earned through transparency and sound stewardship — qualities the US has flagrantly lacked in the past several decades as it has been blowing asset bubbles and running trillion-dollar deficits, via incurring massive debts and increasing its money supply tremendously. So, even as they continue to support the current Treasury-backed monetary regime, the world’s central banks have begun hedging their exposure.
After several decades of being net sellers, the world’s central banks became net buyers of gold in the second quarter of 2009. As Eric puts it:
There was no Plan B in the global monetary system when it switched over to the US dollar reserve basis for global monetary reserves. The only fallback is gold, gold is the only reserve asset that central banks hold other than dollars, and to some extent euros, but it is mostly gold. So gold is the fallback. So what I thought was going to happen is that over time, gradually, that there would be an increase at some point in gold holdings by central banks as they hedged the marginal increase and the number of Treasury bonds that they needed to hold as a result of conducting trade with the US and also simply maintaining the US economy through low interest rates and providing sufficient investment to continue to offer the US government.
So what is very interesting to me is [that] starting in the second quarter of 2009, right after the financial crisis, is when global central banks became net buyers of gold, which to me indicated that they had as a group, determined that it was time to more seriously hedge their dollar assets, even as they continue to buy Treasury bonds to increase their hedging.
Before that, there were effectively two teams: There were the buyers, who were countries like India and Russia and China, and the sellers, which are most of your European countries. And that structure of the gold market occurred and was maintained until the second quarter of 2009, and it shifted to a much broader base increase in the number of governments participating in the gold market, including Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and other allies of the United States.
Eric sees this move by central banks, of positioning themselves closer to the door, as a natural step to the inevitable endgame here, which is the dissolution of the US Treasury dollar-based monetary system. Due to entrenched special interests, politics, escalating commodity scarcity, and other factors, he does not see the US taking necessary corrective action before confidence in the solvency of the US and its currency collapses.
As such, Eric advises investors position themselves into gold and assets that take advantage of rising rents and energy prices.
To Read the FULL TRANSCRIPT CLICK HERE.
Read the entire article HERE.
BY STEVE ST. ANGELO
The world is about to peak in global silver production. This will not occur due to a lack of silver to mine, but rather as a result of the peaking of world energy resources, declining ore grades, and a falling Energy Returned On Invested – EROI. The information below will describe a future world that very few have forecasted and even less are prepared. This is an update to my previous article Peak Silver and Mining by a Falling EROI. In my first article I stated that global silver production may peak in 2009 if we were to enter a worldwide depression. We did not have the global depression as massive central bank printing and bailouts have thus far postponed the inevitable.
The world has entered a plateau of global oil production over the past 5-6 years. A higher oil price has not brought on more supply to offset depletion rates from existing fields. From the graphs above we see a correlation between global silver supply and oil production, especially in the latter part of the 20th century. Up until the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the majority of energy used in mining silver came from human and animal labor. It is truly amazing just how much silver was produced in the United States at this time without the use of oil and modern mining practices (information provided later in the article). This all changed as global oil production as well as the technique of open-pit mining increased.
The 3 Big Energy Game Changers for Silver Mining
There are a number of some very large open-pit mining projects supplying silver that are forecasted to go into production within the next several years as well as others by the end of the decade. It is astounding to see these 25-45 year extended forecasts by these mining companies without any consideration of what the energy environment will be like in 2015-2020 or later. It seems like everyone in the sector assumes there will be ample supplies of energy at commercially viable prices.
This is where the trouble begins. There are three negative energy game changers that will impact the mining industry going forward. They are: (1) the Peaking of global oil production, (2) the Land Export Model and (3) the falling EROI – Energy Returned On Invested. Of the three, I believe the falling EROI will be the most devastating. Before explaining why this is the case, let’s take a look at each.
Peak Global Oil Production
According to JODI’s global oil production figures represented HERE in a post on theOilDrum.com, it looks like the global peak of convention crude/condensate and natural gas liquids took place in 2006:
Global oil production has increased steadily since the early 1980’s and has now been in a bumpy plateau for the past 5-6 years even with much higher oil prices. It is true that there are more projects and oil fields slated to come online in the next several years, but much of the increase will be offset by depletion in existing fields. To add insult to injury, the majority of oil that is exported throughout the world is being supplied by countries that are also increasing their own domestic oil consumption. This is a double-edged sword for dependent oil importing nations— which leads us to the Export Land Model.
Export Land Model
The Export Land Model developed by geologist Jeffery Brown and others shows how oil- exporting countries suffer higher declines of exports due to increased domestic consumption. As the nation increases its own oil consumption for their expanding economy, this causes exports to fall even greater than declines in oil production alone. This becomes apparent when we look at what is taking place in Saudi Arabia.
In 1980, Saudi Arabia produced approximately the same amount of oil it is presently. However the kingdom is exporting 2+ mbd (million barrels a day) less oil. The right side graph above reveals that as domestic consumption has increased (black line), exports have declined. By 2020, Saudi Arabia’s domestic consumption is forecasted to reach 5.9 mbd of oil equivalent, including natural gas, which will decrease the country’s exports even further (Jadwa Investment’s “Saudi Arabia’s coming oil and Fiscal Challenge”).
If we add up all the other exporting oil countries and consider what the future percentage loss from this model might be, the drop in oil exports will be significant indeed. Here we can see that the peaking of global oil production, plus the declining oil exports described above by the Export Land Model, puts a serious dent in the ability for future growth in the world economies. If the world economies are unable to grow, neither will the supply of base metals and silver.
These two energy constraints are in themselves bad enough news for the global economy and the mining industry. Unfortunately the third is by far the most devastating. The falling EROI measures what amount of that oil will be available for market. It is also described as the net energy that remains after production costs are considered.
The Falling EROI: Energy Returned on Invested
In my opinion, the EROI —Energy Returned On Invested— is by far the most important aspect confronting our economy, society and world at large. Ironically, the EROI of oil and natural gas has been falling ever since man drilled his first well.
According to work done by Cutler Cleveland of Boston University, the EROI of U.S. oil andgas was 100/1 in 1930. It fell to 30/1 by 1970, and hit 11/1 by 2000. Oil was so abundant during the 30’s in the States that it only took the cost of 1 barrel of oil to produce 100 barrels for market. By 2000, it has declined nearly tenfold.
The graph on the right side shows the falling Global oil and gas EROI (by Gagnon, Hall & Brinker) to be 18/1 in 2006. They plot with a solid black line that a possible 1:1 EROI projection may be by the mid 2030 decade. As this EROI ratio continues to decline, it puts a huge stress on the world economies by increased energy costs while providing less net energy for the market.
There has been so much misinformation put out by different organizations as to the amount of oil and natural gas reserves that it is has totally confused the investing community and the public. Whenever I get into a debate about peak oil or oil reserves there is always someone who brings up the notion that the United States is sitting on trillions of barrels of shale oil. This is the subject of a whole other article, but to get to the point, shale oil as a savior of the inevitable United States (or World) Energy Crisis is a pipe dream. Here are the three biggest lies propagated in the U.S. energy industry:
- 1950’s – Nuclear energy…..too cheap to meter.
- 2000’s – Shale Oil trillion+ barrels of U.S. reserves
- 2000’s – Shale Gas 100 years worth of U.S. supply
To explain why there is a great deal of hype in shale oil and gas, take a look at the graph below.
Shale oil is much more expensive to extract than light sweet crude in Saudi Arabia. Many say that increased technology will bring more oil to the market, but it does so at a lower EROI. The lower the EROI, the less net energy is available for market. With less net energy, there is less growth.
Furthermore the depletion rates of a typical shale well in the North Dakota Bakken Field are 75-80% by the second year. Shale gas depletion is even worse, with fields reported from the Texas Barnett Field declining 60% in the first year. The notion that the U.S. will be able to increase oil production significantly with shale oil turns out to be a red herring when you figure that these severe depletion rates make it impossible to do so.
Another nail in the coffin for shale oil is its low EROI. The figures on the right side of the graph above show the different EROI ratios for conventional and nonconventional energy sources. The only thing worse on the EROI scale than shale oil (5:1) is tar sands (2-4:1). Why are these EROI ratios so important and ultimately devastating to the world economy and silver mining? The next graph provides the answer.
As we can see from the left side of the global oil peak, everything is rosy; high EROI ratios with a majority of net energy already consumed by the world economies. Once we slide over to the other side, the picture gets downright scary. Even though there is a great deal of oil on the downward side of the peak, the majority of it gets consumed in the production of the energy itself. Once it costs more to produce a barrel than you get in return, the game is over.
Unfortunately, there is more to it than that. There is a minimum EROI that a modern society needs to sustain itself. All the EROI ratios listed above are figured from the point the oil & gas comes out of the well. We have to remember the oil & gas has to be transported and refined and the interstate-highway system and infrastructure has to been maintained. All of these are costs that are subtracted out of that EROI ratio. This is explained in detail by Charles Hall & David Murphy HERE. The bare minimum a modern society needs is an EROI of 3:1….but if you want the luxuries of art, entertainment, medicine, education or etc; the ratio has to be higher still.
The graph above is one possible forecast of net energy. The creator of the graph has produced another showing a more gradual slope of net energy. I have had several conversations and email exchanges with other geologists and engineers who believe the graph presented above is a more realistic representation than the second. I agree.
Peak Oil is Here Whether You Believe it or Not
Before we get into the silver part of the article, there is one more topic on energy that needs to be discussed. There is continued debate about the Abiotic Theory of Oil as well as the blocking of oil drilling in certain areas of the United States by environmentalists. The Abiotic Oil Theory states that oil fields are continuously being refilled, so there will be no peak oil. Even though this might be true in some small cases as it pertains to methane, the amount is infinitesimal.
The list of countries presently past peak is long. If we consider a good portion of these countries are in areas of the world that do not have much in the way of regulations or environmentalists, peak oil still took place. It is true that there is still some oil in the U.S. being kept from the market by environmentalists and the government, but in the end….it doesn’t change the overall picture all that much.
Lastly, for those of you who believe the information above is controlled by the Illuminati, Bilderbergs or whomever and there is still plenty of oil in wells capped all over the country, there is nothing that can be written or said to change your mind. As illustrated by the data, peak oil is here whether you believe it or not.
As the world is currently peaking in oil production, the United States passed its peak forty years ago in 1971. The same can be said for overall silver production. The U.S. extracted the majority of its high grade silver by the middle of the 20th century. Today, the U.S. has to resort to mining a great deal more total ore to produce the same or less silver than it did years ago. This process is occurring throughout the world. In my first article (link provided at the top of this article) most of the information on ore grades came from Gavin Mudd and his work on the Australian mining industry as well as data on declining global gold ore grades. To continue to understand this ongoing process, I choose to focus on the United States as the USGS – U.S. Geological Survey – has kept some very detailed records of historical mining activity in the States.
CASE STUDY: United States Past Silver Production and Falling Ore Grades
In the early days, miners and investors sought out the best quality and highest ore grades they could find. The higher the ore grade, the higher the profit. Today, there is a great deal of excitement when mining companies release drill results with higher ore grades than expected. Yet, these same ore grades would have been embarrassing to the prospector and investor just 100 years ago. How the passage of time makes us forget what life was like just a short while ago…
The majority of the top eight silver ore-producing states in the country peaked in annual silver production before the 1940’s. Only Idaho and Nevada had higher peaks after 1950.
Colorado had the highest annual silver production of all 50 states with 25.8 million ounces produced in 1893, almost 120 years ago. New Mexico peaked in 1885, Montana in 1892, California in 1921, Utah in 1925, and Arizona in 1937. Even though Idaho had its true peak in 1966 at 19.8 million ounces, it surpassed its previous record by only 200,000 ounces, which occurred in 1937. Nevada peaked late in the game due to two factors: 1) it has recently become the largest gold producer in the country currently, providing nearly 75% of nation’s gold. (with gold mining comes by-product silver), and 2) due to the McCoy/Cove Mine, which single-handedly mined 11 of the 27.4 million ounces Nevada produced at its all time peak in 1997.
Not only did the McCoy/Cove Mine help Nevada to become the second-highest silver producer in U.S. history, it also accounted for 35% of all silver extracted from the state between 1987 and 2003.
The record silver production in Nevada as well as the McCoy/Cove mine are now gone. In its last recorded year of production, the McCoy/Cove Mine produced 596 oz of silver in 2006. That’s correct, a mere 596 oz (that year it was still producing some gold). According to theMajor Mines of Nevada 2010 publication just released, Nevada only produced 7.3 million ounces of silver in 2010…a 70% decline in just 13 years from its peak.
From the late 1800’s to 1950’s the same eight states listed above produced the lion’s share of silver in the country. Very few people who are asked will know which state was the largest producer at this time. Most when asked will say Idaho, Utah or Colorado. I was quite surprised to find out that Montana outperformed them all by producing 775 million ounces by 1950.
Montana produced the most silver in the country at this time due to the richness of copper in the state, where silver was a by-product. According to the MONTANA MINING NEWS MINING JOURNAL dated 8/30/1930:
Anaconda Copper Mining Company is confining work at the Flathead Mine, near Kalispell, Montana, to development, because of the present metal prices, according to a reported statement by Jack Dugan, superintendent. Thirty men are employed in extracting 40 tons daily, of ore, said to average 50 ounces of silver, per ton.
This is an example of the kind of high grade ores they were pulling out of Montana back in 1930. Impressive as it was, this was not the average. To give you an idea of the difference of 75 years, Montana produced 9.3 million ounces of silver in 1935 at an average ore grade of 3.45 oz/ton. In 2010 there were only two mines producing silver as a by-product of copper. The larger producer is the only publicly traded company in Montana and it produced a little more than 1 million ounces of silver at an average ore grade of 0.87 oz/ton or a 75% decline.
The USGS provides Mineral Yearbooks for the states back until 1932. One can imagine what the ore grades must have been in 1892 when Montana produced its most silver in one year at 19 million ounces.
Idaho: the Largest Silver Producer in the Country’s History
The one state that sticks out like a sore thumb in the graph above is Idaho. It is the only state that has produced over a billion ounces silver by 1990 with the majority of it after 1950. Even with this significant production, Idaho wasn’t able to escape the negative aspects of falling ore grades.
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s a larger percentage of silver came from a grade called “Dry and Siliceous Ore”. During this time, between 40-50% of silver produced in the country came from this type of ore. To give you an example in 1922, 46.8% of silver in the U.S. came from dry and siliceous ore. The percentage dropped over the next decade— falling some years into the teens (especially during the 1930’s depression). By 1935, it climbed back to 40%.
This is the sort of ore that primary silver mines are made of as it contains the most silver per ton. Idaho had some of the richest dry and siliceous ore grades in the country. The graph below represents how much this sort of ore grade has declined since the 1940’s.
The reason why this graph only shows data up until 1980 for Idaho and 1989 for the U.S. is due to the fact that information was withheld from the USGS due to proprietary reasons by the mining companies. Furthermore, this is also true for individual state reporting of detailed silver statistics after 1990. In the early days the states provided the USGS with so much information on gold and silver that many of the gold-silver reports were over 200-300 pages. Today the Silver Yearbooks barely fill 15 pages.
To bridge the gap to the present day, we can look at what has taken place in the largest publicly traded mining company in the state. Hecla’s Lucky Friday Mine in Idaho produced 3.3 million ounces in 2010 at an average ore grade of 10.25 oz per ton. The chart below compares the difference from the same mine in 1965.
Here we can see that Hecla has only produced a little more than 100,000 ounces of silver than it did in 1965 but has to process almost double the amount of total ore. This insidious decline of silver ore grades over the years seems subtle to the mining industry that is focused on quarterly results, but becomes an increasingly difficult problem now that the world suffers from peak oil and a falling EROI.
The United States: Produced 25% of all Global Silver 1900-1950
When the U.S. was the Saudi Arabia of the world in oil production at the early and middle part of the 20th century, it was also the second-largest silver producer in the world behind Mexico. Of the 10.5 billion ounces of silver produced by the world from 1900-1950, the United States accounted for 2.7 billion (or 26%) of the total amount.
This historical graph is relevant due to the fact that in next 60 years from 1951-2010 the U.S. only produced 2.58 billion ounces of silver… with significantly falling ore grades shown below.
The chart above represents total ore from mining gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc. The majority of silver comes from base metal mining in which zinc/lead provides the highest percentage compared to copper and gold. In 75 years, the total ore grade of silver has fallen nearly 92% while actual production has remained basically flat. This is due to the fact that all base metal ore grades in the U.S. are falling as well.
For example, copper has shown a huge decrease in ore grade since the early 1900’s. In 1906 the average ore grade for copper was 2.5%. By 1935 the average copper ore grade had fallen to 1.89% and in 2009 the United States produced copper at 0.43% a ton. This is a decline of 77%.
The Falling EROI and Declining Ore Grades
On top of declining ore grades and adding insult to injury, is the falling EROI of energy. When the U.S. and the world were tapping into high quality concentrated ore grades in the early years, they did so with the majority of human and animal labor. This kind of labor was not only very efficient but it also utilizing a higher EROI. The open-pit mining practices employed today are in fact quite the opposite….extracting metal at a much lower EROI.
For example, people today have this misguided opinion that modern farming is very efficient. They see one farmer on a huge tractor working hundreds or thousands of acres of agricultural land. They do not factor in all the energy it costs to plant, fertilize, harvest and process the crop. This does not include all the energy and technology it takes to develop hybrid seeds, the manufacturing of the tractor and equipment as well as many other aspects that go into modern farming. In reality, the pre-industrial farmer with horse and plow was extremely more efficient that his modern counterpart.
Hunter Gatherer = 10/1
Pre-Industrial farmer = 10/1
Modern high-tech farmer = 1/10
The pre-industrial farmer with horse and plow was able to produce 10 calories (of food) for market for every 1 calorie of energy (food) consumed by the operation. Today, the modern farmer needs to consume 10 calories of energy to provide only 1 calorie of food for market. If we consider this ratio, the modern farmer is 98.8% less efficient than the simple farmer with horse and plow.
The only reason why modern farming practices have been successful at this horrible rate of efficiency is due to the high EROI of energy over the past 100 years. Now that the EROI is falling considerably, it is putting severe pressure on the agricultural industry. This will also be true for the mining industry.
Base metals are extracted by either open-pit or underground mining. Of the two, open-pit mines account for the larger percentage of metal produced in the world. (Surface Mining Methods and Equipment) The technique of open-pit mining utilizes huge excavators and large haul trucks to move the ore from the mine. There is a great deal of energy consumed in the development, manufacturing, maintenance and operation of these huge earth moving machines in the mining industry.
It is difficult to estimate an EROI ratio for open pit mining as the end product is metal and not energy. That being said, a simple rule of thumb can be assumed if we take the negative EROI of modern farming as an example. The larger and more complex the machine used in industry, the more inefficient its production as it pertains to the EROI.
Now that we understand the past and present EROI ratios in the agricultural sector, we can see why the early miners and prospectors were much more efficient in producing silver than the huge open-pit mining operations of today when we consider all the energy involved. As the world’s energy sources start to decline in the future and the falling EROI destroys an ever increasing portion of the net energy available for market, the number of open-pit mines will decline as well. As this process takes place, the peak in global mining will occur due the fact that human or animal labor cannot equal the extraction rate of diesel powered earth-moving machines. What is taking place in the mining industry today is the WORST OF BOTH WORLDS… declining ore grades on top of a falling EROI of energy.
The Coming Global Depression: Another Nail in the Coffin for Peak Silver
The world hasn’t suffered an economic depression for almost 80 years. The Kondratieff-Wave analysts who study business cycles say we are now overdue for a depression. Even though this is true, they are correct for the wrong reasons. Business cycles have occurred because humans were able to constantly grow and expand their economies. It was due to the 10/1 EROI of the pre-industrial farmers that enabled the rest of the economy to grow and flourish. After several generations of booms, we had the busts.
As we moved into the modern-industrial economy cheap energy with a high EROI allowed the world economies to grow exponentially—allowing these business cycles to continue. Today we are at the top Boom part of the cycle. The big Bust and depression have been postponed due to the ability of central banks to print money and financial institutions to invent hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of derivatives to hedge overly inflated assets. When the global depression finally arrives, we will never return to anything like we enjoyed before. This bust will be the depression that ends all global depressions.
If we consider what took place during the last depression, base metal & silver mining activity fell off a cliff. The interesting thing to note in the next two graphs below as global silver production declined, gold production actually increased.
Global silver production declined 38% from 1929 to 1932, whereas gold production actually increased 24% in these three years. It took eight years before the world was able to increase silver production over its 1929 figure. Gold on the other hand, increased its global production a staggering 80% during the same time.
This time will truly be different. The world will not be able to increase its gold production anywhere near the percentage it did in the 1930’s. There is a good chance that actual global gold production will decline as the supply chains break down disrupting the highly technical method of refining and processing gold. Another reason may be due to its dependence on copper production as part of its supply. When economies collapse, so does the demand for base metals such as copper, zinc and lead. This is the reason why silver production suffers greater during a depression than gold.
Here we see just how much difference there is in the base metal mining percentage between gold and silver. Zinc & Lead account for the larger portion of the base metal percentage of silver mining, whereas copper production provided 15% of all the gold produced in the world in 2010….or 75% of the base metal pie.
When the world’s central banks are unable to continue to prop up the global economies with money printing, economic growth will drop considerably. China is starting to show signs of an economy heading into a brick wall. Base metal production will decline significantly in the following years cutting back the production of silver as well. If history is a good reference, the future global supply of silver can decline between 20-40%.
A Brief look at World Silver Production
Over the past decade global silver production has increased on average between 2-3% per year. In 2010, according to the World Silver Survey, global silver production reached 735 million ounces of silver. In the first half of 2011 some of the top silver-producing countries have increased their production while others have seen declines. The top producing silver mine in the world, BHP Billiton’s Cannington, has seen its production decrease from 18.9 million oz in the first half of 2010 to only 15.5 million ounces in the first half of 2011 (an 18% decline). Cannington — like all mines— suffers from falling ore grades.
In 2000, Canningtion mined 1.6 million tons of ore and produced 30 million ounces of silver at an average ore grade of 636 g/t. By 2011, it mined 3.1 million tons of ore (or 92% more) just to produce an additional 5 million ounces than it did eleven years ago. What is occurring at Cannington is typical of mines throughout the world.
If we take a look at global silver supply, only a handful of countries have increased their production significantly over the past several decades. Out of all the countries listed in the graph below since 1985, China has had the largest percentage increase. China increased its estimated production from only 2.5 million ounces in 1985 to 99 million oz (or +3,850%) by 2010. The other countries that have increased their production in order of highest percentage are, Bolivia from 3.6 mil oz to 41 mil oz (+1,039%), Argentina from 2.1 mil oz to 20.6 mil oz (+880%), Chile from 16.6 mil oz to 41 mil oz (+147%), Peru from 58.2 mil oz to 116.1 mil oz (+100%), and finally Mexico from 73.2 mil oz to 128 mil oz (+75%), in the same time period. Even though Mexico is the number one silver producer in the world, it had the lowest percentage increase of all six countries. These countries account for 61% of all global silver supply.
Australia was not included in the graph for two reasons. First, even though its production has increased 71% since 1985, its future growth is not forecasted to improve as much as the nations listed above. Secondly, because of Australia’s western form of capitalistic government, it is least likely to deal with issues of political instability, threats of nationalization or protectionist policies such as those in South America, Mexico and China.
Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru— which are located in South America— may suffer from the same type of policies that have plagued the resource industry in Venezuela. Not only are Venezuela’s oil fields nationalized, in August of this year, President Hugo Chavez has also ordered the same for the gold mining industry.
In Mexico, billionaire Hugo Salinas Price has gained significant support in the country to reintroduce the Silver Libertad as legal tender to compete with the Peso for the Mexican people. If this policy were to pass, a large percentage of Mexico’s silver production would be consumed by its own people to protect them from continued inflation. Furthermore, the country suffers from a great deal of upheaval and violence from the drug wars which could lead to political instability possibly threatening the mining industry.
Lastly, over the past several years the world has felt the ramifications of China’s cutback of rare earth mineral exports. China currently produces between 95-97% of the 17 rare earth minerals in the world. Not only have prices of rare earth minerals increased substantially due to this monopolistic policy, it is also forcing foreign companies to move their facilities that manufacture end-user products in China. These companies are also being requested by China to transfer valuable technology to other domestic companies so they can benefit from the knowledge.
This may also occur in exports of Chinese silver. As global tensions increase due the continued disintegration of the world fiat currency system, China may decide to put a total ban on silver exports. Even though Chinese exports have declined substantially (from 3,000 metric tons in 2005 to only 1,575 metric tons in 2009), there is a good possibility that they may turn off the silver spigot completely.
The countries listed above are enjoying the best records of increased silver production, but at the same time are some of the worst candidates for dependable future global supply.
Final Remarks and Conclusion
The world produced a record amount of silver in 2010. Many analysts are forecasting a continued increase in global production for the next decade. There are several factors that show why this will not be possible.
As the world peaks in global oil production and the net energy available for market continues to shrink due to the falling EROI (Energy Returned On Invested), of oil and natural gas, global economic growth will come to a screeching halt. The falling EROI of energy is a one way street to the bottom. Unconventional energy sources such as shale oil, shale gas and tar sands will not be able to stop this decline.
As global economic growth disintegrates so will the demand for base metals – which 70% of silver is a by-product. On top of that, silver ore grades are relentlessly falling in mines throughout the world which takes an increasing amount of energy just to keep production flat. If the mining industry tries to incorporate more human and animal labor to offset declining oil based energy in the future, it will do so only at much lower rates of production than today. This is due to the fact that human or animal labor cannot match the extraction rate of diesel powered excavators or huge dump trucks when it comes to mining silver.
Then there is the negative effect of a global depression on the production of silver. Presently the world has entered into tremendous chaos and economic turmoil. Conditions are ripe for a complete disintegration of the financial markets, thus pushing the world over the edge into a new dark age of hyperinflationary depression. In this sort of atmosphere, countries may resort to the nationalization of mines as well as other protectionist’s policies.
When the nails of the peak silver coffin are added up, the death of increasing future supply is close at hand. The CEO’s and analysts in the mining industry are for the most part oblivious to these factors that will destroy their ability to make viable forecasts of future projects. It amazes me to see professionals plan a huge open-pit mine with a 25-45 year economic plan without any consideration of what the energy environment will be like at that time. For some strange reason, there is this false assumption that “If we build it, the energy will come.”
If the world enters a depression within the next year or two, this will certainly guarantee the global peak of silver production. Why? It won’t matter if the global economy recovers in the next decade, because the peaking of oil and the falling EROI of energy will have destroyed enough net energy to kill any attempt to bring global silver production back to the level it was before.
Lastly, anyone who is good at connecting the dots will realize the ramifications of this article go way beyond just the peaking of silver. The falling EROI of energy will not only be a destroyer of precious net energy, but will also help bring down the largest empire in the world. This will be the subject of a future article.
Read the entire article HERE.
by Tyler Durden
09/03/2011 17:22 -0400
Wondering why gold at $1850 is cheap, or why gold at double that price will also be cheap, or frankly at any price? Because, as the following leaked cable explains, gold is, to China at least, nothing but the opportunity cost of destroying the dollar’s reserve status. Putting that into dollar terms is, therefore, impractical at best, and illogical at worst. We have a suspicion that the following cable from the US embassy in China is about to go not viral but very much global, and prompt all those mutual fund managers who are on the golden sidelines to dip a toe in the 24 karat pool. The only thing that matters from China’s perspective is that “suppressing the price of gold is very beneficial for the U.S. in maintaining the U.S. dollar’s role as the international reserve currency. China’s increased gold reserves will thus act as a model and lead other countries towards reserving more gold. Large gold reserves are also beneficial in promoting the internationalization of the RMB.” Now, what would happen if mutual and pension funds finally comprehend they are massively underinvested in the one asset which China is without a trace of doubt massively accumulating behind the scenes is nothing short of a worldwide scramble, not so much for paper, but every last ounce of physical gold…
3. CHINA’S GOLD RESERVES
“China increases its gold reserves in order to kill two birds with one stone”
The China Radio International sponsored newspaper World News Journal
(Shijie Xinwenbao)(04/28): “According to China’s National Foreign
Exchanges Administration China ‘s gold reserves have recently
increased. Currently, the majority of its gold reserves have been
located in the U.S. and European countries. The U.S. and Europe have
always suppressed the rising price of gold. They intend to weaken
gold’s function as an international reserve currency. They don’t
want to see other countries turning to gold reserves instead of the
U.S. dollar or Euro. Therefore, suppressing the price of gold is
very beneficial for the U.S. in maintaining the U.S. dollar’s role
as the international reserve currency. China’s increased gold
reserves will thus act as a model and lead other countries towards
reserving more gold. Large gold reserves are also beneficial in
promoting the internationalization of the RMB.”
Perhaps now is a good time to remind readers what will happen if and when America’s always behind the curve mutual and pension fund managers finally comprehend that they are massively underinvested in the one best performing asset class.
You already know the basic reasons for owning gold – currency protection, inflation hedge, store of value, calamity insurance – many of which are becoming clichés even in mainstream articles. Throw in the supply and demand imbalance, and you’ve got the basic arguments for why one should hold gold for the foreseeable future.
All of these factors remain very bullish, in spite of gold’s 450% rise over the past 10 years. No, it’s not too late to buy, especially if you don’t own a meaningful amount; and yes, I’m convinced the price is headed much higher, regardless of the corrections we’ll inevitably see. Each of the aforementioned catalysts will force gold’s price higher and higher in the years ahead, especially the currency issues.
But there’s another driver of the price that escapes many gold watchers and certainly the mainstream media. And I’m convinced that once this sleeping giant wakes, it could ignite the gold market like nothing we’ve ever seen.
The fund management industry handles the bulk of the world’s wealth. These institutions include insurance companies, hedge funds, mutual funds, sovereign wealth funds, etc. But the elephant in the room is pension funds. These are institutions that provide retirement income, both public and private.
Global pension assets are estimated to be – drum roll, please – $31.1 trillion. No, that is not a misprint. It is more than twice the size of last year’s GDP in the U.S. ($14.7 trillion).
We know a few hedge fund managers have invested in gold, like John Paulson, David Einhorn, Jean-Marie Eveillard. There are close to twenty mutual funds devoted to gold and precious metals. Lots of gold and silver bugs have been buying.
So, what about pension funds?
According to estimates by Shayne McGuire in his new book, Hard Money; Taking Gold to a Higher Investment Level, the typical pension fund holds about 0.15% of its assets in gold. He estimates another 0.15% is devoted to gold mining stocks, giving us a total of 0.30% – that is, less than one third of one percent of assets committed to the gold sector.
Shayne is head of global research at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. He bases his estimate on the fact that commodities represent about 3% of the total assets in the average pension fund. And of that 3%, about 5% is devoted to gold. It is, by any account, a negligible portion of a fund’s asset allocation.
Now here’s the fun part. Let’s say fund managers as a group realize that bonds, equities, and real estate have become poor or risky investments and so decide to increase their allocation to the gold market. If they doubled their exposure to gold and gold stocks – which would still represent only 0.6% of their total assets – it would amount to $93.3 billion in new purchases.
How much is that? The assets of GLD total $55.2 billion, so this amount of money is 1.7 times bigger than the largest gold ETF. SLV, the largest silver ETF, has net assets of $9.3 billion, a mere one-tenth of that extra allocation.
The market cap of the entire sector of gold stocks (producers only) is about $234 billion. The gold industry would see a 40% increase in new money to the sector. Its market cap would double if pension institutions allocated just 1.2% of their assets to it.
But what if currency issues spiral out of control? What if bonds wither and die? What if real estate takes ten years to recover? What if inflation becomes a rabid dog like it has every other time in history when governments have diluted their currency to this degree? If these funds allocate just 5% of their assets to gold – which would amount to $1.5 trillion – it would overwhelm the system and rocket prices skyward.
And let’s not forget that this is only one class of institution. Insurance companies have about $18.7 trillion in assets. Hedge funds manage approximately $1.7 trillion. Sovereign wealth funds control $3.8 trillion. Then there are mutual funds, ETFs, private equity funds, and private wealth funds. Throw in millions of retail investors like you and me and Joe Sixpack and Jiao Sixpack, and we’re looking in the rear view mirror at $100 trillion.
I don’t know if pension funds will devote that much money to this sector or not. What I do know is that sovereign debt risks are far from over, the U.S. dollar and other currencies will lose considerably more value against gold, interest rates will most certainly rise in the years ahead, and inflation is just getting started. These forces are in place and building, and if there’s a paradigm shift in how these managers view gold, look out!
I thought of titling this piece, “Why $5,000 Gold May Be Too Low.” Because once fund managers enter the gold market in mass, this tiny sector will light on fire with blazing speed.
My advice is to not just hope you can jump in once these drivers hit the gas, but to claim your seat during the relative calm of this month’s level prices.
Read the entire article HERE.
Precious Metal Margin Warfare Jumps The Pacific, As Shanghai Hikes Gold Margins For Second Time In A Month, Prepares To Crush Silver
by Tyler Durden
08/23/2011 16:34 -0400
Wondering why gold dropped by almost $100 today? Wonder no more: today the Shanghai Gold Exchange lifted gold margins for forward contracts the second time this month to 12% beginning on Friday, in a move that is starting to resemble the CME’s vendetta with silver back from May. Should we expect 3 more SGE margin hikes in the next 2 weeks? Or will the CME rightfully accept the baton and do everything in its power to dent the parabolic rise in the alternative reserve currency? We are cautiously looking at what the CME will do today and will advise readers. In the meantime, here is what else happened in Shanghai: “China’s main precious metals exchange will also widen daily trading limits for those gold contracts to 9 percent, up from 7 percent, the SGE said on its website on Tuesday. The contracts to be affected include Au(T+D), Au(T+N1) and Au(T+N2). This is the second time the exchange has raised collateral requirements on gold forward contracts this year — both times in August — as international gold prices hit a series of record highs over the past few weeks, boosted by a flight to safety on worries over a stalling U.S. recovery and crippling sovereign debt in the euro zone. Shanghai Gold T+D contract lost half a percent to 387.8 yuan per gram, or $1,884.47 an ounce, down from an intraday high of 391.9 yuan when the market opened.”
More from Reuters:
“Gold prices on the global market have been rallying strongly and at an increasingly faster pace. The margin hike is a pre-emptive move in case prices crashed and caused great volatility in the market,” said Li Ning, an analyst at Shanghai CIFCO Futures.
At a time of market turmoil, exchanges routinely increase the margin requirements to cover the risk of a default.
With the SGE’s margin requirement exceeding its daily trade limit, the hike seems aimed at squeezing some speculative froth out from the market, some traders said.
The Shanghai Futures Exchange could raise margins on its gold futures contract soon too, said Li.
The new margin would require an additional 490.4 million yuan ($76.6 million) to be posted to the exchange.
Trading volume on the most popular gold forward contract hit a three-month high of 26,032 grams on Aug. 11, and eased to just shy of 20,000 grams on Tuesday as the exchange finished the afternoon session. The average volume so far this month stood at 14,999 grams, compared to a daily average of 9,138 grams in 2010.
The exchange also said it was closely eyeing silver contract price movements and would consider raising trading margins, transaction fees or costs of rolling over forward contracts should volatility persist.
At least the cause is now known. And when the effect from the SGE has been priced in and diluted, it will then be the turn of the CME. Unless of course it is much sooner.
That said, to all those who have been looking for a dip in gold, here it is.
Read the entire article HERE.