Mystery and Intrigue in the Gold Market
Liebovit VR Gold Trader
Monday, August 15, 2011
Politicians, governments, media, etc. seem to overlook the true value of precious metals and try to deter individuals from owning them. This has been going on for centuries. Most recently, the United States government prohibited American citizens from owning gold between 1933 and end of 1974.
They continue to mislead people into believing that paper currencies are the real wealth. We hear from the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, that gold is not money, just "tradition." Despite Bernanke's comments, gold is indeed a currency that competes with government-issued currencies and helps determine not only the value of those currencies but also the level of interest rates and the value of government bonds.
Do they inject this propaganda to take attention away from what the central banks are actually doing with gold and the price of gold? Are they really overlooking or ignoring the true value of gold, or is this smoke and mirrors in front of what they are actually doing?
The gold-exchange standard protected citizens from hyperinflation and other abuses of monetary policy. President Nixon ended the gold-exchange standard on August 15 1971, which meant the end of direct convertibility of the dollar to gold. This removed the restrictions put on governments and central banks as to what they could do with the money supply.
Central banks want to continue to expand the money supply but not face the consequences. They seek ways to force down the price of gold because the price of gold is an indicator of central bank monetary policy.
How do the central banks continue to increase money supply while trying to keep the price of gold down?
The most common policy is to lease gold to a specialized group of insiders known as bullion banks. The central banks call this leasing, but it is operationally a form of gold sales.
The central bank leases gold at well under 1 percent per year to bullion banks. Bullion banks then sell the gold into the private market, take the money, and invest it in government bonds or other investments that pay far more than 1 percent per year.
That gold is gone. To get the gold back, the central banks would have to demand payment in gold by the bullion banks. The bullion banks could not repay this gold without going into the gold market and purchasing it. This would drive up the price of gold. It would bankrupt the bullion banks.
So central banks do not require the bullion banks to repay the gold the bullion banks borrowed. The central banks simply roll the loans over, year after year, and the bullion banks invest the money they get from selling the gold. These central bank sales are not recorded as sales by the central banks. The public remains oblivious.
The central banks maintain the fiction that they still own the gold. They report their holdings of gold as not having changed. But from an economic standpoint, the gold is gone and there is no possibility of central banks will ever get it back from the bullion banks.
Another way central banks and governments battle investors in gold is to announce from time to time that they are contemplating the sale of gold. This scares some gold investors, who sell. By threatening to sell gold, central banks are attempting to push down the price of gold.
The latest example of this came at the G20 meeting on April 2. An announcement was made that the International Monetary Fund would make available special drawing rights (SDRs), which serve as money for central banks. To raise some of this money, the IMF was to sell some of its gold. That was the official announcement.
The IMF has been threatening to sell gold for years. To do this takes a majority vote of the member nations of the IMF. It is clear that the member nations are willing to allow the IMF to do this. Previously, this was not clear.
Why would a central bank or the IMF say in advance that it planned to sell a large portion of its gold holdings? When a large holder of commodities is going to sell into the open market, he does not announce this in advance. His goal is to maximize the money he gains by the sale of the asset. If he warns the world how much he plans to sell and over which time period, this will depress the price if the sale constitutes a significant quantity.
It is economically irrational for a seller of commodity to say in advance how much he plans to sell. I say "economically irrational" on the assumption that the goal is to make a profit. But if the goal is not to make a profit but rather to harm people who hold a particular commodity as an investment, the announcement makes good sense.
A rising price of gold warns the public that the government's tax policies and the central bank's monetary policies cannot be trusted.
How do we believe our governments when they tell us that precious metals have no real value even as foreign governments and foreign banks continue to buy billions of dollars of the metals and some are even buying mining companies and mines to ensure continued supply?
In April 2009 China announced that its gold reserves had increased by 76 percent, from 600 tonnes to 1,054 tonnes. For the previous six years China had been reporting to the IMF only 600 tonnes. Had China acquired those 454 new tonnes only in the past year? Experts believe that China acquired those 454 new tonnes over at least several years, largely by purchasing the production of China's own fast-growing gold mining industry.
Global financial institutions continue to create paper contracts not backed by the physical metals. Is this their way to show plenty of supply in order to keep prices down so that they can continue to accumulate the bullion?
In 2000 CPM Group, a commodities market research, consulting, asset management, and investment-banking firm) released a document stating, "With the start of the London Bullion Market Association's release of monthly trading data, the market has become aware that 100 times more gold and silver trade hands each year, just in the major markets, than is produced or used. Some market participants have wondered aloud how 10 billion ounces of gold could trade via the major markets each year, compared to 120 million ounces of total supply and demand, while roughly 100 billion ounces of silver change hands, compared to around 628 million ounces of new supply."
Years ago GATA disclosed that the IMF, the leading compiler of official gold reserve data, allowed member nations to count gold they had leased, gold that had left their vaults, as if it was still in their vaults. The effect of this accounting fraud was to deceive the gold market into thinking that central banks had much more gold left with than they really did.
While the major gold and silver exchange-traded funded frequently report their metal holdings, studies by GoldMoney founder James Turk and former GATA board member Catherine Austin Fitts and her lawyer, Carolyn Betts, suggest that this data is unreliable too. For the major ETFs won't disclose exactly where their metal is, and indeed their prospectuses say it's OK for the ETFs not even to know where their metal is kept among custodians and sub-custodians.
And the custodians for the major gold and silver ETFs are, perhaps not so coincidentally, also the two major international banks that report having the biggest short positions in gold and silver, short positions that give these banks and metal custodians a powerful interest in suppressing the price of the assets they supposedly are holding for investors who want those assets to rise in value.
The biggest so-called "physical" gold market in the world is the one run by the London Bullion Market Association. The LBMA publishes statistics on how much gold and silver is traded by its members. But these statistics show spectacular volumes, more metal than could possibly exist. Of course much of this metal could be sold and resold back and forth many times every day. But an expert in that market, Jeffrey Christian of the CPM Group, acknowledged at the March 25 hearing of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as he had acknowledged in that explanatory report published in 2000, that the London bullion market is actually a fractional-reserve gold banking system built on the presumption that most gold buyers will never take delivery of their metal but rather leave it on deposit with the LBMA members from whom they bought it.
"Why is gold such a mystery? Why is it, along with silver, kept such a mystery? It's because the two precious metals are not only money but, from the point of view of free individuals, the best sort of money, less susceptible to what governments see as the most desirable quality of money -- the susceptibility to control by government and particularly its susceptibility to devaluation. You can print or otherwise issue gold and silver derivatives to infinity, but not the metals themselves."
What will this do to the price of gold and silver when the holders of these paper-backed securities realize that the actual supply does not meet the demand, that they will not be able to receive the bullion they paid for? We are already seeing the results of the increased demand as the price of gold continues to move higher.
* * *