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Another Superb COT Report For Silver

 -- Published: Sunday, 8 April 2018 | Print  | Disqus 

By Ed Steer

07 April 2018 -- Saturday



The gold price was up about seven bucks or so by around 9:20 a.m. China Standard Time on their Friday morning, but at that moment, the dollar index was turned higher -- and gold turned lower.  By shortly before 9 a.m. BST in London, the price was down a bit over four dollars.  It didn't do a lot until about ten minutes before the COMEX open -- and it began to head higher.  Gold then blasted higher the moment that the job numbers hit the tape, but was hauled down immediately.  Twenty minutes later it was heading higher once again -- and that rally was capped right at the 9:30 a.m. EDT open of the equity markets.  The gold price chopped quietly sideways for the remainder of the Friday session.


The low and high ticks aren't worth looking up.


Gold was closed in New York on Friday at $1,333.40 spot, up $7.20 from Thursday -- and back above its 50-day moving average.  Net volume was sky high at a hair under 354,000 contracts -- and there was only about 7,900 contracts worth of roll-over/switch volume on top of that.


Up until 9:30 a.m. in New York on Friday morning, the price path for silver was a virtual carbon copy of what happened in gold.  But at, or minutes before the London p.m. gold fix, the silver price was sold lower until around 11:20 a.m. EDT -- and from there it chopped quietly sideways into the close.


The low and high ticks in this precious metal were reported by the CME Group as $16.24 and $16.475 in the May contract.


Silver was closed on Friday at $16.355 spot, down a penny on the day.  Net volume was exactly 71,000 contracts, plus there was another 12,000 contracts worth of roll-over/switch volume on top of that.



The platinum price was sold down to its low tick of the day by shortly after 1 p.m. CST on their Friday afternoon -- and was bounced off that low multiple times before it began to chop irregularly higher, including the price do-si-do/dos-à-dos around the job numbers in New York.  Like for silver, it got sold lower starting just before the afternoon gold fix in London -- and had its low at the same 11:20 a.m. time.  It rallied quietly higher into the close from there.  Platinum finished the Friday session at $916 spot -- and up 6 dollars on the day.



Palladium was up 4 dollars by around 10 a.m. CST, but was down the same amount by around 2:30 p.m. CST on their Friday afternoon.  It rallied quietly to its high tick of the day, which came on the jobs number at 8:30 a.m. in New York.  'Da boyz' drove the price down to its low tick of the day -- and a new intraday low for this move down, by around 11:20 a.m. EDT...the same as platinum and silver.  It's rally back to the unchanged mark by 12:30 p.m. EDT was hauled lower by 1 p.m. -- and it managed to add a few more dollars in the thinly-traded after-hours market.  Palladium was closed lower by 2 bucks -- and back at $900 spot.



The dollar index closed very late on Thursday afternoon in New York at 90.45 -- and began to chop unsteadily lower until around 9:15 a.m. China Standard Time on their Friday morning.  The 'rally' that followed topped out at the 90.60 mark about 8:25 a.m. in London -- and it faded a bit into the 8:30 a.m. jobs report in New York.  After a down/up move of some size, the index began to head lower with a vengeance starting around 8:50 a.m. EDT.  Most of the losses that mattered were in by 9:30 it certainly looked like the usual 'gentle hands' appeared at that juncture.  From that point, the index chopped generally lower for the remainder of the Friday session -- and it closed at 90.14...down 31 basis points from Thursday.



Here's the 5-year U.S. dollar index -- and 80.00 looks like 'jacks for openers' the engineered devaluation of the U.S dollar index that began on January 2, 2017 continues.



The gold stocks gapped up a bit at the open -- and then carried on to their highs of the day, which came shortly before 11 a.m. in New York trading.  They were back at almost unchanged an hour later, but chopped quietly higher for the rest of the Friday session.  The HUI closed up 0.72 percent.



The silver equities did not join in the fun.  Although they opened up a bit, there began to head lower almost immediately, with their respective low ticks coming about 11:25 a.m. EDT.  They rallied quietly into the 1:30 p.m. COMEX close -- and then were equally as quietly sold lower until trading ended at 4:00 p.m. in New York.  Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index closed down 0.75 percent.  Click to enlarge if necessary.



And here's the 1-year Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index chart from Nick.  Click to enlarge as well.



Here are the usual charts from Nick that show what's been happening for the week, month-to-date -- 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.


Here's the weekly chart, which is also the month-to-date chart as well, since only one week is gone in the month so far -- and there's not a lot to see, as there weren't big changes during the reporting week.  Click to enlarge.



However, the year-to-date graph is somewhat uglier -- and the gold shares continue to underperform badly.  But it's obvious that the silver equities are still under quiet accumulation.  Click to enlarge as well.



As I said last week -- and the week before, we're getting close to the end of this engineered price decline, particularly in silver, with the only negative factor still being gold's 200-day moving average, which may no longer be a worry at the moment.  But it's unwise to underestimate the treachery of the powers-that-be.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that 2 gold and 120 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Tuesday.  In gold, International F.C. Stone issued -- and JPMorgan stopped both contracts for its own in-house/proprietary trading account.  In silver, it was International F.C. Stone once again as the sole short/issuer out of its client account.  Of the four long/stoppers in total, the largest three were JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and ADM with 83, 18 and 14 contracts for their respective client 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 April fell by 136 contracts, leaving 1,499 still around, minus the 2 mentioned in the previous paragraph.  Thursday's Daily Delivery Report showed that 60 gold contracts were actually posted for delivery on Monday, so that means that 136-60=76 more gold contracts disappeared from the April delivery month by mutual consent between the long/stoppers and short/issuers involved...most likely because the shorts didn't have physical metal backing their positions -- and the longs let them off the delivery hook, rather than force them to buy gold in the spot market, driving the price higher in the process.  Silver o.i. in April rose by 1 contract, leaving 337 still open, minus the 120 contracts mentioned in the previous paragraph.  Thursday's Daily Delivery Report showed that zero silver contracts were posted for delivery on Monday.


Ted's comments in his weekly review last Saturday about the April delivery month in gold being "sticky"...still applies -- and I'll be more than interested in what he has to say on this issue in his weekly review this afternoon.

There was another deposit in GLD yesterday...this one of some an authorized participant added 189,628 troy ounces.  One would expect that his was used to cover an existing short position, but that won't be known with any degree of certainty until the report from the folks at the Internet site post the changes in the short report for GLD on April 24.  The next short report is on Tuesday, but the cut-off for that one was at the end of March.  There were no reported changes in SLV.


And no sales report from the U.S. Mint, either. week...they've sold 210,000 silver eagles -- and that is all.


There was no in/out movement in gold over at the COMEX-approved depositories on the U.S. east coast on Thursday.


There was some action in silver, as 669,516 troy ounces were reported received -- and another 633,255 troy ounces were shipped out the door for parts unknown.  Of the amount received, one truck load...605,295 troy ounces...was dropped off at JPMorgan.  This brings their COMEX silver stash up to the 141.53 million troy ounces mark.  The other 64,221 troy ounces received, found a home over at Canada's Scotiabank.  The entire 'out' amount departed Canada's Scotiabank as well.  A link to this activity is here.


And, must to my surprise, there was no in/out activity over at the COMEX-approved gold kilobar depositories in Hong Kong on their Thursday.  That's a rare day of no activity for them.

With the Dow down a bit over 750 points at 3:05 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon, it certainly appeared that the powers-that-be were there to catch the proverbial falling knife, as they carved 180 basis points off that loss during the last fifty-five minutes of trading.  If they hadn't, a 1,000+ point loss would have been pretty much a slam dunk...then look out below on Monday!

The Commitment of Traders Report, for positions held at the close of COMEX trading on Tuesday, showed very decent declines in the commercial net short positions in both silver and gold...but particularly in gold.

In silver, the Commercial net short position declined by 4,715 contracts, or 23.6 million troy ounces of paper silver.


They arrived at that number by adding 4,329 long contracts, plus they reduced their short position by 386 contracts -- and the sum of those two numbers is the change for the reporting week.


Ted said that the Big 4 traders, read JPMorgan, reduced their short position by around 2,000 contracts -- and his raptors, the 38-odd small Commercial traders other than the Big 8, added 4,900 long contracts.  The '5 through 8' large traders actually increased their short position during the report week by about 2,200 contracts -- and that's entirely due to the fact that there is at least one, if not two, Managed Money traders in that category now.


Under the hood in the Disaggregated COT Report, it was all Managed Money traders -- and much more.  They increased their long position by 1,506 contracts, plus they added a whopping 7,580 contracts to their short position, which is now at another new record high.  The difference between those two numbers...6,074 contracts...was their change for the reporting week.  And the difference between that number -- and the commercial net short position...6,074 minus 4,715 equals 1,359 contracts...was all snapped up by the traders in the 'Other Reportables' category.  Plus these 'Other Reportables' also gorged on what the 'Nonreportable'/small traders were selling during the reporting week, as they dumped a net 1,400 long contracts.


The Commercial net short position is back down to 2,637 contracts, or 13.2 million troy ounces -- and it's a lead-pipe cinch that if we could see the COT Report for silver as of the close of trading on Friday, it would show that there would be a Commercial net long position in silver for the first time in history.


With the new Bank Participation Report in hand, Ted estimates JPMorgan's short position in silver at 19,000 contracts -- and it's a safe bet that it's far lower than that since the Tuesday cut-off.


Here's the 3-year COT Report for silver -- and it's still "white-hot bullish" -- and even more extreme than that since Tuesday.  Click to enlarge.


I look forward to what Ted has to say about all this, as I know that he's still scratching his head over why the Managed Money traders have put themselves this far into the danger zone on the short side -- and how the Commercial net short position [particularly JPMorgan's] got to be this low without triggering a major engineered decline in the silver price.

In gold, the commercial net short position fell by 37,459 contracts, or 3.75 million troy ounces of paper gold.


They arrived at this number by increasing their long position by 5,165 contracts, plus they reduced their short position by a very chunky 32,330 contracts -- and it's the sum of those two numbers that represents the change for the reporting week.


Ted said that the Big 4 traders reduced their short position by approximately 12,200 contracts during the reporting week -- and his raptors, the 39-odd small commercial traders other than the Big 8, increased their long position by an eye-watering 31,900 contracts, or thereabouts.  The big '5 through 8' traders actually increased their short position during the reporting week -- and it's a given that his came about because there's now at least one Managed Money trader with a large enough short position to be included in this category.


Under the hood in the Disaggregated COT Report, it was mostly, but not all Managed Money trading that accounted for the change in the commercial net short position.  During the reporting week just past, they reduced their long position by 27,490 contracts, plus they increased their short position by 8,031 contracts -- and it's the sum of those two numbers...35,521 contracts...that represents their change for the reporting week.  And as is always the case, it was the traders in the 'Other Reportables' and 'Nonreportable'/small trader category that made up the difference.


The commercial net short position in gold is down to 18.89 million troy ounces -- and it would be a stretch to call this market neutral, as it's rather bearish.


Here's the 3-year COT chart for gold -- and even though there was improvement, it wasn't by what I would call an appreciable amount.  Click to enlarge.



But whether there's been any improvement in gold since the Tuesday cut-off is very much open to debate.  We'll have to see what happens during the two days left in the current reporting week before we'll have a clue -- and there's still that 200-day moving average situation that remains unresolved.


But all eyes should be on silver and its historically bullish set-up.  And to get a deeper understanding of how extreme it is, you have to spend a little time in the Days to Cover and Bank Participation Reports posted directly below.

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 113 days of world silver production-and the '5 through 8' large traders are short an additional 48 days of world silver production-for a total of 161 days, which is a bit over five months of world silver production, or about 391.2 million troy ounces of paper silver held short by the Big 8.  [In the COT Report last week, the Big 8 were short the same amount...161 days of world silver production, but the internal changes between the Big 4 and Big '5 through 8' traders is a lot different.]


In the COT Report above, the Commercial net short position in silver was reported as 13.2 million troy ounces.  As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the short position of the Big 8 traders is 391.2 million troy ounces.  The short position of the Big 8 traders is larger than the total Commercial net short position by a chunky 391.2 minus 13.2 = 378.0 million troy ounces.  The reason for the difference in those numbers is that Ted's raptors, the 38-odd small commercial traders other than the Big 8, are long that amount, which is beyond ridiculous.


As I also stated in the above COT Report analysis, Ted pegs JPMorgan's short position at about 19,000 contracts, which is down 2,000 contracts from the prior reporting week, or around 95 million troy ounces.  95 million ounces works out to around 39 days of world silver production that JPMorgan is short.  That's compared to the 161 days that the Big 8 are short in total.  JPM holds about 24 percent of the entire short position held by the Big 8 traders.


It's highly likely that JPMorgan's short position is actually less than this, especially since the Tuesday cut-off.  But that won't be known with any degree of accuracy until the big Managed Money trader that currently inhabits the Big 4 category, is long gone -- and that won't happen until we've had a decent rally in the silver price.


As I said last week -- and the week before, with Scotiabank now publicly admitting that they couldn't find a sucker to buy ScotiaMocatta, I would suspect that they will continue to exit their short positions in both gold and silver as quickly as they can -- and if they can.  It certainly doesn't appear on the surface that they've been doing much in that regard lately, except maybe pick away at it quietly.  However, there are big changes in silver in the non-U.S. bank category in this month's Bank Participation Report -- and you can read all about it further down, as I have a lot to say about it.  Any major move by Scotiabank to cover, would show up in the price immediately -- and Jamie Dimon would not be amused.


JPMorgan has been forced by circumstance to pick up Scotiabank's trading/price management duties in silver and gold.  So JPMorgan is by far the No. 1 silver short on Planet Earth [but the big Managed Money trader is now close behind in #2 spot] -- and will obviously remain in that position until JPM brings this price management scheme to an end.  That end appears to be in sight.  Of course they have 700 million troy ounces of physical silver stashed away to cover that, so they are in no danger.  That can't be said of the remaining Big 7, unless JPMorgan plans to bail out some, or all of them.  But Ted doesn't think that Jamie is that altruistic -- and he's probably right about that.


With JPMorgan short about 39 days of world silver production, that leaves the other three traders in the Big 4 category short 113-39=74 days of world silver production divided up between them...a bit under 25 days of world silver production each.  That's exactly unchanged from last week's COT Report [And not to be forgotten, is that one of those traders is the big Managed Money short that's still 'just visiting' in this category.]  And it's a given that those 74 days aren't divided up equally between the remaining Big 3.


The four traders in the '5 through 8' category are short 48 days of world silver production in total, which is 12 days of world silver production each, which is up one full day from what each was short in last week's COT Report.  As I stated earlier in my discussion on the COT Report, at least one -- and maybe two -- Managed Money traders now have a big enough short position to have invaded the spot[s] normally held by the Commercial traders in this category -- and they actually increased their short positions during the reporting week just past...2,200 contracts worth...11 million troy ounces...4.5 days...divide by 4 equals 1.1 day each.


I would suspect, based on the numbers tossed about in the last two paragraphs that Scotiabank is still a member of the Big 4 Commercial shorts, but way down in third or fourth spot at the moment.


The Big 8 commercial traders are short 33.6 percent of the entire open interest in silver in the COMEX futures market, which is down from the 35.6 percent that they were short in last week's COT Report.  Once whatever market-neutral spread trades are subtracted out, that percentage would be something over 35 percent.  In gold, it's now 50.1 percent of the total COMEX open interest that the Big 8 are short, up from the 47.7 percent they were short in last week's report -- and a bit under 55 percent once the market-neutral spread trades are subtracted out.


In gold, the Big 4 are short 67 days of world gold production, which is down 4 days from what they were short last week -- and the '5 through 8' are short another 21 days of world production, which is up 4 days from what they were short the prior week, for a total of 88 days of world gold production held short by the Big 8 -- which is down 2 days from the 90 days they were short in last week's report.  Based on these numbers, the Big 4 in gold hold about 76 percent of the total short position held by the Big 8...which down 3 percentage points from last week's COT Report.


The "concentrated short position within a concentrated short position" in silver, platinum and palladium held by the Big 4 commercial traders are 70, 69 and 80 percent respectively of the short positions held by the Big 8.  Silver is down 3 percentage points from the previous week's COT Report, platinum is also down 3 percentage points from last week's COT Report -- and palladium is up 1 percentage point -- and back at its all-time high.  A quick check of the four precious metals in the above chart will confirm these preposterous concentrations.

The April 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, 4 U.S. banks were net short 95,163 COMEX contracts in the April BPR, which is a hair over 50 percent of this week's commercial net short position shown in the above COT Report.  In March's Bank Participation Report [BPR], 5 U.S. banks were short 99,862 contracts, so they've decreased their collective short positions by around 4,700 contracts, which is barely a rounding error.  The four U.S. banks would certainly include JPMorgan, HSBC USA, Citigroup -- and Goldman.


Also in gold, 30 non-U.S. banks are net short 69,631 COMEX gold contracts, which isn't much per bank.  In the March BPR, 29 non-U.S. banks were net short 69,826 COMEX contracts, so the month-over-month change is immaterial.  I suspect that there's at least one large non-U.S. bank in this group that might hold a third of this short position all by itself -- and the remaining contracts, divided up between the remaining 29 non-U.S. banks, would be immaterial.  I would suspect that Scotiabank is the guilty party.


As of this Bank Participation Report, 34 banks [both U.S. and foreign] are net short 33.4 percent of the entire open interest in gold in the COMEX futures market, which is exactly unchanged from the 33.4 percent they were short in the March 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 short position was outed by the CFTC in October of 2012.  Click to enlarge.



In silver, 5 U.S. banks are net short 22,001 COMEX silver contracts in April's BPR - and Ted figures that JPMorgan is the proud owner of 19,000 contracts of that amount.  This means that some of the remaining 4 U.S. banks have to be net long the silver market by quite a bit, in order to make these number work out, as they are long to the tune of 5,450 COMEX silver contracts -- and that's a big 2,200 contract jump in the long position of these 5 U.S banks since the March BPR a month ago.  Ted suspects that this increase in long position reeks of Goldman Sachs.  In March's BPR, the net short position of these U.S. banks was 30,326 contracts, a whopping decrease of about 8,325 contract since the last BPR report in March.


Also in silver, 21 non-U.S. banks are net short 13,598 COMEX contracts...which is down a chunky 3,719 contracts from the 17,317 contracts that these same non-U.S. banks were short in the March BPR.  I would suspect that Canada's Scotiabank still holds a goodly chunk of this amount, but down a substantial amount from a year or so ago -- and over the last month as well.  That most likely means that a number of the remaining 20 non-U.S. banks are actually net long the COMEX futures market in silver.  But even if they aren't, the remaining short positions divided up between these other 20 non-U.S. banks are immaterial - and have always been so.


As of April's Bank Participation Report, 26 banks [both U.S. and foreign] are net short 15.3 percent of the entire open interest in the COMEX futures market in silver-which is down huge from the 24.2 percent that they were net short in the March BPR - with much, much more than the lion's share of that held by JPMorgan and Scotiabank.  Make no mistake about it dear reader...'da boyz' are heading for the exits.


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, 4 U.S. banks are net short 11,844 COMEX contracts in the April Bank Participation Report.  In the March BPR, 4 U.S. banks were net short 17,655 COMEX platinum contracts, so there's been a pretty decent size decrease [32.9 percent] in the short position of the U.S. banks in question during the last reporting month.


I suspect that, like in silver and palladium, JPMorgan holds virtually all of the platinum short position by itself.


Also in platinum, 17 non-U.S. banks are net short 5,534 COMEX contracts, which is down about 1,600 contracts from the 7,101 contracts they were net short in the March BPR.


As you can tell from the number of banks and number of contracts involved in the U.S. vs. non-U.S. categories...this price management scheme in platinum is an entirely "Made in America" show as well.


And as of April's Bank Participation Report, 21 banks [both U.S. and foreign] were net short 22.9 percent of the entire open interest in platinum in the COMEX futures market, which is down quite a bit from the 30.7 percent they were collectively net short in the March BPR.  Click to enlarge.



In palladium, 4 U.S. banks were net short 7,818 COMEX contracts in the April BPR, which is down a very decent amount from the 9,767 contracts they held net short in the March BPR.  And to show you how lopsided the short position is in palladium, these four U.S. banks hold a total long position of only 148 contracts.


Also in palladium, 15 non-U.S. banks are net short 2,207 COMEX contracts-which is down a bit from the 2,613 COMEX contracts that 14 non-U.S. banks were short in the March BPR.  When you divide up the short positions of these non-U.S. banks more or less equally, they're immaterial...especially when you compare them to the positions held by the 4 U.S. banks.


But, having said all that, as of this Bank Participation Report, 19 banks are net short 42.6 percent of the entire COMEX open interest in palladium...which is a monstrous and outrageous amount...and far more than the short positions held by the Big 8 traders in silver.  In March's BPR, the world's banks were net short 48.3 percent of total open interest, which is even more grotesque.


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, JPMorgan 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 four U.S. banks-JPMorgan, HSBC USA, Goldman and maybe Citigroup, along with Canada's Scotiabank...and they're getting out of Dodge...that are the tallest hogs at the precious metal price management trough.  But it's only really JPMorgan that counts for anything.


JPMorgan is the largest silver short holders on Planet Earth in the COMEX futures market, but is certainly reduced from a month ago -- and even less since Tuesday's cut-off in 'all of the above' reports.


And one thing I didn't point out regarding silver in the above BPR that I know Ted will comment on in his weekly review this afternoon, is that how the heck did those 36 banks involved in the COMEX futures market in silver, reduce their short position by around 12,000 contract during the past reporting month, without driving the silver price into the dirt while they were doing it?  They managed it somehow -- and Ted has his suspicions.


I don't have all that many stories for you today, a few of which I've been saving for my Saturday column for length and/or content reasons.  But as promised in my Friday column, I do have a repeat of the Cohen/Batchelor interview for you, if you didn't have time for it yesterday.


March Payroll Miss Huge: Only 103K Jobs Added; Hourly Earnings Rise

Going into today's payroll number, the whisper number was for a substantial miss because as Deutsche Bank noted this morning, "consensus estimate has overestimated the initial March nonfarm payrolls print in four of the last five years by an average of 62k." Well, that almost exactly how much the consensus estimate of 185K was missed by, because in March, the BLS reported that only 103K jobs were added, a 3 sigma miss to consensus, and roughly 66% drop from February's upward revised 320K.


As shown in the chart below, this was the weakest payrolls month since exactly one year ago: March 2017.  The print, as noted, was a 3-sigma miss to consensus.


This time the seasonal adjustment was not a factor.


There was a reason for the miss however: as Goldman warned yesterday, inclement weather kept many away from their jobs; in fact, according to the BLS 159K Americans were unable to work due to weather.


It's always "the weather" it seems.  This multi-chart Zero Hedge article was posted on their Internet site at 8:37 a.m. on Friday morning EDT -- and I thank Brad Robertson for sending it our way.  Another link to it is here.

The Best Bet for U.S. Stocks -- Bill Bonner

Logically, if falling interest rates sent stocks up... interest rate increases should send them back down. And already, they have. The NASDAQ is negative for 2018. The Dow has moved about 8% below its peak.


And if we're right about the general direction of things, theory tells us that interest rates ought to continue going up... and stocks ought to continue going down.


Not that we have any way of knowing that that is what will happen. But that's probably the best bet.


Then, when higher rates set off a real crash on Wall Street, in another panic, the feds can get back to work... ruining the economy even more.


This commentary by Bill was posted on the Internet site on Friday morning EDT sometime -- and another link to it is here.

Fed's Q.E. Unwind Proceeds Despite Stock Market Sell-Offs -- Wolf Richter

Didn't miss a beat.


The sixth month of the QE-Unwind ended on March 31, which is reflected in the Fed's balance sheet, released this afternoon, for the week ending April 4. The QE-Unwind appears to be on automatic pilot, clicking along at the pace that accelerated in January, despite the sporadic stock market sell-offs since early February.


During the years of QE, the Fed acquired a total of $3.4 trillion in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities. The MBS are backed by mortgages that are guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. Now the Fed is shedding those securities at a rate that accelerates every quarter until it reaches its maximum pace of up to $50 billion a month in Q4 2018.


By the end of the year, this plan would shrink the balances of Treasuries and MBS by up to $420 billion. In 2019, and going forward, up to $600 billion would come off the balance sheet per year, until the Fed deems the balance sheet to be sufficiently "normalized" - or until something big falls apart, whichever comes first.


This somewhat involved, but very worthwhile commentary was posted on the Internet site on Thursday -- and it comes to us courtesy of Richard Saler.  Another link to it is here.

"When the Next Crisis Begins..." JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon -- Wolf Richter

Interest rates "may go higher and faster than people expect," the Fed may have to "sell more securities," and "as all asset prices adjust to a new and maybe not-so-positive environment," there's "a risk that volatile and declining markets can lead to market panic."


JPMorgan Chase CEO James Dimon, in his annual letter to shareholders, discusses a wide-ranging spectrum of issues way beyond the performance of the bank. Practically buried in the very long letter is a warning about the stock and bond markets, the difficulties they may face as inflation may be rising faster than people now expect, and as the Fed may raise rates faster than people now expect, while at the same time unwinding QE, which has never been done before on this scale, and whose consequences remain unknown.


So this is the trimmed down version of that segment of his letter.


Volatility and rapidly moving markets "should surprise no one," he said. Volatility only shows up as concern when it's in a downward direction. And it doesn't take much to trigger it - such as "changing expectations, whether around inflation, growth or recession," he said. "Extreme volatility can be created by slightly changing factors."


This very worthwhile commentary was also posted on the Internet site on Thursday.  It was linked in the previous article, but I'm posting it on its own, as I wanted to make sure you didn't miss it.  It comes to us courtesy of Richard Saler as well.  Another link to it is here.

Doug Noland -- Market Realities

In reality, the China issue goes far beyond trade. The Chinese have been working diligently for years now to attain superpower status - to supplant U.S. global hegemony and achieve their rightful destiny. With the extravagant assistance of U.S. trade and loose finance more generally, China has enjoyed essentially limitless resources to invest in world class manufacturing capabilities, global trade dominance, technological prowess and a formidable military complex. Is the U.S. to simply cede global power and influence to Beijing without even mustering a stab at countermeasures? The President and others believe strongly that something must be done after years of Washington neglect.


It's no coincidence that the past decade has seen the parallel ascent of the strongman central banker (i.e. Bernanke, Draghi, Kuroda...) and the strongman autocrat (i.e. Putin, Xi, Trump, Erdogan, Sisi, Duterte - to name just a few). Putin and Xi, in particular, have gone to extraordinary measures to secure domestic power and global influence. Xi has taken firm control of Beijing, while Beijing has placed even tighter reins on domestic "markets," finance and the overall Chinese economy.


China and Russia have solidified close economic and military bonds. They have also worked intensively to develop strategic trade, financial and economic institutions and relationships outside the purview of U.S. dominance. The U.S. has spent the past decade printing "money," inflating asset prices, stoking consumption and reveling in quite a financial mania. Others - our principal competitors - have been in intense preparation. For what is not at this point clear.


I'll assume China would today prefer the status quo. They're in no hurry for a confrontation - economic or otherwise. It would suit their objectives to pursue the steady, disciplined execution of their long-term strategy. They'll be willing to make limited concessions - but there will be no backing down. Zero sign of weakness; no inclination to give in to Trump. Willing to fight "at any cost." The strongman Xi, having recently accomplished an incredible power grab domestically, will not shy away from the opportunity to demonstrate his power on the global stage. And he'll enjoy overwhelming domestic support when confronting the U.S. "bully."


Ted's weekly Credit Bubble Bulletin always fall into the must read category for me -- and this week's edition is no exception.  It appeared on his website in the wee hours of Saturday morning EDT -- and another link to it is here.

Not Your Grandfather's Trade War: The Revenge Of Bad Money, Part 1 -- David Stockman

With his China Trade Wars tweet this AM, the Donald has proved once again that he has an uncanny ability to get to the heart of matters....even if by sheer accident!


Yet he's right.The trade war was "lost many years ago" and it's the reason Flyover America has rallied to his bluster and bombast on imports and the nefarious practices of 'furin guberments'...


"We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S. Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!"


But, alas, the "foolish or incompetent people" skewered in the Donald's 7:22 AM tweet are not some defunct Commerce Department or USTR officials from bygone times.


Nope, it's not pointy-head trade bureaucrats at all. The actual culprits are the "low interest" men and women resident in the Eccles Building, who over the past three decades have transformed the Fed into a Bubble Finance machine and the main street economy into a hollowed out tower of debt.


This long commentary showed up on David's website on Wednesday -- and I thank U.K. reader Tariq Khan for sharing it with us -- and another link to it is here.

Coming Attraction: Lunatic Loose in West Wing -- Ray McGovern

As Über-Hawk John Bolton prepares to take over as national security adviser on Monday, Ray McGovern looks back at when Bolton was one of the "crazies" in the George W. Bush administration.


John Bolton's March 22 appointment-by-tweet as President Donald Trump's national security adviser has given "March Madness" a new and ominous meaning.  There is less than a week left to batten down the hatches before Bolton makes U.S. foreign policy worse that it already is.


During a recent interview with The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill  (minutes 35 to 51) I mentioned that Bolton fits seamlessly into a group of take-no-prisoners zealots once widely known in Washington circles as "the crazies," and now more commonly referred to as "neocons."


Beginning in the 1970s, "the crazies" sobriquet was applied to Cold Warriors hell bent on bashing Russians, Chinese, Arabs - anyone who challenged U.S. "exceptionalism" (read hegemony).  More to the point, I told Scahill that President (and former CIA Director) George H. W. Bush was among those using the term freely, since it seemed so apt.  I have been challenged to prove it.


I don't make stuff up.  And with the appointment of the certifiable Bolton, the "the crazies" have become far more than an historical footnote.  Rather, the crucible that Bush-41 and other reasonably moderate policymakers endured at their hands give the experience major relevance today.  Thus, I am persuaded it would be best not to ask people simply to take my word for it when I refer to "the crazies," their significance, and the differing attitudes the two Bushes had toward them.


This longish, but very worthwhile commentary by Ray put in an appearance on the Internet site sometime on Thursday morning EDT -- and it comes to us from Brad Robertson via Zero Hedge.  For length and content reasons, it had to wait for my Saturday column.  Another link to it is here.

U.S. Hegemony & Neo-Con Authoritarianism -- Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

This interview is sure to be controversial. Right from the beginning, Roberts states that "the worst thing that happened to America was the collapse of the Soviet Union, because it removed the only constraint on American unilateralism."


This 13:22 minute video interview was embedded in a news item at the Internet site on April 2 -- and I thank Judy Sturgis for pointing it.  It's certainly worth your while, as he's right on the money as usual.

Doug Casey on Anarchy and Voluntaryism

You're likely aware that I'm a libertarian. But I'm actually more than a libertarian. I don't believe in the right of the State to exist. The reason is that anything that has a monopoly of force is extremely dangerous. As Mao Tse-tung, lately one of the world's leading experts on government, said: "The power of the state comes out of a barrel of a gun."


There are two possible ways for people to relate to each other, either voluntarily or coercively. And the State is pure institutionalized coercion. It's not just unnecessary, but antithetical, for a civilized society. And that's increasingly true as technology advances. It was never moral, but at least it was possible, in oxcart days, for bureaucrats to order things around. Today it's ridiculous.


Everything that needs doing can and will be done by the market, by entrepreneurs who fill the needs of other people for a profit. The State is a dead hand that imposes itself on society. That belief makes me, of course, an anarchist.


People have a misconception about anarchists. That they're these violent people, running around in black capes with little round bombs. This is nonsense. Of course there are violent anarchists. There are violent dentists. There are violent Christians. Violence, however, has nothing to do with anarchism. Anarchism is simply a belief that a ruler isn't necessary, that society organizes itself, that individuals own themselves, and the State is actually counterproductive.


It's always been a battle between the individual and the collective. I'm on the side of the individual.


This is mostly a rehash of what Doug has said many times in the past -- and it's certainly worth a re-read at times likes this.  It appeared on the Internet site on Friday sometime -- and another link to it is here.  I thank Brad Robertson for sending it our way.

Tales of the New Cold War: Russophobia all again -- John Batchelor interviews Stephen F. Cohen

Part 1:  The New Cold War is deepening this day with the Baltic States, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia asking Washington for more troops, and Putin, and the leaders of Iran and Turkey are meeting in Ankara to discuss this latest crisis over the Skripal event. Similarly, Putin is planning a visit to Washington to also discuss current events - and has also requested this day, Tuesday, that the Skripal case be discussed formerly with the Global Chemical Weapons Watchdog to avoid additional hysteria by the British authorities and allies. This was the information in Batchelor's introduction and the high feelings of governments have not subsided. The professors then adds the comment that there is "something wrong with the nerve gas scenario" in that the agent did not act on the victims as lethally as the nerve agent allegedly identified, should have. Cohen does not yet go as far as to suggest this was a false flag. But he goes on to mention that the last Cold War was more about anti-communism than Russophobic - and was something he should have mentioned earlier in these podcasts but did not. This New Cold, however, is more about Russophobia, and during the second half of the podcast Cohen defines Russophobia using historical events for examples. In summary the West's Russophobia is a vilification and defamation of the Russian people, not just Putin.


Part2: Cohen continues with his examples from American MSM and leaves John Batchelor flabbergasted by the ignorance and the mindlessness of these Russophobic statements. Cohen concludes that there has been a shift away from the demonization of  Putin, to the demonization of Russia. He goes on to recommend several books by Americans that have actually traced the history of Russophobia back over a century. In the remaining portion of the podcast Batchelor muses on the causes of Russophobia. Cohen agrees with those causes, that, for example, once careers become subjugated to a propaganda narrative like Russiagate resistance is curtailed. Regardless of this poisonous environment Trump wants to perpetrate a "criminal act" by meeting with Putin to discuss the new arm's race. And Cohen reminds us that Russiagate links Trump with this whole sordid scene and there will be political fireworks ahead for this diplomatic effort. He also lists certain ethnic groups, Poles, Latvians, people who had suffered in the Warsaw Pack days that are now exploiting Russophobia tactics to receive military aid from Washington. But, as Cohen points out, there is no voice against extremism in Washington, no lobby group pursuing common sense solutions to end this.


* * * * *

It is not in question that while the emphasis of Russophobic rhetoric involves all of Russia now, not just Putin, the style of the hostility has not; there are still no facts here just hateful and shameless ethnocentric rants by American media and politicians against a whole people and its culture. Russian responses from Putin or its Foreign Ministry are always reasonable and respectful of conventions and International Laws when Washington and its allies over step with their attacks, and it is unclear how much Russian news of new weaponry has fanned the animosity. We should be reminded that hate is a component of fear, and an Empire has to be superior to all its competitors and that rubbing Washington's face in its military inferiority may also make the animosity more extreme.  It is also interesting that the hostile propaganda campaign against Russia can backfire against governments. We are seeing an increasingly level of public scorn over many of these tirades, like the Skripal event, as citizens begin to see that Washington or their own central governments are more a problem than Russia. What people remember, especially in Europe, is how prosperity was the norm before the New Cold War and conditions are now much worse. For those with some awareness that along with their government's treatment of Russia there is a growing awareness about the resulting damage to their own national economies. This is gradually creating problems for Western politicians who have embraced Russophobia, and even for NATO.


This 2-part audio interview was posted on the Internet site on Tuesday and, as always, the biggest THANK YOU goes out to Larry Galearis for his always excellent executive summary.  The link to Part 1 is in the headline -- and here.  The link to Part 2 is here.

"Theater of absurd": Russian envoy shows U.K. version of Skripal case "falls apart"

Russia's U.N. envoy described the U.K.'s attempt, without evidence, to pin the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter on Moscow as "theater of absurd", in his address updating the UNSC on the scandal.


The extraordinary meeting was requested by Moscow, following the announcement made by the secretive British Porton Down chemical laboratory, that it had not established that the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals was of Russian origin.


The top British officials explicitly cited the Porton Down laboratory when pinning the blame on Moscow, so following this revelation their theory started to fall apart, said Vasily Nebenzia, noting that the U.K.'s secret agencies rushed to help the government, producing new claims based on some "intelligence data."


"I don't even know how to comment on this. It's some sort of the theater of absurd. You couldn't have come up with better fake story?" Nebenzia asked.


The diplomat asked a series of questions pointing to inconsistencies of the U.K.'s narrative.


"Why did we have to wait eight years and [then] decided to [attack the Skripals] two weeks before the elections and several weeks before the world cup? Why did we release him from the country in the first place? Why do that in extremely public and dangerous fashion," Nebenzia wondered.


This story, complete with an embedded 10:19 minute video clip, was posted on their website at 7:07 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday evening, which was 12:07 p.m. in Washington -- EDT plus 7 hours.  I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us -- and another link to it is here.

U.S. hits 38 Russian government officials, oligarchs with new sanctions

The Trump administration on Friday launched more sanctions against Russia, targeting 38 oligarchs, government officials and businesses for brazen behavior and attacks on Western democracy.


In what the White House called a national security issue, the sanctions are a response to "the Kremlin's malign agenda," ranging from cyberattacks to aggression in Ukraine and Syria.


On Friday's sanctions list are seven Russian oligarchs and the 12 companies they own, 17 senior Russian government officials, a government-owned weapons trading company and its subsidiary bank. They are accused of money laundering, wiretapping, extortion, racketeering and tax evasion, the White House told reporters in a conference call.


"This sends a clear message that actions have consequences," a senior administration official said.


The targets include Russian elites like Kirill Shamalov, identified as the husband of Russian President Vladimir Putin's daughter, who officials say received a loan of more than $1 billion from state-owned Gazprombank.


This UPI story showed up on their website at 1:17 p.m. EDT on Friday afternoon -- and it's the second offering of the day from Roy Stephens.  Another link to it is here.

The obituary of Common Sense

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:


* Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
* Why the early bird gets the worm;
* Life isn't always fair;
* And maybe it was my fault.


Common sense lived by simple, sound financial policies, (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies, (adults, not children, are in charge).


His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but over bearing regulations were set in place.


This short obituary appeared on the Internet site on Wednesday -- and I though it best to wait until today's column to post it.  I thank Henk Boekhorst for finding it for us -- and another link to it is here.

Why This "Too Big to Fail" Bank is Stockpiling Silver

JPMorgan is one of the world's largest, most powerful, and most well-connected banks. It manages trillions of dollars. So it pays to watch what it's doing.


And last week, the giant bank received 597,000 ounces of silver. That's about $10 million worth.


After that giant purchase, JPMorgan now has 140 million ounces of silver sitting in its COMEX warehouse.


That's 54% of the silver supply monitored by the CME Group.


That's a huge deal. But you also need to realize something...JPMorgan didn't hold a single ounce of silver until mid-2011...


It's nice to see this silver story get more public attention, but of course all this is stolen shamelessly from Ted Butler's work -- and without attribution either.  It's safe to say that there's nothing much about what has happened in the silver market over the last 30+ years that hasn't come from Ted first -- and that certainly includes everything I've written over the last 18 years.  This article appeared on the Internet site yesterday, but is basically a product of Stansberry Research which now owns Casey Research lock, stock and barrel.  Doug's mostly just a figurehead to keep subscription rates up.  If he actually had a say in publishing this article, it would have most likely never seen the light of day, as he hates Ted Butler with a passion -- and my two attempts to get them to hook up by phone failed...both times because Doug refused to call him as he said he promised me he would.  I thank Walt Haskins for bringing it to my attention yesterday afternoon -- and now to yours.  Another link to it is here.


Today's 'critter' is another denizen of the deep ocean...very deep in fact.  It's the 'dumbo octopus' of which there are 13 knows species, so far.  The name "dumbo" originates from their resemblance to the title character of Disney's 1941 film Dumbo, having a prominent ear-like fin which extends from the mantle above each eye.  They live at depths of 3,000 to 4,000 metres (9,800 to 13,100 ft.) with some living up to 7,000 metres (23,000 ft.) below sea level, which is the deepest of any known octopus.  Click to enlarge.








"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." -- H. L. Mencken

Today's pop 'blast from the past' is one that I've posted before, but it's been many years -- and it's time for a revisit, as the tune is 50 years young this June.  It's a timeless classic, as were their other great hits from the late 1960s.  Where the hell has all that intervening time gone -- and so quickly too!  The link is here.

Today's 'classical' blast from the past is one I should have posted last weekend to celebrate Easter, but it totally skipped my mind, so I will make amends now.

Miserere (full title: Miserere mei, Deus, Latin for "Have mercy on me, O God") is a setting of Psalm 51 (50) by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri. It was composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably during the 1630s, for use in the Sistine Chapel during matins, as part of the exclusive Tenebrae service on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday of Holy Week.  This piece of music has an incredible history, which you couldn't make up if you tried -- and you can read all about it here...and here.

This 1994 performance by the Tallis Scholars I consider to the definitive recording of this work, at least that's available on -- and the link is here.

It was yet another day where the management of most markets was fairly obvious, especially precious metal prices -- and equities, most specifically the Dow Jones Industrial Average.  And even though they allowed gold to close above its 50-day moving average, the managed to set a new low close in palladium, plus close WTIC below its 50-day moving average as well.  And as you already know from the charts, silver was kept miles away from any moving average that counted.

Here are the 6-month charts for the Big 6 commodities -- and the 'click to enlarge' feature helps a bit with the first four only.







Despite the market turmoil -- and the ongoing trade war shouting match between China and the U.S...'da boyz' went about their business during the last week, as they continued to reduce their short positions in the precious metals, although the jury is out on gold for the moment.


The current positioning in the COMEX futures market in all four precious metals continues to increase in bullishness with almost every day that passes, with the only fly in the I just mentioned...being the current futures market structure in gold.


I was expecting JPMorgan et al to really do a number on them when the job numbers were released yesterday and, once again, they were a complete no-show, although they were instantly at the ready to cap the rallies that followed that news.  So the question still remains as to what, if anything they're going to do about the still bearish market structure in gold, now that 'da boyz' have passed on every opportunity over the last month or so to do the dirty -- and they've had quite a few of them.


But it's still all eyes on silver and, like last week, I'm all out of superlatives and adjectives to describe the current market structure in that precious metal.  I'll happily leave that up to Ted.  As I said in my COT commentary, or in the companion Bank Participation Report, if a COT Report could have been generated at the close of COMEX trading on Thursday, it's almost guaranteed that the numbers would show that the Commercial traders are net long silver in the futures market.  And that's despite the fact that the Big 8 are mega short, as it's the other 38-odd small Commercial traders in silver that now hold a bigger long position than the Big 8 are short.  This situation is ridiculous beyond belief.


The stage is certainly set for Ted's moon shot to the upside if that's what JPMorgan decides to do, or is instructed to stand aside and allow to happen.  If that event is in fact in our future, the only thing now know is the exact timing, or what it might be when it manifests itself.


The only thing about this that is guaranteed, is that it won't happen by chance, as there are no such thing as coincidences in today's carefully managed markets.  This will be a staged 'false flag' event of some type, or perhaps more than one of them.  Maybe it will be 'set off' by this trade war of words with China...or something that can be blamed on the Russians.


Whatever it is, all we can continue to do is sit quietly...with one eye still on gold's 200-day moving average...and await developments.  That's what I'm doing -- and reporting on what's happening on a daily basis as time goes along.


And, for the record, I'm still "all in".


That's it for yet another day -- and week -- and I'll see you here on Tuesday.




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