Anti-Gold Wealth Manager Buys Gold For the First Time
-- Published: Sunday, 11 September 2016 | Print | Disqus
10 September 2016 -- Saturday
YESTERDAY in GOLD, SILVER, PLATINUM and PALLADIUM
By Ed Steer
The gold price traded quietly sideways until around 1:40 p.m. China Standard Time on their Friday afternoon. At that point 'da boyz' showed up - and it was mostly down hill for the rest of the day - and through the after-hours market as well. Gold was closed just off its low tick.
The high and low were reported as $1.343.60 and $1,331.20 in the December contract.
Gold was closed in New York on Friday at $1,327.80 spot, down $10.40 from Thursday. Net volume, which includes both October and December, was just under 145,000 contracts.
Here's the 5-minute gold tick chart courtesy of Brad Robertson. You can see where the volume began to pick up a bit shortly before midnight Thursday Denver time on the chart below, which was shortly before 2 p.m. China Standard Time on their Friday afternoon. That was the time that the gold price got turned lower. Of course the biggest volume always occurs when the New York bullion banks are around during COMEX trading. And as you should also note, volume never really dropped back to background for the remainder of the Friday session.
The vertical gray line is 10:00 p.m. Denver time, midnight in New York - and noon China Standard Time [CST] the following day in Shanghai-and don't forget to add two hours for EDT. The 'click to enlarge' is a must here.
It was exactly the same price pattern in silver, but JPMorgan et al really began to lean on the price hard shortly after 12:30 p.m. in New York - and that continued until shortly after 4 p.m. in the usually very thinly-traded after-hours market.
The high and low ticks in this precious metal were reported by the CME Group as $19.725 and $19.08 in the December contract.
Silver was closed in New York yesterday at $19.03 spot, down 54.5 cents on the day. Net volume was very decent, but not as high as I was expecting, at a hair under 52,000 contracts.
And here's the 5-minute silver tick chart courtesy of Brad Robertson as well. Volume picked up to stay starting with the big volume spike at the noon silver fix in London, which was 05:00 Denver time on the chart below. And, like gold, the volume never returned to anywhere near background levels after that. Don't forget the 'click to enlarge' feature - and to add two hours for EDT, as its 'x' axis is scaled for Denver [Mountain Daylight] Time
Platinum was up 6 bucks or so by about 12:30 p.m. CST on their Friday afternoon. It was sold back a few dollars below unchanged by the Zurich open - and traded sideways until the powers-that-be and their algos showed up at the COMEX open in New York. The low tick of the day was set shortly after the COMEX close - and platinum bounced off that price for the rest of the day. Platinum was closed at $1,059 spot, down 23 dollars on the day.
Palladium was five dollars higher by 1:40 p.m. China Standard Time on their Friday afternoon and, like in silver and gold, the algos got spun, and the low tick of the day was placed shortly before 9 a.m. in COMEX trading, It rallied weakly from there, but was capped and rolled over shortly after 12 p.m. EDT - and was closed close to its low tick, finishing the Friday session at $673 spot, down 11 bucks from Thursday.
The dollar index closed in New York very late on Thursday afternoon at 94.99 - and continued heading lower once trading began at 6:00 p.m. in New York on Thursday evening. The 94.80 low tick was set shortly after 12 o'clock noon in Shanghai - and it chopped quietly higher until it was back to about unchanged by 12:30 p.m. BST in London trading. At that juncture, the dollar index took off to the upside, with the 95.58 high tick coming at the London p.m. gold fix, which was 10 a.m. in New York. It chopped lower from there - and finished the Friday session in New York at 95.33 - up 34 basis points on the day.
And if you think the price action in the precious metal had anything to do with the U.S. dollar index action yesterday, I still have that bridge that's looking for a good home.
And here's the 6-month U.S. dollar index that I provide for purely entertainment purposes, because the currency markets are even more rigged than the precious metals.
The gold stocks gapped down at the open and never looked back. Their respective low ticks came around 2:15 p.m. EDT - and they chopped quietly sideways for the rest of the Friday session. The HUI closed down 5.26 percent.
The silver shares got crushed, as a large sell order hit the market shortly after the open yesterday. Like their golden brethren, the silver equities hit their lows at 2:15 p.m. EDT as well - and didn't do a lot after that. Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index closed down a chunky 7.65 percent. Click to enlarge if necessary.
And here are three charts from Nick that tell all. The first one shows the changes in gold, silver, platinum and palladium for the past week, in both percent and dollar and cents terms, as of Friday's closes in New York - along with the changes in the HUI and Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index. The Click to Enlarge feature really helps on all three charts.
And the chart below shows the month-to-date changes as of Friday's close.
And below are the year-to-date changes as of the close of trading yesterday.
The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and 169 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Tuesday. There were only three short/issuers in silver - HSBC USA with 100 contracts, ABN Amro with 49 - and International F.C. Stone with 20. There were ten different long/stoppers - and JPMorgan, Canada's Scotiabank and MacQuarie Futures gobbled up 92 of those contracts for their own in-house [proprietary] trading accounts. The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.
The CME Preliminary Report for the Friday trading session showed that gold open interest in September dropped by 10 contracts, leaving 110 still around. Thursday's Daily Delivery Report showed that 4 gold contracts were posted for delivery on Monday, so that means that 10-4=6 long contract holders were let off the delivery hook by those holding the long side of the contract against them, because they didn't want to rock the delivery boat by forcing them to go into the spot market to buy the metal to deliver. Silver o.i. in September declined by 153 contracts, leaving 1,187 still open, minus the 169 contracts mentioned in the previous paragraph. Thursday's Daily Delivery Report showed that 203 silver contracts were posted for delivery on Monday, so that means that another 203-153=50 silver contracts were added to the September delivery month.
These steady additions to September silver open interest have been going on for about a week now and, in total, are no small amounts. I'll be interested in what Ted Butler has to say about that in his weekly review which comes out this afternoon.
October open interest in gold fell by another 499 contracts, leaving 43,114 still open. It's obvious that the roll-overs out of October have started in earnest, so I will no longer be including October volume in my total gold volume figures starting with my Tuesday column.
There was another withdrawal from GLD yesterday, this one was pretty chunky, as an authorized participant took out 343,484 troy ounces. And as of 9:04 p.m. yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV.
There was a tiny sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday. They sold 3,000 troy ounces of gold eagles - and that was all.
Month-to-date the mint has sold 25,500 troy ounces of gold eagles - 4,500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes - but only 310,000 silver eagles. The gold sales are very decent, but silver eagle sales are putrid - and that's being kind.
There was a bit of activity in gold over at the COMEX-approved depositories on Thursday. They only received 299 troy ounces, but shipped out 29,041 - and almost all of the activity was at Brink's, Inc. - and the link to that is here.
It was another very busy day in silver, as 1,737,730 troy ounces were reported received, but only 100,883 troy ounces were shipped out. The 'in' activity was more or less split up equally between CNT, HSBC USA and Scotiabank - and the link to that action is here.
It was pretty busy over at the COMEX-approved gold kilobar depositories in Hong Kong on their Thursday, as they reported receiving 2,636 kilobars - and shipped out a chunky 5,651 of them. All of the action was at Brink's, Inc. as per usual - and the link to that, in troy ounces, is here.
The Commitment of Traders Report yesterday, as expected, showed deterioration in the Commercial net short positions in both silver and gold. And as bad as the numbers were in the Legacy COT Report, they were much worse in the Disaggregated Report where the Managed Money traders are broken out separately from the rest of the Non-Commercial traders in the Legacy report.
In silver, the Commercial net short position increased by 3,904 contract, or 19.5 million troy ounces of paper silver. They arrived at this number by adding 1,592 long contracts, plus they covered 5,496 short contracts - and the difference between those two numbers is the change for the reporting week. The Commercial net short position is now up to 99,582 contracts, or 497.9 million troy ounces of paper silver.
Ted said that the Big 4 commercial traders increased their short position by a chunky 2,800 contracts - and his raptors, the commercial traders other than the Big 8, reduced their long position by about 1,400 contracts - and the '5 through 8' large traders actually reduced their short positions by around 300 contracts.
Based on yesterday's Bank Participation Report, Ted estimates JPMorgan's current short position in silver at around 30,000 contracts - and that may be subject to change, as he wanted to sleep on this number - and he may have a slightly different one in his weekly review this afternoon.
Under the hood in the Disaggregated COT Report it was as I said, much worse. The Managed Money traders increased their long positions by 5,848 contracts, plus they covered 1,541 short contracts, for a total swing of 7,389 contracts, which is the sum of those two numbers. The traders in the 'Other Reportables' category made up for it by going in the opposite direction in a big way - and the positions of the 'Nonreportable'/small trader were basically unchanged during the reporting week.
Here's the 9-year chart for the silver COT Report - and it's ugly in the extreme, as this past week's changes takes the Commercial net short position closer to its old high. Click to enlarge.
In gold, the Commercial net short position blew out by 28,760 contracts, or 2.88 million troy ounces of paper gold, bringing the Commercial net short position back up to the 33.00 million troy ounce mark.
They arrived at that position by purchasing a skinny 616 long contracts, but they added a whopping 29,376 short contracts that were offered by the traders in the Managed Money as they went long.
Ted said that the Big 4 commercial traders increased their short position by about 7,600 contracts, the '5 through 8' added around 4,300 contracts to their short positions - and Ted's raptors, the commercial traders other than the Big 8 added about 16,900 to their short positions. It was, as Ted likes to say from time to time..."all for one, and one for all".
Under the hood in the Disaggregated COT Report, the Managed Money traders added a whopping 25,012 long contracts, plus they covered 12,929 short contracts. The total change for the week was the sum of those two numbers - and that comes to 37,941 contracts, which is miles above the 28,760 contract change in the Commercial net short position. The traders in the 'Other Reportables' and the 'Nonreportable'/small traders went in the other direction to balance things out.
Here's the 9-year COT chart for gold - and it's still at nose-bleed levels no matter how you care to interpret it - and things are much worse after this past week's deterioration. Click to enlarge.
Of course with the sell-offs in both gold and silver since Tuesday's cut-off, this COT Report is, in some ways, "yesterday's news". But that doesn't change the wildly bearish nature of this report, as any improvements will be 'small potatoes' compared to the overall. But there are still two trading days left in the reporting week, so we'll see what happens between now and then.
Here's Nick Laird's "Days to Cover" chart updated with yesterday's COT data for positions held at the close of COMEX trading on Tuesday. It shows the days of world production that it would take to cover the short positions of the Big 4 and Big 8 traders in each physically traded commodity on the COMEX. Click to enlarge.
As I say in every Saturday column-the short positions of the Big 4 and 8 traders in silver continues to redefine the meaning of the words 'obscene' and 'grotesque.' For the current reporting week, the Big 4 are short 149 days [almost 5 months] of world silver production-and the '5 through 8' traders are short an additional 66 days of world silver production-for a total of 215 days, which is just over 7 months of world silver production, or 522.4 million troy ounces of paper silver held short by the Big 8.
And it should be pointed out here that in the COT Report above, the Commercial net short position in silver is 497.9 million troy ounces. So the Big 8 hold a short position larger than the net position-and by about 24.5 million troy ounces. That's how grotesque, twisted, obscene-and dangerous-this COT situation in silver has become-and gold and platinum aren't far behind.
On top of that, the Big 8 are short 52.4 percent of the entire open interest in silver on the COMEX futures market. How insane is that? And if you subtract out the market-neutral spread trades, it's a reasonable assumption the Big 8 are short close to 60 percent of total open interest in silver. In gold it's 'only' 47.2 percent of the total open interest that the Big 8 are short. This is nuts!
And as an aside, the two largest silver shorts on Planet Earth-JPMorgan and Canada's Scotiabank-are short about 97 days of world silver production between the two of them-and that 97 days represents around 65 percent [almost two thirds] of the length of the red bar in silver in the above chart. The other two traders in the Big 4 category are short, on average, about 26 days of world silver production apiece.
And based on Ted's estimate of JPMorgan's short position of 30,000 contracts, JPMorgan is short around 62 days of world silver production all by itself. Because of that, the approximate short position in silver held by Scotiabank works out to around 35 days of world silver production, maximum.
In gold, the Big 4 are now short just about 75 days of world gold production - and the '5 through 8' another 24 days of world production, for a total of 99 days. The Big 4 in gold are short just under 76 percent of the total short position held by the Big 8. How's that for a concentrated short position within a concentrated short position???
And just as an aside those numbers in platinum are 70 and 64 percent respectively.
The September Bank Participation Report[BPR] data is extracted directly from the above Commitment of Traders Report. It shows the COMEX futures contracts, both long and short, that are held by all the U.S. and non-U.S. banks as of Tuesday's cut-off. For this one day a month we get to see what the world's banks are up to in the COMEX futures market, especially in the precious metals-and they're usually up to quite a bit.
In gold, 5 U.S. banks are net short 90,188 COMEX contracts in the September BPR. In August's Bank Participation Report [BPR], that number was 96,818 contracts, so they've decreased their collective short positions by a rather smallish 6,630 contracts during the reporting period. Three of the five banks would include JPMorgan, Citigroup-and HSBC USA. As for who the fourth and fifth banks might be-I haven't a clue, but I doubt very much if their positions, long or short, would be material.
Also in gold, 29 non-U.S. banks are net short 79,044 COMEX gold contracts. In the August BPR 25 non-U.S. banks were net short 74,981 COMEX contracts, so the month-over-month change, like the U.S. banks, isn't overly large.
As of this Bank Participation Report, the world's banks are net short 28.7 percent of the entire open interest in gold in the COMEX futures market, which is not a big change from the 29.5 percent they were short in the August BPR.
Here's Nick's chart of the Bank Participation Report for gold going back to 2000. Charts #4 and #5 are the key ones here. Note the blow-out in the short positions of the non-U.S. banks [the blue bars in chart #4] when Scotiabank's COMEX gold positions [both long and short] were outed in October of 2012. That's why I suspect that it was Scotiabank in the '5 through 8' category that got bailed out of their short gold short position in July. CLICK to ENLARGE is a must here.
In silver, 5 U.S. banks are net short 30,374 COMEX silver contracts-and it was Ted's back-of-the-envelope calculation from yesterday that JPMorgan holds around 30,000 silver contracts net short position on its own - which is more or less the entire net short position shown above. The net short position of these five U.S. banks was 37,134 contracts in the August BPR, so there's been a 6,760 contract decrease in the net short positions of the U.S. banks since then. Based on the September BPR numbers in silver, it's a mathematical certainty that the other 4 U.S. banks are about market neutral inthe COMEX futures market in silver - and if they are net short, it's only by a few thousand contracts at the very most. As Ted says, JPMorgan is the 'Big Kahuna' in silver as far as the U.S. banking system is concerned - and these numbers prove it in spades.
Also in silver, 21 non-U.S. banks are net short 34,722 COMEX contracts-and that's down a hair from the 37,794 contracts that 15 non-U.S. banks held short in the August BPR. I'm still prepared to bet big money that Canada's Scotiabank is the proud owner of a goodly chunk of this short position-about half of the total. That most likely means that a few of the remaining 20 non-U.S.
banks might actually be net long the COMEX silver market. But even if they aren't, the remaining short positions divided up between the 20 remaining non-U.S. banks would be immaterial.
As of this Bank Participation Report, the world's banks are net short 32.6 percent of the entire open interest in the COMEX futures market in silver-which is virtually unchanged from the 33.4 percent that they were net short in the August BPR - with the lion's share of that held by JPMorgan and Canada's Scotiabank.
Here's the BPR chart for silver. Note in Chart #4 the blow-out in the non-U.S. bank short position [blue bars] in October of 2012 when Scotiabank was brought in from the cold. Also note August 2008 when JPMorgan took over the silver short position of Bear Stearns-the red bars. It's very noticeable in Chart #4-and really stands out like the proverbial sore thumb it is in chart #5. CLICK to ENLARGE!
In platinum, 5 U.S. banks are net short 14,998 COMEX contracts in the September Bank Participation Report. In the August BPR, these same banks were short 14,054 COMEX platinum contracts, so there's almost no change from the prior month. It should be noted that these same 5 U.S. banks hold only 5 long contracts in total, along with the 14,998 they are short - and you read that right!
I'd guess that JPMorgan holds the lion's share of that entire short position.
Also in platinum, 17 non-U.S. banks are net short 8,441 COMEX contracts, which is a big decline from the 12,169 contracts they were net short in the August BPR, so their short positions are immaterial compared to the short positions held by the 5 U.S. banks.
If there is a large player in platinum among the non-U.S. banks, I wouldn't know which one it is. However I'm sure there's at least one big one in this group. The reason I say that is because before mid-2009 when the U.S. banks showed up, the non-U.S. banks were always net long the platinum market by a bit-see the chart below-and now they're net short. The remaining 16 non-U.S. banks divided into whatever contracts are left, isn't a lot, unless they're all operating in collusion-which I doubt. But from the numbers it's easy to see that the platinum price management scheme is an American show as well, with one big non-U.S. bank possibly involved. Scotiabank perhaps?
And as of this Bank Participation Report, the world's banks are net short 30.2 percent of the entire open interest in platinum in the COMEX futures market, which is down a bit from the 33.0 percent they were collectively net short in the August BPR. CLICK to ENLARGE is a must here as well.
In palladium, 4 U.S. banks were net short 4,231 COMEX contracts in the September BPR, which is virtually unchanged from the 4,283 contracts they held net short in the August BPR. Even if JPMorgan held all these contracts themselves, and they might, it's a pretty small amount.
Also in palladium, 13 non-U.S. banks are net short 7,388 palladium contracts-which is a pretty big increase from the 4,480 COMEX contracts that these same banks were short in the August BPR. But if you divide up the short positions of the non-U.S. banks more or less equally, they are immaterial, just like they are in platinum.
But, having said all that, as of this Bank Participation Report, the world's banks are still net short 29.1 percent of the entire COMEX open interest in palladium. In August's BPR they were net short 29.9 percent.
Here's the palladium BPR chart. You should note that the U.S. banks were almost nowhere to be seen in the COMEX futures market in this metal until the middle of 2007-and they became the predominant and controlling factor by the end of Q1 of 2013. But their footprint is pretty small now, but has been increasing for the last three months as palladium has rallied. However, I would still be prepared to bet big money that, like platinum, JPMorgan holds the vast majority of the U.S. banks' short position in this precious metal as well.
As I say every month at this time, the three U.S. banks-JPMorgan, Citigroup, HSBC USA-along with Canada's Scotiabank- are the tallest hogs at the precious metal price management trough. However, it's a fact that one of the foreign banks got bailed out of its short position in gold in July - and if it wasn't Scotiabank, I just can't imagine which one it was based on this data.
But JPMorgan and Canada's Scotiabank still remain the two largest silver short holders on Planet Earth in the COMEX futures market.
I have a decent number of stories for you today - and I certainly hope that you have enough time left in your weekend to read/watch/listen to the ones that interest you.
Wholesales sales slumped 0.4% MoM in July - the biggest drop since January. Inventories were unchanged MoM, driving the inventories-to-sales ratio back up to 1.34x. Year-over-year, this was the 19th consecutive month of declines for wholesale sales...
Notably Auto sales dropped for the 3rd month in a row but Hardware saw the biggest monthly drop in sales.
Farm products saw the biggest drop in inventories along with drugs. Auto inventories rose but professional equipment rose the most.
The absolute gap between sales and inventories remains near record highs...
This 3-chart Zero Hedge news item appeared on their Internet site at 10:19 a.m. on Friday morning EDT - and today's first story is courtesy of Richard Saler. Another link to it is here.
Under his leadership, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles outsold its competitors in Canada for the first time in the carmaker's history while enjoying an unprecedented streak of rising sales in the U.S. The success earned Bigland a promotion to head Fiat Chrysler's Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands, making him one of Chairman Sergio Marchionne's most trusted deputies.
Now, Bigland, the 49-year-old head of U.S. sales and chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Canada, is at the center of U.S. criminal and regulatory investigations into whether the company fraudulently hyped its monthly sales numbers, according to people familiar with the matter. The probe has implications that may go far beyond Fiat Chrysler, potentially upending the U.S. auto industry's way of reporting sales, long designed to showcase them in the most positive light possible.
Automakers have been leaning on dealers for decades to move cars off their lots, a pressure that has long been accepted as part of the business. It's not just consumer purchasing at issue. Investors also weigh monthly sales reports closely for signs of how auto companies are faring. But now the government is questioning whether Fiat Chrysler's tactics have gone too far.
It sounds as if another sociopathic personality type pushed things too far. This very interesting - and certainly not surprisingBloomberg article from 9:15 a.m. Denver time on Thursday morning was something I found in yesterday's edition of the King Report. Another link to it is here.
For six years, the General Motors factory that used to make Chevy Trailblazers in Moraine, Ohio, sat abandoned, a rusting monument to the decline of the American auto industry.
These days, the plant is humming again, fueled by a resurgent U.S. consumer - but now under Chinese management. On the shop floor, Chinese supervisors in sky-blue uniforms that carry the logo of the new owners, Fuyao Glass, teach American employees how to assemble windshields.
Drive along Interstate 75, through America's industrial heartland, and you'll find no shortage of Chinese-owned firms like Fuyao. They're setting up shop in states such as Ohio and Michigan, key voter battlegrounds in November, where traditional manufacturing has been hollowed out - in many cases, by trade. With China.
But away from the sound and fury of the national campaign, state and municipal governments of both stripes have welcomed Chinese firms with open arms. When it took over the GM plant, Fuyao got a $9.7 million tax credit from the Republican-run state of Ohio, which also kicked in a $1-million grant for road work.
This Bloomberg story was posted on their website at 5:00 p.m. Denver time on Thursday afternoon - and I thank reader U.D. for passing it around late yesterday morning. Another link to this article is here.
In his latest webcast to DoubleLine investors and the general public, the "new bond king" Jeffrey Gundlach, who had taken a one month sabbatical from public appearances after warning (hyperbolically as he explained yesterday) to "Sell Everything, Nothing Here Looks Good", said that the Fed is determined to show it is independent from market forces, and may hike rates even as investors bet they will not.
As a result, Gundlach said it's time for fixed-income investors to prepare for rising rates and higher inflation by reducing the duration of their positions, moving money into cash and protecting against volatility. In his presentation titled appropriately "Turning Points" (presented below) Gundlach said that "this is a big, big moment," predicting that "interest rates have bottomed. They may not rise in the near term as I've talked about for years. But I think it's the beginning of something and you're supposed to be defensive."
"They want to show that they are not guided by the markets," Gundlach told Reuters in a telephone interview following the DoubleLine webcast. "The Fed wants to show, at some point, that they can't be replaced by WIRP (World Interest Rate Probability). The only way they can do that is to tighten when WIRP is below 50."
However, by trying to prove its independence from the WIRP, the Fed might be "blowing itself up," Gundlach warned. The Fed will not hike in September if the WIRP is below 40 and the S&P 500 is below 2150, he said on the webcast, which we assume means that the market is in control after all.
This Zero Hedge story, along with an embedded copy of the Gundlach presentation, was posted on their Internet site at 7:13 a.m. EDT yesterday morning - and the first person through the door with this was reader Ken Hurt. Another link to it is here.
Since this Sunday will be the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 massacre, I am about to post analysis of where the 9/11 Truth movement stands today. In the meantime, however, I am sharing with you a most interesting video, so interesting in fact that I decided to post it on the "analysis" section of the blog. Lars Schall has kindly sent me his interview with Prof. Marc Chesney, for which I am most grateful to him. Enjoy this thought-provoking video!
This 20:34 minute video interview showed up on the saker.is Internet site yesterday - and it will certainly be on my 'must watch' list this weekend. I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us - and another link to this video interview is here.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..."
That would be part of the opening line from Charles Dickens' oft-quoted but rarely-read novel, "A Tale of Two Cities."
Notably, in a recent note to clients, Capital Economics' Canada team suggested that the book's title actual serves to explain what's going on in the Canadian housing market bubble right now.
And although it's not a perfect metaphor, it still an interesting way to contextualize things.
The "two cities" in question are Vancouver and Toronto: the former saw home sales decline by 23% year-over-year in August, while the latter saw home sales surge by 23.5% year-over-year.
I'm just waiting for the bubble to pop in Toronto as well - and it's a matter of when, not if. This interesting article put in an appearance on the nordic.businessinsider.com Internet site on Friday morning in Europe - and I thank Swedish subscriber Patrik Ekdahl for sending it our way. Another link to this story is here.
Germany's trade surplus in July came in lower than expected as exports plummeted, the latest in a string of weak economic data from Europe's industrial powerhouse at the start of the third quarter.
Germany's trade surplus, adjusted for seasonal swings and calendar effects, fell to 19.4 billion euros ($21.9 billion) from a revised EUR21.4 billion in June, the Federal Statistical Office, Destatis, said Friday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a surplus of EUR22.7 billion.
Exports dropped 2.6% from the previous month, in adjusted terms, while imports slipped 0.7%.
Compared with July 2015, exports were down a startling 10%. But a statistician at Destatis said this was probably down to a base effect, because July 2015 was among the strongest months of the entire year for Germany's exporters. He added it is quite unusual, because some companies already start their annual work holidays in July.
This news item, filed from Frankfurt, showed up on the marketwatch.com Internet site at 3:10 a.m. EDT on Friday morning - and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for pointing it out. Another link to this article is here.
UBS Group AG doubled the number of quants working for Chief Investment Officer Mark Haefele in the past two years. He wants to hire even more.
Haefele recommends customers use investment strategies that apply techniques designed by quantitative analysts, such as complex data visualization, rather than rely on their instincts. One in 10 managers who advise clients now use such tools, said Haefele who oversees a team of more than 200.
The models "help us understand when it's time to dial up the risk of the portfolio or dial down the risk," Haefele, who helps oversee $2 trillion, said in an interview in Zurich. "In many cases the answer is yes, a machine could do a better job than a person."
This item was posted on the Bloomberg website at 1:36 a.m. on Friday morning EDT - and it's the second offering of the day from Elliot Simon. Another link to it is here.
Fabrizio Viola, the chief executive of troubled Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena, has agreed to quit and allow a new boss to try to convince reluctant investors to back an emergency rescue plan.
The Tuscan lender, which emerged as Europe's weakest bank in stress tests in July, said on Thursday it was working to appoint a successor quickly and that Viola would remain in place until that was done.
Marco Morelli, the head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Italy, was almost certain to take Viola's job, a source with knowledge of the matter said.
"It'll be him at 99.9 percent," the source said, adding the decision to replace Viola was because the bank needed "a change of gear" to persuade investors to buy into a capital increase of up to 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) - one of the main pillars of its bailout plan.
This Reuters story, filed from Milan, showed up on their Internet site at 3:58 p.m. EDT on Thursday afternoon - and it comes to us from Brad Robertson via Zero Hedge. Another link to this news item is here.
Large parts of the eurozone are slipping deeper into a deflationary trap despite negative interest rates and one trillion euros of quantitative easing by the European Central Bank, leaving the currency bloc with no safety buffer when the next global recession hits.
The ECB is close to exhausting its ammunition and appears increasingly powerless to do more under the legal constraints of its mandate. It has downgraded its growth forecast for the next two years, citing the uncertainties of Brexit, and admitted that it has little chance of meeting its 2pc inflation target this decade, insisting that it is now up to governments to break out of the vicious circle.
Mario Draghi, the ECB's president, said there are limits to monetary policy and called on the rest of the eurozone to act "much more decisively" to lift growth, with targeted spending on infrastructure. "It is abundantly clear that Draghi is played out and we're in the terminal phase of QE. The eurozone needs a quantum leap in the nature of policy and it has to come from fiscal policy," said sovereign bond strategist Nicholas Spiro.
Mr Draghi dashed hopes for an expansion of the ECB's monthly €80bn (£60bn) programme of bond purchases, and offered no guidance on whether the scheme would be extended after it expires in March 2017. There was not a discussion on the subject.
"The bar to further ECB action is higher than widely assumed," said Ben May from Oxford Economics.
This AE-P offering is definitely worth reading. It was posted on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 9:19 a.m. BST on Friday morning, which was 4:19 a.m. in New York - EDT plus 5 hours. I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us - and another link to this article is here.
Concerns about Japan's possible 'var shock'-inducing reverse twist policy has sparked selling across global sovereign bond markets. Both Japanese 10Y and German 10Y yields have surged to 0% overnight.
Japanese 10Y yields have not been this high since March...and German Bund yields have reached 0% for the first time in 2 months.
So will the BOJ shock markets and unleash this year's "bond tantrum", one which would come at a time when there is an unprecedented $13 trillion in negative yielding bonds? According to Old Mutual Global Investors which oversees the equivalent of about $436 billion, a policy change aimed at steepening the yield curve wouldn't be surprising, even though it would come at the expense of bondholders.
"It would definitely see some pain," said Mark Nash, head of global bonds at the London-based fund manager. "Money flows across borders. It's all linked."
And it appears that pain is beginning.
That above five paragraphs are all there is to this 2-chart Zero Hedge article that appeared on their website at 10:10 a.m. EDT on Friday morning - and the charts are worth a quick look. It's another contribution from Elliot Simon - and another link to it is here.
Commenting on Friday's jump in global bond yields, a fund manager on Bloomberg Television downplayed the move: "Yields are back to where they were last week." Such thinking badly misses the point.
Greed and Fear ensure that markets have an inherent tendency to "overshoot." Over-liquefied markets can significantly overshoot on the upside. Markets for years dominated by ultra-low rates and massive central bank buying should be expected to overshoot in historic fashion. And that's exactly what has unfolded. Major market Reversals tend to be violent and unpredictable affairs, catching almost everyone unprepared.
At the minimum, summer complacency ended rather abruptly Friday. Bloomberg: "Stocks, Bonds Spiral Lower Together in Replay of Past Hawk Raids." Long-bond Treasury yields jumped 13 bps Friday, with a two-day surge of 20 bps ("biggest two-day rise since August 2015"). Ten-year Treasury yields rose seven bps this week to the highest level (1.67%) since June. German 10-year bund yields rose 13 bps ("biggest slide since March") in two sessions to the first positive yield (0.01%) since July 15.
The Bank of Japan is divided and wavering - an unsettling situation for Japanese and global bond markets. The BOJ is in the process of reviewing current stimulus measures, as it heads into a key September 20-21 policy meeting. After championing negative interest-rates, there is now recognition that prolonged negative rates and market yields have turned problematic for the banking system and pension complex. There is speculation that the BOJ may employ measures to steepen the yield curve, with all the uncertainty this latest policy gambit would entail.
Super Mario failed Thursday to allay market concerns. Restless markets were hoping that the ECB would commit to extending its QE program past the stipulated March ending date, while also expanding/tinkering with the mix of securities to be purchased (running short of bunds and other bonds to buy). Months pass by quickly. Seeking immediate assurances of "whatever it takes forever," markets were left disappointed. Have Germany and the euro-area "hawks" been waiting patiently to reassert themselves?
Doug's weekly Credit Bubble Bulletin is always a must read for me - and this one is no exception. It was posted on his Internet site around midnight Denver time. Another link to it is here.
Feudal and mercantilist economic systems were characterised by the lower orders of ordinary people being enslaved by, or subjected to, the commands of an elite.
Beyond basic subsistence, serfs and slaves were not enabled to consume other goods, nor were they given the means to do so. Communism was hawked as handing power to the serfs, or workers, united in and by the state. But again, it meant that workers remained serfs, employed and commanded by a state set up in their name. Freedom from the bourgeoisie became subjugation by the state. Only capitalism, founded on free markets and freedom of choice for all, held the promise of freeing the masses from a life of drudgery and servitude.
This was what the industrial revolution in Britain was about, particularly after the Corn Laws were repealed, and also the basis for the opportunities offered in America for refugees from European feudalism and mercantilism. And as the benefits of this freedom became enjoyed by those that were freed, so the abolition of slavery followed. A minimalist enlightened government based on democracy guaranteed property ownership and ensured that individuals' rights were enforceable. These were the simple conditions of free markets, the conditions where the lowest consumer is the master of the mightiest producer, who endeavours to serve him. These are the conditions that led to a dramatic improvement in living standards for everyone in only a few decades, an improvement that had proved impossible in all the history of feudalism, mercantilism, and communism. It was the unique achievement of Anglo-Saxon laissez-faire.
But empires strike back. Just as communism enslaved the workers in their own name, so democratic states in the name of capitalism find ways to bind their own electors. Freedoms taken for granted by the British and Americans were never fully adopted by more socialistic states, and even the Anglo-Saxons have been slowly compromised to the point where their democratic systems are now breaking down.
This excellent commentary by Alasdair put in an appearance on the goldmoney.com Internet site on Thursday - and I thank Peter Holland for bringing it to our attention. Another link to this worthwhile essay is here.
The opening introduction by our pundits has them discussing a picture of Putin and Obama (shown at the John Batchelor Show site) at the G20 meeting glaring at each other. This rather sums up the state of being between Russia and Washington. Putin's glare, incidentally, does not look like posturing. Cohen concludes that the "mini détente" with Russia begun over dealing with ISIS in Syria is dead, as is a plan to "de-alert" nuclear missiles (would give a 24 hour window on launching by the powers - to allow adversaries to discuss the problem and to avoid accidental launches), and an agreement for the two powers to have a mutual "no first launch policy". All is in the dust and as Cohen states: "This G20meeting will be said to be one of failed opportunities" and "Obama will leave office with a failed foreign policy". Putin maintains there are no good terrorists working with Obama in Syria and insists on bombing them. Obama takes the (unsubstantiated) opposite position. We should recall that Obama himself said "moderates in Syria were a fantasy". If the results were not so serious the latest failure would be black humour hilarious.
On the Ukraine front there are also changes over Minsk2, this time out of Europe. There is serious political blowback for both Germany's Merkel and France's Hollande over Russian sanctions over Ukraine that will affect their respective upcoming elections. As vassals to the Empire of Chaos, the chickens are coming home to roost. And this week Ukraine's Poroshenko has again "rewritten" Minsk2. Minsk is dead. But Cohen speculates that both V.P. Biden of the USA and Poroshenko fear a "Nazi coup" in Kiev, if Poroshenko ever moved to implement the accord. One could (should?) speculate that such a coup is inevitable anyway.
Batchelor sees Poroshenkos new version of Minsk2 as a complete rejection, and a statement of permanent conflict with Russia. Cohen takes this one step farther -that it is also an affront to Germany and France as well as to Russia. The evolving discussions about the ramifications of this are fascinating, but the consequences to the NCW (New Cold War) are a progress of escalation or at least continuance. But also discussed with all these failures in mind is how the Washington regime is increasingly being seen as losing status in the world. This has spread to most of the unaligned world, a lot of Europe, perhaps the U.K - virtually everywhere except in the USA. A cynical mind might express this a failure for Washington's threats and bribery to win the hearts and minds of the rest of the peoples and a just one for vassal politicians. But on the diplomatic side for the citizens of the world that's a win.
For those following the presidential campaign, the conclusion is a discussion of the past two weeks of American politics. It too is well worth a listen. The theme here is about which candidate will most likely pursue peace. Guess who that choice is....?
This 40-minute audio interview was posted on the audioboom.com Internet site on Tuesday - and is a must listen for any serious student of the New Great Game. As always, a big THANK YOU goes out to Larry Galearis for providing the above executive summary. Another link to this interview is here.
Russia and the United States agreed early Saturday on a new plan to reduce violence in the Syrian conflict that, if successful, could lead for the first time to joint military targeting by the two powers against Islamic jihadists in Syria.
The agreement was reached after 10 months of failed attempts to halt the fighting and of suspended efforts to reach a political settlement to an increasingly complex conflict that began more than five years ago.
The conflict has left nearly half a million people dead, created the largest refugee crisis since World War II and turned Syria into a prime incubator of recruiting for the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al Qaeda.
Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, announced the agreement in Geneva after weeks of negotiations that were marred, in President Obama's words, by deep "mistrust" between the Russians and Americans, who back opposite sides in Syria, but share an antipathy to the Islamic jihadists flourishing there.
This New York Times story, filed from Geneva, appeared on their Internet site very late last night EDT I would think - and I thank Roy Stephens for finding it for us. Another link to it is here.
In Saudi Arabia itself, the government seems unable to cope with the crisis. The 'Arab News' says that 31,000 Saudi and other foreign workers have lodged complaints with the government's labour ministry over unpaid wages. On one occasion, the Indian consulate and expatriates brought food to the workers so that their people should not starve.
Almost exactly a year after Salman bin Albdulaziz Al Saud, king of Saudi Arabia, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and head of the House of Saud, hurriedly left his millionaire's mansion near Cannes with his 1,000 servants to continue his vacation in Morocco, the kingdom's cash is not flowing so smoothly for the tens of thousands of sub-continental expatriates sweating away on his great building sites.
Almost unreported outside the Kingdom, the country's big construction magnates - including that of the Binladen group - have not been paid by the Saudi government for major construction projects and a portion of the army of Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and other workers have received no wages, some of them for up to seven months.
Indian and Pakistani embassies approached the Saudi government, pleading that their workers should be paid. Economists who adopt the same lickspittle attitude towards the Saudi monarchy as the British Government, constantly point out that the authorities have been overwhelmed by the collapse of oil prices. They usually prefer not to mention something at which the rest of the world remains aghast: deputy crown prince and defence minister Mohamed bin Salman's wasteful and hopeless war in Yemen. Since the king's favourite son launched this preposterous campaign against the Houthis last year, supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni president against Shia Muslim rebels, aircraft flown by Saudi and Emirati pilots (aided by British technical "experts" on the ground) have bombed even more hospitals, clinics and medical warehouses than America has destroyed in Serbia and Afghanistan combined since 1999.
This very interesting, but not entirely surprising commentary showed up on the independent.co.uk Internet site on Thursday - and it comes courtesy of Brad Robertson. Another link to it is here.
Two years ago, a California aluminum executive commissioned a pilot to fly over the Mexican town of San José Iturbide, at the foot of the Sierra Gorda mountains, and snap aerial photos of a remote desert factory.
He made a startling discovery. Nearly one million metric tons of aluminum sat neatly stacked behind a fortress of barbed-wire fences. The stockpile, worth some $2 billion and representing roughly 6% of the world's total inventory-enough to churn out 2.2 million Ford F-150s or 77 billion beer cans-quickly became an obsession for the U.S. aluminum industry.
Now it is a new source of tension in U.S.-Chinese trade relations. U.S. executives contend that the mysterious cache was part of a brazen scheme by one of China's richest men to game the global trade system.
Aluminum-industry representative Jeff Henderson says he is convinced that China Zhongwang Holdings Ltd., a Chinese aluminum giant controlled by billionaire Liu Zhongtian, tried to evade U.S. tariffs by routing aluminum through Mexico to disguise its origins, a tactic known as transshipping.
This amazing Wall Street Journal story from yesterday was posted in the clear over at David Stockman's website - and it's worth reading if you have the interest. And even if you don't, the aerial photo is definitely worth the trip. I thank Roy Stephens for sending it along - and another link to this news item is here.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on September 6, 2016 that endangered humpback whales in nine of 14 newly identified distinct population segments have recovered enough that they can be removed from the U.S. endangered species list. International agreements to protect and conserve the whales over the past 40 years have proven successful for most populations, NOAA said. Meanwhile, four of the distinct population segments are still considered endangered on the U.S. list, and one is now listed as threatened.
Although they're coming off the U.S. endangered species list, the whales are still protected. The International Whaling Commission's whaling moratorium, imposed in 1982, played a major role in the comeback of humpback whales and remains in effect.
Whales once roamed oceans and seas around the world. Humpbacks known to migrate 16,000 miles (25,000 km) each year, and the males have complex songs - possibly used in mating - lasting up to 20 minutes and repeated for hours at a time. Scientists have become increasingly aware that these creatures are capable of sophisticated thinking, decision-making and problem-solving. But - beginning hundreds of years ago and especially in the 20th century - commercial whaling severely reduced humpback whale numbers.
The United States listed all humpback whales as endangered in 1970. NOAA Fisheries worked nationally and internationally to identify and apply protections for humpback whales. Removing them from the list doesn't mean the whales will be hunted again, but it does means their populations have rebounded successfully. Huzzah!
This happy news it appeared on the earthsky.org Internet site on Thursday - and I thank 'aurora' for passing it around early yesterday afternoon Denver time. The headline has now been changed to read "A comeback for humpback whales" - and another link to this story is here.
Rising inflation expectations have attracted an unlikely investor to gold.
Richard Bernstein, who has spent more than 35 years on Wall Street, is buying gold for his clients' portfolios for the first time.
"My firm and I are not gold bugs," said Bernstein, a former chief investment strategist for Merrill Lynch who started his eponymous firm in 2009, at the Morningstar ETF conference on Thursday. "Most of the people who tell you stories about gold are people trying to sell you gold funds and gold ETFs, and those stories are not based on reality at all."
"You buy real assets when inflation expectations are starting to go up," he said.
Recent statements from the Federal Reserve indicate a greater willingness to tolerate rising inflation expectations, Bernstein said.
This gold-related news item appeared on the CNBC website on Friday morning sometime - and I found it embedded in a GATA release. Another link to this story is here.
The PHOTOS and the FUNNIES
Here are two 'head and shoulder' shots of juvenile ring-billed gulls. The first one is from the 2016 crop of young ones - and the difference between it and the 1-year old bird pictured below it, is quite striking. By this time next year, the 1-year old will be an adult - and this year's crop will still have one year to go. The 'click to enlarge' feature helps on both these shots.
Today's pop 'blasts from the past' comes from a British rock group that was very popular back in the early 1970s - and I was spinning their 45s on CHAR radio in Alert, N.W.T. when I was in my early 20s. The group is Badfinger - and three of their biggest hits are here, here - and here.
Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff is most well known for his second and third piano concertos, but his 2nd symphony is on my 'desert island' list as well, but that's not what I'm posting today. This is his first piano concerto and his first composition ever, as it's his Op. 1, which he composed at the tender age of 18 years back in 1891. He revised the work thoroughly in 1917 - and that's the version heard here. And although it's not performed as often in the concert halls of the world, it's still a wonderful piece. Here's American-born pianist Soheil Nasseri [his parents were Persians] accompanied by the St. Petersburg Philharmonia. Alexander Dmitriev conducts. This audio/video recording on the youtube.com Internet site is one of the best I've ever encountered - and the concert hall is a magnificent sight. The link is here. Enjoy!
With the U.S. equity markets showing a big down day in the futures market, 'da boyz' wanted no safe havens anywhere - and with a Commitment of Traders report at historic negative values, it was easy for them to spin their algorithms, run the sell stops - and get the black-box Managed Money traders to head for the hills.
Considering the size of the price declines, particularly in silver, I was rather surprised that the volumes weren't heavier than they were.
Since this is my Saturday column, here are the 6-month charts for the Big 6+1 commodities that have caught Ted Butler's 'silver disease'. That disease has now spread into the grains as well, but I can't post everything.
So, where to from here?
With the commercial net short positions in both gold and silver flirting with their all-time highs once again, it wouldn't take much effort on the part of JPMorgan et al to really put it to the Managed Money traders and their record long positions.
If they wanted to do the dirty, a $100+ engineered price decline in gold, plus 3 or 4 bucks in silver would be pretty much a slam-dunk at the moment.
But can they, or will they? Nobody knows for sure. And as Ted and I discussed on the phone yesterday, it's more than obvious after Friday's price action in all four precious metals, that 'da boyz' still have them in an iron grip - and can do pretty much whatever they want, or are instructed to do.
Of course the current economic, financial and monetary situation on a planet-wide basis is already headed for the dumpster - and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard pointed that fact out for Europe in his article in the Critical Reads section in today's column.
The Chinese yuan will become part of the international basket of currencies in about two weeks - and the SDR [Special Drawing Rights] programs is all ready to roll - and it still remains to be seen if all the gold that's been flying around the world in the last number of years will play a part in it. I don't know, nor does anyone.
But I can't shake the feeling that since JPMorgan is at 'Ground Zero' for anything precious metals related, as Ted Butler has pointed out on numerous occasions, that at some point in the future, precious metals will return as a monetary asset in some shape or form.
The central banks of the world certainly don't want the precious metals back as money, but as the gold price continues to climb higher, or is repriced higher, it will become a defacto currency whether they want it to be or not. It's already reached that stage to a certain extent.
A shiny new gold price [silver too] would certainly do wonders for the balance sheets of the world's central banks that hold it in quantity, but it would also make those countries that own it - and/or mine it in large quantities - economic powers of some size almost overnight, with a currency valuation to match. The first such country that comes to mind would be India, where gold ownership is widespread - and large portions of the population would become wealthy overnight. Next would come countries like Mexico, Peru, Chile and South Africa - plus all commodity producing countries both developed and emerging. That would certainly change the economic order of things in a hurry, something which the U.S. Empire is dead set against.
Of course with a sky-high gold price would come commodity inflation that would make your eyes water. So if all of this speculation comes to pass in one form or another, it's certainly a double-edged sword in just about every respect.
The gold/commodities card is there to be played, but it's the last thing that the central banks want to do.
But as I've said before - and Jim Rickards has pointed out in all three of his books - there will come a time when they will have no choice in the matter.
But what the time-line is on that, is anyone guess.
So we wait some more.
I'm done for the day - and the week - and I'll see you here on Tuesday.
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