29 June 2011

Government v Industry

The two charts below from Andy Smith's (Bache Commodities) latest piece are a humorous use of US house prices to illustrate the problem of Big Government. The first shows the real boom is in Government jobs and lobbying. The second how gold buyers aren't fooled by America's shift from productive to unproductive jobs.

18 June 2011

PMs and the LME Warehouse Scam

Gata and ZeroHedge have picked up on this Wall Street Journal article on bankster owned warehouses restricting deliveries out to the minimum amount allowed by the LME. The scam is summarised by the Financial Times: buyers "must keep on paying rent on the metal even after you have asked for it to be delivered, giving warehouse companies a guaranteed income stream".

But with no restrictions on how quickly metal can come in (and the bankster warehouses have been bidding for metal to be delivered into their warehouses from producers) it "has had the effect of driving the cost of metal in the physical market in the US to the highest level in more than a decade relative to LME prices". The FT notes however that this creates the risk that "the LME contract risks becoming entirely detached from the physical market."

Apart from the storage fee scam, an increasing price is good for the banksters because it makes it easier to sell commodities as an alternative investment class to institutional investors (see FT on Goldman Sachs).

Problem is, with lots of metal coming in but restrictions on it going out and you end up with increasing stockpiles. That doesn't help the story that commodity prices will rise. Solution: take the metal "off warrant" which, as FT Alphaville points out, just transfers it into a "non-LME storage facilities or simply being classified private non-LME registered stock in the very same warehouses. Kept out of sight, so to speak."

The scam here is that (FT Alphaville again) "the industry still reads cancelled warrants as an indicator of physical demand" which is positive for prices, however "many of the 'cancelled' warrants are ... not transforming into real deliveries, they’re just being stacked elsewhere in the same warehouse. In which case the demand they insinuate is potentially not real at all."

Precious metals are not subject to the warehouse outward restrictions scam and the spot market is much bigger than futures anyway, from a physical point of view. However, the "off warrant" scam can be played, particularly on fools like ZeroHedge who get all excited about COMEX eligible and registered trends while ignoring (ignorant of?) the "stock" sitting in ETFs and, more importantly, the dark pool that is bullion bank vaults. And don't fall for the "its fractional" false flag. Yeah unallocated is fractional, but what is missed is that if the amount of fractional is giga-enormous, then even at 10:1 or even AIGish 40:1, the amount of physical metal being held in the system is still enormous.

Which is why I am very interested in this ETF bar list project and am doing what I can to help, as this I believe holds the potential to reveal just how big that dark pool of stock really is.

05 June 2011

Lies leave traces behind

A quote from the latest Mike Krieger article: "For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying."

This quote appeals to me because I see this happening often in the internet precious metals community. I see many untruths starting out and propagating and even if they are "nailed down" they still leave a feeling of distrust. I am of course speaking of the Perth Mint here, but there are many other beliefs about the precious metal markets that behave like this. These untruths also resurface again and again, thanks to precious metal newbies who fall upon old webpages, which gives them life all over again.

These untruths fall into two categories: a) Lies, which I classify as those put out by people knowing them to be false; and b) Misunderstandings or Misinterpretations, which are put out by well-meaning people unknowledgeable in the subtleties of the precious metals markets. Why these untruths appeal and resist refutation is best explained by the following text, which prefaced the quote above:

"... in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility ... and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie ... It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation."

I should point out that the quotes are not Mike Krieger's. Mike was merely quoting from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.

03 June 2011

(Trying) to buy gold in Chile

A lot of stuff SovereignMan writes is good, but this latest piece on buying gold in Chile is a spin job. Simon Black says that Chile is "where the government just leaves you alone", with "a fairly well-developed gold market". See if that is justified with these key points from the article:

"major banks or the Central Bank, with the great disadvantage of having to pay value added tax" - most countries do not charge VAT on investment bullion

money exchange houses ... the way they sell is informal, which means that they are not required to charge the value added tax ... premiums on gold coins in these shops from as little as 1% over spot" - doesn't say what quality coins you get for 1% and I question whether the 1% really is 1% once the buy/sell spread on the spot is taken into consideration (money changers aren't known for tight spreads)

"some private bullion coin dealers which deal in foreign issuances like the Canadian Maple leaf coin for around 3% to 6% over spot. These dealers do not necessarily have a place of business with fixed office hours – they’re private traders who will often meet at your home or office" - sounds a bit dodgy and I'd certainly not be interested in having a dealer know where I live or work

"storage, the best of option in Chile is at the banks. This can be difficult for foreigners as it is typically required to have some sort of residency visa to have a safety deposit box or checking account" - bank safety deposit boxes are no good in a bank holiday

"no private secure storage facilities in Chile other than the secure vaults around the country’s many casinos" - that isn't a sign of a well developed market

"possible to bring in larger quantities of gold, tax-free, but there is a slightly more complicated process. One must first convert all gold holdings to coins issued by a country with which Chile has a free trade agreement ... a lawyer must obtain a ruling letter that the coins were made in that country (Canada, in this example) and are thus not subject to import duties" - what a silly requirement and process

That doesn't sound like a country that wants people to own gold.

02 June 2011

Corporate fascist economic system

A Fistful Of Dollars:

Without Federal Reserve intervention in the financial markets since September 2008, the biggest banks in the world would have entered bankruptcy liquidation. The U.S. economy would have experienced a 10% to 20% fall in GDP. The unemployment rate would have soared above 15%. The stock market would have fallen 70%. Wealthy bondholders and stockholders would have seen their wealth cut in half. Incumbent politicians would have all been thrown out of office. The richest Americans, constituting the ruling class, would have borne the brunt of the pain.

In a true capitalist system, organizations and people who assumed too much risk and made poor decisions would have failed. But the United States does not have a capitalist system. We have a corporate fascist economic system where a small cartel of bankers, military weapons suppliers, and mega-corporations set the agenda for the country through their complete capture of politicians and the mainstream corporate media.

The Global Economy’s Corporate Crime Wave:

Corporate corruption is out of control for two main reasons. First, big companies are now multinational, while governments remain national. Big companies are so financially powerful that governments are afraid to take them on.

Second, companies are the major funders of political campaigns in places like the US, while politicians themselves are often part owners, or at least the silent beneficiaries of corporate profits. Roughly one-half of US Congressmen are millionaires, and many have close ties to companies even before they arrive in Congress.

As a result, politicians often look the other way when corporate behavior crosses the line. Even if governments try to enforce the law, companies have armies of lawyers to run circles around them. The result is a culture of impunity, based on the well-proven expectation that corporate crime pays.

01 June 2011

Tungsten Bar Scam

I'm suspicious of tungsten gold bar stories. This story on fake bars in Vietnam confirms my suspicion.

It say that reports of fake bars caused a 50% drop in gold turnover, which reduced fiat inflation as it reduced the use of, and holding of, gold as money. As the story notes, previously "government agencies had to apply a lot of measures to stabilize the market. The State Bank of Vietnam had strenuously resisted with the criticism from the public when it was compiling the government decree [ie restrictions] on bullion gold trade."

Convenient. Remember this play book when you start to see stories about fake bars coinciding with high inflation/mass interest in precious metals.