Very irreverent Brexit ditty

In the UK we are bombarded with pro and anti Brexit media coverage day in day out.  As someone who voted to Remain in the referendum 2 years ago, but has changed his view since, particularly in the light of intransigent EU negotiators, I hope others may find this ditty, posted on YouTube by Dominic Frisby, amusing if NSFW due to the language used.  Dominic will be known to many lawrieongold readers as an astute commentator on precious metals.  I wasn’t previously aware of his comedic singing abilities, nor of his Brexit viewpoint until this YouTube posting was brought to my attention by Canadian blogger ‘Otto Rock’ (a pseudonym) on his regular Inca Kola News blog (which I would recommend as must reading for anyone interested in the nefarious goings-on in the Canadian junior mining and exploration sector.

What has to be surprising for anyone who follows the UK economy is that it hasn’t collapsed under Brexit uncertainty.  Indeed key indicators like the number of people in work is at its highest level since records began in huge contrast to a number of EU nations which are suffering record unemployment levels.  Global growth is set to expand far faster than EU growth and the UK is one of the world’s biggest economies in its own right, which is why the EU is desperate to keep us in the Common Market and is making it so difficult for us to leave.  Enough said.

The link to the YouTube video for Dominic’s song entitled 17 million f**ck-offs (I warned you so don’t view this if of a sensitive nature) is as follows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiUFPjulTW8

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The latest updates on China’s gold

The Chinese central bank, The People’s Bank of China, has announced a 9.95 tonne increase in the country’s gold reserves and its subsidiary, The Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) has come up with its gold withdrawal figures for February (which we equate to China’s real gold demand).  My comments on both these have been published on the Sharpspixley.com website and links to the two, admittedly opinionated, articles are shown below:

CHINA ADDS 10 TONNES TO GOLD RESERVES, BUT IS THAT ALL?

The Chinese central bank has reported adding a fraction under 10 tonnes of gold to its forex reserves in February, but is the new total any more accurate than in the past?

CHINA’S GOLD DEMAND LOOKS TO BE SLOWING THIS YEAR SO FAR

The Shanghai Gold Exchange has now released gold withdrawal figures for the first two months of 2019 and if we equate SGE withdrawal figures to Chinese gold demand, as we do, these suggest the nation’s demand may be slowing this year/

Gold & Silver Awaken from Eight-Year Slumber

The article below was written ahead of this week’s FOMC meeting and statement from Fed Chair Powell which intimated a sharpish slowdown in the US Fed’s tightening programme.

By David Smith, writing for Money Metals Exchange

Two years ago at a conference during which I both presented and attended, a Keynote speaker, “Rich Dad” Robert Kiyosaki, introduced me to a different way of looking at things. He posed the question, “How many sides does a coin have?”

The correct answer is “three.” The front (obverse), back (reverse) and… the edge!

When you think about it, this makes sense. From this angle – uncommon to most observers – a person can begin to look more deeply at a given subject. From the edge, you are able by definition, to see “both sides” of the story.

Using Rich Dad’s perspective as a research tool helps define and validate the premise of this essay… that the price action right now of gold – and soon silver – are giving us important clues about the direction, strength, and durability of the next price trend.

It’s easy and understandable for Norteamericanos to become fixated on the price of gold and silver, expressed in their domestic currency, the U.S. dollar.

But once in a while, it’s important to take a step back and gauge how much people in OTHER countries are paying in their currency when they exchange fiat for some of the honest money that gold and silver have historically represented.

When gold is in an uptrend against other currencies it lets you know that something is going on under the hood that most people are missing.

When precious metals’ buying in these countries continues to increase in spite of the fact that it has become even more expensive to do so, Mr. Market is letting you in on just one more reason why you should pay attention… and either start “stacking” or add to your current insurance/investment position.

The Trend is Your Friend

Increased gold purchases by “Silk Road” countries – for going on two decades – have continued unabated in spite of periodic currency devaluations and loss of purchasing power to the U.S. dollar. Not to mention that China, which used to export millions of ounces of silver annually, has for some years, not only been keeping all of its internal production, but importing more!

The Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) chart demonstrates that this trend shows no signs of letting up.

Going forward, plan on gold being more challenging to find, and due to increased regulation along with overall country risk, more complicated, costly and time-consuming to produce. And, not to mention, more expensive to buy as mushrooming demand across the globe kicks in and continues with a vengeance.

Goldcorp was recently bought out by Newmont Mining, creating the world’s largest producer. This is the second recent gold company mega-merger – with others almost certainly to follow – indicating the need these operators have for nailing down future ore bodies, as every ounce they produce depletes their reserves.

Ian Telfer, Goldcorp’s Chairman, has said, “If I could give one sentence about the gold mining business… it’s that in my life, gold produced from mines has gone up pretty steadily for 40 years. Well, either this year it starts to go down, or next year it starts to go down, or it’s already going down… We’re right at peak gold here.”

Physical Silver Deliveries in Shanghai Are Skyrocketing

After a brief time lag, when gold experiences a sustained and robust rise price rise, so does silver.

The directional correlation between gold and silver is close to 90%. When you observe the statistical rarity of a gold/silver ratio above 80:1 – which happens to be where we are right now – a “reversion to the mean” is in the offing.

Central Bank Gold Holdings Reveal What “The Man” Is Doing

Even as the new gold secular bull run got underway in 2000, central banks continued to sell gold for nine more years.

However, in 2010 that trend reversed and has continued upward through the present day. From 2015 through the end of 2018, central bank buying has noticeably accelerated.

One writer has referred to central banks as “one trick ponies with printing presses.”

But even as they push out more paper promises, these tricksters continue to covet the Midas metal. Former Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, pressed to answer why they still held gold, replied curtly, “because of tradition.”

We’d say there’s more to it than his brief reply – a lot more.

Central Banks Are Stockpiling Gold Once Again (Courtesy World Gold Council)

Way back in 2002, David Morgan made the following comment:

“For the record, I will state, there will be another, more frenzied, scramble that will carry silver prices to highs that will repair all the excess paper money creation, price suppression, supply deficit, and bearish sentiment over the past two decades. This will become known as the Great Silver Crisis.”

Gold, silver and the mining stocks are finally awakening from an eight-year slumber.

While no one can predict just how far and how fast prices will rise, the odds of missing out for those who continue to look the other way or who hesitate to act, will parallel the metals’ upside trajectory.

Then at some point, as surely as the sun rises each morning, many of these same people will decide to step up to the plate and start buying at much higher prices. They will be driven – not by calm, calculated decision-making, but rather by FOMO – the fear of missing out.

Do yourself a favor. Behave like “Rich Dad.” Get up on “the edge of the coin” and take a look at both sides.

Then start “vaulting” gold and silver on a regular basis, while availability is good, and the price is still reasonable.

About the author

David Smith is Senior Analyst for TheMorganReport.com and a regular contributor to MoneyMetals.com as well as the LODE Cryptographic Silver Monetary System Project. He has investigated precious metals’ mines and exploration sites in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, China, Canada and the U.S. He shares resource sector observations withr eaders, the media and North American investment conference attendees.

 

LBMA Panel forecasts 2019

Every year the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) invites a selection of precious metals experts to predict precious metals prices for the year ahead.  This year there was little consensus among the participants who generally predicted a very conservative price scenario.  The LBMA’s tabulation is shown below:

Our comments on the findings and our more bullish projections have been published on the Sharps Pixley website.  Click here to read them

Gold, Silver, Platinum Group Metals 2019 Metal Price Predictions And Stock Choices

Article published on Seekingalpha.com
Summary

Last year with precious metals, apart from palladium, falling short of projected values, our predictions and anticipated stock gains fell well short of expectations.

For 2019, we again anticipate relatively conservative gains in precious metals prices and continuing falls in general equities and bitcoin valuations.

If our predictions are correct, we could see a further recovery in precious metals prices and a sharp upturn in relevant stocks.

We are sticking in our stock recommendations to major precious metals miners and royalty/streaming companies as they are likely to remain comfortably in existence if metal prices move against them again.

To read full article on Seeking Alpha click on:

https://bit.ly/2Aw1ivY

Precious metals price predictions 2019

An article written by me for www.sharpspixley.com to estimate where I think precious metals prices may be in a year’s time:

Predicting precious metals prices for the year ahead can be an invidious task and I have to say that, although I considered my guesstimates for 2018 made a year ago as fairly conservative they were nearly all out by an order of magnitude.  My only consolation, perhaps, is that they were no more so than those of most other precious metals professional analysts and observers.

In the event, as the year played out to the full, gold at least outperformed equity markets by being almost flat over the full year despite underperforming general stocks for much of the period.  Equities, after performing well earlier on, came down with a bit of a bang over the final few weeks of the year and long term gold holders will have done better than those who held on to their general stocks.

My one prediction which turned out to be very accurate was that for bitcoin – not a precious metal at all – which I predicted would come down very sharply, as it did.  I was also looking for a sharp fall in general equities, but it took the final few weeks of the year for this to happen – prior to which they had performed fairly positively.

But herewith my best guesses for precious metals performance in the current year.  In general the projections for gold and silver are much the same as those I made a year ago – but perhaps a little more conservative.  OK, my timing was wrong a year ago but I see many of the factors likely to drive prices in the year ahead as actually being much the same. Let’s hope I am more accurate in my guesstimates this time around.

In general in 2018 precious metals had a fairly dismal year, with the exception of palladium and for much of the year, after a promising first quarter, were strongly outperformed by equities.  But in the final few weeks of 2018, equities came off very sharply and gold holders did rather better with the yellow metal coming off its lows.  As I pointed out in a previous article here, the strong dollar meant that gold actually performed even better – indeed positively – over the year in most countries other than the U.S.A. and with equities declining even more in most other countries than in the U.S. gold did indeed work rather well as a safe haven – as it is supposed to.  Some of the final figures and percentage changes over the full year are noted in the table below, but these figures are in U.S. dollars and with the U.S. dollar index (DXY) rising quite sharply (around 5%) over the full year gold actually increased in value in many other currencies which made it an even better performer in these nations.

Metal Price or Index Level

Price/Level 1/1/2018

Price/Level 1/1/2019

% Change

Gold (US$)

$1,306

$1,282

-1.8%

Silver (US$)

$17.06

$15.47

-9.3%

Platinum (US$)

$947

$794

-16.2%

Palladium (US$)

$1,087

$1,252

+15.2%

Dow Jones Industrial

24,824

23,327

-6.0%

S&P 500

2,696

2,507

-7.0%

NASDAQ

7,007

6,635

-5.3%

Nikkei

23,506

20,015

-14.9%

DAX

12,871

10,559

-18.0%

FTSE 100

7,648

6,728

-12.0%

Bitcoin

$13,445

$3,717

-72.4%

Gold:  The most significant of the precious metals being covered given that where gold goes the others tend to follow – more or less – despite the fact that industrial demand becomes more and more significant as one moves through the precious metals list.  My prediction for the gold price at this time next year is a conservative US$1,400 – up a little over 10%.   ……..

To read the full article which includes my price estimates for silver, platinum and palladium too on sharpspixley.com’s metalsdaily website click on:

LAWRIE WILLIAMS: PRECIOUS METALS PRICE PREDICTIONS 2019

Gold a better 2018 investment than equities – almost everywhere!

Lightly edited version of article first published on www.sharpspixley.com

The better gold price, coupled with the big downturn in general equities, has meant that over the year to date gold has outperformed stocks quite significantly even in the USA – and even more so in most other countries.

As the year draws to a close we see that gold has outperformed equities, virtually everywhere in the world.  Year to date U.S. equities, as measured by the Dow, S&P and NASDAQ, are down over 10%, while European and Asian equities have fallen by even greater percentages.  Gold, in U.S. Dollars is also down year to date, but only by a little under 4%.  Indeed the gap may even be widening as the year end approaches with gold gaining and equities still falling.

So even in the U.S. gold has comfortably outperformed equities over the year, while in other key currencies it has even done rather better having seen gains in most, with many currencies declining in value against the mighty dollar.  Globally, thus gold has more than performed its role as a safe haven investment extremely well.  In countries where the domestic currency has collapsed, like Venezuela and, to an extent, Argentina, gold has proved to be an exceptionally good asset to hold.

As an example of gold in major currencies, the gold price in Euros is up by 1% so far this year and in the British pound sterling it is up around 2.5%. while in both the EU and the UK equities have fallen sharply (around 11%) over the year to date.  In the Australian dollar gold is up almost 6%, and in Canada it is up around 3.5% in the domestic currency’ while again equities are down sharply in both countries.

There are exceptions of course – in Japanese yen gold is down by 5.7%, but Japan’s prime stock index – the Nikkei – is off by 11.4% so gold has still easily outperformed the market there too.  In Swiss Francs, another currency which is usually considered among the stronger palyers, gold is also down – by around 2.9% – but again it has comfortably outperformed the Swiss Stock market which is also down a little over 11%!  (All figures as at close Friday December 21st).

If one looks also at another key investment asset – the heavily promoted bitcoin – the biggest bitcoin player, BTC, has lost around a massive 70% since January 1st this year.  I think that more than quashes any argument that bitcoin provides a better haven than gold which was prevalent when BTC was riding high in the second half of 2017.  It has proved to be a far more volatile asset than gold which somewhat defeats the safe haven principle! It is altogether a much more speculative asset class and we would not be surprised to see the price dive further in the weeks and months ahead.  Other cryptocurrencies have declined even further than BTC in percentage terms.

As we have noted before we have not been a believer in bitcoin as an investment.  We warned people to get out when BTC was at around $10,000 on the way up to almost double that level so we were a little early with our advice, but were obviously correct in principle.  In our view it’s better be out too soon in what was looking increasingly like a developing bubble situation than too late!

So what happens from here?  Equities are still looking vulnerable while portents for gold and the other precious metals are looking positive although data may yet change the position of either or both.  Geopolitics are ever increasingly uncertain – in part due to President Trump’s domestic difficulties and his insistence on a continuing trade dispute with China which seems to be disadvantageous to both nations. There are also continuing issues in the Middle East, Ukraine, Afghanistan, North Korea and the South China Sea to name but five potential flashpoints – but there could well be others which crop up in the year, or years, ahead.  The Democratic party majority in the U.S. House of Representatives which will be in place in 2019 and the subsequent possibility of moves to impeach the U.S. President add further degrees of uncertainty to the mix, which could weigh on equities and the dollar and boost precious metals.

Some observers feel that silver, which has underperformed in the past year, might be the precious metal to plump for given that it tends to outperform gold when the latter is in a rising pattern.  Palladium fundamentals look strong too, but the price could suffer if there is an economic recession, as could that of silver,  and a global recession may, or may not, be on the cards.  A U.S. recession has looked unlikely in the near term, but further falls in equities could lead to negative overall sentiment which could push the recession button and adversely affect all industrial metals – sooner rather than later.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is currently looking as if it will reduce the projected number of interest rate rises next year.  If this is indeed confirmed – or if the Fed looks as if it will reduce the number of rate rises further, which looks possible if equities continue on their downwards path – then this could depress the U.S. dollar and gold could move up strongly.

A word of caution for precious metals investors though – should equities truly crash, which has to be a possibility, liquidity issues could also lead to a precious metals sell-off too as happened in 2008 as big investors struggled to stay afloat and needed to sell good assets to do so.  However, if history repeats itself in this respect the twin consolations are that firstly some of the big institutions are much lighter on gold holdings this time around, given that gold investment fell out of favour given the seeming ever-upwards path of equities up until the past few weeks.  And secondly comfort could be gained in that back in 2008/9 gold was the quickest major asset class to recover – indeed was rising strongly while equities were still on the way down!

Gold and silver key holdings amidst market and U.S. political mayhem

Treasury Secretary Panics as Markets Melt Down and Trump Mulls Firing Fed Chair Powell

President Donald Trump slammed Fed chairman Jerome Powell yet again and reportedly asked advisors within his inner circle whether he has the legal authority to fire Powell.

It would be unprecedented for a President to fire a Fed chairman before his term is up. Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin raced to quell the idea of ousting Powell. (But Mnuchin seems to have a personal stake in it, as he had recommended to Trump that he pick Powell to replace Janet Yellen.)

Mnuchin also convened over the weekend with big bank CEOs and the Administration’s secretive President’s Working Group on Capital Markets, also known as the “Plunge Protection Team.”

Crash

He took the unusual step of issuing a statement declaring the banking system has “ample liquidity.”

His attempt to preempt any concerns about the current health of the financial system may have only helped draw more attention to them. The Fed’s rate hikes have already put the stock market on the brink of a major cyclical crash.

Does the White House have the legal authority to remove Federal Reserve Board members? Apparently so. According to Section 10 of the Federal Reserve Act, “each [Board] member shall hold office for a term of fourteen years from the expiration of the term of his predecessor, unless sooner removed for cause by the President.”

If the President finds “cause,” then he can remove Fed policymakers.

Of course, Trump would set off a political firestorm if he attempted to remove the Federal Reserve chairman. Right now, the White House is struggling to put out multiple existing fires threatening Trump’s agenda – from the Robert Mueller investigation, to Defense Secretary James Mattis’ sudden resignation in protest, to the partial government shutdown now in effect.

Early last week, it appeared that Trump was preparing to sign a stopgap bill to keep the government open – without funding for a border wall. But after his base revolted at the prospect of another capitulation on his cornerstone campaign promise – and a complete squandering of the last opportunity to get anything done while Republicans still control both chambers of Congress – Trump changed his mind.

Government Shutdown

Is the current government shutdown anything more than political theater? History suggests shutdowns rarely achieve anything good for Republicans. They certainly never save taxpayers money (all government employees not reporting for work will still get full pay).

What do government shutdowns mean for markets? Not much, usually.

Investor fear is priced in beforehand. But with so much now weighing on the stock market all at once, any additional bad news about the prospects for a resolution of the shutdown could trigger additional heavy selling.

To be sure, the unfolding mayhem reinforces the wisdom of having a meaningful allocation to gold and silver as we head into the New Year.

Gold Bulls Regain Dominance

By Frank Holmes – CEO and Chief Investment Officer, U.S. Global Investors

The Gold Bulls Just Regained the Upper Hand

Commodity traders appear excited about gold again as stocks are on pace for their worst year since 2008, and their worst December since 1931. Bullish bets on the yellow metal outnumbered bearish ones for the week ended December 11, resulting in the first instance of net positive contracts since July, according to Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data.

traders make first bullish bet on gold since july as stocks tumble
click to enlarge

As many of you know, December has historically been a strong month for stocks. But fears of a slowdown in global growth, rising interest rates and the U.S.-China trade war have prompted many investors to pare down their stocks in favor of gold, often perceived as a safe haven in times of economic and financial instability.

Now, as we head into 2019, gold “is poised to take the bull-market baton from the dollar and stocks,” writes Bloomberg  Commodity Strategist Mike McGlone. Although the U.S. dollar has been strengthening since September, which would ordinarily dent the price of gold, the yellow metal has shown “divergent strength on the back of increasing equity-market volatility,” McGlone adds.

Gold and Metal Miners Have Crushed the Market

So far this quarter, gold has crushed the market, returning more than 5 percent as of December 18, compared to negative 11.9 percent for the S&P 500 Index. Gold miners, though, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, have been the top performer, climbing nearly 12 percent.

Gold Miners Have been the standout performer this quarter
click to enlarge

We could see even higher gold and gold equity prices next year and beyond, but the dollar will likely need to come down. For that to happen, the Federal Reserve will need to call time out on its quarterly rate hikes. Many industry leaders now support this idea, including Jeffrey Gundlach and Stanley Druckenmiller, not to mention President Donald Trump.

“I hope the people over at the Fed will read today’s Wall Street Journal Editorial before they make another mistake,” Trump warned in a tweet Tuesday morning. “Also, don’t let the market become any more illiquid than it already is. Stop with the 50 B’s. Feel the market, don’t just go by meaningless numbers. Good luck!”

The WSJ editorial Trump refers to makes the case that “economic and financial signals suggest [Fed Chairman Jerome Powell] should pause,” a line the president has been repeating for months now.

Looking ahead five years, the investment case for gold and gold miners gets even more attractive. London-based precious metals consultancy firm Metals Focus projects a gradual increase in gold consumption between now and 2023, supported by strong jewelry demand and physical investment.

gold consumption forecast through 2023
click to enlarge

“From late 2019 onwards,” Metals Focus analysts write, “we expect a bull market in gold to emerge, which in our view will remain in place for the next two to three years.”

Greenspan Urges Investors to “Run for Cover”

In an interview this week with CNN, former Federal Reserve Chairman (and gold fan) Alan Greenspan urged investors to “run for cover,” as he doesn’t see the market moving much higher than they are now.

“It would be very surprising to see it sort of stabilize here, and then take off,” Greenspan said.

I believe the best way to “run for cover” is with gold and short-term, tax-free municipal bonds. As for gold, I always recommend a 10 percent weighting, with 5 percent in bullion, coins and jewelry, the other 5 percent in high-quality gold stocks, mutual funds and ETFs.

Monetary and Fiscal Risks Boost Gold’s Investment Case

By Frank Holmes – CEO and Chief Investment Officer U.S. Global Investors

The investment case for gold and other precious metals got a boost last week in light of news that might concern some equity investors. The European Central Bank (ECB) announced that it would be drawing quantitative easing (QE) measures to a close by halting its 2.6 trillion-euro bond-purchasing program, begun four years ago as a means to provide liquidity to the eurozone economy after the financial crisis. Interest rates, however, will be kept at historically low levels for the time being.

The ECB, then, will become the next big central bank, after the Federal Reserve, to end QE and normalize monetary policy. Although it’s steadily been tapering its own purchases of bonds, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) is still committed to providing liquidity at this point. Assets in the Japanese bank now stand north of 553.6 trillion yen ($4.86 trillion)—which, amazingly, is more than 100 percent of the country’s entire gross domestic product (GDP). Holdings, in fact, are larger than the combined economies of India, Turkey, Argentina, Indonesia and South Africa.

Major Central Banks' Total Assets
click to enlarge

In the past, I’ve discussed the economic and financial risks when central banks begin to unwind their balance sheets. The Fed has reduced its assets six times separate occassions before now, and all but one of those times ended in recession, according to research firm MKM Partners.

“Business cycles don’t just end accidentally,” MKM Chief Economist Mike Darda said in 2017. “They are killed by the Fed.”

We can now add the ECB and, at some point, the BOJ to this list. The three top central banks control approximately $14 trillion in assets, a mind-boggling sum, and it’s unclear at this point what the ramifications might be once these assets are allowed to roll over.

The Widest November Budget Deficit on Record

In addition, the Treasury Department revealed last week that the U.S. posted its widest budget deficit in the nation’s history for the month of November, as spending was double the amount of revenue the government brought in. The budget shortfall, then, came in at a record $205 billion, almost 50 percent over the spending gap from a year ago.

This follows news that U.S. government debt is on pace to expand this year at its fastest pace since 2012. Total public debt has jumped by $1.36 trillion, or 6.6 percent, since the start of 2018, making it the biggest expansion in percentage terms since the last year of President Barack Obama’s first term, Bloomberg reports.

As of last Monday, the national debt stood at just under $22 trillion, and by as soon as 2022, it could top $25 trillion, according to estimates.

U.S. Debt Projected to Jump by $7.5 trillion from 2016 to 2023
click to enlarge

As I shared with you in November, the government could very well be in a “debt spiral” right now, in the words of Black Swan author Nassim Taleb. This means it must borrow to repay its creditors. And with rates on the rise, servicing all this debt will continue to get more and more expensive.

It’s for this reason, among others, that I recommend a 10 percent weighting in gold, with 5 percent in bullion and gold jewelry, the other 5 percent in high-quality gold stocks, mutual funds and ETFs.

Christmas Comes Early for WHEATON PRECIOUS METALS

Gold mining investors and Canadian capital markets received an early Christmas gift last Friday. Wheaton Precious Metals, one of the largest precious metals streaming companies in the world, announced that it reached a settlement with the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), the equivalent of the IRS. Before now, Wheaton had been in an ongoing legal feud with the agency over international transactions between 2005 and 2010.

According to the agreement, income generated through Wheaton’s foreign subsidiaries will not be subject to Canadian taxes. The company, however, will need to mark-up the cost of service provided to foreign subsidiaries, from 20 percent to 30 percent.

“The settlement removes uncertainty with the use of our business model going forward and puts the tax issue behind us so that we can continue to focus on what we do best: building and managing our high-quality portfolio both organically and by accretive acquisitions,” commented Randy Smallwood, Wheaton president and CEO.

“We expect the stock to react positively to the news given the tax dispute was an overhang,” Credit Suisse analysts shared in a note to investors today. Indeed, Wheaton stock was trading up as much as 12.4 percent in New York following the news, hitting a four-month high of $19.63 a share.

wheaton precious metals stock jumped after tax settlement news
click to enlarge

I want to congratulate everyone at Wheaton, particularly Randy for his resilience and strong leadership. He’s always offered invaluable insights to our team and investors. I encourage interested registered investment advisors (RIAs) to check out the July 2018 webcast I did with Randy, where we discussed our seven top reasons to invest in gold. You can listen to the replay by clicking here.

 

Is Palladium Price Action Forerunner for Gold and Silver?

by: Clint Siegner*

The precious metals sector has just one standout performer this year, and that is palladium. Lately the market for that metal has become more than just hot. Developments there could have implications for the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and the rickety fractional reserve system of inventory underpinning all of the physical precious metals markets.

Craig Hemke of the TF Metals Report was  the podcast guest this past Friday. He has been watching the developments in palladium closely and gave an excellent summary of what’s involved.

Palladium prices went parabolic once before. The price went from under $400 per ounce to $1,100/oz from late 1999 to early 2001. Then, just as quickly, the price crashed back below $400.

Palladium’s move higher in recent months is reminiscent. It remains to be seen whether or not a price collapse will follow. Some of the underlying drivers are the same, some are not.

Russia May Not Save the Palladium Markets This Time

Today, as in 2001, Russia is the world’s largest producer of the metal. Mines there contribute about 40% of the world supply.

The shortage 17 years ago was driven by demand. Automobile and truck manufacturers began using more of the metal in catalytic converters. It was a lower cost alternative to platinum.

When the market ran into shortage, Russians, under President Boris Yeltsin, rode to the rescue. They were willing and able to bring more physical metal to market.

The added supply turned the market around just in the nick of time. The LBMA and bullion banks got away with selling way more paper palladium than they could actually deliver.

Today, palladium inventory is once again in short supply. This time around, however, the paper sellers in London and in the COMEX may find themselves at the mercy of Vladimir Putin.

Russian relations aren’t what they were in 2001. Palladium users may not get the same rescue as before, assuming Russian miners have stockpiles to deliver.

The bullion banks’ problem is starting to look serious.

System Failure

For one thing, the lease rates for palladium have gone berserk. Bullion bankers and other short sellers often lease metal to hand over to counterparties standing for delivery on a contract. Until very recently, they could get that metal for less than one percent cost. Last week, that rate spiked to 22%.

That is extraordinarily expensive, and it reflects the scarcity of physical palladium. The only reason a banker might pay such a rate is because he is over the barrel and has zero options outside of defaulting on his obligation.

Severe Shortages Lead to High Lease Rates, Backwardation

In conjunction with the surge in lease rates, the palladium market has moved into backwardation. It costs significantly more to buy metal on contracts offering delivery in the near future than it does to buy contracts with a longer maturation.

Normally the opposite is true when it comes to the precious metals. Investors buying a contract normally pay a premium to have the certainty of a fixed price today for metal to be delivered sometime well down the road.

Investors are paying big premiums (about $100/oz currently) to get contacts with offering metal for delivery now. The near-term price reflects a concern over whether promises to deliver palladium months from now can even be met.

Is the Palladium Situation a Dress Rehearsal for Gold & Silver?

Gold and silver bugs have long expected the bullion bankers will eventually put themselves in this kind of bind with the monetary metals. They have sold contracts representing something on the order of 100 ounces for every ounce of actual gold or silver sitting in exchange vaults.

That much leverage is bound to end in catastrophe, someday. All it will take is a collapse in confidence – the suspicion that paper will not and cannot be convertible for actual metal.

A failure to deliver in the relatively tiny palladium market could be the “canary in the coal mine” – a warning to investors in other precious metals. If there is a failure to deliver in LBMA palladium, it could shake confidence in the much larger markets for gold and silver.

The developing shortage in the silver market suggests that silver could be the next

The great gold, silver and pgms futures scams

Mike Gleason of Money Metals Exchange interviews Craig Hemke of TF Metals Report who looks at the recent surge in the palladium price and some disturbing anomalies regarding paper metal in the precious metals market

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to welcome in Craig Hemke of the TF Metals Report. Craig runs one of the most highly respected and well-known websites in the entire industry and has been covering the precious metals for a decade now, and he puts out some of the best analysis on banking schemes, the flaws of Keynesian economics, and evidence of manipulation in the gold and silver markets.

Craig, welcome back and thanks for joining us again. How are you my friend?

Craig Hemke: I’m fine, Mike. Thank you for the kind words. I very much appreciate it. It’s always a pleasure to visit with you.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, likewise. Well, Craig to start out today, I want to go a little unorthodox here and ask you about palladium. You’ve been covering developments in that market closely. As we’re talking today, we’re seeing palladium higher than gold now, and the potential ramifications of what we’re seeing in the palladium market could be significant for all metals.

So, if you would, set the stage here and give our listeners a summary of what you see happening there. Lease rates have been exploding higher and that just might be signaling a serious problem for the LBMA. Please explain a little bit about metals leasing and what the dramatic moves in palladium might mean, Craig. And hopefully after you do that, our audience will understand why we’re leading off with that topic in this interview.

Craig Hemke: Yeah, that’s the significance of it Mike. You’ve touched upon it. I guess in a sense, I wish I would have started the TF Palladium report back in 2010 because prices have about tripled since then, and it’s been a better performer than gold and silver. And I’ve seen stuff today about people writing about how all of a sudden with palladium spot prices exceeding gold that that’s something significant. It’s not. That doesn’t mean anything, because they’re not interchangeable. It’s really an apples and oranges thing. What matters in the palladium price is that it’s breaking out to new all-time highs, and the circumstances behind this move.

Personal history, back in 2001, palladium ran from $400 up to $1,100 an ounce over the course of about nine months. And it was all in the back of what was clearly a demonstrable supply shortage at the time, primarily in London because the futures market is pretty small in New York. As legend has it, President Yeltsin, who was eager to curry favor with the west … think of this as just past cold war time, was quick to supply physical palladium to London to be delivered in what was a supply squeeze. It had driven price up that far.

Russia supplies about 40% of the global palladium supply and price then crashed, went back down from $1,100 to $400 over the next nine months. So it was a full roundtrip. Price then came up again to $1,100 about this time last year, and for a while it looked like it’s a clear double top on the chart, but it has since exploded since August. It’s gone from $800 now to $1,200 over the last four months.

And behind this move and the significance of all of this for gold and silver investors is this supply squeeze that’s clearly there. How can I say that? Two things: One, the lease rates in London that you mentioned … David Jensen reports that yesterday a one month lease rate for palladium in London was 22%. Let me repeat that, okay? Traditionally it’s about zero percent, right? You look at the gold lease rates, silver lease rates are always zero to one percent. If you want to borrow my palladium so that you can deliver it against your short obligation or deliver obligation, I’m not sure I’m going to get it back because it’s in such short supply. Therefore, I demand you pay me 22%, okay? That’s up from 15% the day before. It’s up from 10% last week so that’s evidence of the growing shortage.

You can also look at a traditional measure which is backwardation. In futures trading you usually get contango, which means that the spot price is a little bit less than the front month futures, which is less as you go out the board, the price gets higher… that’s contango. That’s how boards are usually structured. In palladium, at present, it’s backwardation. The spot price is about $1,250. The front month futures is about $1,230 and as you go out to this time next year for a … I guess we’ll call it a futures delivery in New York, it’s about $1,150 so you have about $100 in backwardation. That’s also evidence of supply shortage.

Now, putting this all back together; if this in fact, happening like it did in 2001, I don’t think President Putin is going to be as accommodating at this time as President Yeltsin was. If, and this ultimately, now that everybody has this background, this ultimately is why this matters. If the physical palladium market in London begins to fracture and dissolve, and the LBMA palladium market gets exposed for what it is, which is a series of leases and promissory notes and unallocated accounts and all this kind of stuff, then that is going to shed light on the LBMA gold and silver markets, which are similarly a series of leases and fractional reserved, unallocated accounts and the like.

So what my hope is, and why I’ve paid such attention to this over the last couple of months, is that the world will wake up and go, “Well, hold on. Wait a second. Time out. If the palladium market is structured this way and it just blew up, there’s nowhere near the amount of supply of palladium as these paper markets would imply, well holy cow, maybe the gold and silver markets deserve our attention too.”

So, I’m not advising anybody to buy palladium coins and stuff like that. I mean, I’m sure the banks will do everything they can in their power to rig price back down. They’ll probably be successful. But the hope with palladium is that it will shine the light … draw attention to at least, the scam, the fraud of this fractional reserve and paper derivative pricing scheme, and then that’ll trickle over into attention in gold and silver.

Mike Gleason: It is interesting that all of the action the palladium markets isn’t showing up in platinum. Palladium is in the platinum group of metals and shares many of the same properties. When it comes to use in catalytic converters, which drives a lot of demand for both metals, some argue the two metals are pretty much interchangeable. The implication is that car and truck makers will happily switch to platinum if they can save a few hundred dollars per ounce, but so far there’s no indication this is happening. What do you make of the price disconnect between platinum and palladium? Is palladium perhaps the only precious metal that isn’t under the thumb of the Bullion Bank cartel?

Craig Hemke: I wouldn’t say that, Mike. I just think it’s solely focused on the dynamics of the scam of the palladium market, which again is the same scam of the platinum market, which is the same scam of the silver market and the gold market. It’s that the palladium market is fractured. That’s what the 20 plus percent lease rates are telling you. That’s the backwardation of the board is telling you. They’ve set price. Price is determined and we, as a world, allow price to be determined by the trading of derivative contracts which have nothing to do with the actual supply of the physical metal. I mean, that’s why the gold-silver ratio is 80 to 1. “What do you think of the gold/silver ratio?” I think it implies that there’s far more silver derivatives than there are gold derivatives, at least on a historical basic because if we price these things based off of these derivatives which the banks create and then take away at a moment’s notice.

They feed in supply demand of the derivative to set the price of the physical piece of metal. So this movement in palladium is specific to palladium and the physical metal not being there to settle current demands that are made by this paper system. That’s still how you get the 22% lease rates. Can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow, Mike, and next week. Again, what you’ve seen this week is that price rallies during the European session and the Asia session, and then gets blasted backward each of the last four days on the COMEX, where it’s just paper trading. The banks can create paper contracts, and sell ’em short and push the price back down just like they do in gold and silver.

But at some point, that becomes a losing proposition. We were headed that way in 2011 in silver. I mean, we probably don’t need to go through that history lesson. What happened? You got five margin rate hikes in nine days. You got the massive rate on May 1, 2011. JPMorgan, which had a huge short position then, but no vault magically was allowed to create a new vault, a silver vault, and over the course of a couple of weeks and now they’ve got 150 million ounces in their vault.

All those steps were taken to get the silver price back under control so that wouldn’t break this paper slash physical silver market. They may take the same steps in play. Maybe they’ll move to a liquidation only event on the COMEX like they did to the Hunt Brothers in an attempt. This is a physically driven thing which it appears to be out of London, they’re taking some major risks. They being the banks, if they’re going to try to rig price lower through the derivatives in New York.

Mike Gleason: What kind of world would it be for metals investors if we actually had the physical metal setting as the price-setting mechanism instead of the paper derivative market? Gosh, that would be quite a pleasant change.

2018 has been another difficult year in the gold and silver markets. The Fed has been hiking interest rates and until recently, at least, pretty much getting away with it. The dollar has moved higher. It has been risk-on on Wall Street for much of the year and the sentiment around precious metals has been lousy, but there is some reason for hope. It looks like the Fed’s free ride may be over, or at least coming to an end before much longer. Stock prices are taking a beating here recently, and things are getting squirrely in the bond markets.

Now you think metals investors may have some good reason to smile over the next few months. What are you expecting over the next few quarters, Craig?

Craig Hemke: Well, I was excited at the end of 2015 when we put in those lows, that were the bear market lows. Everybody thought $800 gold and $8 silver was coming, and I planted my leg and I said, “No, this looks like we’re going to rally.” We rallied far beyond what I thought we were going to get. We got 30% in gold and 50% in silver. And then the clamps came down and Trump was elected and all the sudden, the narrative was shoved down our throats about how the economy was going to soar and all that kind of stuff, and we’ve not had much happen ever since.

I would point out though, that that year, 2015, was just one of the last four that has seen prices rally out of the December FOMC, the middle of the month, tax loss selling behind us, all that kind of stuff, rallying to the end of the year and then into the first quarter. And I have little doubt that that’s what’s going to happen here this year as well.

Then, as you mentioned, where everybody seems to think that next year is this easy, predictable thing and the Fed’s going to hike rates three or four times, the economy’s going to grow. “Oh no, there’s no recession until 2020” and that kind of stuff. That’s garbage.

You mentioned the bond market. The yield curve is inverting. Got all the way down to less than 10 basis points between a two year note and a 10 year note back on Tuesday. Yield curve inversion always precedes recession, and then you’ve got effects of the tariffs. You’ve got the effects of … I mean there’s going to be 101 different investigations of Trump next year from the Democrat House. All of that is going to impact consumer confidence. The economy is going to slow. By mid-year, the Fed will certainly have halted … they’re going to hike in December. Who knows if they’ll try again in March, but there ain’t going to be four hikes next year.

By the end of the year next year, we’re going to be talking about a resumption of QE because of all of the stuff that I’m talking about. You know, and another thing no one’s talking about is maybe a lack of a Brexit deal and maybe a second referendum. And what if the Brits vote next time that they don’t want Brexit? Well, then the euro’s going to soar, and the euro makes up 60% of the dollar index. That means the dollar is going to crash. Well, nobody’s factoring that in. All I hear is from dollar bulls is about how it’s going above 100 because “King Dollar” and all that garbage, so I think a lot of the forces are aligning, all the way down to the CoT (Commitment of Traders) positioning and the managed money that’s still heavily net short, both metals.

All the forces are aligning for a big first quarter, that I think will carry on through the year. And frankly, again, maybe I’ll be dead wrong, but I think 2019 is going to the best year for gold, and silver too, since 2010 because of a lot of the same situation that prevailed in 2010; slow economy, pickup of QE, all that kind of stuff. That’s all coming back next year and I think investor sentiment will return. Flows of funds will return. The shares are going to do great. It’s just a matter of just kind of navigating our way through these next couple of weeks before this becomes more apparent to everybody.

Mike Gleason: Over the years, you’ve taken some abuse for calling out the chronic cheating and manipulation going on in the futures markets. We’d like to think, given all the evidence now piling up, that the argument over price rigging is now settled. The bullion banks have been running a crooked casino and swindling metals investors for years, if not decades.

John Edmonds, a former JPMorgan trader, has agreed to cooperate and has implicated other people both inside and outside the bank. The FBI and the Department of Justice seemed to be doing what the regulators, and the CFTC in particular, failed to do for so long. They are prosecuting a mass of fraud. What do you make of the DOJ’s involvement and the recent developments? Will the bullion banks finally be held to account here?

Craig Hemke: I wouldn’t hold my breath. I think it’s interesting that the Department of Justice is involved. I think everyone should’ve read, or should read the update on that case, because even in the press releases from the Department of Justice, they went out of their way to not name JPMorgan. People had to research this Edmonds guy and figure out who he worked for on their own. The Department of Justice just wanted to say “a US bank” was all they would say.

This guy then went on to say what he did was just one instance, one guy, but he had the full support of all of his superiors. And then I also read that, “Don’t worry, he’s just a low-level guy.” He was a vice president. Anybody that’s ever worked for a multinational major corporation knows that once you make the level of vice president, you’re kind of a made man, okay? So this wasn’t just some doofus in a cubicle, right?

Anyway, all that said, the only people that deny this or try to spin it in a certain way as a one-off are all people who have a vested interest in protecting their own golden spoons, if you will. They all have their skin in the game. They sell newsletters where they purport that the markets are free and fair and thus you can count it in waves of C and 3 and all that kind of garbage, and if they were to admit that a certain market was manipulated, well, then their customers are going to go, “Well, wait a second. Why am I paying you to give me this information if it’s all just manipulated?”

So they’ll fight until their dying day that markets aren’t manipulated, when anybody with eyes in their head can see that they are. And it’s not just gold and silver. If I can just spin off to the stock market in a second. Look, I’m an observer. I watch this stuff every day, and not very many people get to do that. They have their own skin in the game, they’re trying to trade it and all that kind of stuff and that gives them biases.

I just observe, and I can tell you from my observation of the last eight or ten years, that the stock market is almost entirely manipulated. “How can that be? It’s trillions and trillions of dollars.” Well, to manipulate the market, you don’t have to buy trillions of dollars of stocks. You just have to get the Algos, the hedge fund machines that control trillions of dollars to do the lifting for you, and how do you do that?

90% of the stock market volume each day is high-frequency trading computers run these hedge fund machines. If you can move the inputs, that these machines use to make their buy/sell decisions of S&P futures, then you can move the market, and what are the two key inputs? You go long the dollar-yen, and you short the VIX. Anybody can pull these up on a daily basis, watch them all minute by minute, tick by tick. You can see the clear footprints, the clear fingerprints, whether it’s the Federal Reserve Bank in New York and their massive trading desk, or whether it’s the primary dealers, they go in there. They move one or two of those indicators, or both. The machines then respond. Magically, the decline stops and up we go. It’s not some C way B of sub-sector X, whatever, kind of Elliot Wave nonsense. It’s direct manipulation to create a result.

It’s not, again, not just in the gold and silver markets. It’s in the stock market. QE is utter manipulation of the bond market and interest rates. Central Banks globally intervene and manipulate in Forex, and so for these jokers with their newsletters to sit there and say, “No, gold and silver are these pristine sacrosanct things that aren’t manipulated, they’re comical with their views. It’s asinine. So, anyway, I’m sorry, probably didn’t like the answer, but I’ve had too much coffee today as you can tell.

Mike Gleason: Well, as we begin to wrap up here, Craig, give us any final thoughts here. Maybe some of the data points or market events that you’re going to be looking at that will be an indication that either things are going to happen as you’ve laid them out in 2019, or perhaps something that could derail your theory that next year will be a banner year for the metals. Touch on that if you would as we begin to close.

Craig Hemke: Well, I think what’s priced in, Mike, is this again, this is just continuation of what has happened this year. Again, I don’t think that’s going to happen at all. I think the first thing we got to get through is this FOMC meeting in two weeks. There’s going to be a rate hike, but people are really going to parse the changes to the statement that we call the Fed lines and see if that’s any indicator of what’s going to happen next.

There is no way the Fed’s going to hike three or four times next year because already, the ten year note is where it was back in February and the Fed has hiked three times since, so they’ve flattened the yield curve by 75 basis points. They’re pushing on a string to get long rates higher. It’s just not going to happen. There’s too much cash looking for a home.

That’s going to be the big thing, is the economy is going to begin to visibly slow. Confidence is going to crash; all these investigations of Trump. The dollar is going to reverse and trend lower, and all these things are going to create a really good, positive … I don’t want to call it perfect storm, but a great environment even for these digital derivative gold and silver on the COMEX that sets price.

I guess the one fly in the ointment that we’re going to have to watch closely, and I would just leave everybody with this: the key driver of that COMEX price this year has been the Chinese yuan and its relationship versus the dollar. If the yuan strengthens, gold goes up. If the yuan weakens, gold goes down. It has been prevalent all year long. It has been almost tick-for-tick since April. You can see it this week and the reaction to the discussions over the weekend at the G-20. They’re moving almost tick-for-tick.

China has devalued the yuan in the face of the trade war, and that has then pushed gold down. I mean, we don’t have to go into why and all that kind of stuff, but it’s clearly happening, and so what we’re going to need though at some point next year is a disconnect of those two, or a cessation of the trade war that allows the yuan to appreciate versus the dollar. And I think that’s coming.

I think Trump, and you saw first this weekend with a little bit of capitulation, with the whatever 90 agreements they have, but Trump’s going to look around. He’s going to see the faltering economy. He’s going to see the falling stock market. There ain’t going to be these 25% tariffs. He’s going to settle for much more generous terms than he’s currently offering with the Chinese.

That’s going to allow the yuan to appreciate, and even if the two don’t de-couple, that should also benefit higher gold prices too. So, that would be the thing though. If somehow that doesn’t happen, and the yuan continues to devalue and breaks down through seven-to-one versus the dollar, that’s going to keep pressure on gold regardless of all the other stuff that we’ve talked about, so hopefully all that comes together and like I said, we have a fantastic year next year. It’s certainly all set up to have it play out that way.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, it seems like there could be a lot of fireworks coming together at a head at one time and going to be interesting to watch.

Well, great insights as usual, Craig. It’s always good to hear from you and we greatly appreciate your time today. Now, before we sign off, please tell everyone about the TF Metals Report and what it is that they’ll find if they visit your site.

Craig Hemke: Hey, Mike, thank you. I think it’s tremendous value. The subscription is $12 a month so about 40 cents a day. It’s two things: it’s my analysis every day that I think people use to, I guess, help them figure out when’s an opportune time to buy and sell, add to their physical stacks of metal. If I can save you a few bucks on price through analysis, telling you to wait or telling you to go, versus what I’m seeing, then that kind of makes this thing pay for itself. But it’s also an unbelievably great community of people that are like-minded, realize we’re all in the same boat together, and everybody’s out there helping each other to prepare for all of this stuff that’s assuredly coming; the end of the great Keynesian experiment, as we call it.

So, I encourage everybody to check out, it’s just TFMetalsReport.com. It’s a site like no other. That’s the feedback I get all the time, and I’m really proud of it, and I’d encourage people to check it out.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, we would encourage people too. We follow it very closely here. Craig, as you’ve just heard, has a fantastic handle on the markets, especially when it comes to metals and the things that drive it, you will do yourself a favor if you check that out.

Well, excellent. Thanks very much, Craig. I hope you have great holiday season and a wonderful new year. I’ll look forward to our next conversation as we discuss how this is all playing out. We agree that 2019 is shaping up to be a very interesting year. Until then, take care and thanks as always.

Craig Hemke: Thanks, Mike. It’s always a pleasure.

Mike Gleason: Well, that will do it for this week. Thanks again to Craig Hemke. The site is TFMetalsReport.com, definitely a fantastic source for all things precious metals and a whole lot more. We urge everyone to check that out so you can get some of the very best commentary on the metals markets that you can find anywhere.

And be sure to check back here next Friday for our next Weekly Market Wrap Podcast. Until then, this has been Mike Gleason with Money Metals Exchange. Thanks for listening and have a great weekend, everybody.

 

WORLD GOLD COUNCIL : Global gold-backed ETF flows are now positive in 2018

Holdings in global gold-backed ETFs and similar products rose in November by 21.2 tonnes(t) to 2,365t, equivalent to US$804mn in inflows, marking the second consecutive month of net inflows. Global gold-backed ETF flows are now positive in US dollar terms on the year.** The price of gold was little changed (+0.2%) and global assets under management (AUM) rose by 1.1% in US dollars relative to October.

**See note on tonnage/ flows differences below. ** 

Global stock markets remained volatile, although they ultimately ended the month mixed. Oil performance was a key story as the commodity fell more than 22% on the month amidst supply concerns. The US 2/10 Treasury yield curve flattened to near-low prices on the year as investors became concerned that US economic conditions may have peaked and could be showing potential for a recession in either 2019 or 2020. Long-dollar hedged gold is now higher on the year, rallying over 6% in Q3 with the improving gold and US dollar pricing.

November flows were positive across all regions. European funds led global inflows, with strong flows into UK-based funds as Brexit concerns increased and sterling weakened. North American funds saw inflows for a second straight month but remain negative on the year. Asian funds reversed two months of weak performance adding 2.3% to their assets.

Overall, gold trading volumes remained flat m-o-m, 10% below the y-t-d average. The LBMA announced a new reporting system for gold OTC trading volume (LBMA-i), which provides improved transparency into the liquidity of the gold market. Sentiment and positioning in COMEX futures remain bearish, well below historical averages. As discussed in our recent note Gold recoils amid selloff but may rebound, extreme bearish positioning in futures has historically preceded strong rallies in the price of gold.

Regional flows 

  • • Holdings in European funds rose by 10.5t (US$372mn, 0.9%)
  • • North American funds had inflows of 8.4t (US$353mn, 0.8% AUM)
  • • Funds listed in Asia increased by 2.1t (US$72mn, 2.3%)
  • • Other regions saw a small increase in holdings of 0.2t (US$7mn, 0.6%)

Individual flows 

  • • SPDR® Gold Shares led global inflows, gaining 7.7t (US$309mn, 1.1%), followed by iShares Physical Gold which gained 5.4t (US$207mn, 6.3%), and Gold Bullion Securities 2.1t (US$82mn, 2.7%)–both in the UK–as well as Huaan Yifu Gold, in China, which added 2.7t (US$104mn, 13.3%)
  • • Low-cost gold-backed ETFs in the US continue to add assets as strategic holders increase holdings***
  • • Funds with outflows were few but were led by Invesco Physical Gold, which lost 2.0t (US$ 78mn, 1.8%) and Bosera Gold, which was down 1.1t (US$45mn, 9.5%)

Y-t-d flows 

  • • Collectively, US dollar flows in gold-backed ETFs are now positive having raised US$354mn (40bps), despite the recent trend driven by a strong US dollar and bearish gold market sentiment**
  • • North America reported a second monthly inflow after six consecutive months of outflows but remain negative on the year by 50.0t (US$2.1bn, 4.6% AUM)
  • • By contrast, European funds continue to see net positive inflows with $2.9bn coming in (7.1% AUM) y-t-d
  • • After starting the year strong, Asian funds have given up all their gains and are now negative losing 1.5% of their assets y-t-d

**Note: We calculate gold-backed ETF flows both in ounces/tonnes of gold and in US dollars because these two metrics are relevant in understanding funds’ performance. The change in tonnes gives a direct measure of how holdings evolve, while the dollar value of flows is a finance industry standard that gives a perspective of how much investment reaches the funds. This month, the reported flows measured in tonnes of gold and their dollar value equivalent seem inconsistent across regions. Both figures are correct. The disparity due to the interaction between the performance of the gold price intra-month, the direction of the dollar, and the timing of the flows. For example, Europe experienced outflows early in the month when the price of gold was low but gained assets later in month when the price of gold increased. 

***Low-cost US-based gold backed ETFs are defined as gold-backed ETFs that trade on US markets with annual management fees of 20bps or less

China’s SGE Gold Withdrawals still slipping but up year to date

The latest figures for Shanghai gold withdrawals in November have now been released and they are down a little on 2017 and a bit more on 2016, but the cumulative year to date figures are still up:

Table: SGE Monthly Gold Withdrawals (Tonnes)

Month   2018 2017 2016 % change 2017-2018 % change     2016-2018
January   223.58 184.41 225.08 +21.2%  -0.7%
February*   118.42 148.24 107.60 -20.1% +10.7%
March  192.61  192.25 183.24  +0.2%  +5.1%
April  212.64  165.78 171.40  +28.3% +24.1%
May  150.58  138.08 147.28  +9.1%  +2.2%
June  140.59  155.51 138.51  -9.6%  +1.5%
July 137.41  144.71 117.58  -5.0%  +16.9%
August  190.59  161.41 144.44 +18.1%  +32.0%
September  188.12  214.24 170.90  -12.2%  +10.1%
October*  142.94  151.54  153.25  -5.7%  -6.7%
November  179.08  189.10  214.72   -5.3%  -16.6%
December  185.21  196.37
Year to date 1,876.58 1,845.34 1,774.00 +  1.7% +5.8%
Full Year  2,030.48  1,970.37

Source: Shanghai Gold Exchange.  Lawrieongold.com

* Months include week long New Year and Golden Week holiday periods

For additional comment on the above click on the below link to my article on the sharps Pixley website:

Chinese gold demand slipping – but still up y-o-y

A Free and Fair Gold & Silver Market in 2019? What are the Chances?

JPMorgan Chase and a number of other bullion banks are in a whole lot of trouble. Evidence detailing years of rigging markets and swindling clients is piling up.

Deutsche Bank pleaded guilty two years ago and forked out over hundreds of thousands of documents. John Edmonds, a former JPMorgan trader, entered his own guilty plea last month and turned state’s evidence.

The carefully cultivated system of captured regulators may not help the banks this time.

FBI investigators and Department of Justice attorneys are involved now. This investigation is out of the hands of CFTC bureaucrats who hope to avoid rocking the boat and/or land high paying jobs on Wall Street someday.

The DOJ might be ready to actually prosecute crimes this time around. Bankers may have to explain to criminal juries what they have been doing. When they have finished, class-action attorneys and civil juries will get in on the action.

Perhaps for the first time since metals futures began trading, the possibility exists that crooked bankers will be held to account. There is still a long way to go, and there is certainly plenty of reason to doubt the Department of Justice will live up to its name. But there is hope.

Recent Prosecutions Could Spark and End to Fake Markets for Precious Metals

Fake Markets

It is never too early for market participants to be thinking about what free and fair metals exchanges might look like.

For starters, electronic metals markets need a direct, unbreakable connection to physical supply and demand.

Banks should not be able to meet extraordinary demand for metal with an unlimited supply of paper.

There are days during which futures contracts purporting to represent the entire annual mine production of silver trade on the COMEX. Yet, once all the furious trading is over, barely any actual silver changes hands. That must end.

High frequency trading must also go away. The system which allows preferential treatment for banks and institutions, is, predictably, being seriously abused. It is another way for Wall Street to divorce electronic trading in metals from physical supply and demand.

The metals markets need a lot more accountability. Notwithstanding the impending DOJ action, and any civil judgements which may follow, the bullion banks and other crooked traders have been operating with impunity for decades.

Regulators don’t seem interested or able to enforce fair play. Market-based solutions, backed with the genuine threat of prosecution and jail for those who break the law, are worth a try.

It should be easy to launch a metals exchange. Anyone with an idea for better mousetrap should find the barriers to entry as low as possible. And if they cheat, they should not be able to do what Deutsche Bank did in 2016.

The bank, as an institution, pleaded guilty. Not all of the individuals involved will face charges for their crimes. The fines and restitution will mostly be paid by the bank’s shareholders – not the actual crooks.

There might already be a metals exchange which offers fair treatment to participants if it weren’t for the current stranglehold on financial markets. The Wall Street monopoly, enforced and protected by federal regulators, is the fundamental problem. It needs to be solved.

How the Bitcoin Bubble Burst Could Lead to a New Golden Era

by: Stefan Gleason*

One of the greatest asset bubbles of all time appears to have just burst.

It’s not the stock market. Despite recent downside volatility amidst bubble-like valuations, so far stocks have merely entered a correction.

Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, have entered into a full-blown meltdown. Bitcoin will go down in history for its extraordinary rise from zero to a high of $19,783 on December 17, 2017. Its subsequent fall may be one for the history books as well.

Bitcoin Chart - November 11, 2018

In the second half of November, Bitcoin prices fell through a months-long trading range, triggering heavy selling down to around $3,500. Anyone unfortunate enough to buy Bitcoin at over $19,000 now faces a loss of more than 80%. Losses are also staggering for Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ripple, and many others.

The story of digital currencies won’t just be a matter of their rise and fall, however. Some may bounce back. Bitcoin and its progeny may embark on another spectacular run to dizzying new heights.

Then again, they may not. Since the leading crypto coins aren’t backed by anything tangible, their value is entirely speculative.

It’s not just radical libertarians and black market merchants who value decentralized alternative payment systems. Such alternatives have the potential to offer practical advantages to users, such as avoiding fees on international cash transfers or credit card transactions.

Assault on Politically Disfavored Businesses Continues

Cryptocurrencies

For some, finding alternatives to conventional financial tools is a must. Banks and credit card processors are increasingly denying services to customers for their political views.

It happened recently to one of the most prominent alternative social networking sites, Gab, merely because it allows controversial views to be expressed by its members – in the same way that a viewpoint neutral email or telecommunications provider does.

Gab founder Andrew Torba recently posted this message to his followers:

Gab has been denied by multiple banks during the underwriting process for a new payment processor. Multiple processors supported us, their banks did not.

Gab is the supreme example of why bitcoin exists. We will be integrating BitPay asap because Coinbase already banned us.

Outside of this we will be setting up a PO box to mail cash/checks to.

This is what we need to resort to in order to have any revenue. This is the level no-platforming has reached.

As the threat of ideologically motivated financial de-platforming by banks and payment processors grows, so does the need for robust alternative payment systems. However, as noted by Torba, major Bitcoin exchanges such as Coinbase are behaving like politically correct bank intermediaries – blacklisting people they don’t like from the crypto marketplace.

They are also collecting personally identifying information on their customers and handing it over to the IRS. The only way Bitcoin holders can absolutely guarantee their privacy is to never put their transactions on the blockchain ledger – i.e., never use their Bitcoin for anything.

The problems with Bitcoin are numerous – slow transaction confirmations, excessive energy consumption, and risk of loss due to loss of digital key, theft, fraud, and potential government crackdowns.

The biggest fundamental problem with Bitcoin and other unbacked cryptos is the lack of any sound basis for valuation. That is a problem that can be addressed by putting real assets on the blockchain, but a degree of counterparty risk would remain.

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne is investing in blockchain businesses that aim to tokenize publicly traded companies. He sees this as a way to decentralize Wall Street and end share price manipulation by large institutional traders.

Gold-Backed Cryptos Are Not Yet Safe

Gold bugs are eyeing digital currencies backed by physical precious metals. There are many technical and legal challenges still to be worked out, and there are likely to be a few scammers in the mix as well.

But optimists hold out hope that one day it will be possible safely and reliably to use gold or silver on the blockchain to buy shares of stock or perhaps even real estate all without having to convert to dollars or go through the banking or brokerage system.

Digital gold could emerge as a leading default store of value in lieu of dollars or Bitcoins – which would drive huge new demand for the metal.

That’s the bullish case for blockchain and its possible integration with sound money. There is also a bearish case.

What if governments and central banks co-opt the digital currency space as part of a war on cash?

International Monetary Fund chair Christine Lagarde suggested in a recent speech that if central banks issues their own cryptocurrencies, they “could satisfy public policy goals, such as financial inclusion, and security and consumer protection; and to provide what the private sector cannot: privacy in payments.”

Globalist central monetary planners may claim to have our “inclusion,” “security,” “protection,” and “privacy” as their primary concerns. Their real concerns are to drive out competition to fiat currencies and accelerate the move to an all-digital economy where paper bills and coins are abolished and private transactions are impossible.

Federal Reserve officials have so far denied they plan on issuing a digital “Fedcoin.” But they have looked into it.

In the dynamic and rapidly evolving alternative currency space, it is impossible to predict exactly what new government interventions, technological innovations, or market iterations will drive the next major trend.

Precious metals may play a growing role in backing alt-coins. Either way, they will continue to play an important role in the portfolios of investors who want to protect themselves from the risks inherent in digital and paper wealth.