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Another Day of Salami Slicing in Silver and Gold

 -- Published: Sunday, 11 June 2017 | Print  | Disqus 

By: Ed Steer

    Another Day of Salami Slicing in Silver and Gold


Ed Steer's Gold and Silver Digest

                              10 June 2017 -- Saturday


The gold price was sold lower by about five bucks or so going into the London open.  From there it inched higher into the noon silver fix -- and from that point the sell-off into Friday's low price tick commenced.  That came about ten minutes before the equity markets opened in New York.  From there the gold price chopped quietly higher until around 2:45 p.m. in after-hours trading.  Then about an hour after that, some kind soul peeled about five bucks off the price into 5:00 p.m. EDT close.


The high and low ticks were reported as $1,284.60 and $1,266.70 in the August contract.


Gold was closed on Friday afternoon at $1,266.40 spot, down another $11.20 on the day, but still above its crucial 200 and 50-day moving averages, but a slice off the salami nonetheless.  Net volume was monstrous once again at 207,000 contracts.



And here's the 5-minute tick chart courtesy of Brad Robertson as usual.  There was decent volume associated with every price sell-off on Planet Earth yesterday, with most of the action that mattered occurring during the COMEX trading session.  But volume really didn't drop off to background at any point during the New York 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' feature is a must.



The price action in silver was mostly similar, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it.  The low tick in morning trading in New York came around 9:40 a.m.  It recovered about a nickel from there -- and then chopped sideways for the rest of the day.  The two sharp down/up price spikes in after-hours trading only occurred in the spot month.


The high and low in this precious metal was recorded by the CME Group as $17.495 and $17.155 in the July contract.


Silver finished the Friday session at $17.17 spot, down 23.5 cents from its Thursday close -- and well below its 50-day moving average.  Net volume was very decent, but once again not as heavy as I was expecting.  It checked in at only 54,500 contracts, along with decent roll-over/switch volume out of July.



And here's the 5-minute tick chart for silver, courtesy of Brad as well.  It's sort of a mini version of the 5-minute chart for gold.  There was spotty volume in a few places in Far East and London trading, but all the volume that mattered began to appear shortly after the noon silver fix in London, which is around 05:30 a.m. Denver time on the chart below.


Like for gold, 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' feature is a must as well.



The platinum price really didn't do much of anything, as it traded a dollar or two either side of unchanged until shortly after 12 o'clock noon in Zurich.  Then away it went to the upside -- and obviously ran into the short buyers and long sellers of last resort.  Like silver and gold, 'da boyz' had the price back to unchanged by around 9:30 a.m. In New York.  It rallied about five bucks from there, but was swatted down a couple of bucks -- and then it traded sideways for the rest of the Friday session.  Platinum finished the day at exactly unchanged...$937 spot.  Ted mentioned some sort of backwardation/short squeeze issue in palladium -- and I'm wondering out loud if it spilled over into the platinum market as well.



Palladium traded flat until around 12:30 p.m. in Shanghai on their Friday afternoon -- and then it was sold down to its low tick of the day just minutes after the Zurich open.  Three hours later it was back to unchanged -- and the price really took off then.  That vertical price spike was capped about an hour before the COMEX open -- and from there it was sold lower until the 10 a.m. EDT afternoon gold fix in London.  It didn't do a thing after that.  Palladium was closed in New York yesterday at $861 spot, up 14 dollars on the day, but would have closed multiples of that higher if it had been allowed to trade freely, which it obviously wasn't.


And as I mentioned above in my comments on platinum, Ted pointed out on the phone yesterday that there was backwardation in palladium -- and a short squeeze of sorts was going on, but the number of contracts in the current front month was only a hundred or so.



The dollar index closed very late on Thursday afternoon in New York at 97.21 -- and made it as high as the 97.38 mark by 8:30 a.m. China Standard Time on their Friday morning.  It sank lower from there -- and slightly below unchanged by around 12:50 p.m. CST.  It chopped quietly and unsteadily higher until the 97.500 high tick was set at exactly 9:00 a.m. EDT in New York.  But by 1:00 p.m. it was back at virtually unchanged once again -- and didn't do a lot after that.  The dollar index closed yesterday at 97.26 -- and up 5 basis points on the day.



And here's the 6-month dollar index chart for your entertainment.



The gold shares gapped down at the open -- and then struggled higher until around 12:40 p.m. in New York.  They gave up the ghost at that juncture -- and chopped quietly lower for the rest of the day, as the HUI finished down another 1.33 percent.



It was generally the same price pattern for the silver equities -- and Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index closed lower by 2.08 percent.  Click to enlarge if necessary.



Here's the 6-month Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index -- and the 'click to enlarge' feature works wonders with this graph as well.



Here are the three charts from Nick that show what's been happening for the week, month -- and year-to-date.  The first one shows the changes in gold, silver, platinum and palladium for the past trading week, in both percent and dollar and cents terms, as of their Friday closes in New York - along with the changes in the HUI and the Silver 7 Index. The Click to Enlarge feature really helps on all three.



And here's the month-to-date chart...



...and the year-to-date...



With the GDX/GDXJ indexes rebalancing still a work in progress -- and JPMorgan et al stomping around in the COMEX futures market, it certainly hasn't helped the precious metal equities lately.



The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that 62 gold and 29 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Tuesday.  In gold, the two short/issuers were HSBC USA and International F.C. Stone with 51 and 11 contracts out of their respective client accounts.  The long/stoppers that mattered were JP Morgan with 35 for its client account -- and 13 for Scotiabank's in-house [proprietary] trading houses.  In silver, the two short/issuers were ADM and ABN Amro with 25 and 4 contracts out of their respective client accounts.  There were six long/stoppers in total -- and ADM was the largest with 13.  The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.


The Preliminary Report for the Friday trading session showed that gold open interest in June declined by a further 216 contracts, leaving 1,781 still around, minus the 62 mentioned above.  Thursday's Daily Delivery Report showed that only 13 gold contracts were actually posted for delivery on Monday, so that means that 216-13=203 gold contracts were closed out without having to make or take delivery.   Silver o.i. in June declined by 54 contracts, leaving 37 still open, minus the 29 mentioned in the previous paragraph.  Thursday's Daily Delivery Report showed that 84 silver contracts were actually posted for delivery on Monday, so that means that 84-54=30 more silver contracts were added to the June delivery month.


Month-to-date there have been 812 silver contracts issued and stopped, not too shabby for a non-traditional delivery month that's less than a third over -- and not one of them involved JP Morgan for it's own account.  I'm sure Ted will have a few words about this state of affairs in his column this afternoon.


There were no reported changes in either GLD or SLV on Friday.


The folks over at the Internet site updated their short interest data for SLV and GLD yesterday evening, as of the close of trading on May 31 -- and this is what they had to report.  The short interest in SLV declined from 13.48 million shares/troy ounces, down to 12.31 million shares/troy ounces...8.7 percent.  In GLD, it was the opposite.  The short position rose from 808,690 troy ounces, up to 1,004,250 troy ounces...up 24.2 percent.  These aren't material changes -- and I doubt that Ted will have much to say about them in his weekly review today.  The big precious metal story is almost always centered around the CME Group and the COMEX.


Once again there was no sales report from the U.S. Mint.


Month-to-date the mint has sold 500 troy ounces of gold eagles -- 500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes -- and 229,000 silver eagles.  To say that retail bullion sales suck would be an understatement.


There was no gold reported received over at the COMEX-approved depositories on the U.S. east coast on Thursday, but there was 27,352 troy ounces shipped out of Brink's, Inc. -- and it's hardly worth linking, but here it is anyway.


And, for the second day in row, there was no in/out activity in silver at any of the COMEX-approved depositories.  That's amazing!  I have no memory of such an extraordinary event occurring in the recent past.


Over at the COMEX-approved gold kilobar depositories in Hong Kong on their Thursday, they reported receiving 2,735 of them -- and shipped out only 88.  All of this activity was at Brink's, Inc. as usual -- and the link to that, in troy ounces, is here.



The Commitment of Traders Report, for positions held at the close of COMEX trading on Tuesday, didn't make for happy reading, but fortunately it wasn't quite as bad as Ted had predicted.


In silver, the Commercial net short position increased by 'only' 4,542 contracts, or 22.7 million troy ounces of paper silver.  They arrived at that number by selling 432 long contracts -- plus they added 4,110 short contracts.  The sum of those two numbers is the change for the reporting week.  And there's the reason why I call the Commercial trader, especially the Big 8, the "short buyers and long sellers of last resort".  This is what they do to cap precious metal prices as the Managed Money traders rush onto the long side -- and that's what the above numbers show.


Ted says that the Big 4 traders increased their short position by around 2,300 contracts -- and with a new Bank Participation Report in hand -- he has recalibrated JP Morgan's short position in silver at 28,000 COMEX contracts.  The '5 through 8' large traders added only 200 contracts to their short position -- and Ted's raptors, the 30-odd commercial traders other than the Big 8, decreased their long position by around 2,000 contracts.


The commercial net short position in silver now sits at 378.1 million troy ounces.


Under the hood in the Disaggregated COT Report, it was all Managed Money traders, plus much more, as they added 7,604 long contracts but, to Ted's surprise, they only reduced their short position by 546 contracts during the reporting week. With both the 50 and 200-day moving averages being taken out to the upside, there should have been a lot more short covering going on than that.  The rest of the changes outside of the Managed Money traders came almost exclusively from the traders in the 'Other Reportables' category.


Here's the 3-year COT chart showing the deterioration from a week ago, but with the price action since the Tuesday cut-off, this report is very much "yesterday's news", as the internal structure in the COMEX futures market for silver has improved greatly.  Click to enlarge.



In gold, the commercial net short position increased by 33,135 contract, or 3.31 million troy ounces of paper gold.  Ted was fearing a number closer to twice that size -- and was mighty happy to be wrong about it.  They arrived at that number by adding 4,547 long contracts, but they picked up a whopping 37,682 short contracts...all courtesy of the Managed Money traders, of course.  The difference between those two numbers was the change for the reporting week.


The commercial net short position in gold is now up to 21.64 million troy ounces of paper gold.

Ted said that the Big 4 traders added another huge chunk to their short position, as they increased it by about 19,900 contracts during the reporting week.  The Big 4 have been going short big time over the last three weeks -- and neither Ted nor I are at all happy about that.  The '5 through 8' large traders also added a chunky 9,300 contracts to their short position, which is also a big increase -- and Ted's raptors, the almost 50 small commercial traders other than the Big 8, reduced their long position by around 3,900 contracts.


Under the hood in the Disaggregated COT Report, the Managed Money traders added 54,172 long contracts, but they also added 12,256 short contracts, which was a surprise -- and the difference between those two numbers...41,916 contracts...was the change for the reporting week.  The difference between that last number -- and the change in the commercial net short position [41,916-33,135=8,781 contracts] was made by the traders in both the 'Other Reportable' and 'Nonreportable'/small trader categories.  As you can see it was the same in gold as it was in silver...a continuous tango between the commercial traders on one side -- and the Managed Money traders on the other.  The other categories didn't matter one whit -- and hardly ever do.


Here's the 3-year COT chart for gold showing the deterioration during the last reporting week.  Despite the engineered price declines in the gold price since the Tuesday cut-off, neither of the two key moving averages...the 200 and 50-day...have been violated.  And because of that, it's Ted's opinion that although there certainly has been Managed Money selling since the cut-off, it probably hasn't amounted to much.  Click to enlarge.



To a certain extent, the gold price action since the cut-off is also "yesterday's news"...but certainly not as much as silver.  However, if JP Morgan et al continue their assault on the silver and gold next week -- and before Tuesday's cut-off, that could change radically.  They could easily pound gold for another 50 bucks without breaking a sweat.



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 '5 through 8' traders in each physically traded commodity on the COMEX.  These are the same Big 4 and '5 through 8' traders discussed in the COT Report above.  Click to enlarge.



For the current reporting week, the Big 4 are short 141 days of world silver production-and the '5 through 8' large traders are short an additional 56 days of world silver production-for a total of 197 days, which is a bit more than six and a half months of world silver production, or about 478.7 million troy ounces of paper silver held short by the Big 8.  [In last week's report the Big 8 were short 192 days of world silver production.


In the COT Report above, the Commercial net short position in silver was reported as 378.1 million troy ounces.  The short position of the Big 8 traders is larger than the total Commercial net short position by a chunky 478.7-378.1 = 100.6 million troy ounces.


As I also stated in the above COT Report, Ted pegs JP Morgan's short position at around 28,000 contracts, or around 140 million ounces, which is up a lot from the 20,500 contracts they were net short in the previous week's report.  140 million ounces works out to around 57 days of world silver production that JP Morgan is short.  That's compared to the 197 days that the Big 8 are short in total.  JPM is short about 29 percent of the entire short position held by the Big 8 traders.


The approximate short position in silver held by Scotiabank works out to around 53 days of world silver production.  So Scotiabank is back to being the No. 2 silver short in the COMEX futures market...albeit briefly, I'm sure.


The two largest silver shorts on Planet Earth-JP Morgan and Canada's Scotiabank-are short about 110 days of world silver production between the two of them-and that 110 days represents about 78 percent of the length of the red bar in silver in the above chart...a bit over three quarters of it.  The other two traders in the Big 4 category are short, on average, about 21 days of world silver production apiece -- and those numbers hardly ever change by much -- and they are unchanged from last week's report.  The four traders in the '5 through 8' category are short, on average, 14 days of world silver production each, virtually unchanged from the last week's report as well.


The short positions of Scotiabank and JP Morgan combined, represents about 55 percent of the short position held by all the Big 8 traders.  How's that for a concentrated short position within a concentrated short position?


The Big 8 are short 45.8 percent of the entire open interest in silver in the COMEX futures market -- and that number would be a bit over 50 percent once the market-neutral spread trades are subtracted out.  In gold, it has jumped up to 46.1 percent of the total COMEX open interest that the Big 8 are short.


And, for the second week in a row, the Big 8 were short a larger percent of total open interest in gold than they were in silver.


In gold, the Big 4 are now short 59 days of world gold production, which is up from the 52 days that they were short last week - and the '5 through 8' are short another 22 days of world production, which is up from the 19 days they were short from the prior week, for a total of 81 days of world gold production held short by the Big 8 -- a big jump from last week's report.  Based on these numbers, the Big 4 in gold hold about 73 percent of the total short position held by the Big 8, unchanged on the week.


The "concentrated short positions within a concentrated short position" in silver, platinum and palladium held by the Big 4 are about 71, 68 and 65 percent respectively of the short positions held by the Big 8.  Silver is up about 3 percentage points from the last reporting week -- and platinum and palladium are basically unchanged.



The June 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, 6 U.S. banks are net short 99,653 COMEX contracts in the June BPR.  In May's Bank Participation Report [BPR], that number was 92,391 contracts, so they've increased their collective short positions by 7,262 contracts during the last month...but lots has happened from a price perspective between those two reports.  Three of the five banks would certainly include JPMorgan, HSBC USA and Citigroup -- and maybe Goldman.  As for who the fifth and sixth 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, 32 non-U.S. banks are net short 76,834 COMEX gold contracts, which isn't much per bank.  In the May BPR, 32 non-U.S. banks were net short 69,022 COMEX contracts, so the month-over-month change showed an increase of 7,812 contracts.  And it's still a mystery as to which non-U.S. bank in the Big '5 through 8' category got bailed out of their huge short position in gold in July of last year.  I'm suspecting it could be Canada's Scotiabank, but I could be wrong about that.  However, having said that, I suspect that there's at least one large non-U.S. bank in this group that might hold as much as 25 percent of this short position -- and the remaining contracts, divided up by the 31 banks left, would be immaterial.


As of this Bank Participation Report, 38 banks are net short 35.7 percent of the entire open interest in gold in the COMEX futures market, which is a smallish increase from the 34.9 percent they were short in the May 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.  Click to Enlarge.



In silver, 5 U.S. banks are net short 30,902 COMEX silver contracts-and it was Ted's calculation from yesterday that JP Morgan holds around 28,000 of those silver contracts net short on its own - which is around 90 percent of the entire net short position shown in this month's BPR.  This means that the remaining 4 U.S. banks aren't net short by much - and a couple of them might actually be net long.  In May's BPR, the net short position of these five U.S. banks was 26,462 contracts, so there's been a decent-sized increase of 4,440 contracts in the net short positions of the U.S. banks since then -- and JP Morgan probably owns all of that increase.  As Ted says, JP Morgan is the 'Big Kahuna' in silver as far as the U.S. banking system is concerned.


Also in silver, 23 non-U.S. banks are net short 31,759 COMEX contracts-and that's down a smallish 1,452 contracts from the 33,211 contracts that these same non-U.S. banks held short in the May BPR.  I'm still prepared to bet big money that Canada's Scotiabank is the proud owner of the lion's share of this short position-somewhere between 65 and 80 percent of the above number.  That most likely means that a number of the remaining 22 non-U.S. banks might actually be net long the COMEX silver market by a bit as well.  But even if they aren't, the remaining short positions divided up between these remaining 22 non-U.S. banks are immaterial - and have always been so.


As of this Bank Participation Report, 28 banks are net short 30.0 percent of the entire open interest in the COMEX futures market in silver-which is down a bit from the 31.6 percent that they were net short in the May BPR - with much more than the lion's share of that held by only two banks...Canada's Scotiabank and JP Morgan.


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 7,812 COMEX contracts in the June Bank Participation Report.  In the May BPR, these same banks were short 9,490 COMEX platinum contracts, so there's been a drop of  in the U.S. banks' short position of 1,678 contracts from the prior month.

I suspect that, like in silver and palladium, JP Morgan holds virtually all of the platinum short position of the 4 U.S. banks in question.


Also in platinum, 16 non-U.S. banks are net short 8,759 COMEX contracts, which is up 1,428 contracts from the 7,331 contracts they were net short in the May BPR.  Their short positions are most likely immaterial compared to the short positions held by the 5 U.S. banks...or, more likely, 1 or 2 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 large 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 15 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 May's Bank Participation Report, 21 banks are net short 23.9 percent of the entire open interest in platinum in the COMEX futures market, which is virtually unchanged from the 23.4 percent they were collectively net short in the May BPR.  Click to enlarge.



In palladium, '3 or less' U.S. banks were net short 6,952 COMEX contracts in the May BPR, which is up 616 contracts from the 6,336 contracts they held net short in the May BPR.  There's not much to see here.


Also in palladium, '12 or more' non-U.S. banks are net short 6,269 COMEX contracts-which is a small decrease of 243 contracts from the 6,512 COMEX contracts that these same banks were short in the May BPR.  When you divide up the short positions of the non-U.S. banks more or less equally, they're mostly immaterial, just like they are in platinum.


But, having said all that, as of this Bank Participation Report, '15 or less' banks are net short 38.2 percent of the entire COMEX open interest in palladium.  In May's BPR, the world's banks were net short 35.0 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.  I would still be prepared to bet big money that, like platinum and silver, JP Morgan holds the vast majority of the U.S. banks' short position in this precious metal as well.  Click to enlarge.



As I say every month at this time, there's a maximum of three U.S. banks-JPMorgan, HSBC USA and Citigroup-along with Canada's Scotiabank-that are the tallest hogs at the precious metal price management trough.


However, it's also a fact that one of the non-U.S. banks in the Big '5 through 8' category got bailed out of its COMEX short position in gold in July of last year.


But JP Morgan and Canada's Scotiabank still remain the two largest silver short holders on Planet Earth in the COMEX futures market, with JP Morgan back in the #1 spot for the moment at least.


But, like the data in the COT Report above -- and from which the data from the Bank Participation Report was lifted -- this report is already "yesterday's news" as well in some respects...especially in silver.


I have an average number of stories for you today, including one repeat.  I hope you can find the time in what's left of your weekend to read the ones that interest you.



Without Glass-Steagall America Will Fail -- Paul Craig Roberts

For 66 years the Glass-Steagall act reduced the risks in the banking system. Eight years after the act was repealed, the banking system blew up threatening the international economy. U.S. taxpayers were forced to come up with $750 billion dollars, a sum much larger than the Pentagon's budget, in order to bail out the banks. This huge sum was insufficient to do the job. The Federal Reserve had to step in and expand its balance sheet by $4 trillion in order to protect the solvency of banks declared "too big to fail."


The enormous increase in the supply of dollars known as Quantitative Easing inflated financial asset prices instead of the consumer price index. This rise in bond and stock prices is a major cause of the worsening income and wealth distribution in the United States. The economic polarization has undercut the image and reality of the US as a land of opportunity and has introduced political and economic instability into the life of the country.


These are huge costs and for the benefit only of the rich who were already rich.


So, what we can say about the repeal of Glass-Steagall is that it turned a somewhat egalitarian democracy with a large middle class into the One Percent vs. the 99 percent. The repeal resulted in the destruction of the image of the United States as an open prosperous society. The electorate is very much aware of the decline in their economic situation, and this awareness expressed itself in the last presidential election.


This commentary by Paul showed up on his Internet site yesterday some time -- and it comes to us courtesy of Brad Robertson.  It's definitely worth reading -- and another link to it is here.


Doug Noland: Crowded Longs, Shorts and a New Z1

t was a week that saw Mario Draghi cling stubbornly to ultra-dovish monetary policy, the UK's Brexit strategy thrown into even greater disarray after Prime Minister May's failed election gambit, and the former Director of the FBI essentially testify that our President is a scoundrel. And then there's the Middle East...


In the midst of it all, after trading at a 24-year low 9.37 Friday morning, an abrupt reversal had the VIX ending the week at 10.70. Looking at the S&P500's slight (0.3%) decline for the week, one might be tempted to think comfortably "boring." Market internals, though, were anything but boring or comforting. Friday's session saw the Nasdaq 100 (NDX) swing wildly. After trading to an all-time high 5,898 in the first hour of U.S. trading, the index sank over 4.0% to 5,658 before closing the session down 2.44% at 5,742. Amazon traded in an intraday range of 1013 to 927. Looking at "FANG" plus Microsoft and Apple, major market cap was evaporating in a hurry. By the end of Friday's session, Facebook had declined 3.3%, Apple 3.9%, Amazon 3.2%, Microsoft 2.3%, Netflix 4.7% and Google 3.4%. The semiconductors (SOX) traded at a multi-year high 1,149 early in Friday's session, then sank 7.0% before recovering somewhat to close the day down 4.3% at 1,090. Biotech (BTK) rose 1.5% in the morning to an all-time high and then closed the session slightly lower.


As for the ECB decision and the UK election, I'll this evening posit the briefest of thoughts. Mario Draghi has been kicking the can down the road since 2012, and he clearly is in no mood to see what happens when his leg turns weary. We'll apparently have to wait until later in the year to have a clearer understanding of the ECB's stimulus program end-game. The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting pre-meeting article - with the catchy headline "ECB Critic Holds His Tongue as Race Nears for Bank's Top Job" - discussing how the Germans have set their sights on the end of Draghi's term in 2019.


And why the big surprise from the dismal Conservative party showing in the U.K. election? Has there been any brightening of the underlying dour public mood? Folks suddenly content with the "establishment," "elites" and the status quo? Feelings the "system" is working more fairly? Market and media complacency returned after Emmanuel Macron's huge market-pleasing victory in the French presidential election. I would suggest the Mr. Macron owes his presidency and apparent mandate to Mario Draghi. I wouldn't, however, wager on a long honeymoon period - let along some new golden age in French (and European) policy management. The political instability that had pundits fretting coming into 2017 is merely in a bit of remission. Wait until the ECB tap goes dry and the Draghi Bubble bursts.


This rather short Credit Bubble Bulletin appeared on his website in the wee hours of this morning EDT -- and another link to it is here.


Ray Dalio Warns We May Be on a Path to "Dictatorships and Wars"

Ray Dalio's fatalism took another quantum step higher this afternoon.


Having made his displeasure with Trump - of whom he initially spoke quite fondly when he predicted it would be "glorious to be rich" - clear, the founder of Bridgewater (for whom James Comey worked before joining the FBI) has repeatedly hinted that the market, one of Trump's preferred indicators of "policy success", will not only crash but the ensuing downturn would have grave and profound social consequences.


First, one month ago in "Ray Dalio Goes Dr. Doom: "When The Next Downturn Comes, It's Going To Be Bad", Dalio lamented that "we fear that whatever the magnitude of the downturn that eventually comes, whenever it eventually comes, it will likely produce much greater social and political conflict than currently exists."


Then, in another post earlier this week, Dalio dropped all nuance, and said that "more I see Donald Trump moving toward conflict rather than cooperation, the more I worry about him harming his presidency and its effects on most of us."


This increasingly gloomy outlook culminated in the latest Dalio blog on Friday afternoon, in which, discussing the causality between politics and economics, Dalio writes that for the first time since the 1930s, we now live in a time when politics supersedes economics, and "becomes the most important driver. History has shown us that these times are when there is great economic, social, and political polarity within a country and there is the selection of populist leaders to fight for "the common man" in a battle against "the elites."


I'm not about to disagree with him.  This Zero Hedge article was posted on their website at 6:50 p.m. yesterday evening -- and another link to it is here.


If a 'soft Brexit' is back on the table, what are the options for the U.K.?

The 2017 general election has resulted in a hung parliament - throwing the U.K.'s plans to leave the European Union into disarray.


Theresa May was hoping for a strong mandate ahead of key negotiations with the European Union on Britain's departure, but instead it is unclear what the U.K.'s position will be, or who will be leading the talks.


With calls from business groups and politicians for negotiations to be delayed, there is now talk that the U.K. may be forced to seek a "soft Brexit".


But what are the other options available to the U.K. if it steps back from a clean break with the E.U.?


This article was posted on the Internet site at 10:06 a.m. BST on their Friday morning, which was 5:06 a.m. in Washington...EDT plus 5 hours.  I thank Richard Saler for sharing it with us -- and another link to it is here.


Infamy at Sea: Israel's Attack on the USS Liberty 50 Years Later

In early June of 1967, at the onset of the Six Day War, the Pentagon sent the USS Liberty from Spain into international waters off the coast of Gaza to monitor the progress of Israel's attack on the Arab states. The Liberty was a lightly armed surveillance ship.


Only hours after the Liberty arrived it was spotted by the Israeli military. The IDF sent out reconnaissance planes to identify the ship. They made eight trips over a period of three hours. The Liberty was flying a large US flag and was easily recognizable as an American vessel.


Soon more planes came. These were Israeli Mirage III fighters, armed with rockets and machine guns. As off-duty officers sunbathed on the deck, the fighters opened fire on the defenseless ship with rockets and machine guns.


A few minutes later a second wave of planes streaked overhead, French-built Mystere jets, which not only pelted the ship with gunfire but also with napalm bomblets, coating the deck with the flaming jelly. By now, the Liberty was on fire and dozens were wounded and killed, excluding several of the ship's top officers.


This long essay appeared on the Internet site a week ago Friday.  I posted it early in the week, but said I would stick it in Saturday's column as well -- and here it is.  If you haven't read it, it's a must read -- and I thank Len Bridger for bringing it to our attention.  Another link to it is here.


After rushing to Qatar's aid, Turkey may have to rethink its Mideast ties

The only firm opposition to the "Let's Teach Qatar a Lesson" operation currently underway in the Middle East is coming from Turkey. Even U.S. President Donald Trump initially loudly applauded the campaign led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - though he has since taken a more conciliatory tone.


The Turkish government, which had drafted a plan some time ago to send troops to Qatar to firm up a Sunni front against Iran, fast-tracked legislation needed to send troops abroad.


Turkish-Arab relations are passing through erratic times. Everyone was wondering what position Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would take in the Qatari crisis. Erdogan had won the hearts and minds of the Gulf emirs and kings earlier this year by declaring the need to "prevent the Persian nationalist expansion." Many observers thought he would take a pragmatic approach to avoid losing favor with many other countries just to please Qatar. Erdogan's widely publicized but futile telephone diplomacy to solve the crisis was interpreted as a desperate attempt to avoid having to choose between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and its allies. But at the end of the day, Ankara decided to interpret the actions against Qatar as if they had been taken against Turkey.


Erdogan said there are other motives behind what is being done to Qatar, but he wasn't specific.

It didn't take Ankara long to reach the conclusion that, after Qatar, Turkey is the likely next target.

 After all, just like Qatar, Turkey had become a staunch guardian of the Muslim Brotherhood and was in full harmony with Qatar in the proxy war raging in Syria. All the reasons cited by the Saudi king and the U.S. president to declare Qatar a "supporter of terror" could easily be applied to Turkey. Full support of the sanctions against Qatar from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who had toppled the Muslim Brotherhood in his country, no doubt played a key role in Erdogan's lining up with Qatar.


This very interesting and worthwhile story showed up on the Internet site on Thursday -- and it's a must read for any serious student of the New Great Game.  I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us -- and another link to it is here.


Russia's food shipments to Qatar are a soft power masterstroke

The Qatari-Saudi Cold War is a geopolitical scheme cooked up by the U.S. and the UAE, as I explained in my 21st Century Wire article about "The Machiavellian Plot to Provoke Saudi Arabia and Qatar into a "Blood Border" War", but it's not exactly a surprise that it happened. My September 2016 forward-looking analysis about "The GCC: The Tripartite's Big Barter In The 'Eurasian Balkans'" presciently forecast that a second round of Gulf tensions was bound to occur, and that the Great Power Tripartite of Russia, Iran, and Turkey could cooperate with Qatar in helping to break Riyadh's stranglehold on the GCC. Moreover, my Geopolitica.Ru analysis from earlier this week about "Russia's Energy Diplomacy In The Mideast: Boom Or Bust?" accurately predicted that Russia will play a role in mediating tensions between the two feuding GCC countries, which has now officially come to pass with the Qatari Foreign Minister's visit to Moscow this weekend.


There are concrete geostrategic reasons why Russia is making itself available to Qatar as a mediator, and these mostly have to do with positioning Moscow as the supreme balancing force all across the Eurasian supercontinent and probing the potential for a "gas OPEC" between the two and Iran. Apart from the tangible dividends, however, there stand to be more immediate soft power results from Russia's outreach to Qatar. Moscow took the wise move to announce that it's ready to increase food shipments to Doha, which is hugely symbolic considering that Muslims all across the world are fasting to commemorate the Holy Month of Ramadan. For readers who aren't aware of what this entails, Muslims fast all throughout the day and then eat a large multi-dish meal after sunset during iftar. Ramadan is supposed to be a month of Islamic solidarity and celebration, but regrettably, Saudi Arabia decided to launch its asymmetrical aggression against Qatar at this time, and the self-inflicted reputational consequences have already been severe.


This is another very interesting article from the Middle East.  It was posted on Internet site very early Friday morning EDT -- and it's the second offering in a row from Roy Stephens.  Another link to it is here.


Iran enters the Qatar-Saudi conflict as war draws near

Iran has taken the position that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. On top of this, Iranian-Qatari cooperation over gas looms large.


Turkish troops and aid have arrived in Qatar, something that is not entirely surprising given Turkish President Erdogan being on a similar ideological page to radical groups directly funded and supported by Qatar. This includes the Libyan radical Islamist factions in Misrata and also the Muslim Brotherhood which is outlawed in Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia among others. Even Hamas has recently decided to distance itself from the Brotherhood in recent months.

Turkey also has a degree of economic ties to Qatar.


However, Iran's announcement that it is ready to send food and other aid items to Qatar is more surprising in some ways.


Iranian forces have for years been forces Qatari funded jihadists on the battle field in Syria. Traditionally Qatar has been a regional opponent of Iran and its Salafist state ideology is anathema to that of Iran's Islamic Republic.


However, there are two main reasons which at this time serve as the motivating factors for Iran offering assistance to Qatar.


This very worthwhile article, also from Internet site -- and also courtesy of Roy Stephens -- put in an appearance on their website on Thursday sometime.  Another link to it is here.


Iraq's Kurds say "no turning back" on independence vote

Iraq's Kurds said on Friday a referendum on independence will go ahead despite warnings internationally that a vote in favor of secession could trigger conflict with Baghdad at a time when the fight against Islamic State is not yet won.


The Kurds have played a major role in the eight-month-old U.S.-backed campaign to defeat the hardline Sunni insurgents in the Nineveh province around their de-facto capital Mosul.

Baghdad's Shi'ite-led government has rejected any move by the mostly Sunni Muslim Kurds to press unilaterally for independence, insisting that any decision about the future of the country should involve all its other parts.


But Hoshiyar Zebari, a former Iraqi foreign and finance minister and now a senior adviser to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani, said the decision to hold the vote on Sept. 25 was irreversible.


"We crossed the Rubicon with that decision, there is no going back," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.


This Reuters article, filed from Erbil in Iraq, was posted on their Internet site at 9:01 a.m. EDT on Friday morning -- and it's from Zero Hedge via Brad Robertson.  Another link to it is here.  The original headline read "Baghdad rejects Kurds' move to press for independence unilaterally"


Feud over Qatar deepens conflicts across Arab world

The ostracism of Qatar by other powerful Arab states is deepening divisions between their respective allies vying for influence in wars and political struggles from Libya to Yemen.


The feud complicates efforts to stabilize countries reeling from years of turmoil and undermines the notion of a Sunni Muslim Arab world united against terrorism and Iran, proclaimed by U.S. President Donald Trump in his visit last month.


The quarrel is the latest chapter in the battle of wills between political Islamists and traditional Arab autocrats which has buffeted Muslim societies for decades.


Since the 2011 "Arab Spring" protests, which aspired to democratic reform but in several countries collapsed into warfare, Egypt and especially the United Arab Emirates emerged as main foes of an ascendant Muslim Brotherhood backed by Qatar.


After Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE cut ties to Doha on Monday, accusing it of supporting militants and Iran, regional allies followed suit and denounced domestic foes as Qatari stooges, undermining reconciliation efforts by foreign powers.


This is another Reuters story from Zero Hedge via Brad.  This one appeared on their Internet site at 7:26 a.m. on Friday morning EDT -- and another link to it is here.


Vladimir Putin just spoke at the most important geo-political event of the year

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Astana along with the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in a ceremony and conference welcoming India and Pakistan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).


Putin spoke of the need for further co-operation on all matters of mutual interest ranging from trade to anti-terrorism measures. Putin's speech which emphasised the need for unity between Asia and Eurasia and spoke of using the SCO as a means to help and better coordinate China's One Belt-One Road trade project.


The SCO now represents a group of nations that features one-time rivals China and Russia, China and India (who still have some lingering issues) as well as India and Pakistan who are not allies to say the least.


However, just as China and Russia have gone from decades long competitors to deeply important partners, the SCO provides India the opportunity to resolve lingering disputes with China as well as those which exist between India and Pakistan.


In joining the SCO, India and Pakistan now have an opportunity to settle crises that have plagued both Asian powers since their creation as independent states.


This very worthwhile news item was posted on Internet site around 3 a.m. EDT on Friday morning -- and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens, for which I thank him.  Another link to it is here.


The end of the Anglo-American order?

There has always been a shared conceit at the heart of the special relationship between the United States and United Kingdom that global leadership is best expressed and exerted in English.

More boastful than the Brits, successive U.S. presidents have trumpeted the notion of American exceptionalism.


Prime ministers, in a more understated manner, have also come to believe in British exceptionalism, the idea that Westminster is the mother parliament, and that the U.K. has a governing model and liberal values that set the global standard for others to follow, not least its former colonies.


In the post-war Anglo-American order those ideas came together. In many ways, it was the product of Anglo-American exceptionalist thinking: the "city upon a hill" meets "this sceptred isle".


NATO, the IMF, the World Bank and the Five Eyes intelligence community all stemmed from the Atlantic Charter signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in August 1941.


The liberalised free trade system that flourished after the war is often called the Anglo-Saxon model. The post-world global architecture, diplomatic, mercantile and financial, was largely an English-speaking construct.


And it can't come to an end too soon to suit me.  This commentary put in an appearance on the Internet site shortly before midnight BST on their Friday evening -- and I thank Patrik Ekdahl for sending it along in the wee hours of this morning.  Another link to it is here -- and it's definitely worth reading.


"Nothing Else Matters": Central Banks Have Bought a Record $1.5 Trillion in Assets In 2017

One month ago, when observing the record low vol coupled with record high stock prices, we reported a stunning statistic: central banks have bought $1 trillion of financial assets just in the first four months of 2017, which amounts to $3.6 trillion annualized, "the largest CB buying on record" according to Bank of America. Today BofA's Michael Hartnett provides an update on this number: he writes that central bank balance sheets have now grown to a record $15.1 trillion, up from $14.6 trillion in late April, and says that "central banks have bought a record $1.5 trillion in assets YTD."


The latest data means that contrary to previous calculations, central banks are now injecting a record $300 billion in liquidity per month, above the $200 billion which Deutsche Bank recently warned is a "red-line" indicator for risk assets.


This, as we said last month, is why "nothing else matters" in a market addicted to what is now record central bank generosity.


This Zero Hedge article, courtesy of Brad Robertson, appeared on their Internet site at 9:38 a.m. EDT on Friday morning -- an another link to it is here.


How gold can rescue pensions-- Alasdair Macleod

The World Economic Forum, in conjunction with Mercers (the actuaries) recently estimated that the combined pension deficit currently stands at $66.9tr for eight countries, rising to $427.8tr in 2050. The eight countries are Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, Netherlands, U.K. and U.S. Of the 2016 figure, $50.5tr is unfunded government and public employee pension promises.


Yes, we are now talking in hundreds of trillions. Other welfare-providing states missing from the list have deficits that are additional to these estimates.


$66.9tr is roughly 1.5 times the GDP of the eight countries combined, and $427.8tr is nearly ten times. Furthermore, if we take out the non-productive government element, the figures relative to the private sector tax-paying base are closer to twice productive GDP today, and thirteen times greater in 2050. That 2050 deficit assumes a 5% compound annual growth rate. This is a linear projection, but the deterioration in finances for unfunded government pensions may turn out to be exponential, in line with the accelerated increase in the broad money quantity since the great financial crisis.


The problem is mainly in the welfare states, so we know that the welfare states are in big trouble. Governments routinely offer inflation-protected pensions to state employees, funded out of current taxation. The planners in government treasury departments are coming alive to the scale of the problem, though the politicians would rather ignore it. Government finances are already being subverted by both unfunded pension obligations, and by additional rising healthcare costs for aging populations.


This long commentary by Alasdair, which I haven't had the time to read yet, showed up on the Internet site on Thursday -- and I thank Ellen Hoyt for passing it along yesterday.  Another link to it is here.


JP Morgan, Scotiabank...and Silver: Ed Steer

This was my 30-minute presentation that I had to squeeze into 20 minutes or so at the Cambridge House conference two weekends ago.  I'm happy they showed the charts close up, but because of that, you can't see where I'm pointing to on the charts with the laser pointer, so you just have to guess.


This particular iteration from the Internet site showed up on the website on Friday sometime -- and the the first person through the door with it was 'David in California'.  It runs for 23:21 minutes.


Sharps Pixley Sees a 252 pct Increase in Physical Gold Demand -- Ross Norman

The elections leading to a hung parliament in the U.K. have seen a rush into physical gold by investors, as the country slips into a political vacuum. The uncertainty both in the U.K. and indeed geopolitical concerns across the globe have fed into firmer gold prices which have risen 11 pct so far in 2017 in international markets.


Sharps Pixley report they have been inundated with investor interest with a 252 pct increase in gold demand year-on-year (May 2016 vs. May 2017) ; the business has run out of some bullion products and they are again flying in fresh metal from Switzerland and Germany in order to replenish stocks. In the June month-to-date they are on track to break all records.


Speaking of the physical demand, Ross Norman, the CEO of Sharps Pixley commented "Sharps Pixley is the first business on the high street to make physical gold readily accessible and prominent - in our first year of business we have attracted about £40m of client interest ; the current bout of buying however is exceptional and the uncertainty surrounding UK politics has prompted a rush to safe haven assets". He added "a sharp decline in sterling is a big win for British gold buyers and only today the price has risen above the important £1,000 per ounce level."


"Physical gold is not just for the privileged few and the breadth of demand demonstrates that it remains a fantastic way for ALL investors to protect their wealth. Gold in sterling has risen by 470% since 2000, that's over 11 pct a year compounded - that's about three times the average U.K. property over the last 16 years" enthused Norman. "In addition, investments are devoid of VAT and can be capital gains tax free and the difference between the buying and selling price is competitively priced ... why wouldn't you invest ?"


In short, physical gold may be a "minority sport" but it has certainly demonstrated a track record in serving investors well.


I would suspect that the author is somewhat biased, but his point should be well taken.  This commentary appeared on the Sharp Pixley website yesterday -- and another link to it is here.



Here are my last two shots of Wile E. Coyote and, once again, the click to enlarge feature helps on both.







Today's pop 'blast from the past' was an easy choice, as the album turned 50 years young this month.  How can 1967 be that far away?  The album created a sensation when it was released and, unfortunately, I remember the event all too well.  The link to the title track is here.


While my thoughts are in the's today's classical 'blast from the past'.  It's Sir Edward Elgar's "Enigma Variations" Op. 36 which he composed between 1898 and 1899.  Along with his violin concerto, it's this composer's most popular work. Here's the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra doing the honours.  Yuri Temirkanov conducts.  The link is here.  It's wonderful.



Well, JP Morgan et al took more slices out of the gold and silver salamis yesterday -- and that's despite all the turmoil surrounding the results of the U.K. election -- and the Middle East troubles.  As you can see, world events matter little when 'da boyz' are stomping around in the COMEX futures market -- and they can still do as they please regardless of the 'new kid in town' over at the CFTC...although I would think it's way too soon to pass final judgement on him yet.


Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals, plus copper once again.  There's still lots of room to the downside if the powers-that-be wish to push the issue.  I'm somewhat surprised that they haven't been more forceful than this, particularly in gold.  However, there may be limits to what even they can do when there's this much turmoil going on in the world.  The 'click to enlarge' feature helps a bit with the first four charts.






Along with the U.K...Brexit...and the Qatar thingy, the sudden turn of fortune for the FANG stocks yesterday does not bode well for the future of the U.S. equity markets in particular -- and world markets in general.  There are an ever-increasing number of pundits out there, of which David Stockman is the poster child, that have been screaming their lungs out about "getting out while you still can".  I suspect that this will turn out to be sage advice in the days and weeks ahead.


When the equity markets finally do turn to the downside with a vengeance, no amount of money printing by the Plunge Protection Team will turn the sentiment around.  If you haven't read Jim Rickards last book "The Road to Ruin: The Global Elites' Secret Plan For the Next Financial Crisis" would be a good time to make amends.


But this Middle East thingy with Qatar has the potential to turn into armed conflict in a heartbeat -- and I'm of the opinion that Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel had something to do with that.  Although Qatar is the current focus, the main prize here is Iran.  And now that Turkey has thrown its hat into the ring, the chances that this could turn into a Middle East conflagration is getting much closer to reality.


I would think that at some point the precious metal prices would be allowed to reflect all this political and economic instability.  On top of that, the supply/demand issue is also becoming a factor.  As myself, plus lots of others have pointed out -- and if the numbers can be believed -- the amount of gold disappearing into China, India, Russia and Turkey already exceeds yearly mine supply...and that certainly doesn't include physical demand from the rest of the world, which is a reasonable chunk of bullion.


Then there's JP Morgan's silver stockpile.  What's that all about -- and how will it be used?  Ted Butler certainly thinks that Jamie Dimon is in it to make a big score -- and I certainly don't discount that outcome.


But if that is, in fact, the case...then it's more than reasonable to assume that this big score will involve a 3-digit silver price of some magnitude.  And the only way its going to get there is if JPM stand back as short buyer and long seller of last resort on the next, or some future rally.


Some comfort should be had by the fact that this decision is already baked in the cake -- and despite the current price machinations in the COMEX futures market -- that is how it will turn out in the end.


And as I and other have said before, let's just hope the world is a fit place to live in when that day becomes a reality.


I'm done for the day -- and the week -- and I'll see you here on Tuesday.







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