Below is a cut and paste of some of my comments on this issue at FOFOA's latest post. Also see here for some comments on the GBI system which was the focus of the FOFOA post, in particular the "fully insured" claim, which many operators imply they have.
mortymer: “You will maybe find this one interesting”
I had seen the SNA papers and tend to agree with Paul I's "egghead" analysis - in the end there is no forced requirement to split out physical gold from unallocated from leased out, so they can continue to play their games.
Kid Dynamite: “How do you have true allocated storage of any bullion less than a full bar? Ie, yes: bars have numbers that you can put on the statement. Coins do not.”
I've posted on this issue here. In my view "true" allocated can only be for full bars and coins. Bar numbers help in trusting the custodian, but can still achieve the same with unnumbered bars and coins by marking them (eg texta). One way to really test if allocated is being offered is to ask if you can view your metal and if there will be any problem if you mark your coins and bars.
Blondie: “The interview with Ned Naylor-Leyland describing PAGE is a must watch IMO, as I agree that this has the potential to be a real game-changer.”
I'm underwhelemed by PAGE. So there may be a "fully allocated spot gold contract". Guess what, we sell the 300t of physical gold we refine each year at spot in the OTC market - the buyers can be totally private. I don't think we will see much trading moving to PAGE beyond what bullion banks will feed it to meet local demand as other buyers aren't going to want their activities out in the public and visible to the benevolent Chinese Govt.
The Giants are going to continue to deal with the bullion banks in the OTC market where they can wade about without anyone knowing.
Blondie: "The significance I see in PAGE is as a physical gold price discovery market. If it is fully allocated contracts that create the spot fix, then I see an arb developing between the existing (paper-based) exchanges and PAGE where the contracts are backed by physical."
Just to be clear, in the wholesale markets the price of paper unallocated gold with a bullion bank in London and physical gold are the same. Tonnes and tonnes of physical deals (as well as paper) are priced off the London Fixes. The Giants don't need PAGE as a "physical gold price discovery market" - it already exists in the OTC market. There already are arbitragers between paper futures exchange and "contracts backed by physical" ie allocated and spot physical deals.
This is not to say it will always be like this, but right now paper price = physical price. Through all the ups and downs of the past five years and all the rumors of imminent market failure I have not seen paper and physical diverge.
As to PAGE being a way to get renminbi exposure, well that will be interesting to watch but note what Victor said "long the allocated contract at the PAGE and short gold in US$" - the end result is no impact on the gold price because the long cancels the short.