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“We planned to allocate another tranche according to that arrangement. Yet in the current situation we have many questions as to how the money will be used and how it will be paid back,” said Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, according to ITAR-TASS this morning.
- *RUSSIA URGES RESPECT FOR UKRAINE SOVEREIGNTY, LEGITIMATE GOVT
Russia has suspended another tranche of financial aid for Ukraine because of the current tensions and plans to wait until the situation stabilizes to resume support afterwards, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told Bloomberg on Friday commenting on the Irish Stock Exchange’s report on Ukraine’s refusal to sell two-year Eurobonds of $2 billion. Russia was to buy bonds under the already approved $15 billion aid package.
“We planned to allocate another tranche according to that arrangement. Yet in the current situation we have many questions as to how the money will be used and how it will be paid back,” said Siluanov.
Conditions for the second tranche were similar to those of the first, namely a two-year loan at a rate of 5 percent per annum, Siluanov added.
He also doubted the feasibility of currency interventions to support the hryvnia amid political instability.
“The national bank of Ukraine can now make efforts to bolster the hryvnia, but demand for foreign currency amid political uncertainty will remain high,” he said. “Therefore, interventions can prove a waste of gold and currency reserves that will lead to nothing and will not prevent the hryvnia’s devaluation.”
Of course, we suspect the “deal” does nothing to change their minds – especially as it increases the uncertainty of what the Russian aid will be used for.
Bitcoin holders — especially those who bought in during the crypto-currency’s recent surge past $1,000 — are a bit shell-shocked this week:
Bitcoin prices plunged again Monday morning after Mt.Gox, the major exchange for the virtual currency, said technical problems require it to continue its ban on customer withdrawals.
Mt.Gox said it has discovered a bug that causes problems when customers try to use their account to make a transfer or payment of bitcoins to a third party. It said the problem is not with Mt.Gox software but affects all transfers of bitcoins to third parties.
The exchange said it was suspending withdrawals and third-party payments until the problem is fixed, although trading in bitcoins continues.
A bug is allowing a third party receiving a bitcoin transfer to make it look as if the transfer did not go through, which can lead to improper multiple transfers, Mt.Gox said.
Bitcoin prices on Mt.Gox plunged from about $693 just early Monday to $510 at 6 a.m. ET, soon after the statement was posted. Prices had been as high as $831 just after 7 p.m. Thursday before Mt.Gox’s halt of withdrawals was first disclosed early Friday morning.
Mt.Gox tried to put the best face on the technical problems in its latest statement, noting that the technology is “very much in its early stages.”
“What Mt.Gox and the Bitcoin community have experienced in the past year has been an incredible and exciting challenge, and there is still much to do to further improve,” it said.
This is one of those “teaching moments” that the President likes to point out. But the lesson isn’t that bitcoin in particular or crypto-currencies in general are fatally flawed. It is that they are currencies, not money or investments, and the differences between these three concepts is crucial to doing asset management right.
An investment is something that, if successful, generates cash flow and potentially capital gains, but if less successful can produce a capital loss. Money, in contrast, is capital. It is what you receive when you sell an investment and/or where you store the resulting wealth until you decide to buy something with it. Money does not generate cash flow and does not “work” for you the way an investment does. Instead, it preserves your capital in a stable form for later use.
“Sound” money exists in limited quantity and doesn’t have counterparty risk – that is, its value doesn’t depend on someone else keeping a promise – so it tends to hold its value over long periods of time. Gold and silver, for instance, have functioned as sound money for thousands of years. As you’ve no doubt heard many times, the same ounce of gold that bought a toga in ancient Rome will buy a nice suit today. Ditto for oil, wheat and most of life’s other necessities.
Currency, meanwhile, is the thing we use for buying and selling. It can also be money, as in past societies where gold and silver coins circulated. But it doesn’t have to be. Paper dollars, euro, and yen are representations of wealth rather than wealth itself and are only valuable because we trust the governments managing them to control their supply and banks to give us back our deposits on demand. Such currencies are not very safe but are extremely convenient, so even people who understand the inherent flaws of today’s currencies keep some around for transacting.
As for bitcoin, for a while the more excitable in the techie community seemed to think that crypto-currencies could function not just as currency but as money, i.e., as a form of savings, because the supply of bitcoin was limited by the algorithm that creates it. But they were overlooking counterparty risk. Since the vast majority of bitcoins in circulation are stored electronically and transmitted over the Internet, they’re only valuable if those media function correctly. Let a system fail, as Mt. Gox apparently has, and the bitcoins in that system are either unavailable (in which case their immediate value is zero) or suddenly very risky, in which case they’re obviously not a good savings vehicle.
Is this a deal-breaker for crypto-currencies? No. In many ways bitcoin is a better currency than the dollar because it can’t be inflated away by a desperate government or confiscated in the coming wave of bank bail-ins.
People who understand crypto-currencies and own a small amount of bitcoin for transactional purposes are probably unfazed by the latest speed bump. And people who had their life savings in it have received a valuable lesson in the nature of money.
Americans aren’t wild about the government’s currency either. Instead of holding dollars and other financial assets, investors are storing wealth in art, wine, and antique cars. The Economist reported in November, “This buying binge… is growing distrust of financial assets.”
But while the big money is setting art market records and pumping up high-end real estate prices, the distrust-in-government script has not pushed the suspicious into the barbarous relic. The lowly dollar has soared versus gold since September 2011.
Every central banker on earth has sworn an oath to Keynesian money creation, yet the yellow metal has retraced nearly $700 from its $1,895 high. The only limits to fiat money creation are the imagination of central bankers and the willingness of commercial bankers to lend. That being the case, the main culprit for gold’s lackluster performance over the past two years is something else, Tocqueville Asset Management Portfolio Manager and Senior Managing Director John Hathaway explained in his brilliant report “Let’s Get Physical.
Hathaway points out that the wind is clearly in the face of gold production. It currently costs as much or more to produce an ounce than you can sell it for. Mining gold is expensive; gone are the days of fishing large nuggets from California or Alaska streams. Millions of tonnes of ore must be moved and processed for just tiny bits of metal, and few large deposits have been found in recent years.
“Production post-2015 seems set to decline and perhaps sharply,” says Hathaway.
Satoshi Nakamoto created a kind of digital gold in 2009 that, too, is limited in supply. No more than 21 million bitcoins will be “mined,” and there are currently fewer than 12 million in existence. Satoshi made the cyber version of gold easy to mine in the early going. But like the gold mining business, mining bitcoins becomes ever more difficult. Today, you need a souped-up supercomputer to solve the equations that verify bitcoin transactions—which is the process that creates the cyber currency.
The value of this cyber-dollar alternative has exploded versus the government’s currency, rising from less than $25 per bitcoin in May 2011 to nearly $1,000 recently. One reason is surely its portability. Business is conducted globally today, in contrast to the ancient world where most everyone lived their lives inside a 25-mile radius. Thus, carrying bitcoins weightlessly in your phone is preferable to hauling around Krugerrands.
No Paper Bitcoins
But while being the portable new kid on the currency block may account for some of Bitcoin’s popularity, it doesn’t explain why Bitcoin has soared while gold has declined at the same time.
Hathaway puts his finger on the difference between the price action of the ancient versus the modern. “The Bitcoin-gold incongruity is explained by the fact that financial engineers have not yet discovered a way to collateralize bitcoins for leveraged trades,” he writes. “There is (as yet) no Bitcoin futures exchange, no Bitcoin derivatives, no Bitcoin hypothecation or rehypothecation.”
So, anyone wanting to speculate in Bitcoin has to actually buy some of the very limited supply of the cyber currency, which pushes up its price.
In contrast, the shinier but less-than-cyber currency, gold, has a mature and extensive financial infrastructure that inflates its supply—on paper—exponentially. The man from Tocqueville quotes gold expert Jeff Christian of the CPM Group who wrote in 2000 that “an ounce of gold is now involved in half a dozen transactions.” And while “the physical volume has not changed, the turnover has multiplied.”
The general process begins when a gold producer mines and processes the gold. Then the refiners sell it to bullion banks, primarily in London. Some is sold to jewelers and mints.
“The physical gold that remains in London as unallocated bars is the foundation for leveraged paper-gold trades. This chain of events is perfectly ordinary and in keeping with time-honored custom,” explains Hathaway.
He estimates the equivalent of 9,000 metric tons of gold is traded daily, while only 2,800 metric tons is mined annually.
Gold is loaned, leased, hypothecated, and rehypothecated, over and over. That’s the reason, for instance, why it will take so much time for the Germans to repatriate their 700 tonnes of gold currently stored in New York and Paris. While a couple of planes could haul the entire stash to Germany in no time, only 37 tonnes have been delivered a year after the request. The 700 tonnes are scheduled to be delivered by 2020. However, it appears there is not enough free and unencumbered physical gold to meet even that generous schedule. The Germans have been told they can come look at their gold, they just can’t have it yet.
Leveraging Up in London
The City of London provides a loose regulatory environment for the mega-banks to leverage up. Jon Corzine used London rules to rehypothecate customer deposits for MF Global to make a $6.2 billion Eurozone repo bet. MF’s customer agreements allowed for such a thing.
After MF’s collapse, Christopher Elias wrote in Thomson Reuters, “Like Wall Street cocaine, leveraging amplifies the ups and downs of an investment; increasing the returns but also amplifying the costs. With MF Global’s leverage reaching 40 to 1 by the time of its collapse, it didn’t need a Eurozone default to trigger its downfall—all it needed was for these amplified costs to outstrip its asset base.”
Hathaway’s work makes a solid case that the gold market is every bit as leveraged as MF Global, that it’s a mountain of paper transactions teetering on a comparatively tiny bit of physical gold.
“Unlike the physical gold market,” writes Hathaway, “which is not amenable to absorbing large capital flows, the paper market, through nearly infinite rehypothecation, is ideal for hyperactive trading activity, especially in conjunction with related bets on FX, equity indices, and interest rates.”
This hyper-leveraging is reminiscent of America’s housing debt boom of the last decade. Wall Street securitization cleared the way for mortgages to be bought, sold, and transferred electronically. As long as home prices were rising and homeowners were making payments, everything was copasetic. However, once buyers quit paying, the scramble to determine which lenders encumbered which homes led to market chaos. In many states, the backlog of foreclosures still has not cleared.
The failure of a handful of counterparties in the paper-gold market would be many times worse. In many cases, five to ten or more lenders claim ownership of the same physical gold. Gold markets would seize up for months, if not years, during bankruptcy proceedings, effectively removing millions of ounces from the market. It would take the mining industry decades to replace that supply.
Further, Hathaway believes that increased regulation “could lead, among other things, to tighter standards for collateral, rules on rehypothecation, etc. This could well lead to a scramble for physical.” And if regulators don’t tighten up these arrangements, the ETFs, LBMA, and Comex may do it themselves for the sake of customer trust.
What Hathaway calls the “murky pool” of unallocated London gold has supported paper-gold trading way beyond the amount of physical gold available. This pool is drying up and is setting up the mother of all short squeezes.
In that scenario, people with gold ETFs and other paper claims to gold will be devastated, warns Hathaway. They’ll receive “polite and apologetic letters from intermediaries offering to settle in cash at prices well below the physical market.”
It won’t be inflation that drives up the gold price but the unwinding of massive amounts of leverage.
Americans are right to fear their government, but they should fear their financial system as well. Governments have always rendered their paper currencies worthless. Paper entitling you to gold may give you more comfort than fiat dollars.
However, in a panic, paper gold won’t cut it. You’ll want to hold the real thing.
There’s one form of paper gold, though, you should take a closer look at right now: junior mining stocks. These are the small-cap companies exploring for new gold deposits, and the ones that make great discoveries are historically being richly rewarded… as are their shareholders.
However, even the best junior mining companies—those with top managements, proven world-class gold deposits, and cash in the bank—have been dragged down with the overall gold market and are now on sale at cheaper-than-dirt prices. Watch eight investment gurus and resource pros tell you how to become an “Upturn Millionaire” taking advantage of this anomaly in the market—click here.
Written by 24 carat
The Rockefellers, The Rothschilds and many other giant Dynasties…
These financial industry giants lived through all the wealth cycles of the past 100 years and more. What used to be long term wealth investments evolved to the day-trading, making money activities, with a top in the year 2000. Then the financial industry morphed rapidly into the absurd High Frequency Trading. All wealth is now a spooky derivative of what it once was. Debt rules!
John D. Rockefeller Sr and Jr
The US was the biggest gold reserve holder in the entire world, with 28,000 metric tons of gold in its vaults (60% of the world’s total gold reserves). Most, if not all, of that gold disappeared from the UST, whilst the financial industry and the debt driven economy, expanded. First there was the London Gold Pool selling central bank gold reserves, then in 1974 Louise Auchincloss Boyer discovered that N. Rockefeller was selling UST Fort Knox gold. Three days later she fell out of her window (July 3, 1974). Immediately afterwards a Fort Knox propaganda tour was organized. All gold fever stopped in 1980. Stock markets started their rise to the moon. Fifteen years later, the European System of Central Banks started their gold sales. Stock markets reached for the stars and suddenly The Queen made a propaganda tour through the London gold vaults (Dec, 2012). Now, China, Russia and other pro gold states (BRICS Development Bank) are accumulating the scare residues of available physical gold. The debt driven Western economy is in stagnation and the global debt crisis remains unsolved.
Where has all the physical bullion gold gone. Where is it concentrated after 45 years of distribution and very low paper gold prices. Hard to say, but the main flow of physical gold went certainly from West to East. Simply because the Western financial (pseudo) wealth industry was rising since 1980 and that made physical gold obsolete, in particular for the average Western man on the street.
The MSCI emerging market index is declining and never reached the Dow/Nasdaq/S&P heights. Physical gold has flown to these Eastern emerging (mostly surplus producing) markets whilst Western deficits are still rising. An upside down world,…or not. European banks have a $ 3.4 trillion exposure to the weak emerging markets who are suffering from brutal $ withdrawals. China’s shadow banking is enormous and dangerous. The entire world has multiple fundamental reasons to embrace physical gold as a wealth asset, but only an extremely small minority keeps accumulating physical gold. The bulk of physical gold is now in the very strong hands of Western and Eastern giant dynasties and a relative very small group of gold wealth connected individuals. They all continue to accumulate, whatever the paper price of gold may discourage. They all anticipate the same looming catastrophe: pseudo-wealth destruction!
The Far & Middle East stores its wealth in physical gold and the West keeps going for financial industry pseudo-wealth and paper gold for making more (debt)money. This gold imbalance will increase strongly the more the gold price declines! Declining gold prices must encourage the further accumulation of risk assets. The Western giants don’t care that Joe sixpack has no gold. They must feed their financial industry pseudo-wealth (buy stocks and debt paper). The Western giants, with trainloads of physical gold, don’t care that the scarce left-overs of available physical gold flows cheaply to the East. When the pseudo-wealth comes to an end and the East will say physical gold is the real store of wealth, the Western giants with gold in their vaults, remain wealthy. Then the whole (political) economic story restarts from scratch.
The giant dynasties *are* the financial industry. They produce and control the bulk of the debt-driven pseudo-wealth. The FED is even providing liquidity for Mario’s ECB (swaps). That’s why their balance sheet is diverging. Euro-land is in fact still $-land.
China’s present gold policies are building a base to take over the paper gold pricing from the dollar’s financial regime. The valuation of physical gold must be totally delinked from currency and risk assets. China wants an orderly and open Renminbi gold market with satisfactory gold market laws as to protect all wealth assets. A gold market where all underground speculative activities are strictly forbidden. They invite all foreigners to gradually participate in this gold market with emphasis on the free floating valuation of physical gold. This is in 100% contrast with the de facto dollar’s gold pricing and gold policies. The dollar system doesn’t want your wealth assets to be protected with gold. One day, the masses will embrace China’s gold policies and leave the international $-reserve for what it never was (hard currency). The Western giants, indeed anticipated this all along with stealth accumulation of physical gold in their private vaults. They know the day of reckoning comes nearby.
By Mark O’Byrne
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,286.50, EUR 942.84 and GBP 778.47 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,282.75, EUR 938.09 and GBP 780.83 per ounce.
Gold climbed $15.30 or 1.2% yesterday to $1,289.90/oz. Silver rose $0.15 or 0.75% to $20.20/oz.
Gold is marginally lower today in all currencies after eking out more gains yesterday after Yellen confirmed in her testimony that ultra loose monetary policies and zero percent interest rate policies will continue.
Citi Futures are looking for gold to increase by a further 8.5% by the end of March after gold closed above its 50 DMA every day for the last two weeks and closed above its 100 DMA for two straight days. RBC are less bullish but expect gold prices to increase another 10% and surpass $1,400/oz in 2014.
Gold touched resistance at $1,294/oz yesterday. A close above the $1,294/oz to $1,300/oz level should see gold quickly rally to test the next level of resistance at $1,360/oz. Support is now at $1,240/oz and $1,180/oz.
Yellen confirmed that the U.S. recovery is fragile and said more work is needed to restore the labor market. She signalled the Fed’s ultra loose monetary policies will continue and the Fed will continue printing $65 billion every month in order to buy U.S. government debt.
The dovish take from Yellen’s testimony yesterday should support gold prices. Continuing QE makes gold attractive from a diversification perspective.
Market focus shifts from the U.S. to the UK today and the Bank of England’s quarterly inflation report.
The U.K. has already almost breached the unemployment level that was a target for considering tightening policy, and Governor Mark Carney is widely expected to update the market on interest rate guidance.
Possibly of more importance is the fact that the Bank of England is to test whether UK banks and building societies would go bust if house prices crash. A ‘stress test’ will examine whether banks will need bailing out, or bailing in as seems more likely now, if house prices materially correct again.
Preparations have been or are being put in place by the international monetary and financial authorities, including the Bank of England for bail-ins. The majority of the public are unaware of these developments, the risks and the ramifications.
The test is being drawn up by the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee, whose members include Governor Mark Carney.
A Nationwide Building Society survey just out showed house prices had risen by 8.8% in January over the same month last year. London house prices have all the symptoms of a classic bubble.
Many UK banks are already over extended and the real risk is that many banks would not be able to withstand house price falls. This heightens the risk of bail-ins.
Download our Bail-In Guide: Protecting your Savings In The Coming Bail-In Era(11 pages)
We previously examined 240 years of US market history for a sense of ‘trend’ or sustainability but some were not satisfied. In order to get a truly long-term perspective, we reach back 1000 years to The Middle Ages and look at how stock prices, interest rates, commodity prices, and gold have changed in a millennia (and most notably how the key historical events have shaped those price changes).
Western Markets Since The Middle Ages
The Gold Price
@Macro_Tourist for these increble charts
And just for good measure, perhaps the most important chart going forward – Nothing lasts forever… (especially in light of China’s earlier comments )
Sometimes, perhaps all too often; investors, traders, economists, and mainstream media anchors miss the forest and see only the trees (growing to the sky or crashing to the floor). To provide some context on the markets, we present the first of three posts of long-term chart series (and by long-term we mean more than a few decades of well-chosen trends) – stock, bond, gold, commodity, and US Dollar prices for the last 240 years…
American Markets Since Independence
The Gold Price
The Crude Oil Price
The US Dollar
H/t @Macro_Tourist for these increble charts
Of course, as we have noted in the past, Nothing lasts forever… (especially in light of China’s earlier comments )