Friday, November 28th. It’s the day after Thanksgiving in the US – possibly the lightest trading session of the year. And here, buried under the turkey leftovers, we find two statements (click to read) …
That’s the CME handing out disciplinary action against Mr Igor Oystacher, one of the biggest individual fish in the deep Chicago derivatives pond. He’s been landed with a $150,000 fine and a one month trading ban. Happy Holidays Igor! Read more
Switzerland’s “anyone can initiate a referendum if they’ve got enough signatures” society gets to vote on the “Save our Swiss gold” proposal this Sunday, which aims to make it compulsory for the Swiss Central Bank to hold at least 20 per cent of its assets in gold bullion and repatriate all Swiss gold that’s held abroad.
The proposal also plans to make it illegal for the SNB to sell any of the gold it accumulates. Ever.
What’s worth noting ahead of the poll, though, is how the naturally occurring phenomenon of “too many non-productive gold assets in our economy” has struck economies in the past. Read more
Someone once wisely said, “if you love something, let it go. If it returns, it’s yours; if it doesn’t, it never was.”
But as Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citi, points out on Thursday, that’s not the message those with a tendency for passion investments seem to have ever received. They want to imprison the thing they love most and keep them in a dark dingy basement.
In a note on the non-virtues of gold and bitcoin investing (and the upcoming Swiss gold referendum), Buiter notes:
- Gold is a fiat commodity currency (with insignificant intrinsic value).
- Bitcoin is a fiat virtual peer-to-peer currency (without intrinsic value).
- Gold and Bitcoin are costly to produce and store.
- Gold as an asset is equivalent to shiny Bitcoin.
- Central bank fiat paper currency and fiat electronic currency are socially superior to gold and Bitcoin as currencies and assets. There is no economic or financial case for a central bank to hold any single commodity, even if this commodity had intrinsic value.
- Forbidding a central bank from ever selling any gold it owns reduces the value of those gold holdings to zero.
One of the problems with ECB QE, as we all know, is the lack of a collective eurobond or sovereign-neutral asset to target, which would make asset purchasing less, you know, subjective vis-a-vis the assets you choose to support and those you don’t.
It is for this reason that analysts are divided about the type of assets Draghi may or may not be inclined to target.
There is, after all, a delicate balance between targeting ETFs or real-estate trusts neutrally and buying corporate stock or housing, which can evoke the start of quasi nationalisation of the economic system, if not government favouritsation of specific sectors, corporations or industries. Read more
Tbh, we thought this one would just go away.
But no, on November 30 there’s to be a vote in Switzerland which, if won, would shackle the Swiss National Bank by forcing it, amongst other things, to hold at least 20 per cent of its assets in gold; to repatriate any gold stored abroad; and to refrain from selling any gold in future.
From SocGen’s Sebastian Galy:
The latest from SocGen’s Albert Edwards features this eye-catching chart:
Bitcoin does it. Dogecoin does it. Gold miners do it. And now Kinder Morgan does it too.
What we’re talking about is the amazing ability to create value out of nothing.
The Kinder Morgan self-acquisition deal, which effectively found $12bn of shareholder value from a paperwork reshuffle, is probably the most high-profile example of mining shareholder value from good old fashioned financial ingenuity, even when it involves some finance reverse-engineering. Read more
This Reuters story about China having up to 1,000 tonnes of gold tied up in financing deals is doing the rounds, courtesy of information out of the WGC.
But it’s hardly a revelation.
We’ve known that China has been using gold (and almost everything else under the sun) for financing purposes for ages.
Goldman even blessed us with a more recent update about the shenanigans in March: Read more
Not much market reaction yet to reports of an “anti-terrorist operation” in Ukraine apart from gold, which had broken through a key resistance level before Russia said that its neighbour is close to civil war. Read more
So, havens were what worked in the first quarter, led by a niche precious metal.
Gold has been rising steadily since the start of the year.
Given the US taper, this might seem counterintuitive, especially if you believe that “money printing” should always justify higher gold prices.
But, as usual, everything is relative. Read more
It’s not an easy concept for some gold lovers to grasp, but… a nation importing huge amounts of gold into its economy doesn’t necessarily reflect prosperity on its part. In fact, it can imply economic weakness around the corner.
Prosperous countries, after all, don’t need gold (or huge amounts of foreign reserves for that matter either) to back their fiat currency. They don’t need them because they are so mighty, productive, knowledgable, powerful and desirable to live in that they have seigniorage power all of their own accord. You know. Like Bitcoin. But not because they are artificially scarce, but because they are managed well.
Also, even if you go with the goldbug logic that fiat ‘money printing’ equals debasement, it must then also imply that mass gold importation equals the opposite: purposeful rebasement. Someone is trying to bolster what would otherwise be a naturally weak currency. Read more
Cartels come in many shapes and sizes.
There are Colombian drug cartels. Mafia protection cartels. Oil producer cartels. Diamond cartels. Commodity cartels. Central banks. Altcoin cartels. All sorts.
All of them, however, extract value from potentially low-value things by means of organised collusion and discipline.
Columbian drug cartels organise to ensure drug markets are not oversupplied by wiping out the competition. The mafia organises to extract rents from those who would otherwise not be inclined to pay them, mostly by imposing an artificial market for protection. Oil producers organise to ensure oil markets are not oversupplied for the best possible return from oil prices. Diamond cartels do the same , but since diamonds are not an essential commodity they also create fanciful myths about diamonds being a girl’s best friend to create continuos demand. Central banks control the money supply, and thanks to that can corner and support any market they wish for as long as their underlying currency is demand. Read more
This guest post is from Mark Haefele, Global Head of Investment at UBS Wealth Management, and his colleague Chris Wright, Cross-Asset Strategist.
A key rule in financial markets is that rational investors should not take unnecessary risks. It is strange, then, that some savvy investors still allocate to commodities over a long-term, five-year-plus horizon. The assumption is that commodities diversify portfolios, hedge against inflation, and, in the case of gold, offer a safe store of value. But our research suggests these justifications for long-term bets on commodities are illusory. Read more
Cardiff made a nice point on Tuesday that financial innovation, much like evolution, always finds a way. We have stressed before that that’s because risky lending — i.e. lending to the most distressed who are prepared to pay for it the most — also always finds a way.
So, in what form did the most recent spell of risky lending take place in? Read more
A common criticism of the secular stagnation and post-scarcity theory is that it is contradicted by the fact that unacceptable levels of poverty exist in many places around the world, and in particular the developing world.
If there’s so much growth potential out there, how is it possible that the economy is in secular stagnation? Or so, at least, the argument goes.
But perhaps the question we should be asking is what continues to frighten investment capital away? Read more
BNP Paribas thinks gold is getting closer to the precipice.
How quickly it’s likely to be pushed over will be determined by the rate at which producers accelerate their hedging activity.
From BNP’s commodity markets strategy group on Monday: Read more
Compare and contrast the following from a note by GoldMoney’s head of research Alasdair Macleod that landed in the collective hands of FT Alphaville on Friday.
Here’s the original version: Read more
Remember when it was all the rage to be a pawnbroker?
This was when the gold price was either soaring or stable. When there were more people happy to buy gold than lend against it, and when anyone prepared to lend against gold could generate a good yield.
Not so much anymore. Read more
Gold apparently did not get the memo about the government shutdown. Gold prices have consequently been falling all day. Awkward.
From a SocGen note earlier last week:
ETF disinvestment more than accounted for the net change in jewellery+investment demand. When all the elements of supply and demand are taken together, the gold market registered a surplus of 217 tonnes in H1 2013 against a small surplus of just 37 tonnes in H1 2012. Read more
As we’ve reported, a classic car bubble is potentially in the making — something which has got us thinking (over three posts) about what really goes into determining the value of rare objects more generally.
From our vantage point — and it certainly is a lay vantage point when it comes to classic cars — there seem to be three core attributes associated with vintage automobiles.
The first is uniqueness.
Value related to uniqueness is understandable since it relates to how easily an object or item can be sourced, replicated or mass produced. For now, there is little chance that a classic Bentley will be perfectly replicated. Value applied on these grounds seems rational enough. Read more
FT Alphaville readers are well versed on the potential downsides of collateral scarcity in western markets.
But consider how a collateral scarcity problem might unfold in an emerging market in which the most valued form of collateral isn’t national debt denominated in your own debt but rather a commodity like gold, whose supply is dictated by externalities outside of a government’s control? Read more
The Indian rupee’s plunge continues.
As the FT reported on Wednesday, consensus opinion is that the weakness is connected to India’s growing current account deficit and unimpressive attempts thus far to bring it back to reasonable levels.
But Bloomberg on Wednesday alluded to another interesting connection: India’s attempts to suppress gold consumption. Read more
There’s a stupid rumour going around in the gold community that the Comex is “bleeding” inventory (especially from the JP Morgan vault) and that this will in some way compromise delivery that causes a default.
Kid Dynamite has already done the bulk of the heavy lifting in trying to debunk this story, as has Miguel Perez-Santalla at BullionVault, but we wanted to emphasise some points that go beyond the mechanics and which might be helpful. Read more
Kate’s already noted some of the oddities in China’s latest GDP data.
But it’s worth re-emphasising the ongoing contribution of investment to the figures. Read more
The gold market is abuzz with the news that gold forwards (GOFO), otherwise known as the gold lending rate, have returned to negativity this week. It’s significant because the last time this happened was in 2008 (click to enlarge):
Now that the possibility of a sharp slowdown in Chinese growth, or even an outright contraction, is getting some serious airplay, we can expect a ramp up in forecasts about what this will mean.
Here’s one from Barclays commodities analysts, Sudakshina Unnikrishnan and Jian Chang. They note that their China economics colleagues, having gifted us with the awkward ‘Likonomics‘ neologism, are also canvassing the possibility of a big drop in the country’s GDP growth rates. Read more
Gold descended through the key psychological level of $1,200 on Thursday:
This has now led a whole bunch of people getting excited about an upcoming bottom in gold, as well its prospective speedy revival. Read more