Silver is Actually in Backwardation

Silver Bullion 2 James Turk said in a recent interview with King World News “that silver is actually in Backwardation”, and that the Comex casino is not reporting prices accurately. Turk indicated that it is important to correct some silly things that are being said about silver these days, particularly with regard to the huge explosion in Comex open interest. “While gold’s open interest has fallen recently, silver’s open interest is doing the exact opposite, and has grown to levels not seen for some time.

Some reports have tried to explain this surge in open interest by saying that banks are using the futures market to finance their holding of physical silver. This is a common procedure, but only works when silver is in Contango, i.e., the futures price is above the spot price. But silver is in Backwardation in the front month – and for large trades it appears to be in backwardation up to three months forward – which is the interesting part that I think is misleading so many investors.

This front-month backwardation is not reflected in Comex settlement prices. The backwardation is only clear when you get quotes to trade physical metal from the bullion banks – one quote for spot and the other one for a month in the future. The price traded on the Comex front month is totally divorced from what is happening in the physical market for silver, which is actually in tight supply.

I follow Intra-day Silver & Gold prices closely. I focus principally on spot and the near months because that is where most activity takes place. Even when open interest in a distant contract rises, say December 2014, it usually is not an outright purchase or sale of a position for that distant month, but rather, entered into a spread with spot or perhaps the front month.

We know that there has been a lot of corrupt activity going on in silver over the years, as I alluded to back in November 2012 when the LBMA stopped reporting SIFO, the silver forward rate. What was being reported back then was totally fictitious because no bank was willing to actually deal at the rate being quoted, so the LBMA stopped reporting SIFO rather than mislead the market. Unfortunately, the market is nevertheless still being misled.

There are shenanigans in silver’s futures price for the Comex front month. The price looks totally fictitious when compared to the spot price of physical metal, but most individual traders of Comex futures are unaware of what is happening in the spot market. The reason for this is because relatively little physical metal actually trades in New York. Consequently most futures traders are unaware of the real relationship between spot, where physical is traded, and front-month futures, which of course is the paper market.

The major markets for physical silver are in Europe, and that’s where the ETFs trade and store the metal they are supposedly holding to cover all trades. It was in Europe where Warren Buffett bought his 130 million ounces years ago. The upshot of this is that Comex futures traders are far from the kitchen when the silver shorts are cooking the books. As a result, individual Comex future traders are getting ripped off and don’t even realize it.

The banks can buy front month futures in London at a discount to spot, and then sell the same position on the Comex at a premium to spot, generating for them an extraordinary profit because of overpriced futures sold on the Comex. It is just another reason to avoid the paper market for silver and buy physical metal instead.

Silver-future-chart-150x150 Silver is forming a multi-decade “cup & handle” pattern. It is a huge accumulation pattern where physical metal has moved into strong hands over the last 15 years. The dip in silver prices that is forming the “handle” is the last shake-out of weak hands before silver starts climbing again and eventually hurdles its old $50-per-ounce record high, which leaves one unanswered question: When will silver finally take off?

Nobody can predict the future, of course, but we can use charts to spot patterns like the bullish pattern that is occurring. We can also use fundamental analysis to determine value, and silver is very cheap. Based on the current spot price of physical silver, it now takes more than 66 ounces of silver to equal 1 ounce of gold. This ratio has not been that high since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, when over-leveraged traders dumped their silver along with other liquid assets to repay debts and get their heads above water.

Backwardation has been happening in the Gold market as well, and we are hearing these reports about old bars now coming out of the deepest recesses of various (Western) vaults — these are bars that were marked and minted back in the 1960s or before — so the easy-to-get at gold is already gone.

With them now starting to go in to the deeper reaches of the vaults to get material out to keep feeding the (physical) market because the demand is totally insatiable for physical Gold & Silver down here at these ridiculously low prices.” The bottom line here is that as we move toward the end of the year, I expect Silver to finally begin outperforming Gold, and it will be another key signal that the three-year correction in silver prices has indeed ended, and more importantly, that the bull market in both Gold & Silver precious metals has indeed resumed.”

Gold’s Zero Hour

china-currency-war While the price of gold has been range-bound between $1,290–1,420 since late July, we currently remain on watch for evidence of what we’ve labeled “Gold’s Zero Hour.” That’s the moment when a major commodities exchange runs out of gold to settle a contract, and then settles in cash instead. This will be seen as a default, and at that moment the price of all physical gold that you own, will run away from the Paper Gold manipulated price.

As we go to press, signs of stress are in the system — especially in GLD, the giant ETF that’s a proxy for the paper price of gold. We’ve never much liked GLD. It has too much “counter-party risk” — the risk that whomever you’re doing business with won’t, or soon can’t, live up to their promises.

Among those promises is that heavy-duty money-bags investors can exchange their GLD shares for the actual physical metal — an option not available to average investors, the retail investor. But now even the big boys can’t trade in their shares for the real thing. “People have tried to get their gold out of that ETF,” says John Hathaway, manager of the Tocqueville Gold Fund, “and you just can’t get it.”

Hathaway’s account is confirmed by Grant Williams, a Singapore-based hedge fund adviser. The problem? The massive imbalance between futures contracts on the New York Comex, and the actual precious metal inventory the Comex has on hand for delivery. Williams reckons there is now up too 55 ounces of “paper gold” in the system for every ounce of the real thing.

“We’ve seen the gold being drained out of the Comex almost nonstop throughout this year,” Williams recently told radio host Eric King, “certainly since the Bundesbank repatriation request. It hasn’t had any noticeable effect just yet, but it really is a spring that is continually being coiled, and at some point it is going to snap back. When it does, with all of these disparate claims on each ounce of gold, there is going to be some fireworks, no doubt about it.”

From the start of 2013 through to Mid-September, Comex gold inventories have plunged 36% — from 11.059 million ounces to 7.034 million ounces. This is the West-to-East flow of gold we’ve been documenting all year. This gold is being drained from the vaults in New York and most of it is moving to China, where both their central bank and ordinary citizens are loading up at prices last seen back in 2010.

Comex Gold Inventories

The drop in Comex inventory “is worth $9.66 billion at today’s prices,” writes Mark O’Byrne of the Irish gold dealer GoldCore, “meaning that a handful of billionaires or just one powerful creditor nation-state with large foreign exchange reserves, such as Russia, could corner the Comex gold market and cause a default at any time.” Zero Hour approacheth!

Gold Chart

On this chart above it shows the gold price going back three years — and it is annotated with two specific dates. The first one was when Venezuela demanded the repatriation of 160 metric tons of its gold held abroad, mostly at the Bank of England. The second was when Germany’s central bank asked for the return of 674 tons of gold from the New York Fed and the Banque de France — for which the Germans were told they would have to wait for up to seven years.

In both cases, “an initial move higher quickly morphed into a concerted move lower” in the gold price. And because Germany was asking for more than four times as much Gold bullion as Venezuela, the move down in the paper price has been that much greater.

So what gives here? Western central banks have been leasing out their gold to large commercial banks at interest rates of less than 1%, and those same commercial banks have then sold that gold (mostly to China), and then plowing those currency proceeds back into assets earning them more than 1%. Grant Williams believes the central banks have been leasing out their gold for decades to these bullion banks, and they now find themselves in the rather precarious position, of needing to reclaim that which they are supposed to own before the shortfall is exposed to all.”

The smash in the paper price of gold “was specifically designed to shake out loose holders,” Williams believes, “and it has worked to a degree, but only amongst the weaker holders of the ETFs, who tend to ‘rent’ gold rather than own it. “I think the stronger hands have been getting their gold out of the official warehouses as fast as they can; and central banks in places like China, Russia and all over the rest of Asia and South America have been trying to buy and, crucially, to take delivery of physical gold while they still can.” Zero Hour is soon coming!

Eric Sprott recently commented, “The supply of gold has not gone up, In fact, it was down last year, I’m sure it will be down this year, and I’m sure it will be down next year. So how can we have these new entrants coming into the market and buying huge amounts of gold, and yet the price only goes down? “It’s always been my contention that the demand for gold is well in excess of mine supply.

“I think the decline in gold was engineered here to try to spring some physical gold out of the market, which the GLD and other ETFs responded to in huge proportion. There was a dump of about 700 tons of physical gold in a six-month period. Well, that’s almost 1,400 tons a year, annualized. That’s about two-thirds of the mine production ex China, ex Russia that hit the market on an annualized basis, and yet was consumed, I might point out.”

Consider it a gift as Zero Hour approaches, that you can still buy this very precious metal in 2013 at bargain basement 2010 paper prices!

Author: Addison Wiggin

Smoking Comex Gun with Silver & Gold

Gold BullionBREAKING NEWS – For those wondering what the recent draw-down in COMEX and GLD stocks mean, then please watch this video recorded in the GoldSilver.com boardroom a little over a week ago. The Smoking Comex gun with Silver & Gold is starting to be exposed, as massive draw-downs have been undertaken with Gold since the German Bundesbank asked for 300 Tonnes of their Gold to be returned from New York on the 14th January, and they were told that they would have to wait up to seven years for this repatriation request to happen.

Grant Williams of Vulpes Asset Management joins CEO Michael Maloney to connect the dots on what may be some of the most important events of the last few years. It appears very evident that the price of Gold has most definitely been manipulated in recent months and has caused a massive drop in the Paper Spot price of Gold on the Comex, soon after this repatriation request was made.

Michael Maloney has been warning about the effects of metals leasing for many years, and by watching this video you will further understand what has been occurring since 2009 to gain a greater understanding of how metals leasing really works in our marketplace, and how the Comex Gold is starting to run out of supply very quickly indeed: He also discusses an unusual discrepancy in the draw-downs of silver during this same time frame.

What happens when 63.5K ounces of registered gold in your warehouse, just has their warrants detached and the vault is about to find itself 63.5k ounces of gold emptier? Well If you are JP Morgan you then call the gold vault with the most inventory in town, which is HSBC, and politely request that they transfer as much eligible gold as they can on short notice to you – and in this case a tiny 6,444.936 oz to be exact.

Further, in a few days the inventory in JP Morgan’s gold vault will drop to another record low of only 380K ounces and the JP Morgan “rescue” please from HSBC and other Comex members will become ever louder and more desperate until one day they may just go straight to voice-mail. Gold supplies are being drained at almost frenetic levels by some very big players in the Comex today, and the day may soon come when these big players will possibly trigger by accident the reversal and steady climb of the Gold price, towards all-time record highs once again, and even possibly this year.

Demystifying the Backwardation Argument on Gold

I have been asked by a number of my members to comment in public and demystifying the backwardation argument on Gold. It is very important that the differences between the global cash market and paper markets are clearly understood. This is clearly the most important signal of physical shortages in Gold that historically we have ever seen.

By isolating the real global cash market for gold and then comparing Comex futures contracts in series out several years, I do agree they are largely in Con-tango. But this is a purely U.S centric Comex paper market phenomenon and has nothing to do with the divergence between the futures market and the REAL CASH PRICE of Gold bullion as determined by London fixes each day.

I do not compare prices in select regions around the world where premiums can range anywhere from $6 to $100, but I do bench-mark the cash price of gold as determined twice daily in the largest global marketplace for gold in the world, London. When comparing this delivery market vs. the future-dated, largely non-delivery Comex market, then from a real cash wholesale perspective the London spot or cash market dwarfs physical activity on the Comex.

This is where an apple becomes an orange and bears little comparison. The LPMCL clears some 700 tonnes of gold and 5000 tonnes of silver every single day. Understood only a portion of these transactions result in physical allocations but the point here is that this is the actual real cash price I can buy or sell my physical twice a day in any size I wish and at a price that has been averaging far in excess of several sets of future prices.

This, in simple terms, is what is referred to as real world backwardation, not an isolated set of future paper settlement prices but how the real cash market for gold relates to these synthetic sets. Nor can gold be lumped in and compared apples to apples to Oil or other commodities. NONE of these commodities trade as an FX currency cross, in other words gold is distinct in that it trades as a currency cross being sold and bought long and short against all other currencies 24 hours a day.

The FX price is the real determinate of how much gold can be swapped for $ or vice-versa. Nor is gold consumed, affected by weather, or has a production season etc. Unlike other commodities there is an assumption of an abundantly large supply of above ground bullion to meet whatever demand is required at any time.

Sure we can expect to see backwardation occur in gold and silver when we are very close to a front contract expiry but when it happens so far in advance of this event, as we have been tracking for many months, and then even worse, now extending into the next 3 successive months, (August October and progressively in and out of backwardation with GCZ3 December), then there is no argument that can be presented that can explain this as a normal condition, nor has it ever been seen before.

It simply means there is an audit-able distrust in exchanging physical gold for paper gold, especially when this condition technically guarantees an arbitrage profit by simply selling physical into the spot market at the fix and contractually having to wait a maximum of 30 days, let alone 180 days to be repaid ones physical. When you consider just how long that the largest most liquid gold market in the world has been backwardated against front month futures.

Continuing in July for a protracted period of time at $1.60 and at times up to $2.15 above the August Futures contract set to expire in a matter of days, there is very little interest in arbitraging this ‘risk free’ profit in the millions of ounces… then Houston, we have a problem. There is demonstrably little confidence that by giving up your bullion for even a near date paper promise, you will ever receive it back.

Make no mistake though from a physical market perspective, the extreme condition we are currently witnessing in gold should never happen, and forewarns of an extremely serious imminent disconnect and further illustrates a lack of immediately deliverable supply. The fact this condition has existed for such an unprecedented period of time forewarns the paper link to gold is in its final stage of irrelevance and collapse.

Author: Andrew Maguire

Central Banks have been Leasing out Gold

Trust MeFor years the Central Banks have been leasing out gold to bullion banks at essentially zero interest rates to fund the ultimate establishment-endorsed carry trade, but now that trade seems to have run its course and bullion banks are going to have to come up with potentially hundreds of tonnes of gold. Fortunately for them up till now, the structure of the market has been working in their favour.

There is a notable disconnect between the Paper Gold price, which is the price quoted for a paper futures contracts on the COMEX, and what people have to pay to own an ounce of Physical Gold “free and clear”. This recent disconnect has up till now enabled these banks to shake out enough loose holders of the metal via the ETF to make a dent in their physical shortfall – but only up to a point.

Almost 30% of the total holdings of gold ETFs has been withdrawn since the beginning of the year and this is incorrectly reported as a very bearish development, but it’s the ultimate destination of that gold that’s very interesting. For every seller of the GLD ETF there is a buyer – both parties transacting in paper – not gold. The only way to convert GLD shares into physical gold today is to buy 100,000 of them which would cost roughly $13 million at today’s current prices.

The holders of those larger volumes of shares could then present them back to any Authorized Participant who would then redeem that volume of physical gold on their behalf, and deliver it back to them in full. Unfortunately there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that not all of these redemption requests are now being met. However roughly 600 tonnes of gold has been sucked out of the various ETFs using this mechanism since their holdings peaked in Q1.

Since the April smack-down in COMEX gold, physical metal has been pouring out of recognized warehouses and stockpiles as investors all over the world now rush to perfect ownership of an asset that, when owned, un-levered, outside the banking system provides the ultimate hedge against market dislocations. It is incredibly rare to see the price of something falling so precipitously, while at the same time people are queuing around the block in some countries to buy it.

Due to the mechanics of the ETFs, virtually every ounce of gold has to pass through the hands of the bullion banks – those same bullion banks who are in a bind over supplying physical metal to meet their redemption and repatriation requests. It’s a perfect mechanism to ensure that control of physical bullion is safely kept in the hands of the bullion banks, until now!

After the quiet default by ABN Amro in early April, ‘Smart Money’ has been adding to the problem facing the bullion banks by withdrawing their physical gold from the COMEX warehouses in droves, and moving it to private storage facilities outside of the banking system which leaves an even smaller pool of available gold to meet an ever increasing number of delivery requests.

Gold Comex ChartAlso the huge decline in the paper gold price today coincides almost perfectly with the request by the Bundesbank to have 300 tonnes of their Gold held at the NY Fed returned back to Germany – an operation which they were told would take at least seven years to complete. So with the seemingly relentless sell-down in gold price since April, we haven’t had an opportunity to see what the resultant changes in the underlying structure of the gold market would look like in light of an increasing gold price.

As soon as we get an ‘event’ which demands people to own gold in a hurry, like another Cyprus-style bail-in, or more QE indefinitely, then brace yourselves for gold heading north again. The massive outflows in physical gold from the Central Banks over the last few months will soon become apparent, and as hard as gold has fallen in the paper markets of late, it has fallen predicated purely on an oversupply of paper. A rise in the price of Gold, driven by a shortage of the physical metal itself will be far more spectacular!

Author: Grant Williams