Screen Traded Fiat Gold Could Get a Violent Wake-Up Call

Today’s AM fix was USD 1,346.75, EUR 978.81 and GBP 837.06 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,351.00, EUR 978.28and GBP 833.69per ounce.

Gold climbed $1.50 or 0.11% yesterday, closing at $1,353.00/oz. Silver slipped $0.05 or 0.22% closing at $22.47. Platinum rose $9.20 or 0.7% to $1,382.00/oz, while palladium climbed $6.50 or 0.9% to $707/oz.

Gold for immediate delivery gained as much as 0.6% to $1,360.76/oz, prior to a sharp bout of  concentrated selling just before European markets opened at 0800 GMT, that saw gold fall to just above $1,340/oz .

Gold had been near the highest level in five weeks after U.S. economic data showed how weak the U.S. economy remains leading to concerns that the Fed will continue with ultra loose monetary policies.


Gold in US Dollars, 10 Days – (Bloomberg)

Gold is currently 1.3% higher in October. Gold fell into the middle of the month (see chart below) and then as U.S. lawmakers wrangled over the nation’s budget and debt ceiling, triggering a 16-day partial government shutdown, gold began to recover and is now nearly $100 above the low seen mid October at $1,252/oz.

U.S. factory output trailed forecasts in September, while pending sales of previously owned homes fell the most in three years, separate reports showed yesterday.
Asian demand remains robust and holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest gold  exchange traded product, held steady at 872.02 metric tons yesterday.


Gold in US Dollars, 1 Month – (Bloomberg)

In the Financial Times, veteran financial journalist and gold watcher, John Dizard noted the increasing strain in the physical gold market and detailed how that should lead to much higher 
gold prices.


“Something is unsettling the animals in the forest of the gold market. Usually there is a chorus of chirrups and squeaks that are significant, momentarily, for one species or another, such as a few cents of arbitrage between Zurich and London, or a dollar-an-ounce rise in India caused by a dealer’s near insolvency. Then the noise settles down to the murmur of wind through the trees

However, the continuing high level of premiums for physical gold over the kinds you can trade on a screen suggests that the next move in the major gold indices or the various exchange traded funds could be discontinuous and dramatic. It would be much better for the financial world if gold were just bumping along, with only enough volatility and liquidity to keep a few dealers’ lights on. That would mean electronic or paper assets have retained their essential credibility with the public …”

“This could turn into a very violent wake-up call for [screen-traded gold]. People talk about ‘fiat currencies’, but we also have ‘fiat gold.’ Volatility is too cheap right now.”

Taken together, this collection of persistent microeconomic signals in gold could flag macro trouble to come. These noises worried me in August. They worry me more now.

Dizard’s article, ‘Strange gofo cry heralds trouble for gold’ in the Financial Times can be read here.

He has previously warned that ETF gold holdings and central bank gold reserves may be being lent to bullion banks, who then re lend that gold into the market.

Owners of gold exchange traded funds (ETFs) would be surprised and worried to discover that certain banks might be lending out gold that they have bought and believe that they own.

The leading gold ETF, GLD has been criticised by many analysts for its extremely complex structure and prospectus. There have also been warnings about the possible conflict of interest and overall lack of transparency.

If as has been suggested, banks are lending gold into the market that has come from exchange traded funds then this would validate the many concerns raised about the gold ETF market.

Questions would again be asked as to whether many of the ETFs are fully backed by the gold that they claim to own in trust on behalf of clients. 

 
Gold Prices / Fixes /Rates /Volumes – (Bloomberg)

Already more prudent hedge fund, investment and pension fund managers have liquidated their ETF positions in favour of allocated physical bullion.

We would expect that trend to accelerate as prudent investors rightly seek to avoid the high level of counterparty and systemic risk associated with exchange traded gold and other forms of unallocated gold and paper gold.

NEWS
Gold ticks up on weak U.S. data, Fed stimulus hopes – Reuters

Gold Holds Near Five-Week High Before Fed Begins Policy Meeting – Bloomberg

Russia Reduces Gold Holdings for First Time in a Year – Bloomberg

Gold May Continue To Rule Firm – Hindu Business Line

COMMENTARY
Why The Fed Can’t Taper  – Market Watch

Strange Gofo Cry Heralds Trouble For Gold – The Financial Times

Gold Tests 5-Week Highs -Should Continue Pushing Higher – Citi – Zero Hedge

As Good As It Gets… For A Buy – GoldSeek

 For breaking news and commentary on financial markets and gold, follow us on Twitter.

Mark O'Byrne

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