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Is the Gold Rush Over?

Commodities / Gold & Silver 2009 Apr 17, 2009 - 12:14 PM GMT

By: LiveCharts

Commodities Neil Kokemuller writes: Since 2000, gold has been one of the most consistent and high performing investments in the financial investment arena.  The shiny natural resource has returned profit at an annual rate of return around 16 per cent during the last eight years.  However, after setting a new all-time high at $1,020 per ounce early in 2008, gold has become somewhat stale.  This has become especially apparent of late as investors have become more interested in moving back into more risky investments, including stocks.


Following its climb over $1,000, gold made a gradual dive back to near $700, in the second half of last year.  As the stock market really took a nosedive in late 2008, and the economy turned sourer in early 2009, gold speculation picked up again and talk of a return to $1,000 intensified. 

Gold has been on a slow and steady decline in the last few weeks, though, as have stocks rallied.  The Dow bounced sharply after nearly falling below 6,500 and now sits comfortably above 8,000.  Just in the last two days, the spot rate of gold has dropped from nearly $900 per ounce, to a current rate (April 16) of $874.30 per ounce.

What does the gold rate have to do with stocks?  While the correlation between the economy, stocks, and gold is not always as strong, unstable economies tend to push investors into safer investments.  Gold has long been considered one of the safest money bets by speculators.  It is a unique commodity that derives most of its value from its worth as a holding reserve.  When cash and currencies are burdened, investors trust the safety of gold, thus driving up demand and the price.

So, where to for gold?  A look at short-term technical charts shows gold may be on a fast course back down to retest its near-term lows around $700 per ounce.  If the recession end is near, a break below the $700 mark could produce a much more powerful reversal of the trend of the last several years.

And, there were several signs on Thursday that the recession may be on pace for the recovery Fed Chief Bernanke still maintains could come later this year.  Jobless claims came in lower than expected at 610,000.  Housing starts slowed, but declines in new homes are flattening, potentially creating a bottom.  JPMorgan and Google excited analysts with their better than anticipated earnings.  This collection of modestly positive signs for the economy increased hope for a turnaround, and stocks climbed because of it.  President Obama still cautions Americans to be patient and diligent.

There are no guarantees that just because the economy and stocks might turnaround, that gold would reverse its medium-to-long-term direction.  Goldmoney.com founder James Turk has stated on multiple occasions that gold could be in the thousands of dollars per ounce range within a few years, just based on inflation, and global instability.  However, it is hard to imagine that as investors move back into stocks and other growth investments, that gold interest wouldn’t decline.  Gold has maintained a consistent up and down pattern against the dollar for about 30 years.

Neil Kokemuller

LiveCharts.co.uk

Neil Kokemuller is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Des Moines Area Community College in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. He has a MBA from Iowa State University. He is also in house stock market commentator at Live Charts UK, where you can find real time charts and share prices .

Copyright © 2009 Live Charts

Please note: The information provided in this article is intended for informational and entertainment purposes, and not as advice for financial decisions or investments. Actions taken on the basis of the information shared is at the sole risk and discretion of the individual. Currency investment poses significant risk of loss.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Comments

josep@singnet.com.sg
17 Apr 09, 20:19
NYSE Runs Out of Gold Bars: What Happens Next?

NYSE Runs Out of Gold Bars: What Happens Next?

Seeking Alpha

Fri, 27 Mar 2009 16:35 UTC

In the first Great Depression, the government tried, for several years, between 1929 and 1933, to maintain a fiction that the U.S. dollar was still convertible and as "good as gold", in spite of having irresponsibly printed more dollars than they had gold to back them. Back in the 1920s, just like during the last 22 years, the Federal Reserve had run its printing press overtime, and, as a result, it couldn't deliver. The U.S. Treasury eventually ran out of the gold, in the face of overwhelming public demand, resulting in the infamous gold confiscation order, by President Franklin Roosevelt, in 1933. History may be repeating itself, except that the government no longer makes any pretension to maintaining a gold standard, or any standards at all. Instead, nowadays, the futures exchanges offer to trade gold for a floating number of dollars, and, it appears, they have printed more paper contracts than they can redeem, at least when it comes to 1 kilogram bars.

The NYSE-Liffe futures exchange has, it seems, run out of 1 kg bars of gold. Futures markets, like NYSE-Liffe and COMEX, try hard to maintain the fiction that they will deliver physical gold, in completion of executed contracts. Indeed, to prevent fraud, U.S. law requires clearing members to keep a stockpile, of one kind or another, consisting of a minimum of 90% of metal. Up until October, 2008, it didn't matter. Only about 1% of long buyers of paper gold futures contracts typically took delivery. Now, the situation is very different. Demand has surged and, it appears, one major futures exchange, NYSE-Liffe, and by extension, the COMEX gold warehouses it shares with its larger cousin, are unable to meet the requirements of their contracts, vis-a-vis, delivery of 1 kg. bars.

As of December 31, 2008, the NYSE-Liffe mini-gold (YG) contract specifications were changed to read, in pertinent part, as follows:

33.2 fine troy ounces (+10%), no Less than 995 fineness. Seller's discretion delivery of one vault receipt representing one bar or one Warehouse Depository Receipt (WDR) representing either 1/3 interest in one full size gold NYSE Liffe vault receipt or full interest in a NYSE Liffe Mini Gold vault receipt. Delivered to exchange approved vaults by exchange approved carriers.

But, before that, on August 26, 2008, it read as follows:

33.2 troy ounces (±5%) of refined gold, assaying not less than 995 fineness, contained in no more than one bar.

In summary, there is now so much demand for delivery of the mini-contracts that the exchange can no longer deliver 1 kg bars. When the wording was changed, a flurry of complaints resulted. Technically, in my opinion, if you bought a mini futures contract from an NYSE-Liffe clearing member, prior to December 31st, you could bind them to their legal contract with you, and force them to either deliver the 1 kg bar, or pay for you to obtain it on the open spot market. Based upon the original wording, NYSE-Liffe and its clearing members are legally obligated to deliver that 1 kg bar per contract, whether they want to or not, and regardless of the internal rules of the exchange. Whether anyone will force compliance, however, is an open question.

Absent legal action, clearing members are now being allowed to hand out little slips of paper, called "warehouse depository receipts" (WDR) [warehouse depository receipts = unallocated gold, an IOU with no physical gold backing]. These are being substituted for "vault receipts" (VR) [vault receipts = Allocated gold, which involving ownership of a specific physical gold bar stored at said vault. It is a reasonably safe form of gold ownership (depends on how much you trust the vault storing your gold).]. The WDRs, in contrast to the VRs, merely promise the customer that he owns a 1/3 interest in a 100 ounce bar [Gold IOUs from insolvent financial institutions who have run out of 1 kg gold bars]. The customer is not allowed to take delivery, unless he can accumulate 3 WDRs, which equals 1 VR. NYSE-Liffe shares its warehouses with COMEX. The warehouse is predominantly stocked with 100 ounce bars. The COMEX ETF also stores 100 ounce bars, and clearing members can withdraw baskets of them in order to meet delivery demands. But, the COMEX ETF doesn't store any 1 kg. bars.

After a customer complaint, I contacted the head of regulatory compliance at NYSE-Liffe, and had a serious chat with him. He seemed like a nice enough fellow, but he wouldn't admit that NYSE-Liffe had run out of 1 kilo bars. He said that the warehouse registrar has complete "discretion" to hand out paper WDRs, representing a 1/3rd interest in a 100 ounce bar, if the "circumstances warrant". But, if the exchange has "complete discretion" to alter contracts as they see fit, what is the purpose of the advertised contract specifications? NYSE-Liffe claims that its clearing members can rely on Exchange Rule 1408. This obscure rule, however, was never communicated to customers. Nevertheless, it is now being relied upon by the exchange, in an attempt to "default" on the contracts without legal consequences. The rule says that clearing members can substitute delivery of a WDR, giving the customer a 1/3rd interest in a 100 ounce bar, instead of a physical 1 kg bar of gold. There is only one problem. In their eagerness to sell contracts, the exchange failed to communicate that to customers and failed to make it a part of the contract specifications [Not surprising. Clearly communicated the fact that the NYSE has run out of 1 kg bars would have driven gold prices higher, hurting those short the metal]. As a result, clearing members may be saved from claims by one against the other, but they are NOT immune to the just claims of aggrieved customers. The exchange clearly misled the public, intentionally or unintentionally, and allowed clearing members to sell huge numbers of 1 kg contracts, even though they did not have enough 1 kg. bars to fulfill the contracts.

There has been a lot of talk, over the past year, by bearish gold commentators, claiming that the shortage of gold and silver is merely a fluke of the retail market. However, 1 kg. bars of gold are NOT a retail denomination. They are the primary unit used in most commodity futures markets. Unlike the American exchanges, the 1 kg. bar dominates deliverable contracts, for example, on the Tokyo Commodities Exchange, as well as many other commodities exchanges around the world. They were also the primary unit of the mini-gold contracts (YG), offered by NYSE-Liffe, prior to the technical default. In other words, the retail gold shortage has spread into the wholesale market. What's next? Will there be a shortage of 100 ounce bars? No exchange rule can be used to hide from a technical default on delivery of 100 ounce bars. But, vast numbers of 100 ounce bars are stored at the iShares COMEX gold trust (IAU). So, a default in delivery of 100 ounce bars will take a while. [It won’t take that long once investors start getting wind of this impending default]

All that said, however, given that the Fed printing press is running overtime, things are going to get tighter. It will take only a few months of delivery percentages similar to those seen in December, 2008, before all the 100 ounce gold bars are gone [if delivery percentages are higher than those seen in December 2008 (very likely), then COMEX defaults could begin before the second half of 2009]. What will the futures exchanges do? Hand out little slips of paper entitling contract holders to a ¼ interests in 400 ounce banker's bars? There is no rule that allows that. What happens when people start taking mass delivery of the 400 ounce bars? Will they hand out fractional shares in gold mines, along with picks and shovels? [quite possibly]

The only way that remaining supplies can be rationed is by a rise in price sufficient to deter some of the buying. For some reason [US financial system stuck horribly short gold], the supply and demand for gold on the futures market is significantly out of synchronization. This implies that those who claim that the price of gold is manipulated are probably correct, because the situation could not happen in a completely free market. But, even if the gold market is manipulated, the manipulators cannot stop this [pending COMEX default] from happening if the demand for delivery continues. In a more practical sense, coupled with the nearly complete removal of all small retail denominations of gold from store shelves around the world, demand is clearly outstripping supply by a considerable measure.

With the U.S. and the U.K. now engaged in quantitative easing (printing new dollars and pounds), and other central banks ready to join, we can reasonably assume that the desire to exchange paper money for gold will get stronger. If the price does not rise significantly, and quickly, it is only a matter of time before these shortages reach the 100 ounce bars, and, then, on to the 400 ounce banker's bars. That is what happened, back in the 1930s, and it is happening again. The main difference is that, in the 1930s, the price was fixed by the government, so the conversion of dollars to gold could not be controlled by a rise in price. Now, however, the price of gold can go up until, potentially, it is high enough to discourage more buying by the public. It is impossible to say whether or not this means a rise to $2,000 or $2,500 per ounce by the end of 2009, as some have predicted. But, it does mean that the price will surely rise, that the rise is going to be huge, and, probably, that it will be fast and furious, at some point in the near future.



18 Apr 09, 12:02
You still have faith on Wall Street?

Stress Over Stress Test

Stress is building over the stress test as Bank Regulators Clash Over Endgame.

The U.S. Treasury and financial regulators are clashing with each other over how to disclose results from the stress tests of 19 U.S. banks, with some officials concerned at potential damage to weaker institutions.

With a May 4 deadline approaching, there is no set plan for how much information to release, how to categorize the results or who should make the announcements, people familiar with the matter said. While the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and other regulators want few details about the assessments to be publicized, the Treasury is pushing for broader disclosure.

The disarray highlights what threatens to be a lose-lose situation for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner: If all the banks pass, the tests’ credibility will be questioned, and if some banks get failing grades and are forced to accept more government capital and oversight, they may be punished by investors and customers.

Fed officials have pushed for the release of a white paper laying out the methodology of the assessments in an effort to bolster their credibility. The central bank has been leery of inserting politics into the examination process, two people familiar with the matter said.

A statement on the methods is scheduled for release April 24. The Fed, the nation’s primary regulator of bank holding companies, is leading the tests. The 19 companies may get preliminary results as soon as April 24, a person briefed on the matter said.

My Comment: Excuse me but shouldn't the white paper on what the stress test was supposed to accomplish and how it would work have come out before, not after the stress test was conducted?

Geithner has said he crafted the stress test program in an effort to provide more transparency about the health of banks’ balance sheets. He and Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke have also noted that most of the 19 banks are currently well capitalized and that not all of them would need new capital.

My Comment: No one in their right mind can possibly believe a thing Geithner says. For that matter no one can possibly believe a thing the banks say either. Please consider Citigroup's trumped up "Trading Gains" earnings.

Citigroup posted a $2.5 billion gain from accounting rules that allow companies to profit when their own creditworthiness declines. The rules reflect the possibility that a company could buy back its own liabilities at a discount, which under traditional accounting methods would result in a profit.

Citigroup already is benefiting from the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s decision earlier this month to ease rules that forced banks to write down assets whose market value had been depressed so long their impairment was no longer considered “temporary.” That rule change reduced impairment charges by $631 million on a pretax basis, the bank said.

Credit-card revenue fell 10 percent to $5.77 billion, while consumer-banking revenue dropped 18 percent to $6.4 billion. The institutional clients group, which includes trading, investment banking and payment processing, had $9.51 billion of revenue, compared with a trading loss of $4.96 billion the prior year.

Accounting gains shenanigans magically turned another Citigroup loss into a $1.6 billion gain. And if you have not let seen it, please take a look at Jonathan Weil's scathing attack on Well's Fargo's alleged profits in Wells Fargo’s Profit Looks Too Good to Be True.

Geithner's Fake Transparency

MarketWatch is reporting Neither government nor banks will disclose key details about loan portfolios.

Results of the government stress tests government being conducting on the 19 largest financial institutions are expected to be released May 4, but industry lawyers argue that the release is likely to be less of an event that many observers have hoped.

"What we will see is high-level capital ratios that show each bank is a viable institution at current conditions," said Jeffrey Hare, a partner at Alston & Bird LLP in Washington. "Bank regulators don't want to show something that could be misunderstood and create undue panic to the system."

"What markets were hoping to get -- specific details about each bank's viability if things get worse -- they're not going to get," said Hare. "The stress test will fail, [but] banks will pass."

Nevertheless, regulatory analysts contend that government officials will have a thorough knowledge about each bank's capital composition, including loan portfolios and off-balance-sheet commitments, once they complete stress tests. Most of this information will be kept confidential, Hare said.

Stress Test Is A Fraud

Details of the stress test (if any) will be spoon fed to the public, and negative results will be suppressed. Moreover, the results were predetermined and the so-called pessimistic scenario used for the test was a joke: "unemployment rate rises to 8.9% by the end of this year with home prices falling an additional 22% for the same period." That would have been my best case scenario.

Supposedly the pessimistic scenario is now the baseline scenario. Hmmm. What's the pessimistic scenario then? And shouldn't changing the parameters require a re-do of the test?

Is there any wonder why there is now so much stress over the stress test?


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