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.
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
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.
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
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
"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.
Paul I: “Right now, the gold spot
market is like a big, stupid, compliant Labrador, Perth Mint
included. It doesn't mind having it's tale wagged by the paper
market. PAGE will turn out to be a snarling Rottveiler.”
I'd say that is debatable. Everyone
assumes paper is in charge, when the only data we have is COMEX and
other visible exchanges but nothing on what goes on in the OTC
market, save for some opaque “transfer” numbers from LBMA.
Paul I: “Quite frankly, as an
Australian, it makes me sick to see our national gold wealth sold off
for pennies on the dollar. I may be naive, but I have to ask why an
organization like the Perth mint hasn't long ago tried to maximize
value for Australia and Australian gold mines by proposing something
along the lines of PAGE.”
I don't think you are getting what I'm
saying. Perth Mint doesn't need to start an Australian PAGE – every
week we offer 5t or so of physical gold to the OTC market and the
bullion banks and other bid for it. You may consider the current gold
price undervalued, but that does not mean that we aren't maximising
Australia's gold – if the demand is there then those banks bid for
it. If anything changing the current private OTC approach to a public
PAGE would likely hamper the process.
Paul I: “Instead, we see them pushing
massively over-priced "collectable coins" to Grandmas in
Post Offices, more demand divertion, very little education.”
Our marketing guys push those fancy
coins because they are our highest margin product – that makes
business sense, we aren't going to waste prime “shopfront”
pushing low margin kilo bars. But that stuff is small by volume
compared to kilo bars where ultimately the big dollars are.
mortymer: “To separate physical gold
in unallocated from leased would be at this stage too much, they got
so far to clear definitions and on what is allocated what is not and
that is a progress.”
Agreed. What that document does is make
it clear what unallocated is. No professional player is unaware of
that, they just believe in the system and thus believe in the “value”
of their unallocated, because they are of the system. I do not
believe there is any big move from unallocated to allocated at the
moment, nothwithstanding the antics of Chavez. If that was the case
we would be seeing a lot more bidding for our weekly 5t.
costata: “According to Bron the Perth
Mint relies on mine supply of silver for its refinery as very little
scrap silver finds its way to them. I see your point about the price
of copper and silver. I would be interested to hear Bron's thoughts
on this. Is it merely a question of price?”
Those comments about “silver scrap is
mainly sold and refined locally because it is not high enough in
value to justify shipping it around the world” were primarily
focused on Australia, which is more geographically remote, and does
not have much silver refining capacity. In other markets silver may
be far more mobile.
whiteelefant: “Concerning PAGE: my
impression is that any offer which is closer to physical than what
the LBMA & Co offers might be taken up and will push the price of
Au up. But, I am only a small shrimp and not into finance”
Again, this is an assumption that the
LBMA banks are all paper and ignores the huge physical market that
exists side by side with paper.
costata: “Recently I came to the
opinion that leverage on the currency side was irrelevant. The key
point is that the gold itself is not fractionalized. If PAGE said no
margin that doesn't prevent someone from borrowing outside the
exchange and trading a 100% cash account with PAGE.”
Ha, now we are peeling the onion, or
should I say seeing more of the spider's web.
costata: “We should also not
underestimate how much the Chinese love to gamble. The paper gold
market appears to be going gangbusters right alongside the
development of the physical gold market according to this article.”
Very good point, I noted that comment
as well. We should not blindly think that Asia is a physical only
market and cannot be tempted by the leverage paper offers.