<![CDATA[Ed Steer's Gold & Silver Daily]]> http://www.caseyresearch.com/feeds/main Stay abreast of the news that's moving the gold and silver markets in The Gold & Silver Daily. en <![CDATA[China Gold Flows to Hit Q1 Record—Lawrence Williams]]> http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/china-gold-flows-to-hit-q1-record-lawrence-williams/ http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/china-gold-flows-to-hit-q1-record-lawrence-williams/#When:04:02:00Z "Yesterday's price action didn't surprise me too much"

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

The gold price got sold down five dollars or so in early Far East trading---and then traded flat from about 10:20 a.m. Hong Kong time until the 8 a.m. London open.  Then the selling pressure began anew.  The low tick came about 12:40 p.m. BST, which was 7:40 a.m. in New York.  The price spent the rest of the day chopping quietly higher, gaining back about five bucks of its earlier loss.

The high and low ticks were recorded as $1,181.60 and $1,198.50 in the April contract.

Gold closed in New York yesterday afternoon at $1,185.00 spot, down $13.40 from Friday's close.  Net volume was 136,000 contracts, with the largest chunk of that in the new front month which is June.

The silver price chart looked very similar to the gold price chart---and the rally off the 12:40 p.m. BST London low got dealt with around 10:45 a.m. in New York.  After that the silver price also chopped slightly higher into the close.

The high and low in that precious metal was reported by the CME Group as $16.99 and $16.625 in the May contract.

Silver closed on Monday afternoon at $16.69 spot, down 28 cents---and back below its 50-day moving average.  Net volume was about average at 28,500 contracts.

JPMorgan et al continue their assaults on both platinum and palladium this week.  Platinum began to sell off starting around 9 a.m. Hong Kong time---and the low came at 1 p.m. EDT in New York.  It gained about five dollar off its low going into the 5:15 p.m. close of electronic trading.  Platinum was closed at $1,118 spot, down another 18 bucks.

The long knives were out for palladium once again, as "da boyz" took it down to $721 spot at its low tick, which came a few minutes after 1 p.m. EDT in New York.  Palladium closed at $726 spot, down another 10 bucks from Friday's close.  From its March 1 high of around $835 the ounce, palladium has been taken to the cleaners to the tune of around $115---with about half of that "loss" coming during the last two trading days.  There were no changes in the supply/demand fundamentals for the metal because, like platinum, this was paper trading in the COMEX futures market by "all the usual suspects."

The platinum and palladium markets are extremely tiny---and it doesn't take much effort from the powers-that-be to shove these metals around.

The dollar index closed late on Friday afternoon in New York at 97.39---and spent most of the Monday session working up to its 98.07 high, which came around 11:30 a.m. in New York.  After 4 p.m. EDT, it faded a bit into the close, finishing the day at 97.96---56 basis points.

The gold stocks never got a sniff of positive territory.  They had a tiny rally at the open from the gold rally that began at 7:40 a.m. EDT, but once gold got sold down around 10:45 a.m., the shares followed---and they proceeded to chop sideways for the remainder of the day.  The HUI closed down another 2.35 percent. 

The silver equities followed an almost identical price path---and Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index fell another 2.84 percent.

The CME Daily Delivery Report for Monday was a blank, as the balance of the deliveries in the March contract had been posted on Friday---and will be physically delivered today.

But today is First Notice Day for delivery into the April contract---and the numbers were posted on the CME Group's website late yesterday evening EDT.  Here they are---and I'm not impressed, as only 3 gold and zero silver contracts posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Wednesday.  The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

There were no changes reported for GLD yesterday---and as of 9:08 p.m. EDT there were no changes in SLV, either.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Monday trading session appeared on their website hours earlier than normal yesterday evening---and it showed that there were 7,476 gold contracts open in April, but I'll be surprised if even half of that amount is left by the end of Wednesday trading, as there's always a lag in reporting.  In silver, there were 110 contracts open in the April contract, which was unchanged from Friday's report.  April is not a traditional delivery month for silver---and that's why there's such a small amount.

Regarding March deliveries, which will be completed today, silver analyst Ted Butler has some not-to-be-missed observations about JPMorgan in today's quote---and those comments are a must to read.

There was a sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday.  They sold 4,500 troy ounces of gold eagles---and 286,500 silver eagles.

I'm still waiting for the Royal Canadian Mint to post its 2014 annual report so we can get a look at silver and gold maple leaf sales for last year.  I expect to see a decent decline in gold maple leaf sales for the 4th quarter---and the year as a whole.  But they will probably report a "surprise" pick-up in silver maple leaf sales in the last quarter of 2014, after a slow 3rd quarter.  Year-over-year it will probably be another record, or close to record, sales year for silver maple leafs---the same as silver eagles in the U.S.A.---and for the same reason---Ted Butler's "big buyer," as retail sales of bullion are still in the toilet everywhere in North America.

There was no in/out gold activity worth mentioning [5 kilobars shipped out] at the usual COMEX-approved depositories on Friday, but at the two new "Gold Kilo Stocks" warehouses, it was a frantic day at Brink's, Inc. once again.

After inquiring directly to CME Group yesterday afternoon, Ted Butler found out that both of these new "Gold Kilo Stocks" depositories are CME depositories located in Hong Kong, not in the eastern U.S. like the other six.  That certainly explains why they're in kilobars although, as I've already mentioned on several occasions, more and more of the stocks moving in and out of the COMEX-approved depositories on this side of the Pacific are in kilobar form as well.

That also explains the difference in weights reported.  In the U.S., the kilobar weights are registered in and out as 32.150 troy ounces per bar.  In Hong Kong, they use a far more accurate measure---32.1507466---but may be rounded off a bit, but not as much as is done in the U.S.  This doesn't make much difference when you're talking a few bars, or a few hundred bars, but it adds up when you're talking thousands of them.  One of these days these depositories will have to reconcile this difference---and I'm prepared to bet that it's the U.S. depositories that will have to make the adjustment, because the way they're doing it is not accurate.

Anyway, Brink's, Inc. Hong Kong had another busy day, as 4,660 kilobars were reported received---and 3,025 kilobars were shipped out.  That's 4.660 metric tonnes in---and 3.025 metric tonnes out.  In troy ounces it works out to 149,823 in---and 97,256 out.  The link to that activity is here.

In silver, there was 605,368 troy ounces reported received---and 3,966 troy ounces shipped out.  Most of the activity was at Brink's, Inc---and the link to that action is here.

Here's a chart the Nick Laird passed around late on Sunday evening Denver time.  It showed that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shipped 9.58 tonnes of gold back to its owners during February.  The chart covers a 2-year period, with one bar per month.

Since today is Tuesday, I have a lot of stories saved from the weekend---and Monday.  The final edit is entirely up to you.

¤ Critical Reads

Legendary Hedge Fund Manager: Europe and the U.S. Are Dysfunctional and Broke

Paul Singer is deeply pessimistic on the state of the developed world.

The conservative, cantankerous hedge fund manager thinks economic stimulus in Europe isn’t likely to work and that the U.S. political system will remain dysfunctional, even with Republican midterm gains.

“With euro interest rates at record lows, we cannot imagine that the ECB’s recently announced QE [quantitative easing] program will improve Europe’s serious economic situation,” Singer said of the European situation in a private letter to investors. “On the other hand, QE might have unpredictable and large negative repercussions if it triggers a generalized loss of confidence.”

ECB refers to the European Central Bank, which is engaged in quantitative easing, or the buying billions of dollars of bonds each month to try to spur regional economies.

This commentary appeared on David Stockman's website on Sunday sometime---and I thank Roy Stephens for today's first article.

Experts Fear World May Be Headed for Yet Another Financial Crisis

Only six years after the end of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s some experts are worried another one may be on its way.

Some are "warning that the global community has failed to learn the lessons of the Greek debt crisis — or even of Argentina’s default in 2001, the consequences of which are still being contested furiously in courts on both sides of the Atlantic," writes The (U.K.) Guardian's Heather Stewart.

Some of the concern stems from the soaring dollar, plunging oil prices and the Federal Reserve's preparation to raise interest rates.

The dollar has reached multi-year highs against a range of currencies in recent weeks, oil prices have hit six-year lows, and many economists expect a Fed rate move in September.

"We’re going to have another financial crisis," Ann Pettifor, director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics, told The Guardian.

This story from The Guardian put in an appearance on the newsmax.com Internet site at 5:36 p.m. EDT on Sunday afternoon---and it's its worth reading.  I thank Orlando, Florida reader Dennis Mong for sending it our way.

Kyle Bass Video. "Equities are my biggest liquidity worry"

Kyle Bass spoke at the February 10th Buttonwood Gathering hosted by The Economist magazine.  In this video, Kyle is on stage with:  Ashvin Chhabra, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Rebecca Patterson, Bessemer Trust---and Philip Coggan, The Economist.

This 38:56 minute video panel discussion appeared on the shortjapandebt.com Internet site yesterday---and I thank Tres Knippa for passing it around.

U.S. university, foundation invested in frozen Chinese stocks

The University of Michigan, defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. and a foundation helping Appalachian children all own stakes in an overseas investment fund backing two major Chinese companies, which recently froze their stocks and missed financial reporting deadlines.

The American organizations invested in the $1.4 billion fund — managed by New York banking giant Morgan Stanley — for their endowments or retirement funds, parts of which could be at risk amid news that auditors have yet to sign off on the Chinese companies' books.

Those delays sometimes mean accounting troubles are ahead, which could put the investments in jeopardy. But the companies declined to explain the reasons for the unusual delays, and would say only that the auditors' work wasn't finished.

"This is not something an auditing firm would do lightly," said Paul Gillis, a former partner for PricewaterhouseCoopers in China who teaches accounting at Peking University. "There are only two reasonable explanations for being late: One is management incompetence. Two is they're fighting with the auditors---and neither one of those is good," he said.

This AP story, filed from Washington, showed up on the news.yahoo.com Internet site yesterday afternoon EDT---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sharing it with us.

WTI Tumbles to $47 Handle; Energy Stocks Don't Care at All

There's virtually no commentary with these two charts that were posted on the Zero Hedge website at 1:45 p.m. EDT on Monday.  They're worth a quick peek---and it's the first offering of the day from Dan Lazicki.

Bill Bonner: The “Deep State” Is Now in Charge

This is the last in our series on how America’s money, economy and government have changed since the collapse of the Bretton Woods agreement and the end of gold-backed money.

Today, we keep the focus on government… and what it has become. The period is hardly coincidental: On August 15, 1971, President Nixon hammered the last nail in the coffin of honest money.

It was not the only reason for the profound changes that followed. There was also the opening up of Communist China to capitalism, the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of the Internet, to name just a few. But the new credit-based money system was the least obvious change… and probably the most important.

The credit-based dollar brought about a new economy. It changed the way people thought and the way their government operated. Now, deep pools of money determine which candidates are presented to voters.

And there is a new branch of government: the “Deep State.” It is not mentioned in the Constitution. And it operates above and beyond the visible process of democratic government.

This commentary was posted up on the acting-man.com Internet site yesterday---and it's the second contribution of the day from Roy Stephens.

Future Shop stores closed across Canada, some to re-brand as Best Buy

Dozens of Future Shop stores have been closed across Canada, its parent company Best Buy Canada Ltd. announced Saturday – a move that shocked workers.  Some didn't know they were out of a job until they got to work.

The company said it was shutting down 66 Future Shop stores effective immediately. Meanwhile, another 65 stores will be closed for a week while they are converted to Best Buy stores.

The company said approximately 500 full-time and 1,000 part-time positions will be eliminated as a result of the consolidation.

"The company has been struggling for a long time," said retail analyst and CEO of CustomerLab, Jim Danahy. "It's the idea that people would show up to work this morning with no notice from their employer to find the door locked. That's the surprise. It's a head scratcher."

This article appeared on the cbc.ca website on Saturday morning EDT---and it, along with other store closings across Canada recently, shows the perilous state of the retail industry both here---and in the U.S.

Sweden’s feminist foreign minister has dared to tell the truth about Saudi Arabia. What happens now concerns us all

If the cries of ‘Je suis Charlie’ were sincere, the western world would be convulsed with worry and anger about the Wallström affair. It has all the ingredients for a clash-of-civilisations confrontation.

A few weeks ago Margot Wallström, the Swedish foreign minister, denounced the subjugation of women in Saudi Arabia. As the theocratic kingdom prevents women from travelling, conducting official business or marrying without the permission of male guardians, and as girls can be forced into child marriages where they are effectively raped by old men, she was telling no more than the truth. Wallström went on to condemn the Saudi courts for ordering that Raif Badawi receive ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website that championed secularism and free speech. These were ‘mediaeval methods’, she said, and a ‘cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression’. And once again, who can argue with that?

The backlash followed the pattern set by Rushdie, the Danish cartoons and Hebdo. Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador and stopped issuing visas to Swedish businessmen. The United Arab Emirates joined it. The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, which represents 56 Muslim-majority states, accused Sweden of failing to respect the world’s ‘rich and varied ethical standards’ — standards so rich and varied, apparently, they include the flogging of bloggers and encouragement of paedophiles. Meanwhile, the Gulf Co-operation Council condemned her ‘unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’, and I wouldn’t bet against anti-Swedish riots following soon.

I posted this story in my Saturday column, but it didn't show up until later in the day---and there's a chance that you may have missed it, so here it is again---and it's definitely worth your time.  I thank South African reader B.V. for finding it for us.  By the way, I had "issues" with three or four other stories in Saturday's missive, so if you were having hyperlink problem on stories you wanted to read, but couldn't, everything is fixed now---and the link to the Critical Reads section of Saturday's column is here.

Alexis Tsipras vows to stop Greek 'bleeding' as creditors continue to frustrate Athens

Greece's prime minister has vowed not capitulate to the country's eurozone creditors, reviving controversial calls for debt relief as his government battles to unlock bail-out cash.

Addressing his parliament on Monday evening, Alexis Tsipras said he would seek an “honest compromise” with Greece’s international paymasters, but warned he would not submit “unconditionally” to demands for further austerity on his stricken economy.

Mr Tsipras, who spoke after a frustrating day of progress between his government and officials from the Brussels Group, insisted he would stop “the Greek people’s bleeding” as he ruled out measures such as hiking VAT.

The Leftist premier also repeated his claims for Second World War reparations from Germany, and insisted on debt relief from Greece's lenders.

This new item was posted on The Telegraph's website at 8:14 p.m. BST yesterday evening---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

Fall of oligarch who bankrolled Ukraine's war

He is the billionaire Ukrainian oligarch who offered a bounty of $10,000 for the capture of any Russian "saboteur" and bolstered his country against the advance of Moscow-backed separatists.

Ihor Kolomoisky was appointed governor of Dnipropetrovsk region in south-east Ukraine last year and poured millions of dollars into volunteer battalions that headed out to fight rebel militia to the east.

A portly man with unruly grey hair and a beard, Mr Kolomoisky, 52, quickly became seen as the country's second-most powerful person after Petro Poroshenko, the president – and a patriot ready to reach into his wallet to stave off Russian aggression.

But this week Mr Poroshenko sacked his ally after a business dispute escalated and Mr Kolomoisky sent armed men to occupy the offices of two state energy companies in the capital, Kiev.

This very interesting news item was posted on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 8:00 a.m. BST on Sunday morning in the U.K.---and I received it from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous.

Ukraine 'Lost Without Trace' Five Indian Warplanes During Planned Upgrade

Five of India’s 40 AN-32 military transport aircraft being upgraded in Ukraine have gone missing "without a trace"; Ukrainian diplomat says the government is unable to help.

India says five of its 40 AN-32 military transport aircraft have gone missing "without a trace" while the planes underwent upgrades in Ukraine.

"These five aircraft are almost lost as it is difficult to trace them and diplomatic efforts to find their whereabouts have failed," the website DefenseNews quotes an Indian Air Force official as saying.

In 2009, India signed a contract with Ukraine's state-owned arms trading agency, Ukrspetsexport Corp., to upgrade its 104 AN-32 transport aircraft at a cost of US$400 million, as the fleet had reached its life expectancy.

You couldn't make this stuff up!  This rather amazing news item appeared on the sputniknews.com Internet site at 5:38 p.m. Moscow time on their Monday afternoon, which was 10:38 a.m. in Washington.  It is, of course, courtesy of Roy Stephens.

Putin’s New Mediterranean Strategy -- F. William Engdahl

While attention has been focused in recent weeks on the role of Russia and President Vladimir Putin in brokering a new ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, the Russian president has made time for two crucial state missions—one to Cyprus and one to Egypt. What they both share in common is a border on the shore of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a strategic body of water whose importance in the escalating NATO confrontation with Russia cannot be underestimated.

For more than 2000 years the Mediterranean Sea has been one of the world’s most strategic waters. It joins Middle East oil and gas with markets in the European Union. It joins Indian Ocean shipping, increasingly from China, India, South Korea and the rest of Asia to European markets and to the Atlantic Ocean through the Egyptian Suez Canal. It joins the vital Russian Black Sea Fleet naval base in Crimea to both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. In brief it connects Europe, Eurasia and Africa.

With this in mind, let’s look at Putin’s most recent travels.

This short essay showed up on the journal-neo.org Internet site on Sunday sometime---and it's certainly a must read for any serious student of the New Great Game.  I thank Roy Stephens for sending it along.

Iranian Sanctions—–After Two Decades, The Time To Lift Them Is Here

With the agreed deadline for reaching a “political framework” for a final comprehensive nuclear agreement only a few days away, the fate of the negotiations now hang on closing the gap between the P5+1 and Iran on removing sanctions.

The issues associated with Iran’s nuclear program have now been pretty much resolved, except for limits on Research and Development. But on sanctions relief, all the evidence indicates that the two sides have not advanced beyond where they were last November, when they were very far apart.

Part of the problem is the West’s myopic perspective on the issues. The Obama administration clings to the belief that the only reason Iran is negotiating is that it was so seriously hurt by the sanctions. It fails to grasp the depth of Iranian commitment to removing the sanctions as a matter of national pride as well as to be able to achieve a higher level of economic development.

In fact, Iranian national security strategists have been scheming for two decades about how to accumulate enough bargaining chips to induce the United States to negotiate an end to the sanctions imposed during the Clinton administration. An independent Iranian analyst told me some years ago that senior Iranian national security officials had been saying in private conversations from 2003 to 2005 that they viewed Iran’s future stockpile of enriched uranium as bargaining chips for the eventual negotiations with the United States.

This essay by Gareth Porter was originally posted on the antiwar.com Internet site on Sunday---and it was picked up by David Stockman's website---and given the headline show above.  The actual headline reads "Sanctions---and the Fate of the Nuclear Talks".  My thanks go out to Roy Stephens once again.

Iranian Defector: 'U.S. Negotiating Team Mainly There to Speak on Iran’s Behalf'

An Iranian journalist writing about the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran has defected. In an interview Amir Hossein Motaghi, has some harsh words for his native Iran. He also has a damning indictment of America's role in the nuclear negotiations.

“The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal," Motaghi told a TV station after just defecting from the Iranian delegation while abroad for the nuclear talks. The P 5 + 1 is made up of United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, plus Germany.

This interesting story showed up on the weeklystandard.com website late Saturday afternoon GMT---and I thank reader Karen Nelson for bringing it to our attention.

McCain Suggests Israel "Go Rogue," Blow Up Iran Negotiations By Starting War

As Iran talks appear to be coming to a close with a successful agreement that would both lead to the lifting of international sanctions and restrictions that would prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons, most in the international community are relieved.

Yet Republicans have teamed up with their counterparts in the Israeli political system to do everything they can to obstruct a deal – with tactics such as drafting new sanctions legislation and warning the Iranian leadership that the nuclear agreement will not outlast President Obama.

But this past week Senator John McCain ratcheted up this sabotage to a new level. During a floor speech he gave on March 24th, the senator suggested that Israel “go rogue” and that if they don't they may not survive the next 22 months of the Obama presidency.

This article put in an appearance on the alternet.org website on Sunday---and once again my thanks go out to Roy Stephens for sharing it with us.

A Middle East Holocaust — Paul Craig Roberts

For people in the Anglo-American world who have a moral conscience, the facts are soul-wrenching. The populations of the countries whose governments comprised “the Coalition of the Willing” are contaminated with war crimes committed by their governments in the Iraq Genocide. A progressive modern state was obliterated, and 2.7 million Iraqi people were murdered.

The crime was covered up with propaganda that demonized Saddam Hussein and created fear of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

The Iraqi genocide was based on a lie, and both Bush and Blair knew it. The two satanic leaders simply decided to destroy a people who they first demonized and marginalized.

Cheney and the neocons continue to justify the genocide and the illegal torture regime that they created in order to produce fake “terrorists” as a justification for their war crimes. The Western media, especially the New York Times, is also complicit in the Iraqi Genocide as are the insouciant Western peoples themselves who stood by cheering while millions of people were destroyed on the basis of a blatant and transparent lie.

This right-on-the-money commentary appeared on the Paul Craig Roberts website yesterday---and certainly falls into the absolute must read category.

Saudi oil infrastructure at risk as Mid-East conflagration spreads

Saudi Arabia’s escalating intervention in Yemen is a high-stakes gamble that risks back-firing in a series of complex ways, ultimately endangering Saudi oil infrastructure and the security of global energy supply.

Military analysts say there is little chance that air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni countries will subjugate the Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen. It may require a full-blown invasion by land forces to secure control. Large concentrations of Saudi armour and artillery are already massing near the border, though this may simply be a negotiating ploy.

The longer the conflict goes on, the greater the risks that it will stir up internal hatred in a country that has traditionally been relatively free of sectarian violence. Adam Baron, from the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the inflammatory comments about the Sunni-Shia struggle by politicians across the region are becoming “self-fulfilling prophecies”.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) – thought to be the most lethal of the jihadi franchises, and a redoubt for Saudi jihadis – already controls a swathe of central Yemen and is the chief beneficiary of the power vacuum.

This commentary by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard appeared on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 9:00 p.m. BST yesterday evening, which was 4:00 p.m. EDT.  I thank Roy Stephens for sliding this into my in-box in the wee hours of this morning.

Banks Slash Dividends as Loans Sour From Beijing To Pearl River

China’s biggest banks are accelerating cuts to their dividend payouts as bad debts pile up from struggling exporters in the Pearl River Delta, coal companies in the nation’s west and manufacturers in the Bohai Rim near Beijing.

Three of the nation’s four largest banks, including Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., this week cut their payment ratios for 2014 by the most in three years. ICBC’s fell to 33 percent from 35 percent a year earlier. The smaller China Citic Bank Corp. last week eliminated its payment altogether.

Rising charges for bad debts -- ICBC more than doubled provisions in the fourth quarter -- are cutting profits just as regulators require banks to hold extra capital. The average gain in net income for four of the five biggest banks -- ICBC, Agricultural Bank of China Ltd., Bank of China Ltd. and Bank of Communications Co. -- was 6.7 percent, the weakest in more than a decade, their results showed this week.

This Bloomberg article, co-filed from Shanghai and Beijing, showed up on their Internet site last Thursday---and I thank Elliot Simon for sending it along.

Russia to apply for China-led infrastructure bank AIIB – Deputy PM

Russia decided to apply to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said on Saturday.

“I would like to inform you about the decision to participate in the AIIB,” which was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Shuvalov said at the Boao Forum for Asia.

Shuvalov added that Russia welcomes China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative and is happy about stepping up cooperation.

"We are delighted to be able to step up cooperation in the format of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and China...the free movement of goods and capital within the EEU brings economies of Europe and Asia closer. This is intertwined with the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, launched by the Chinese leadership," he said.

This article was posted on the Russia Today website in the wee hours of Saturday morning Moscow time---and I thank Roy Stephens for finding it.  There was also a story on the South China Morning Post website headlined "Russia to join China-led Asian bank; Beijing opens door to Taiwan membership"---but I couldn't get it to load.  Maybe you'll have more luck.  It's also covered in more depth in this Zero Hedge article from Saturday headlined "De-Dollarization Continues as Russia Seeks AIIB Membership"---and I thank reader 'David in California' for that one.

How should America compete with China?

Never in the history of American foreign policy has so much egg adhered to so little face as in the matter of Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. All of America’s allies, including Britain and Australia, have elected to join the Chinese-led institution. That is a grand validation of China’s One Belt/One Road vision for infrastructure upgrades across the whole Eurasian landmass. China’s President Xi Jinping envisions $2.5 trillion of trade between his country and the “Silk Road” nations over the next decade. Rather than fret about the impact of a slowing (or shrinking) world economy on China’s export-driven prosperity, China is seeking to shape the economic environment around it.

It is not only the Obama administration that has been wrong-footed by the world’s embrace of China’s economic ambitions, but almost the whole of America’s foreign-policy elite. With almost no exceptions, American analysts have misunderstood China. One school argues that China inevitably will collapse of its own weight, because authoritarian governments supposedly are incapable of efficient allocation of resources; another warns of a Chinese plan for world domination.

Infrastructure is one of China’s great achievements. As The New York Times observed in a Sept. 13, 2013 report, China’s high-speed rail system already serves more passengers than the 54 million Americans who board domestic flights every day, and has transformed China’s economy. With 600 million Chinese migrating from the low-productivity countryside to higher-productivity employment in urban areas, the high-speed rail network has made business ventures possible that were not conceivable before.

This short, but very worthwhile read appeared on the Asia Times Internet site on Sunday sometime---and it's the final contribution of the day from Roy Stephen---and I thank him on your behalf.

This Is What The AIIB Is About -- Koos Jansen

Until March 31 countries can submit for membership of the Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank (AIIB), a financial institution proposed by China, which has the purpose of being a multilateral framework to finance infrastructure projects in the wide Eurasian region. In recent weeks many Western countries have submitted for membership, the US rejected application as it fears strong cooperation between Asia and Europe will weaken the US dollar hegemony. On April 15 the final list of the founding members will be disclosed.

In October 2013 the initial idea for the AIIB was first put forward by Chinese President Xi Jingping “on constructing a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to promote maritime cooperation”. The project has currently developed into the New Silk Road Economic Belt.

The AIIB is very much about developing the infrastructure connecting Asia, Europe and Africa. For China to import resources such as oil, have strong export channels and to strengthen ties with trading partners. The main significance of the AIIB is non-US cooperation which will further weaken the US dollar hegemony and change the international monetary environment in the years to come.

This commentary by Koos showed up on the bullionstar.com Internet site yesterday sometime.

Japan nears deflation as consumer prices stop rising

Annual core consumer inflation in Japan, the world's third-largest economy, stopped rising for the first time in nearly two years in February.

The core consumer price index (CPI) was flat from a year ago, stripping out the effect of last year's sales tax increase in April.

The last time the core CPI did not rise was in May 2013, when it was flat.

The latest figures are moving further away from the Bank of Japan's (BoJ) inflation target of 2%.

This short article appeared on the bbc.com Internet site on Friday---and I thank Dan Lazicki for bringing it to our attention.

Australia's Prime Minister Gives Green Light to $100 Billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has cleared the way for Australia to join the new multi-billion-dollar, China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank but says some issues remain before Australia could consider full membership.

Abbott announced Australia would sign a memorandum of understanding that will allow Australia to be involved in negotiations to set up the $100 billion bank.

"Key matters to be resolved before Australia considers joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank include the bank's board of directors having authority over key investment decisions, and that no one country control the bank," Abbott said in a statement.

This news item was posted on The Sydney Morning Herald website on Sunday---and I found it embedded in a GATA release that Chris Powell filed from the Philippines yesterday afternoon local time.

Australia to Start Taxing Bank Deposits

Up until now, the world's descent into the NIRP twilight of fiat currency was a function of failing monetary policy around the globe as central bank after desperate central bank implemented negative and even more negative (in the case of Denmark some four times rapid succession) rates, hoping to make saving so prohibitive consumers would have no choice but to spend the fruits of their labor, or better yet, take out massive loans which they would never be able to repay. However, nobody said it was only central banks who could be the executioners of the world's saver class: governments are perfectly capable too.  Such as Australia's.

According to Australia's ABC News, the "Federal Government looks set to introduce a tax on bank deposits in the May budget."

Ironically, the idea of a bank deposit tax was raised by Labor in 2013 and was criticized by Tony Abbott at the time. Much has changed in two years, and as ABC reports, assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has indicated an announcement on the new tax could be made before the budget.

This disturbing article appeared on the Zero Hedge website just before midnight on Sunday evening EDT---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it our way.

Former Canadian foreign minister, former U.S. House speaker join Barrick advisory board

Former Canadian foreign affairs minister John Baird has a new job as an adviser to global mining giant Barrick Gold, the corporation has confirmed.

In its annual report, the company listed Baird and former U.S. lawmaker Newt Gingrich as members of its international advisory board.

Barrick Gold says the group is made up of 10 external advisers who meet about once a year to provide advice to the board of directors and management on geopolitical and strategic matters.

This news item appeared on the cbc.ca Internet site on Saturday morning EDT---and I found it on the gata.org website.

Reflections in a Golden Eye: Rejection, repatriation and redemption in the gold market

Let the seller beware! The German citizen/investor who put away a few rolls of 20 mark gold coins (.2304 tr ozs. shown below) in 1918 would have done so at 119 marks per ounce. By early 1920 the previous rapid inflation had suddenly given way to deflation. Had that gold owner decided to cash in on gold's significant gains thinking runaway inflation was over, a 100,000 mark investment would have made him or her a millionaire.

The glow, however, would have quickly worn off.

By late 1921 the runaway inflation had resurfaced but now with a vengeance. Gold shot to 4,000 marks per ounce. By mid-1922 gold reached 10,000 marks per ounce and the wholesale price index went from 13 to 70.  By late 1922, the roof caved in. Gold traded at 134,000 marks per ounce.  In January, 1923, it cracked 1,000,000 marks per ounce.  By midyear, it broke the 100 million marks per ounce barrier and at the peak of the hyperinflationary breakdown, it sold for over 100 billion marks per ounce.

The individual who thought he or she had the cat by the tail and cashed-in his or her golden chips during the 1920's deflation became a millionaire. In short order though, that millionaire became a pauper as wave after wave of hyperinflation washed over the German economy. One moral from this somewhat frightening tale is that becoming a millionaire or even a billionaire on one's gold holdings was inconsequential. Another is not to give up one's hedge until there is ample evidence that it is no longer needed.

Momentary nominal profits can be illusory.

Yes---and you can ask anyone from Zimbabwe about that as well.  This interesting, but longish commentary by Michael Kosares showed up on the usagold.com Internet site on Monday.

U.S. dollar influence on gold prices likely to diminish amid huge demand from emerging markets

The U.S. dollar's inverse relationship with gold has changed dramatically over the past decades and is likely to shift further as demand moves East and the world moves to a multi-currency system, according to the World Gold Council.

The organisation responsible for the development of the gold industry said in a report that gold prices are driven by multiple interconnected factors, and the US centric explanations about gold prices are risky for investors.

The council noted that gold market commentators, especially in the U.S., tend to link the changes in gold prices to the U.S. dollar and U.S. interest rates. While the US variables are important, the large demand for physical gold from emerging markets would make faulty any theory that relies too heavily on U.S.-metrics.

Generally, there is an inverse correlation between gold and the dollar. However, the council's analysis shows it is asymmetrical: Gold price increases more when the dollar weakens, than it falls when the dollar strengthens.

This is mostly a rehash of a WGC story that appeared late last week on the mineweb.com Internet site---and that's appeared in this space already---but there is some updated information in it.  It's worth skimming, but that's about all.  It appeared on the ibtimes.co.uk Internet site on Friday morning---and it's courtesy of Elliot Simon.

China gold flows to hit Q1 record -- Lawrence Williams

Withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) remain exceptionally high despite being expected to drop following the Chinese New Year holiday. In the three weeks of trading since the holiday’s end, withdrawals from the exchange have totalled 149 tonnes which would seem to belie other reports that demand is slipping.

The latest figure from the SGE is for the movement of 53 tonnes out of the Exchange during week 11 (ended March 20), following 51 tonnes a week earlier and 45 tonnes in week 9. Total to March 20 is thus already 561 tonnes. So withdrawals from the SGE appear to be rising week on week at a time when they would normally expect to be falling back after the holiday buying spree has ended. Should the gold flows out of the exchange continue at this kind of rate, then the Q1 total figure will be of the order of 620-630 tonnes – comfortably a new Q1 record.

Even at the lower end of the likely Q1 flow level this would be 10% up on the previous highest Q1 withdrawal amount, which was 564 tonnes (this has almost been reached already with flows for seven working days yet to be announced) recorded a year ago when the full year figure was 2,102 tonnes. Q1 withdrawals will thus undoubtedly set a new record.

This commentary by Lawrie showed up on the mineweb.com Internet site at 11:27 BST yesterday morning.  It's certainly worth reading.

¤ The Funnies

Here are the last three hummingbird photos that reader M.A. sent me about ten days ago.  The first one is a violet-crowned woodnymph---and judging by the posture and the position of the feet, whatever he was perched on, has been Photoshopped out.

This is a wine-throated hummingbird.  I posted a photo of one of these early last week, but this shot is in his full "attitude on" mode with gorget flashing---and in hummingbird speak to another male, it means "*%$# off!".  They also have quite a vocal repertoire in this "attitude on" mode as well.

The same can be said of the male hummingbird in the photo directly below as well.  The two photos below did not identify the species.

¤ The Wrap

For the month, JPMorgan stopped (accepted) exactly 1,500 contracts of physical delivery, or 7.5 million oz, out of a total of 2,583 total deliveries issued, or 58% of total silver deliveries. Because JPMorgan took these silver deliveries in its house account, we know it was for the bank’s own benefit and risk and not on behalf of clients. While I believe JPMorgan was behind the 3.5 million oz of silver that was withdrawn from the SLV during the last week or so, there is no question that the bank took in 7.5 million oz of physical silver in the COMEX March deliveries. The 7.5 million oz is certain, the 3.5 million oz is likely and suggestive that JPM just got hold of another 11 million oz of physical silver.

Interestingly, 1,500 contracts happens to be the limit imposed by the COMEX as to the maximum number of silver contracts that any one speculator may stop in any one delivery month. Therefore, we also know that JPMorgan, as a speculator for its own account just took the maximum number of silver contracts allowed for the month. At the very least, this would be in conformity with my consistent speculation that JPMorgan has acquired a massive amount of physical silver and, apparently, is not yet finished with that accumulation. And it appears clear that JPMorgan held all 1,500 contracts prior to the start of the March delivery process and simply waited (until the last delivery day) for the sellers to deliver. In other words, this wasn’t a haphazard or impromptu development, and is in keeping with JPM’s deliberate role in the silver price manipulation. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 28 March 2015

I must admit that yesterday's price action didn't surprise me too much.  As I said on Saturday, "da boyz" looked like they appeared to turning gold and silver lower---and that's precisely what they did on Monday.  With silver now closed below its 50-day moving average, it's a good bet that the technical funds in the Managed Money category were beginning to sell some of their newly acquired long positions---and/or going short.

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals once again---and the graphs are courtesy of stockcharts.com.

As I write this paragraph, the London open is ten minutes away---and you already know, JPMorgan et al have been active in both gold---and particularly in silver during the Far East trading session on their Tuesday.  At the moment, gold is only down five bucks, but at its low of the day at the moment.  Silver got smacked for about two bits, with the current low coming shortly before lunch time in Hong Kong.  Platinum is trading flat---and palladium is actually up five dollars on the day.

Gold volume is just over 23,000 contracts, which is very decent considering the price action---and the time of day---with virtually all of it in the new front month, which is June.  Silver's net volume is just over 5,000 contracts.  The almighty U.S. dollar is up 25 basis points at the moment.

With today being the last trading day of the month---and the quarter, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if "da boyz" hit the metals hard during the New York session today.

Today, at the close of COMEX trading, is also the cut-off for the next Commitment of Traders Report, which will be published on Friday---and they're open, even though it's Good Friday.  I'll be very interested in what that report says, particularly in gold after last Friday's huge surprise.

I mentioned in Saturday's column that I would steal what I could from Ted's weekly review about the "huge surprise" in the gold COT numbers---but now that I see how much he wrote, I'll have to pass on it.  What he said makes sense, but the "doubting Thomas" in me is still there---and I'll believe it once I have a look at Friday's numbers.

And as I send this off to Stowe, Vermont at 5:15 a.m. EDT, I see that both gold and silver have been chopping more or less sideways since I last wrote about them two and a half hours ago---and platinum and palladium are now up decent amounts from Monday's close in New York.

Net gold volume is around 33,000 contracts---and silver's net volume is about 7,500 contracts.  The dollar index continues to power higher---and is up 67 basis points at the moment.  Crude oil is down another $1.15 a barrel.

Nothing will surprise me during the the remainder of Tuesday's session, nor should it you.

That's more than enough for one day---and I'll see you here tomorrow.

Ed Steer

Tue, 31 Mar 2015 04:02:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Lawrence Williams: Red Rag to Gold Bulls—JPMorgan Added to LBMA Gold Price Banks]]> http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/lawrence-williams-red-rag-to-gold-bulls-jpmorgan-added-to-lbma-gold-price-banks/ http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/lawrence-williams-red-rag-to-gold-bulls-jpmorgan-added-to-lbma-gold-price-banks/#When:08:50:00Z "The prudent have been sacrificed on the altar of the wanton"

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

With Friday being the last day for large traders to exit the April gold contract, it was not at all surprising that that price action was subdued.  The low of the day came at the London afternoon gold "fix"---and gold was closed below the $1,200 spot mark.

The high and low ticks aren't worth the effort to look up.

Gold finished the Friday session in New York at $1,198.40 spot, down $5.70 from from Thursday's close.   Gross volume was 329,000 contracts, but it netted out to only 15,000 contracts, which is typical for a day when the last of the large COMEX traders bail at month end, as virtually all of the volume was roll-overs into future months.

The silver price action yesterday had a little more shape to it, but as you can tell from the Kitco chart below, every rally attempt ran into a willing seller---and the silver price finished the day almost back at its Wednesday close---and below $17 spot once again.

The low and high ticks were reported by the CME Group as $16.855 and $17.195 in the May contract.

Gold finished the Friday session at $16.97 spot, down 13 cents from Thursday.  Net volume was pretty decent at 33,500 contracts.

After doing not much of anything through most of the Far East trading session, a willing seller appeared shortly after the Zurich open---and it was pretty much all down hill from there, as platinum closed at $1,136 spot, down 12 bucks from Thursday.

Palladium really got it in the neck with the selling beginning at the same time as the other three precious metals---and by the time the blood was washed from the floor, "da boyz" had that white metal closed down 32 dollars [-3.9%] on the day at $736 spot, with most of the damage coming after the COMEX open in New York.

The dollar index closed late on Thursday afternoon in New York at 97.42---and chopped sideways in a fairly tight range until it blasted higher around 3:20 p.m. Hong Kong time/7:20 a.m. in London.  The 97.92 high tick came minutes before the open of the equity markets in London.  Then it sold down to its 97.10 low at 1 p.m. EDT.  From there the index rallied a bit into the close.

[Note:  The ino.com website says the low tick was actually 96.992---but that's not what the chart shows.]

The gold stocks opened down---and hit their lows a few minutes before 10 a.m. EDT, which probably corresponded with the low in the gold price at the London p.m. gold fix.  From there they rallied into positive territory, hitting their highs at 2 p.m. in New York.  It was all down hill from there, as the HUI closed down 0.71 percent, it's fourth losing session in a row.

It was the same chart pattern for the silver equities, but they never got a sniff of positive territory all day long, as Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed down another 1.32 percent.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that one gold and 83 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Tuesday.  The two short/issuers in silver were HSBC USA and Credit Suisse with 43 and 40 contracts respectively.  JPMorgan stopped 24 for its in-house [proprietary] trading account, plus another 18 in its client account.

The CME Group stopped 16 silver contracts as well, which represents 80 one-thousand ounce good delivery bars, which they promptly issued to Jefferies in order to satisfy delivery on the 1,000 ounce silver futures contract.  The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

The CME Preliminary Report for Friday showed that March open interest in gold dropped by 42 contracts, leaving just 1 contract open for delivery in March---and that was just posted for delivery on Tuesday, as per the previous paragraph.  Silver's March open interest fell from 146 contracts down to 83 contracts open---and those were posted for delivery on Tuesday as well.  You can put a fork in the March 2015 deliveries, as they're done.

There were no changes reported GLD yesterday---and as 7:29 p.m. EDT yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV.

Ted and I were talking about the counterintuitive withdrawals from both GLD and SLV during the last week or so as both metals have been rallying.   Metal should be pouring into both these ETFs based on the price action.  Ted feels that some large entity[s] have been tendering their shares and taking physical delivery in order not to exceed the 5 percent threshold for share ownership that would have to be reported to the SEC if they didn't do this.  If that's the case, then we should see physical metal being deposited next week.  We'll see.

I forgot all about Joshua Gibbons in Friday's column, so here's his report today on the in/out activity over at SLV for the reporting week ending on Wednesday.  "Analysis of the 25 March 2015 bar list, and comparison to the previous week's list -- 2,008,835.9 troy ounces were removed (all from Brinks London)---and no bars had serial number changes."

"The bars added were from: Handy Harman (0.9M oz), Asarco (0.2M oz, LS-Nikko (0.2M oz), and 16 others."

"As of the time that the bar list was produced, it was overallocated 75.6 oz.  All daily changes are reflected on the bar list."

There was a smallish sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday.  They reported selling 60,000 silver eagles---and that was all.

Month-to-date the mint has sold 39,500 troy ounces of gold eagles---8,500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes---and 2,915,500 silver eagles.  Based on these sales, the silver/gold ratio works out to just about 61 to 1.

It was another busy day in both gold and silver over at the COMEX-approved depositories on Thursday.  There was no gold activity worth mentioning at the usual depositories, but at the new "Gold Kilo Stocks" warehouses, it was a different story once again.  As has been the case since these two new depositories were opened, all the action was at Brink's, Inc.  This time they reported receiving 769 kilobars---and shipped out 4,294 kilobars.  If you want to see the ounces---and the action---the link is here.

It was a very big day for silver once again, as 1,358,254 troy ounces were received---but only 60,775 troy ounces were shipped out.  Almost all of the activity was at Canada's Scotiabank---and the rest was at Brink's, Inc.  The link to that activity is here.

The Commitment of Traders Report, for positions held at the close of COMEX trading on Tuesday, was [unfortunately] as expected in silver---but the gold numbers were shocking.

In silver, the Commercial net short position blew out by 9,032 contracts, or 45.2 million troy ounces.  Ted was expecting 10,000 contracts maximum, so he was almost right on.  The Commercial net short position in silver now sits at 196.2 million troy ounces.

The big disappointment was that the Big 4 traders [read JPMorgan] added a chunky 2,800 short contracts to their short-side corner in the COMEX silver market.  The '5 through 8' traders added 1,800 short contracts to their short positions---and the rest of the Commercial traders, Ted's raptors, sold 4,400 long contracts.

Ted was hoping that the Big 8 traders weren't going to step in front of last week's silver rally---and that all the selling was going to by the raptors dumping longs for a profit.  As you can see, the raptors only sold 4,400 long contracts--and JPMorgan et al had to step in and go short to the tune of 4,600 contracts, or the silver price would have exploded.  Ted puts JPMorgan's short side corner in the COMEX silver market around the 15,000 contract mark.

Silver was already firmly above its 50-day moving average, so there's no question that the Managed Money traders were heading for the exits---and that "da boyz" were there to take on all comers.

There was no legitimate hedging going on here.  This was the 'Big 8' traders capping the price, pure and simple.

Under the hood in the Disaggregated COT Report, the technical funds in the Managed Money category reduced their short position in silver by 5,137 contracts, plus added 2,976 long contracts as well.  This action by the brain-dead technical funds was as a predictable as a Pavlovian dog.

And now for gold---and I really don't want to go here, because the numbers are so outrageous, I'm not sure if they're correct or not.  Ted had a plausible explanation involving the 50-day moving average not being broken to the upside during the reporting week---and a few other things as well.  But I was born in Missouri in another life---and as a "doubting Thomas" of the first order of magnitude, I want more proof.  I have to see those nail holes for myself.

Anyway, Ted was hoping/praying that the Commercial net short position wasn't going to more than 40,000 contracts on the negative side---and based on the rally size during the reporting week, that number was certainly doable.  I was hoping/praying for something less than that.

But what we actually got was an improvement in the Commercial net short position in gold!

The Commercial net short position in gold declined by 3,565 contracts, or 356,500 troy ounces.  The new and improved Commercial net short position now stands at 5.29 million troy ounces.

According to the Legacy COT Report, the Big 4 traders covered 300 short contracts, the '5 through 8' traders added 2,000 contracts to their short positions---and the small Commercial traders, Ted's raptors, added 5,300 contracts to their long positions.

Under the hood in the Disaggregated COT Report the technical funds in the Managed Money category added a huge 8,726 contracts to their already prodigious short position.  What?  Ted says that these technical funds now a hold a record high short position in gold, at least 10 percent higher than their old record high amount.  These same traders also added 937 contracts to their long position as well.

If the "unblinking" non-technical fund long holders hiding in the Managed Money category were active during the reporting week, that fact was well hidden by the activities of the technical traders in both silver and gold.

Are these technical funds that are massively short gold being set up to get their heads chopped off?  I suppose, because Ted's careful calculations indicate that may be the case.  And despite the fact that 9,000 contracts of technical fund/Managed Money price fire-power in silver were erased during the reporting week, they still hold a monstrous short position in that metal as well.

We're still "locked and loaded" for an upside move of biblical proportions in both silver and gold, but looking at the price action in both metals for the last few days, along with the punk price action in their associated equities over the same period of time, if this is a set up to blast higher, it's certainly been meticulously crafted---and extremely well hidden.

I'll only believe it when I see it.

So we wait some more.

Nick Laird was kind enough to send along the chart showing the withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange as of Friday, March 20---and during that week they took out 53.470 tonnes, which is a lot.  Koos Jansen has a story about it further down, but if you just can't wait, the link is here.

Since it's my Saturday column, I have lots of stories, including a fair number that' I've been saving just for today.

¤ Critical Reads

Final Q4 GDP Unchanged at 2.2%, Below Expectations; Corporate Profits Tumble

So much for the "self-sustaining escape-velocity" recovery---again.

After rising at an annualized pace of 4.6% and 5.0% in Q2 and Q3, the final Q4 GDP estimate (a number which will still be revised at least 3-4 times in the coming years), slid more than half to 2.2%, the same as the second estimate from a month ago, and below the consensus Wall Street estimate of 2.4%.

The worst news was the following: For the year 2014, profits from current production decreased $17.1 billion, in contrast to an increase of $84.1 billion in 2013. Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased, and profits of domestic non-financial corporations increased. The rest-of-the-world component of profits decreased $9.0 billion in 2014, in contrast to an increase of $1.3 billion in 2013---and the fact that profits are now declining is not what those advocating EPS growth would like to see.

In short: a number which confirms the U.S. economy is once again slowing down, and will hit the breaks when in one month the BEA reports that Q1 GDP was at or below 1.0%, with snow in the winter getting the bulk of the ridiculous blame once again.

This news item was posted on the Zero Hedge website at 8:41 a.m. EDT on Friday morning---and today's first story is courtesy of reader M.A.

UMich Consumer Sentiment Drops For 2nd Month in a Row, First Time Since Oct 2013

For the first time since October 2013, UMich Consumer Sentiment dropped for consecutive months (printing a final 93.0 for March down from 95.4 in Feb, but above the flash print earlier in the month). Under the surface there are concerns with an increasing number of respondents noting that household finance are worse than 5 years ago, and an increasing number of people seeing now as a "bad time to buy" a house or car.

This tiny Zero Hedge story, complete with an excellent chart, is worth thirty seconds of your time---and it's the first offering of the day from Dan Lazicki.

Santelli Stunned as Janet Yellen Admits "Cash is Not a Store of Value"

Intended warning or unintended slip? After Alan Greenspan's confessional admission that "Gold is a currency. It is still, by all evidence, a premier currency. No fiat currency, including the dollar, can match it,"---we found it remarkable that during the Q&A after her speech today that Janet Yellen, when asked about negative rates, admitted that "cash in not a very convenient store of value," seemingly hinting at Bernanke's helicopter and that there will be no deflation in The U.S. ever...

Rick Santelli then sums it all up perfectly..."deflation is clearly the boogeyman... and the only thing that will save the middle class."

These two brief video clips appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 5:30 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon---and it's the second contribution of the day from reader M.A.

John Crudele: Stock market rigging is no longer a ‘conspiracy theory’

The stock market is rigged.  When I started making that claim years ago — and provided solid evidence — people scoffed. Some called it a conspiracy theory, tinfoil hats and that sort of stuff. Most people just ignored me.

But that’s not happening anymore. The dirty secret is out.

With stock prices rushing far ahead of economic reality over the last six or so years, more experts in the financial markets are coming to the same conclusion — even if they don’t fully understand how it’s being rigged or the consequences.

Ed Yardeni, a longtime Wall Street guru who isn’t one of the clowns of the bunch, said flat out last week that the market was being propped up. “These markets are all rigged, and I don’t say that critically. I just say that factually,” he asserted on CNBC.

This commentary by John appeared on the nypost.com Internet site late Wednesday evening---and I thank Brad Robertson for sending it our way.

Yemen "Gulf Intervention" Premium Erased, WTI Tumbles Back Below $49

Well that was a quick geopolitical event.

On the heels of what was set to be crude's best week since July 2013, Stratfor clarifying little risk of disruption to crude supplies, Goldman confirming negligible impact from Yemen and more to Iran, and reports from Saudi Arabia that "this [Yemen] operation will not go on for long, I think it will be days," WTI crude has tumbled back to the $48 handle and erased all the "gulf intervention" premium - refocusing on domestic storage concerns.

As Reuters reports, The Arab military campaign against Yemen's Houthi militia is likely to last days rather than weeks, Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen told Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television on Friday.

In answer to a question about whether he thought the Saudi-led operation, which began on Thursday, would last days or weeks or more, Yaseen replied: "I expect that this operation will not go on for long, I think it will be days."

This tiny Zero Hedge story has an excellent WTI chart embedded in it---and it appeared on their Internet site at 2:36 p.m. EDT on Friday afternoon---and the 'click to enlarge' feature is a must to view the graph.  I thank Dan Lazicki for sending it our way.

North American Railroads Caught by Speed of Crude-Oil Collapse

The slowdown that North American railroad companies had been bracing for in crude oil shipments has turned into a rout, with volumes falling faster than executives had predicted.

With energy companies scaling back drilling after prices for the commodity fell about 50 percent since July, industry executives and analysts anticipated that demand for hauling crude and extraction materials such as frac sand and pipes would slow after a four-year surge. They didn’t expect it to slow this much this fast.

“The impact is occurring more quickly than the rails originally projected to investors,” said Matt Troy, an analyst with Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York. “The consensus view was that very high double-digit growth would moderate to low double digits, and as we have seen in recent weeks we’ve broken that floor and in some cases gone negative.”

Rail stocks and tank-car leasing are reflecting the dwindling traffic. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Railroads Index posted its biggest weekly decline since October and lessors’ rates for oil cars have fallen by about a third in the last six months, Cowen & Co. said in a report on Friday.

This Bloomberg article, filed from Dallas, appeared on their Internet site at 6:22 p.m. Denver time on Thursday evening---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for finding it for us.

Doug Noland: A Progressively Maladjusted “Economic Sphere”

These days, a momentous change in economic doctrine has policymakers openly targeting rising securities prices. It is believed that central bank Credit-induced wealth effects will stimulate spending, system-wide Credit expansion and, eventually, a steady 2% increase in the general price level. What began with the free-market advocate Alan Greenspan in the nineties (stealthily) nurturing U.S. non-bank Credit expansion, has regressed to open global government manipulation of sovereign bond, corporate debt, equities and currency markets.

There are serious flaws in today’s New Age doctrine that ensure spectacular failure. Generally speaking, global policy is pro-Bubble – pro-Credit Bubble, pro-securities market Bubbles, pro-wealth redistribution and pro-global Bubble-induced financial and economic maladjustment. It is pro unsustainable divergence between inflating securities prices and deflating economic prospects.

Fundamentally, market-based Credit is unstable, with this era’s great experiment requiring progressive government intervention and manipulation. Providing robust incentives for leveraged speculation ensures mispriced Credit, loose Credit Availability and boom and bust dynamics. It also ensures an inflating pool of trend-following and performance-chasing finance. Incentivizing flows to the risk markets as opposed to savings only exacerbates the proclivity of markets toward destabilizing speculative excess. As we’ve witnessed over the years, mounting market distortions and associated fragilities have been met with only more aggressive policy measures. A breakdown in market pricing mechanisms is celebrated as a historic “bull market.”

Importantly, it has reached the point where the risks associated with a bursting global Bubble overshadow policy discussions and objectives. Policymakers now endeavor to completely repress market self-adjusting and correcting mechanisms (i.e. “quasi-Capitalism”). Bear markets and recessions have become completely unacceptable, as this historic Bubble’s “Terminal Phase” runs its regrettable course.

Doug's weekly Credit Bubble Bulletin appeared on his Internet site on Friday evening sometime and, as usual, I thank reader U.D for sending it our way.

Judge Andrew Napolitano: The State Is Spying On You Right Now. Where’s The Outrage?

Here is a short pop quiz: When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress earlier this month about the parameters of the secret negotiations between the United States and Iran over nuclear weapons and economic sanctions, how did he know what the negotiators were considering? Israel is not a party to those negotiations, yet the prime minister presented them in detail.

When Hillary Clinton learned that a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives had subpoenaed her e-mails as secretary of state and she promptly destroyed half of them—about 33,000—how did she know she could get away with it? Destruction of evidence, particularly government records, constitutes the crime of obstruction of justice.

When Gen. Michael Hayden, the director of both the CIA and the NSA in the George W. Bush administration and the architect of the government’s massive suspicionless spying program, was recently publicly challenged to deny that the feds have the ability to turn on your computer, cellphone, or mobile device in your home and elsewhere, and use your own devices to spy on you, why did he remain silent? The audience at the venue where he was challenged rationally concluded that his silence was his consent.

The common themes here are government spying and lawlessness. We now know that the Israelis spied on Secretary of State John Kerry, and so Netanyahu knew of what he spoke. We know that the Clintons believe there is a set of laws for them and another for the rest of us, and so Mrs. Clinton could credibly believe that her deception and destruction would go unpunished.

This commentary appeared on the Paul Craig Roberts website on Friday sometime---and it's worth reading.

WikiLeaks Exposes Most Controversial Part of Obama-Led Trade Agreement

The leaked proposal, published on Wikileaks, comes from the ongoing secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal negotiations and outlines the intent to grant multinational corporations with the opportunity to sue foreign governments if their laws and regulations interfere with claimed future profits.

The whistleblower organization, Wikileaks, published a 56-page draft chapter dated January 20 from the secretive negotiations over a deal that has become the cornerstone of Obama’s economic agenda. The chapter, entitled “Investment”, proposes empowering multinational corporations to sue foreign governments.

Under the agreement, corporations may challenge foreign government’s laws and regulations if they interfere with “distinct, reasonable investment-backed expectations”, and they can do so before tribunals under the World Bank or the United Nations. This process is known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), and while it has existed in the past, the large scope of the TPP has prompted some serious concerns.

TPP negotiations have been kept tightly under wraps, with only select officials reviewing the documents in secured reading rooms. The leaked chapter would mark the first disclosure of the accord to the public since an early version leaked in 2012. Opponents of the TPP have voiced concerns about the secrecy of the deal, saying it allows governments to push forward provisions disliked by their constituents. The Obama administration, along with other TPP opponents have argued that the secrecy is necessary for a smooth negotiation.

It's no accident that this is all being done in secret.  This must read news item put in an appearance on the sputniknews.com website at 10:13 p.m. Moscow time on their Friday evening, which was 2:13 p.m. in Washington.

Mark Carney: next interest rate move will be up, not down

Britain's record low inflation is unlikely to force the Bank of England to cut rates below their already rock-bottom levels, its governor has said, underscoring a fracturing of views between the top policymakers at Threadneedle Street.

Mark Carney said the Bank's next move in interest rates would be an increase rather than a cut, putting him at loggerheads with his chief economist, Andrew Haldane.

"We're still in a position where our message is... that the next move in interest rates is going to be up," Mr Carney said during a panel discussion at a Bundesbank conference in Frankfurt.

Mr Haldane surprised investors last week when he said a recent sharp slowdown in inflation meant the bank was as likely as not to cut rates - a view that had been previously rejected by Mr Carney.

This article appeared on The Telegraph's website at 3:50 p.m. GMT on their Friday afternoon---and it's the first contribution of the day from Roy Stephens.

Max Keiser: Financial Rock ‘n’ Roll

Max Keiser is outspoken to say the least.

He hosts the Keiser Report, his show for Russian English-language channel RT, alongside his wife and producer Stacy Herbert, and is known for his angry outbursts against those he calls the “banksters”.

He was a Wall Street stockbroker in the 1980s, an experience he often draws on to guide viewers through the otherwise impenetrable jargon of global finance.

Now, though, he is based in the heart of London, which he says is the centre of the world when it comes to financial misconduct.

This absolute must read interview with Max appeared on theepochtimes.com Internet site back on March 18---and for obvious reasons had to wait for today's column.  It's Max doing what he does best---telling it like it really is.  I thank reader Jules Mounteer for bringing it to our attention.

U.K. Citizen Won Law Case That BBC Had Advance Knowledge of 9/11

Tony Rooke, in an act of civil disobedience, refused to pay the mandatory £130 TV license fee claiming it violates Section 15 of the Terrorism Act. Rooke’s accusation was aimed at the BBC who reported the collapse of WTC 7 over 20 minutes before it actually fell, and the judge accepted Rooke’s argument. While it was not a public inquiry into 9/11, the recognition of the BBC’s actions on September 11th are considered a small victory, one that was never reported in the U.S.

“Today was an historic day for the 9/11 truth movement,” Peter Drew of AE911Truth UK told Digital Journal, “with over 100 members of the public attending, including numerous journalists from around the U.K. as well as from across other parts of Europe.”

Well, dear reader, it's been a well-known fact from the outset that this case is one of the many major monkey wrenches in the Fantasyland story surrounding the actual events of 9/11.  It falls into the absolute must read/watch category---and for obvious reasons it had to wait for my Saturday column.  The first reader through the door with it was Dan Lazicki.

Sweden’s feminist foreign minister has dared to tell the truth about Saudi Arabia. What happens now concerns us all

If the cries of ‘Je suis Charlie’ were sincere, the western world would be convulsed with worry and anger about the Wallström affair. It has all the ingredients for a clash-of-civilisations confrontation.

A few weeks ago Margot Wallström, the Swedish foreign minister, denounced the subjugation of women in Saudi Arabia. As the theocratic kingdom prevents women from travelling, conducting official business or marrying without the permission of male guardians, and as girls can be forced into child marriages where they are effectively raped by old men, she was telling no more than the truth. Wallström went on to condemn the Saudi courts for ordering that Raif Badawi receive ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website that championed secularism and free speech. These were ‘mediaeval methods’, she said, and a ‘cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression’. And once again, who can argue with that?

The backlash followed the pattern set by Rushdie, the Danish cartoons and Hebdo. Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador and stopped issuing visas to Swedish businessmen. The United Arab Emirates joined it. The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, which represents 56 Muslim-majority states, accused Sweden of failing to respect the world’s ‘rich and varied ethical standards’ — standards so rich and varied, apparently, they include the flogging of bloggers and encouragement of paedophiles. Meanwhile, the Gulf Co-operation Council condemned her ‘unaccept-able interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’, and I wouldn’t bet against anti-Swedish riots following soon.

Yet there is no ‘Wallström affair’. Outside Sweden, the western media has barely covered the story, and Sweden’s E.U. allies have shown no inclination whatsoever to support her. A small Scandinavian nation faces sanctions, accusations of Islamophobia and maybe worse to come, and everyone stays silent. As so often, the scandal is that there isn’t a scandal.

This news item was posted on the spectator.co.uk Internet site early Saturday morning in London---and I thank South African reader B.V. for sliding it into my in-box shortly after I'd filed today's column.

Brussels wants to end geo-blocking of online content

The European Commission has said it wants to abolish geo-blocking, the practice of limiting access to online services based on a user's location.

The EU’s internal market and geo-blocking “cannot coexist", the EU's commissioner for digital single market, Andrus Ansip, said Wednesday (25 March).

He listed a set of goals to feature in the digital strategy he will publish in May.  These include: “Better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services; Shaping the environment for digital networks and services to flourish; and Creating a European Digital Economy and Society with long-term growth potential”.

“Consumers and companies in Europe are digitally grounded. They cannot choose or move freely. In the 21st century, this is absurd,“ said the former prime minister of Estonia, one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world.

This interesting article showed up on the euobserver.com website on Wednesday---and is another story that had to wait for today's column.  This one is courtesy of Roy Stephens.

'The Fourth Reich': What Some Europeans See When They Look at Germany

May 30, 1941 was the day when Manolis Glezos made a fool of Adolf Hitler. He and a friend snuck up to a flag pole on the Acropolis in Athens on which a gigantic swastika flag was flying. The Germans had raised the banner four weeks earlier when they occupied the country, but Glezos took down the hated flag and ripped it up. The deed turned both him and his friend into heroes.

Back then, Glezos was a resistance fighter. Today, the soon-to-be 93-year-old is a member of the European Parliament for the Greek governing party Syriza. Sitting in his Brussels office on the third floor of the Willy Brandt Building, he is telling the story of his fight against the Nazis of old and about his current fight against the Germans of today. Glezos' white hair is wild and unkempt, making him look like an aging Che Guevara; his wrinkled face carries the traces of a European century.

Initially, he fought against the Italian fascists, later he took up arms against the German Wehrmacht, as the country's Nazi-era military was known. He then did battle against the Greek military dictatorship. He was sent to prison frequently, spending a total of almost 12 years behind bars, time he spent writing poetry. When he was let out, he would rejoin the fight. "That era is still very alive in me," he says.

Glezos knows what it can mean when Germans strive for predominance in Europe and says that's what is happening again now. This time, though, it isn't soldiers who have a choke hold on Greece, he says, but business leaders and politicians. "German capital dominates Europe and it profits from the misery in Greece," Glezos says. "But we don't need your money."

In his eyes, the German present is directly connected to its horrible past, though he emphasizes that he doesn't mean the German people but the country's ruling classes. Germany for him is once again an aggressor today: "Its relationship with Greece is comparable to that between a tyrant and his slaves."

This longish essay appeared on the German website spiegel.de on Monday---and is the third article in a row that had to wait for Saturday's column.  It's worth reading if you have the interest---and it's the second offering in a row from Roy Stephens.  It now sports the above headline, but the original read "German Power in the Age of the Euro Crisis".

Greek Bank Deposits Plunge to 10-Year Low as E.U. Patience Frays

Greek bank deposits plunged to their lowest level in 10 years in February as a political standoff between the government in Athens and the country’s creditors raised the prospect of a possible euro exit.

The deposits of households and businesses fell 5 percent in February to €140.5 billion ($154 billion), their lowest level since March 2005, according to Bank of Greece data released on Thursday. Greeks have pulled about €23.8 billion from the banking system in the past three months, 15 percent of the total deposit base.

Greek lenders are depending on Emergency Liquidity Assistance controlled by the European Central Bank to stay afloat as depositors flee. The country’s creditors have given Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, elected in January on a platform to end austerity, a Monday deadline to present enough details of a new economic plan to convince them to release more bailout funds.

This Bloomberg story, filed from Athens, was posted on their website at 8:05 a.m. MDT on Thursday morning---and it's something I 'borrowed' from yesterday's edition of the King Report.  You should note that the Bloomberg 'thought police' left off four words from the headline that I show above---and that are included in the link as well.

Ukraines's $3 billion debt to Russia puts mult-ibillion dollar IMF package at risk

Ukraine’s $3 billion debt to Russia could undermine the IMF’s four-year multibillion dollar bailout program. If the debt is considered official, it will breach the terms of providing financial assistance, said IMF spokesperson William Murray.

The Ukraine debt includes $3 billion in Eurobonds lent by Russia to the country’s previous government in December 2013. IMF rules say a bailout cannot be provided to a country if it defaulted on a loan from a state institution.

"We have a non-tolerance policy," William Murray told reporters at a news conference on Thursday, adding that Ukraine's debt to Russia should be considered state debt.

"If I'm not mistaken, the $3 billion Eurobond comes from the Russian sovereign wealth fund, so it's official debt," he said.

I posted a story on this particular issue in yesterday's column, but this one showed on the Russia Today Internet site at 10:22 a.m. Moscow time on their Friday morning.  It's worth skimming---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

Russia supplies 300 million cubic meters of gas to Ukraine’s Donbas — Energy Minister

Russia has already supplied 300 mln cubic meters of natural gas to Ukraine’s Donbas region, Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters on Friday.

"Most likely it is slightly more than 300 million cubic meters", he said.

In late February, Naftogaz of Ukraine refused to supply gas to Donbas. Kiev said it was impossible because the gas transportation system delivering gas to the east of Ukraine had been destroyed.

Russia’s gas giant Gazprom agreed to discuss gas supplies to Donbas outside the trilateral gas talks between Russia, Ukraine and the E.U.

The above four paragraphs are all there is to this brief article that appeared on the tass.ru Internet site at 7:54 p.m. Moscow time on their Friday evening, which was 11:54 a.m. EDT in Washington.

John Batchelor Interviews Stephen F. Cohen: 24 March 2015

Well, its semi official, Minsk 2 is dead because Kiev has decided  that the Eastern territories have to surrender first to Kiev before they will carry through with the rest of the political rearrangement terms of this agreement. And, of course this is absurd.  Usually the vanquished, Kiev in this case, surrenders to the winner, which is clearly the Donbass rebels, and so Cohen understandably describes this period of relative calm as a pause to the next offensive. Cohen considers this political absurdity is direction from Washington interests. And with Washington's additional vandalism through NATO spokespersons and congressional support to send lethal weapons, Obama is being hard pressed to keep to his "give the Minsk 2 agreement a chance". Unfortunately, at present he is being very quiet about all this and one is inclined to suspect an element of disingenuousness (or even indifference) on the president's part. Cohen by now is even more convinced that there must be a regime change in Kiev in order for this terrible war to be resolved. And, of course, these events are "to sabotage Merkel and Minsk 2," and her efforts to resolve this with "no military solution". So far Washington is succeeding and Cohen believes that the United States and Russia are closer to war due to these latest events.

Meanwhile the IMF is beginning to send funds to the beleaguered regime - and Cohen points out that a 1/3 of it was from "private sources". This amounts to $40billion in total and is understood to be part of "war aid" to Kiev.

But Stephen Cohen is mildly encouraged that 48 members, 6% of Congress, opposed the bill to supply lethal aid to Kiev. There are also cracks showing in the politics of the oligarchs involved in Kiev's parliament. Purges of supporters of the previous governments are also starting. These are showing up in the form of 6 (and counting) "suicides" that so far involve the use of window exits of taller buildings; special mention is also made of one of the leading political competitors with his own "pocket army", one Ihor Kolomoiskii, was told to disarm his "troops" and there was almost an armed standoff with the government. That suggests that the government is breaking down through a process of squabbling fiefdoms. He has since been "fired" by Poroshenko as governor of a province. There is no rule of law in the government of Kiev is Cohen's very astute conclusion, and it should be to the shame of the United States that we support it.

But with Europe increasingly cool towards continuing this crisis and the trends of new relationships between Russia and the East, Cohen is increasingly seeing this process as a break down of Washington's power with the potential for the dissolution of NATO. Again, this broadcast excels in details of events that see the course of history changing in profound ways right before our eyes.

This 39:47 minute audio interview was posted on the John's website on Tuesday---and for length reasons had to wait for today's column.  I thank Larry Galearis for bringing it to my attention---and now to yours.  If you have the interest, it's definitely worth your time.

Turkey Devolves Into a Full Police State: Law Grants Unlimited Powers to Weaponized Police Force

While a source of much schadenfreude by its neighbors and casual onlookers, Turkey has become a glaring example of what happens to a formerly respectable nation as it devolves entirely into a banana republic with not only authoritarian overtones but a police state to boot. And earlier today, Turkey's conversion to a full blown police state was complete when, after weeks of heated debates and brawls in parliament, Turkey’s government passed a security package expanding police powers, along with an online surveillance law and a discretionary fund for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to fund covert operations.

In other words, president Erdogan has just voted himself quasi-dictatorial powers with a private police force to defend him.

As Bloomberg details, the parliament voted to approve security laws that allow police to conduct searches and arrests without immediate court orders and use firearms against militants. The law separately empowered government-appointed governors to order police or paramilitary forces to conduct searches and detain suspects for up to 48 hours without immediate court orders, state-run Anadolu Agency said.

This Zero Hedge spin on a Bloomberg story put in an appearance on the ZH website at  8 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and it's another contribution from reader M.A., for which I thank him.

With Yemen strikes, Saudis show growing independence from U.S.

Saudi Arabia kept some key details of its military action in Yemen from Washington until the last moment, U.S. officials said, as the kingdom takes a more assertive regional role to compensate for perceived U.S. disengagement.

The Middle East's top oil power told the United States weeks ago it was weighing action in Yemen but only informed Washington of the exact details just before Thursday's unprecedented air strikes against Iran-allied Houthi rebels, the officials said.

Although the Saudis spoke with top U.S. officials as they debated an air assault in support of embattled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, U.S. officials acknowledged gaps in their knowledge of the kingdom’s battle plans and objectives.

Asked when he was told by Saudi Arabia that it would take military action in Yemen, General Lloyd Austin, the head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, told a Senate hearing on Thursday he spoke with Saudi Arabia’s chief of defense "right before they took action."  He added that he couldn't assess the likelihood of the campaign succeeding because he didn't know the "specific goals and objectives."

This Reuters article, filed from Washington, was posted on their Internet site at 9:25 p.m. EDT on Thursday evening---and it's the third contribution of the day from Elliot Simon.

Justin Raimondo: Leave the Houthis Alone!

Saudi Arabia‘s U.S.-backed aggression against the sovereignty of Yemen is a textbook example of how local conflicts are internationalized – and become tripwires for regional wars and even global conflagrations.

Like Libya, Yemen is yet another Middle Eastern country that doesn’t really exist: it is actually at least two separate countries, perhaps three – the southern provinces, which are primarily Sunni, the northern tribes, who adhere mostly to the Zaydi form of Shi’ite Islam, and the area around Sa’na, the capital, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth, where all Yemen’s clashing cultural, political, and religious factions meet.

The north/south division dates back to the nineteenth century British colonization, when, in 1839, the British seized the port city of Aden and administered it as a subset of the Indian Viceroyalty. It became a major trading center after the opening of the Suez canal, and the Brits pushed outward, extending their influence throughout what had been a land perpetually divided between the Ottoman Empire and local imams, including the distinctive Zaydis in the north. In 1911, the Zaydis rose up against the British and their local collaborators, abolished the north/south division negotiated by the British Foreign Office, and established the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen under Imam Yahya. Yahya’s dream was to recreate the ancient Qasamid dynasty, founded in the seventeenth century: a "Greater Yemen" extending into what is today Saudi Arabia as well as the whole of modern Yemen.

This essay by Justin appeared on the antiwar.com Internet site on Friday sometime---and it's courtesy of Dan Lazicki.  I haven't read it yet, but it's on my 'to do' list for this weekend.

Lee Kuan Yew's Bad Prescription for India

Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore who died this week at 91, had a lot to say about India. He never sugar-coated his remarks, nor did he resort to the many clichés used by thinkers both in the West and in India.

In 2000, Lee published "From Third World to First," an account of the rise of Singapore beginning in 1965. It contains a long section on India’s flaws, both as a civilization -- Lee believed the caste system was inimical to meritocracy, which is the foundation of economic development -- and as a new nation-state that he said couldn't transcend its native introversion and its (democratic) directionlessness.

Reading these pages is a bit like reading V.S. Naipaul on India, only from the viewpoint of a rigorously pragmatic, clear-sighted and technocratic statesman. Five Indian prime ministers across five decades -- Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai, Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao -- are one after the other allowed one or two kind sentences for their idealism, good intentions and unpromising circumstances. Then their personal frailties and flaws in economic management, leadership and foreign policy are ruthlessly, and very persuasively, dissected.

This very interesting commentary put in an appearance on the bloomberg.com Internet site at 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening EDT---and I thank Dan Lazicki for sharing it with us.  It's another one of those articles that had to wait for my Saturday column.

China stocks may be in serious bubble

Some say that when the average “mom-and-pop” retail investors get back into the stock market, it could be time to get out. But what about when even teenagers start buying?

China has entered a new stock frenzy, like something out of America in the Roaring 20s or the dottiest days of the dot-com bubble, with trading volumes continuing to push to new record highs.

On Wednesday, combined trading on the Shanghai and Shenzhen markets hit 1.24 trillion yuan ($198 billion), the seventh straight session in which turnover surpassed the 1 trillion yuan mark. By comparison, the New York Stock Exchange typically saw $40 billion-$50 billion a day in trading during the first two months of this year.

The lure of flush times on the Shanghai market is sweeping in unlikely investors by the hundreds of thousands. This week, both the China Securities Daily and the Beijing Morning Post had dueling reports about recent college graduates and, yes, teenagers buying shares.

This news item appeared on the marketwatch.com Internet site at 11:45 p.m. EDT on Thursday evening---and I thank Roy Stephens for digging it up for us over at David Stockman's website.

That Ain't No Margin Debt: THIS Is Margin Debt

We find it amusing how many people try to read into the tea leaves when looking at the NYSE margin debt (especially since the real leverage long ago left the CNBC TV studio in downtown Manhattan, as explained before), when the real action is half way around the world. Because, in the immortal words of Crocodile Dundee, "That is not margin debt. This is margin debt."

The brief Zero Hedge story has an embedded chart showing the margin purchases on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges---and they're over the moon.  The chart is worth the trip---and I thank Dan Lazicki for sending it to me on Thursday.  I didn't post it in yesterday's column, but it fits perfectly with the previous story on the bubble dynamics in China's equity markets.

Inquiry Launched into New Zealand Mass Surveillance

New Zealand’s spy agency watchdog is launching an investigation into the scope of the country’s secret surveillance operations following a series of reports from The Intercept and its partners.

On Thursday, Cheryl Gwyn, New Zealand’s inspector-general of intelligence and security, announced that she would be opening an inquiry after receiving complaints about spying being conducted in the South Pacific by eavesdropping agency Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB.

In a press release, Gwyn’s office said: “The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data.”

This month, The Intercept has shined a light on the GCSB’s surveillance with investigative reports produced in partnership with the New Zealand Herald, Herald on Sunday, and Sunday-Star-Times.

I knew that the Hobbits of the Shire wouldn't be pleased with what Saruman was doing in their midst---and if they're smart, they and the Ents, should make the trip to Isengard just outside Blenheim---and do what they have to do to the white domes of Orthanc.  When they're done, they can celebrate with a few cases of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc.  This short article was posted on the firstlook.org Internet site on Thursday sometime---and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens, for which I thank him.

Sprott Money Weekly Wrap Up With Eric Sprott

Listen to Eric Sprott share his thoughts on negative trends in the economy, economic ramifications of global geopolitical unrest, the movement in precious metals this week, and his opinion on the newly implemented electronically-based London Gold Fix.

This 10:27 minute audio interview with Eric was conducted by Geoff Rutherford on Friday---and posted on the sprottmoney.com Internet site yesterday.  It's worth your while.

Former BIS official who admitted gold price suppression comes out for free markets

Hinde Capital in London, in cooperation with the free-market advocates of the Cobden Centre, this week published the first part of an interview with former Bank for International Settlements official William R. White, who in a speech in June 2005 to a BIS conference confessed on behalf of the bank to the international central bank gold price suppression scheme.

White is now chairman of the Economic and Development Review Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and in the Cobden Centre interview he expresses skepticism about "quantitative easing," contends that the biggest problem of the world financial system is excessive debt, argues that much of this debt will have to default and be written off, and laments that free markets are being impaired by central bank interest rate-suppression policies that are propping up uneconomic businesses.

Of course gold price suppression is a prerequisite of interest rate suppression and is just as antithetical to free markets, so it would have been nice if White was questioned about that, especially since his former employer, the BIS, remains the broker for surreptitious central bank interventions in the gold market.

This GATA release, that Chris Powell filed from the Philippines yesterday, has some very interesting embedded links---along with the link to the Hinde Capital interview.  This commentary is definitely worth your while.

Peak Gold? Goldman Calculates There Is Only 20 Years Of Gold Supply Left

Late last year, when looking at a Goldcorp slideshow, we noticed something surprising: the gold miner had forecast that 2015 would be the year when gold production would peak among the mining industry.

According to a report issued by Goldman's Eugene King looking at commodity scarcity, the chart below "shows that there are only 20 years of known mineable reserves of gold and diamonds."

Of course, this analysis is meaningless in a vacuum: if the "known reserves" of gold plunge in the coming decade, no matter how many gold futures and GLD short sales are conducted by the BIS, the price will have to go up, and it will go up high enough to where a new surge of gold miners will come online and find thousands of new tons of gold reserves around the globe.

Unless they don't, and Goldman is correct that "peak gold" may have arrived. This will be even more true if over the coming years the long overdue fiat economic panic finally washes over the globe, and a revulsion toward central bank policies forces a scramble into gold whose value (if not price since fiat currencies will be redundant) soars.

The answer is unclear, but what is certain is that like the price of oil over the past decade and until last fall when price discovery finally became somewhat credible, what happens in the physical realm has absolutely zero marginal impact on the price of commodity which has about 100 ounces in deliverable paper contracts for every ounce in underlying. It will be only after the gold price distortions via the derivative market are eliminated that such trivial price-formation forces as supply and demand are once again relevant.

Of course this 20-year projection goes out the window if the gold price rises many orders of magnitude higher than it is now, as marginal deposits will become major ore bodies overnight.  But as this Zero Hedge article from yesterday states, JPMorgan et al will have to release their iron grip in the COMEX futures market before anything else happens.  This article is definitely worth your while---and I thank Dan Lazicki for his final contribution to today's column.

Lawrence Williams: WGC cautions against common gold wisdoms

The market would seem to believe that there is a direct inverse relationship between dollar strength and the gold price and also, in the current environment of negative interest rates that any rise in these rates stimulated by the U.S. Federal Reserve or perhaps the ECB or elsewhere, will be gold price negative. Indeed any hint of these generally accepted maxims does indeed tend to move the gold market in something of a knee jerk reaction.

But, a new report out from the World Gold Council (WGC) authored by Juan Carlos Artigas, the WGC’s director for Investment Research, points out that these common gold wisdoms are not entirely accurate and that following the way the gold market has acted under these scenarios shows that the bland acceptance of these norms as fact rather misses out on gold’s real world performance.

Regarding the inverse relationship with the strength of the dollar – while this in essence is correct, Artigas points out that this relationship is a very asymmetric one – and indeed does not always occur at all – as witness some of the gold price’s upwards movement when the dollar has been particularly strong. Indeed the WGC research has shown that the gold price increases more when the dollar weakens than it falls when the dollar strengthens. To make the point the report notes that at the time it was prepared (March 20) the dollar index had risen by 20% since the beginning of 2014, yet gold had only fallen by 1.2% over the same period. But obviously such statistics are a little dangerous – if one chooses one’s dates carefully one could probably come up with some totally different ratios.

Of course this new report from the World Gold Council doesn't breath a word about the short positions held by the Big 8 trader in the COMEX futures market.  Their actions along---and nothing else---determines the gold price, along with the prices of the other three precious metals.  That's all there is, there ain't no more.  This commentary by Lawrie appeared on the mineweb.com Internet site at 4:37 p.m. GMT yesterday.

Lawrence Williams: Red rag to gold bulls – JPMorgan added to LBMA Gold Price banks

A visit today to the website of ICE Benchmark Administration (IBA), which now runs the new London gold benchmarking process on behalf of the LBMA, confirms there are now seven Direct Participants in the LBMA Gold Price with JP Morgan now joining Barclays, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Scotiabank, SocGen, and UBS in the setting of the twice daily gold benchmark. Talk about ‘The Usual Suspects’!

If any bank selection could be guaranteed to inflame those within the gold bull community who preach gold price manipulation, it would be the addition of JP Morgan, following that of Goldman Sachs and UBS, over the original four members of the old London Gold Fixing panel. A cynic might suggest the LBMA and ICE might have made the selection of the participants to deliberately rile GATA and its supporters, as all the above banks are those widely reckoned by the gold price manipulation theorists to be controlling the gold price for their own ends and for those of some allied central banks. Manna for the conspiracy theorists!

And still there are no Chinese banks involved. Will there ever be? Until the benchmarking process participants are widened to include entities from outside the Western banking elite, the process will remain suspect in the eyes of those who feel that there are no level playing fields in the global financial markets – if indeed there ever were!

The above three paragraphs are all there is to this brief commentary that appeared on the mineweb.com Internet site at 4:58 p.m. GMT yesterday---and Lawrie's comments are spot on.  It's a must read.

Miners' gold forward sales surged 103 tonnes last year, most since 1999

The volume of gold sold forward by mining companies rose by 103 t last year, the biggest annual increase since 1999, an industry report showed on Friday.

That far outstrips an estimate given late last year of 42 t to 52 t, after Mexican gold and silver miner Fresnillo said it was hedging 47 tonnes of output over five years.

In their quarterly Global Hedge Book Analysis, Societe Generale and GFMS analysts at Thomson Reuters said the bulk of the rise in the global gold hedge book last year was driven by Fresnillo and Russia's Polyus Gold, which announced a major hedging deal in July.

"Of the growth in the book in 2014, the majority (85 t) came from these two companies. Together they now account for half of the outstanding global hedging," the report said.

This is much ado about nothing once again, dear reader, as these amounts are piddling compared to what they were almost 20 years ago.  It was a situation that I remember all too well---and so do the miners.  This Reuters gold-related news story appeared on the miningweekly.com Internet site yesterday---and I thank South African reader B.V. for digging it up for us.

When Will China Disclose Its True Official Gold Reserves and How Much Is It?

As most readers who are interested in gold will know, China’s official gold reserves are small in proportion to the size of their economy and their foreign exchange reserves. This disproportionate position has been difficult for China to escape from. Any slight move from their immense stock of U.S. dollars into gold could disrupt the gold market, and thus the U.S. dollar, spoiling the party for everybody.

China is forced to buy in secret. The latest update on the size of their official gold pile was in April 2009, when they disclosed to have 1,054 tonnes, up 454 tonnes from 600 tonnes, which they claimed to have since 2003. Common sense indicates the PBOC did not buy 454 tonnes in a few months; most likely they bought this amount in secret spread over six years (2003 – 2009). More common sense suggests they continued to buy in secret since 2009 and they hold at least twice the weight they currently claim.

Last week I reported it’s very likely the renminbi will be adopted into the SDR basket this year and before inclusion China will announce their true gold reserves. All arrows point in the same direction, IMF chief Lagarde stated: China’s yuan [renminbi] at some point would be incorporated in the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Right (SDR) currency basket, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said, …”It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,”

As I said in my column yesterday, I would be rather disappointed if they didn't have north of 5,000 tonnes in their reserves when they do announce.  This must read commentary by Koos Jansen, which includes his thoughts on the withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange for the week ending on March 20, was posted on the Singapore-based website bullionstar.com yesterday sometime.

¤ The Funnies

Here are three shots of a fiery-throated hummingbird, which is to be found in Costa Rica and Panama.  As you can tell, their iridescence is entirely dependent on the quality and direction of the light source---and whether they're "on display" or not, as the "fire" in the males is mostly in the gorget feathers.

¤ The Wrap

Looking back on what has transpired over these past four years and JPMorgan’s role in gold and silver, I can’t help but feel it solidifies many of my previous beliefs. Of course, JPM didn’t let gold rip to the upside back in 2013 as I expected when it held a long market corner in COMEX gold futures; but I think I understand the reason now – JPMorgan’s prime interest was in securing physical silver and it wasn’t finished with its silver accumulation at the time it held a long market corner in COMEX gold futures. Because letting gold rip to the upside then would have likely caused silver to jump in price as well, causing JPM to pay up for physical silver, JPM instead capped the price of gold to assist it in keeping silver prices low for further accumulation.

I firmly believe that JPMorgan made the conscious decision to amass a great hoard of physical silver as a result of its near death experience on the short side into early 2011. That market realities dictated that it could only do so in physicals and not in COMEX silver futures must be one of the greatest ironies ever. Still, the choice between paper or physical, as well as the choice between silver or gold is made clear in what JPMorgan has pulled off. If I am correct in my speculation that JPMorgan has acquired 300 million ounces or so of physical silver over the past four years, this would confirm many of the points about gold and silver that I’ve made in the past.Silver analyst Ted Butler: 25 March 2015

Today's pop 'blast from the past' comes from 1966---which was the year I graduated from high school---and this American rock band was tearing up the charts.  This was one of their biggest hits.  The link is here.

Today's classical "blast from the past" is one I know that I haven't posted before.  It's Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 in E minor---"From the New World"---which he composed in 1893 when he was working in America.   Neil Armstrong took a recording of the New World Symphony to the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission, the first Moon landing, in 1969.

This youtube.com recording is from 1991---and the musicianship is first rate, but the tempo is much slower than I've heard it performed before---and I haven't yet decided whether I like it or not.  But it's the best video I could find---and the audio quality is terrific.  I was going to post the von Karajan recording, but the sound quality was terrible, so I'm stuck with this.  The link is here.

With the large traders having to exit the April gold contract by the 1:30 p.m. COMEX close, the lack of price action was not surprising on Friday---and was pretty much as expected.  I must admit that I was somewhat taken aback by the shellacking that platinum and palladium got---especially palladium---and looking at the four precious metal charts below, it would appear that that gold and silver prices are about to head in that direction as well.

Of course the Commitment of Traders Report is still configured bullishly in all four precious metals, although I'm still more than wary of the gold numbers.  I hope that Ted's read of the situation is correct---and I'll certainly be looking forward to what he has to say in his weekly commentary to his paying subscribers this afternoon.  I'll steal what I can for Tuesday's column.

What a mess the world is.  Pick a country. Pick a market.  Pick a currency.  Everything seems to be circling the drain at an ever-faster pace.  How long can the powers-that-be keep everything propped up that wants to crash and burn---and suppress the price of everything that wants to explode to the moon and stars?  That certainly applies to the precious metals at the moment---and as a result, the rest of the commodity complex is being held in check as well.  The real economy is being hammered into the dirt so that the international Ponzi scheme of a finance system can thrive.

The prudent have been sacrificed on the altar of the wanton.

But sooner or later something has to give in the precious metals.  Since they're so tightly controlled by JPMorgan et al, I would guess that prices will rise when they're given instructions to stand aside.  This is a fact that I've stated so many times over the years that I'm getting tired of saying it, just as I would presume you're getting tired of hearing it.

But these are the facts of the case---and nothing else matters.

On Monday the rest of the traders that aren't standing for delivery in the April gold contract have to be out---and Tuesday is First Notice Day.  Once we get past these events, we'll see what the lay of the land is like at that point---and I look forward to the Sunday evening open in New York with some interest.

I'm done for the day---and the week.

See you Tuesday.

Ed Steer

Sat, 28 Mar 2015 08:50:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Gold Market Manipulation Is “Too Inflammatory” to Be Debated at Hong Kong Conference]]> http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/gold-market-manipulation-is-too-inflammatory-to-be-debated-at-hong-kong-conference/ http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/gold-market-manipulation-is-too-inflammatory-to-be-debated-at-hong-kong-conference/#When:06:24:00Z "There was huge deterioration in the Commercial net short positions again yesterday."

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

Gold opened flat when trading began in New York on Wednesday evening.  Then starting just before 9 a.m. Hong Kong time, a rally began that grew stronger as the Far East trading session unfolded.  It was up a decent amount by the London open---and then went vertical at 8:00 a.m. GMT, but ran into the usual not-for-profit sellers less than fifteen minutes later---and by 9 a.m. in New York, "da boyz" had the price bank under control, as most of the gains vanished.

The low and high tick were reported by the CME Group as $1,193.80 and $1,219.50 in the April contract.

Gold finished the Thursday session in New York at $1,204.10 spot, up only $9.00 on the day.  Gross volume was over the moon at 372,000 contracts, but it netted out to only 118,000 contracts, with a decent chunk of the latter amount used up to cap and then kill the big price spike around the London open.

Here's the 5-minute gold tick chart courtesy of Brad Robertson.  The New York open on Wednesday evening shows as 16:00 on this chart, which is Denver time, so add two hours for EDT.  Don't forget the 'click to enlarge' feature.

The silver chart was similar in most respects, but came close to being closed back below the $17 spot mark, but a rally in electronic trading on Thursday afternoon EDT prevented that occurrence.

The low and high were reported as $16.91 and $17.405 in the May contract.

Silver finished the Thursday session at $17.10 spot, up 14.5 cents from Wednesday's close---and one can only fantasize what the closing price would have been if JPMorgan et al hadn't put in an appearance when they did.  Ditto for gold.  Net volume was 38,000 contracts---and about a third of that was used to put out the silver fire in early London trading.

Platinum had a similar price path---and also got capped shortly after 8 a.m. in London as well.  The secondary rally after that got dealt with at the COMEX open in New York.  Platinum as closed at $1,148 spot, up 7 dollars on the day.

Palladium was the same---and it closed at $768 spot, up 5 bucks from Wednesday's close.

The dollar index closed late on Wednesday afternoon in New York at  96.93---and immediately began to head lower.  That slide turned into a rout starting around 2:30 p.m. Hong Kong time, with the final 96.20 low tick coming at the London a.m. gold fix at 9:30 a.m. GMT.  From there it rallied strongly to its 97.53 high tick very shortly after the 1:30 p.m. COMEX close in New York.  It sold off a bit after that, but finished the Thursday session at 97.42---up 49 basis points.

Here's the 1-year U.S. Dollar Index chart.

The gold stocks opened higher---and managed to stay above the unchanged mark until 2 p.m. EDT---and then rolled over, hitting their low ticks around 2:50 p.m.  From there, they recovered a hair into the close.  The HUI finished down 1.79 percent.

The gold price has closed higher for the last three days in a row, the gold stocks have closed lower each of those days.  The only up day they had was on Monday.

The silver equities follows a very similar pattern, except they closed even lower than the gold shares, as Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed down 2.61 percent.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that 43 gold and 68 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Monday.  In gold, the only short/issuer was HSBC USA---and the only long/stopper was Canada's Scotiabank.  In silver, there was one short/issuer---and that was HSBC USA.  JPMorgan picked up another 48 of those contracts---27 for its in-house [proprietary] trading account, along with 21 for its client account.  The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Thursday trading session showed that gold open interest for March fell by 49 contract down to 43 contracts still open.  With that amount, March delivery in gold will be done by the close of business on Friday.  In silver, March o.i. dropped by 66 contracts---and is now down to 146 contracts still open, minus the 73 contracts posted above.

There was another big withdrawal from GLD yesterday, as an authorized participant removed 191,934 troy ounces.  There was also another withdrawal from SLV.  This time it was 1,434,783 troy ounces.  The amount of gold and silver in GLD and SLV have continued to decline over the last seven days despite the fact that the prices of the underlying metals has been rallying for the past week.

There was a tiny sales report from the U.S. Mint.  They sold 1,000 troy ounces of gold eagles---and that was all.

There was very decent gold movement at the regular COMEX-approved depositories on Wednesday---and almost all of it was in in kilobar form, as 97,738 troy ounces were received---and 3,552 troy ounces were reported shipped out.  Most of the activity was at Scotiabank's depositories.  The link to that activity is here.

At the Gold Kilo Stocks depositories, there was more action once again at Brink's, Inc.---as they received 1,906 kilobars---and shipped out 6,686 kilobars.  The conversion factor from troy ounces to kilobars is 32.151.  The link to that action is here.

Ted and I have been trying to make some sort of sense out of this frantic in/out activity at Brink's since the depositories were launched ten days ago---and we're drawing a blank.

And much to my surprise, there was absolutely no in/out movement in silver at the COMEX-approved depositories on Wednesday.

I have fewer stories today, which suits me just fine.

¤ Critical Reads

Initial Jobless Claims Drop Back Below Dreaded "300k" Level

After last week's initial jobless claims drop - which nevertheless held the 4-wk average above 300k - this week saw the number drop once more. Against expectations of 290k, claims printed 282k, leaving the 4-week average at 297k, conveniently below the 300k mark. Continuing claims continues to flat line at an elevated level. This means that since the end of QE3, initial jobless claims are unchanged as the trend of improvement has clearly stalled.

This brief Zero Hedge article, with two excellent charts, showed up there at 8:37 a.m. EDT on Thursday morning---and today's first story is courtesy of Dan Lazicki.

Kansas Fed Plunges to 2-Year Lows, New Orders Crash: "Economy Not as Strong as Media Portrays"

How can it be? Services PMI was at 6-month highs. The Kansas City Fed Index tumbled to -4 in March (against expectations of +1) and was last below this level in Feb 2013. KC Fed has now missed for 6 of the last 8 months and the report is a disaster across the board. New orders plunged to -20 (2nd lowest print since Lehman), order backlogs imploded, average workweek collapsed to -17 (lowest since Lehman), and future capex expectations fell to a five-year low. As one respondent noted, "we do not see the economy as being as strong as a portrayed in the national media reports."

This Zero Hedge story is also chock full of charts that are worth your while.  It was posted on their Internet site at 11:17 a.m. EDT yesterday morning.  It's another offering from Dan L.

USA Today: The Emerging Portrait of Q1 Earnings Could Be Dismal

There might be a train wreck ahead — investors should look out for withering corporate profits when first-quarter results start pouring in, with some companies' profits expected to vanish entirely, according a USA Today review of S&P Capital IQ data.

In fact, at least 19 companies in the bellwether S&P 500 are expected to see their profits plummet by 90 percent or more, according to analyst projections.

Analysts' consensus projects that overall S&P 500 earnings will slump by almost 3 percent for the first quarter of this year. All 10 recessions since 1945 were preceded by downward trending growth in earnings per share during the previous 12-month period, said Sam Stovall, managing director of U.S. Equity Strategy at S&P Capital IQ’s Global Markets Intelligence group.

This business-related news story appeared on the newsmax.com Internet site at 6:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday morning---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sending it along.

S&P Tumbles Into Red Year-to-Date, Gold Goes Green

With Trannies now down almost 6% year-to-date, the S&P just fell back below the red-line for 2015, joining the Dow.  Small Caps and NASDAQ remain up 2% for now. Bonds, gold, and silver are back in the green for 2015.

Year-to-Date, stocks not happy...as PMs and bonds push back into green.

This is another short, 2-chart Zero Hedge story from yesterday morning EDT---and this one is courtesy of Dan Lazicki as well.  It's certainly worth a peek.

Dow Breaks Below Key "Bullard Bounce" Trend line

This is another tiny Zero Hedge article.  It's composed of two lines of text that accompany two charts---and they're definitely worth a look.  It's the third contribution from Dan Lazicki.

Jim Grant: Still in emergency mode after seven years

James Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer discusses risk in the markets and the Fed.

This 4:41 minute video clip took place on the Fox Business website on Wednesday---and once again I thank Dan Lazicki for sharing it with us.

Three black crows' could spell doom for the market

Something highly unusual, and potentially quite bearish, has just happened to the stock market.  The S&P has closed on its absolute low three days in a row---and the pundits over at CNBS are fraught with worry.

But never fear, the President's Working Groups on Financial Markets---a.k.a. The Plunge Protection Team---will not allow things to get out of hand in the equity or bond markets to the downside, just like they're not prepared to let the precious metals get away to the upside.

This 2:36 minute video was posted on the CNBC website yesterday---and once again I thank Dan Lazicki for sharing it with us.

Manufacturing Dissent — Paul Craig Roberts

Professor Michel Chossudovsky is the author of many important books. His latest is The Globalization of War: America’s Long War Against Humanity. Chossudovsky shows that Washington has globalized war while the US president is presented as a global peace-maker, complete with the Nobel Peace Prize. Washington has military deployed in 150 countries, has the world divided up into six US military commands and has a global strike plan that includes space operations. Nuclear weapons are part of the global strike plan and have been elevated for use in a preemptive first strike, a dangerous departure from their Cold War role.

America’s militarization includes military armament for local police for use against the domestic population and military coercion of sovereign countries in behalf of US economic imperialism.

One consequence is the likelihood of nuclear war. Another consequence is the criminalization of US foreign policy. War crimes are the result. These are not the war crimes of individual rogue actors but war crimes institutionalized in established guidelines and procedures. “What distinguishes the Bush and Obama administrations,” Chossudovsky writes, “is that the concentration camps, targeted assassinations and torture chambers are now openly considered as legitimate forms of intervention, which sustain ‘the global war on terrorism’ and support the spread of ‘Western democracy.’”

Chossudovsky points out that the ability of US citizens to protest and resist the transformation of their country into a militarist police state is limited. Washington and the compliant foundations now fund the dissent movement in order to control it.

This absolute must read commentary by Paul showed up on his Internet site yesterday sometime---and I thank Roy Stephens for bringing it to our attention.

Bank of Canada says foreign buyers complicate housing market

A lack of data on foreign buyers scooping up property in Canada has made it tougher for the central bank to understand housing market and financial system risks, a senior bank of Canada official said on Wednesday.

Overseas home owners could respond more quickly to house price shocks, potentially exacerbating price moves, Deputy Governor Tim Lane said.

But he also noted any indebtedness they have would have less impact on the Canadian financial system assuming their money comes from abroad.

Foreign buying has helped pump up Canada's housing market, particularly in major centers like Toronto and Vancouver.

This Reuters article appeared on their Internet site at 5:40 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon---and it's the second offering of the day from Elliot Simon.

Low rates causing 'huge problems' for Germany

"We have an interest rate environment that is causing huge problems for us in Germany," Wolfgang Schaeuble said at a banking event in Berlin.

However, he added that he was not criticising the European Central Bank (ECB), which needed to defend its inflation target.

"A low interest rate leads to a misallocation of resources with all the risks and side-effects that you see when bubbles are forming," he said, adding that there was too much central bank money and debt in the world.

Mr Schaeuble also said that bond buying by the European Central Bank meant countries had less incentive to reform.

This Reuters article found a home over at the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 4:37 p.m. GMT yesterday afternoon, which was 12:37 p.m. in New York.  It's courtesy of South African reader B.V.---and it's worth reading.

One Month After Austria's Black Swan Shocker, the ECB Quietly Asks Banks to "Detail Their Exposure"

Nearly a month after the Hype Alpe Adria bad bank Heta Asset Resolution "unexpectedly" imploded under a house of non-GAAP and misreported cards, and which led to only the second European creditor bail-in after Cyprus in what until then was considered the safest European nation, unleashing a herd of black swans which will result in not only the insolvency of one of Austria's provinces, Carinthia, but a week ago led to its first foreign casualty, German Duesseldorfer Hypothekenbank AG which had to be bailed out by the German FDIC-equivalent, the ECB has finally realized it may have a major problem at hand.

So, doing what it does best, a month after the fact and long after the black swans have left the stable so to speak, Mario Draghi's ECB has asked Eurozone banks "to detail their exposure to Austria and provisions they plan to make after the country halted debt repayments by a "bad bank" winding down defunct lender Hypo Alpe Adria," financial sources told Reuters.

This Reuters article from yesterday gets the Zero Hedge treatment.  It was posted on their Internet site at 10:36 a.m. EDT yesterday---and it's another contribution from reader Dan L.  It's also worth reading.

Putin Is Becoming A "Vulture" Bond Investor in Ukraine

With Washington throwing its full faith and credit behind a new Ukrainian bond issue, it appears it’s time for Moscow to play spoiler to current debt restructuring talks between Kiev and its creditors. Russia is the country’s second-largest creditor after buying $3 billion in bonds back in the days of Viktor Yanukovych (who was once the victim of an attempted assassination by egg and who famously fled the country amid widespread protests last year) and now the Kremlin wants its money and isn’t likely to be amenable to any haircuts imposed on private creditors. Here’s more from Bloomberg:

Ukraine, after gaining a lifeline from the International Monetary Fund, included Russia’s bond among the 29 securities and enterprise loans it seeks to renegotiate with creditors before June. Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko has promised not to give any creditor special treatment. The revamp will include a reduction in the coupon, an extension in maturities as well as a cut in the face value, she said.

Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak said March 17 that the nation isn’t taking part in the debt negotiations because it’s an “official” creditor, not a private bondholder.

Should Russia decide to stick with a hardline stance on the negotiations (and it’s likely they will) it could not only embolden other prospective holdouts, but may indeed force Ukraine into a default.

This very interesting news item appeared on the Zero Hedge Internet site at 11:30 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and I thank Dan Lazicki for digging it up for us.

The Central Banker Who Saved the Russian Economy From the Abyss

Panic reached the inner sanctum of the Russian central bank.

It was Dec. 16 -- the day Russian traders would later christen Black Tuesday -- and the ruble was in a free fall.

“Intervene! Intervene!” a central bank official shouted.

Governor Elvira Nabiullina watched the currency on her tablet screen react to her emergency rate increase. No, she said, not this time: Russia would no longer fight the market. Speculators needed a cold shower, she said.

That daring decision, related by two people with knowledge of the meeting, has begun to pay off for Nabiullina, 51, and her patron, President Vladimir Putin. Despite sanctions meant to punish Russia for its foray into Ukraine a year ago, the ruble has stabilized. Since Black Tuesday, when it plunged to a record low, the ruble has rebounded 19 percent against the dollar, the most among 24 emerging-market currencies.

As this Bloomberg article states shortly afterwards---"While her central bank is nominally independent, analysts agree Putin is ultimately in charge. Yet Nabiullina has emerged as a power in her own right, with a direct line to the president."  This very interesting article, filed from Moscow, appeared on their Internet site at 3 p.m. Denver time on Wednesday afternoon---and I thank Elliot Simon for his third offering of the day.

Iran, Russia demand immediate halt to Saudi-led intervention in Yemen

Iran and Russia have called on Saudi Arabia to halt airstrikes on Yemen as supporters of Yemen’s ruling Houthi militants stage demonstrations throughout the country, protesting against the Saudi-led military intervention.

Speaking to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Russia’s Vladimir Putin called for an "immediate cessation of military activities" in Yemen and increased efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, the Kremlin said in a statement on Thursday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that military operations against Yemen will only lead to further destabilization of the region, which has fallen under Houthi control after an onslaught of increased violence in recent months.

Iran is suspected of providing supplies and training to the Houthi rebels, but Tehran has publicly denied these claims.

This news item put in an appearance on the Russia Today Internet site at 5:34 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday afternoon, which was 9:34 a.m. in Washington.  I thank Casey Research's own Bud Conrad for passing this story around yesterday.

U.S. Policies in Yemen, Ukraine Double Standard -- Lavrov

The U.S. approaches towards the ousted Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych represent double standards, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

"A much-employed cliche has to be used: obvious double standards, but we clearly did not want neither what is happening in Ukraine, nor what is happening in Yemen," Lavrov said at a press conference.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia-led coalition which includes Bahrain, Qatar and Egypt launched airstrikes against Houthi rebel positions in Yemen following a request by Hadi.  The United States is not participating in the military operation, but agreed to provide logistical and intelligence support.

It is necessary to renew the negotiations process in Yemen, as playing political games between Shiite and Sunni Muslims is too dangerous, Russian Foreign Minister said.

This story showed up on the sputniknews.com Internet site at 12 minutes to midnight Moscow time on their Thursday evening---and it's another article that's courtesy of Roy Stephens.

Saudi battle for Yemen exposes fragility of global oil supply

The long-simmering struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for Mid-East supremacy has escalated to a dangerous new level as the two sides fight for control of Yemen, reminding markets that the epicentre of global oil supply remains a powder keg.

Brent oil prices spiked 6pc to $58 a barrel after a Saudi-led coalition of ten Sunni Muslim states mobilized 150,000 troops and launched air strikes against the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, prompting a furious riposte from Tehran.

Analysts expect crude prices to command a new “geo-political premium” as it becomes clear that Saudi Arabia has lost control over the Yemen peninsular and faces a failed state on its 1,800 km southern border, where Al Qaeda can operate with near impunity.

Over 3.8m barrels a day (b/d) pass through the 18-mile Bab el-Mandeb Strait off Yemen, one of the world's key choke points for crude oil supply. While there is little likelihood of disruption to tanker traffic, Saudi Arabia is increasingly threatened by Shiite or Jihadi enemies of different kinds.

The Ambrose Evans-Pritchard offering turned up on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 8:41 p.m. GMT last night, which was 4:41 p.m. EDT.  Once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.  It's certainly worth reading, but it's hard to keep all the waring factions straight as you read on.  A printed program would be nice.

China wants to compel U.S. to engage it as an equal partner in AIIB

The AIIB Charter is still under discussion. The media report that China is not seeking a veto in the decision-making comes as a pleasant surprise.

Equally, China is actively consulting other founding members (who now include U.K., Germany, France, Italy, etc). These would suggest that Beijing has a much bigger game plan of scattering the U.S.’ containment strategy. Clearly, the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal is already looking more absurd if China were to be kept out of it. The point is, AIIB gives financial underpinning for the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, which now the European countries and Russia have embraced, as they expect much business spin-off.

China has said that its Silk Road projects are not to be confused as a latter-day Marshal Plan for developing countries, and that, on the contrary, the projects will be run on commercial terms. Which opens up enormous opportunities for participation by western companies. In geopolitical terms, therefore, China hopes that the ‘win-win’ spirit that permeates the AIIB and ‘Belt and Road’ will render ineffectual the American attempts to hem it in on the world stage and compel Washington to revisit a ‘new type of relations’ with China.

This short commentary by career Indian diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar appeared on the Asia Times website yesterday---and it's a must read.  I thank reader M.A for finding it for us.

Gold market manipulation raised by Euronews broadcast

Bullion Star market analyst and GATA consultant Koos Jansen calls attention to a segment of the "Business Middle East" program on the French-based Euronews television network that this week asked whether gold market manipulation would diminish under the new gold price-fixing mechanism in London. Looks like gold market manipulation can get into the mainstream financial news media ... at least in Arabic.

The video clip has an English voice-over translation, so you can follow along. This news item was embedded in an article that Koos Jansen posted on the Singapore website bullionstar.com yesterday.  I found it in a GATA release---and I thank Chris Powell for the above paragraph of introduction.

China should boost gold reserves to 5 percent, says World Gold Council

China should increase its gold holdings to around 5 percent of its total foreign exchange reserves to help diversify currency risks, the World Gold Council (WGC) said.

China currently holds about 1.6 percent of its foreign exchange reserves in gold, which is relatively low compared with developed countries and some developing countries, WGC China managing director Roland Wang said.

"The ideal amount should be at least 5 percent of its total forex reserves," Wang told Reuters in an interview in Hong Kong.

China's holdings as a percentage of total reserves in Q4 2014 compare with 2.4 percent for Mexico, 5.7 percent for Australia, 6.7 percent for India and 12.1 percent for Russia, according to WGC figures.

Of course we know what the World Gold Council's "figures" are worth, don't we dear reader?  I would guess that China holds at least 5 percent already, if not more---and probably much more.  They'll let the world know the exact amount when it suits them.  This Reuters article, filed from Hong Kong, showed up on their website at 2:19 a.m. EDT on Thursday morning---and I found it on the Sharps Pixley Internet site.  Most of the article is the usual main stream media bulls hit, so be warned of that fact if you decide to read it.

Gold market manipulation is 'too inflammatory' to be debated at Hong Kong conference

Yesterday's concentration on gold at the spectacular Mines and Money Hong Kong conference may have inadvertently proved GATA's longstanding contention that gold market manipulation simply can't be discussed in polite company almost anywhere in the world.

For at the outset of a panel discussion described as a debate about the direction of the gold price, its moderator, Rod Whyte, a longtime gold advocate and member of the Board of Directors of Australia-based business information provider Aspermont Ltd., announced that the panelists had agreed that gold market manipulation would not be discussed because the topic is "too inflammatory."

Since Whyte has expressed support for GATA at other venues, the calculated avoidance of the manipulation issue would seem to have been someone else's idea. In any case the panel included two members who could not have been expected to want to discuss the issue: Philip Klapwijk, formerly an analyst for Gold Fields Mineral Services, now managing director of Precious Metals Insights Ltd. in Hong Kong, and Albert Cheng, Far East managing director for the World Gold Council.

While Klapwijk predicted that the price of gold will fall substantially, predictions for the gold price are of no particular concern to GATA. We recognize that as long as the futures markets are operating, central banks can drive the price down to zero or up to infinity.

This commentary by Chris Powell was posted on the gata.org Internet at 6:51 p.m. Hong Kong time on their Thursday evening---and it's a must read.

¤ The Funnies

This fellow is a Costa's hummingbird.

And one of the rarest hummingbirds is the Marvelous Spatuletail, as it's only found in one small area of Peru---and its home turf is now very protected, as it's estimated that there are less than 1,000 of these birds left on Planet Earth.  There's a short but excellent video of the male courting display linked here.

¤ The Wrap

Undoubtedly, there has been deterioration or an increase in the total commercial net short positions in COMEX gold and silver as a result of the sharp increase in price in both markets during the reporting week that ended [on Tuesday at the close of COMEX trading]. It would almost be impossible that the technical funds weren’t buying or that the commercials weren’t selling on the price rise. It’s only a matter of how many contracts were positioned and who among the commercials the sellers were – the big shorts or the raptors. I’m hoping for an increase of no more than 10,000 contracts in silver and no more than 40,000 contracts in gold---and really hoping for no large increase in the big four short position in both COMEX gold and silver. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 25 March 2015

The rallies and spikes in all four precious metals in the Far East and early London trading session yesterday were met by "all the usual suspects"---and they did what they always do.

Volume was very heavy during this time period---and it almost goes without saying that the Commercial traders, as sellers of last resort, were taking the other side of the trade against all comers in the precious metals, as the technical funds and small traders sold short positions and/or went long.  Without doubt there was huge deterioration in the Commercial net short positions again yesterday, but that won't show up until next Friday's Commitment of Traders Report.

Here are the 6-month charts for both gold and silver---and as you can see, gold touched its 50-day moving average yesterday, but wasn't allowed to penetrate it,as JPMorgan et al showed up across the board in all the precious metals at that point.

As I type this paragraph, the London gold market open is about twenty minutes away.  Needless to say, the price activity in Far East trading on their Friday was deathly quiet.  Gold and silver got sold down a bit in the early going in Hong Kong trading, but have now 'rallied' back to unchanged.  Platinum and palladium are each down a dollar or so.

Net volume in gold is the lowest I've ever seen it for this time of day, or month---around 7,200 contracts.  Silver's net volume is 3,700 contracts.  The dollar index has been chopping sideways since its close in New York late on Thursday afternoon---and is currently up 3 basis points.

All is quiet.  Almost too quiet.

Today we get the latest  COT Report for positions held at the close of COMEX trading on Tuesday afternoon.  And as Ted said in his quote further up---"It would almost be impossible that the technical funds weren’t buying or that the commercials weren’t selling on the [5-day price rise during the reporting week]. It’s only a matter of how many contracts were positioned and who among the commercials the sellers were – the big shorts or the raptors."  And that, dear reader, is the long and the short of it.  I'm hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.

Unless they're standing for delivery, today is the last day for the big boys to get out of the April gold contract---and that's why I'm rather surprised at how quiet the volume is, in that metal at the moment.  I expect that to change dramatically once London opens.  However, looking at yesterday's monstrous volume numbers, a pretty decent percentage of these traders appeared to have hit the exits on Thursday.

And as I sent today's column out the door at 5:20 a.m. EDT, I see that all four precious metal prices are back to just about where they closed on Wednesday.  It's almost like the early morning price action on Thursday never happened.  Gold is back below $1,200 the ounce---and silver below $17 spot.  Platinum and palladium are actually below their Wednesday closes.

Gross gold volume is sitting at 30,000 contracts, but over half of that is roll-overs out of the April contract, so net volume is extremely light.  Based on that, not much should be read into the current price action in this metal.  Silver volume is fairly decent at 7,200 contracts.

The dollar index caught a bid shortly after 3 p.m. Hong Kong time---and is currently up 38 basis points.

I'm not sure what to expect during the Friday session in London trading, or what might follow during the COMEX session in New York. But from what I see now, I'm prepared to be underwhelmed.

Enjoy your weekend, or what's left of it if you live west of the International Date Line---and I'll see you here tomorrow.

Ed Steer

Fri, 27 Mar 2015 06:24:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Lawrence Williams: SocGen’s Ultra Bearish Gold and Silver Outlook]]> http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/lawrence-williams-socgens-ultra-bearish-gold-and-silver-outlook/ http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/lawrence-williams-socgens-ultra-bearish-gold-and-silver-outlook/#When:06:25:00Z "We're also coming up on the end of the the first quarter"

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

It was another quiet day for gold yesterday.  After the usual dip in morning trading in the Far East on their Wednesday, the price began to rally once the gold market opened in London.  That rally lasted until the gold price pierced the $1,200 spot mark, which came at the open of equity trading in New York---and it was all down hill from there.

The low and high ticks were reported by the CME Group as $1,199.30 and $1,186.10 in the April contract.

Gold closed yesterday at $1,195.10 spot, up $1.90 from Tuesday's close.  Gross volume was around 290,000 contracts, but it netted out at a very light 81,000 contracts, as the roll-over activity out of the April contract is really heating up.

It was exactly the same story in silver, so I shall spare you the play-by-play.  Silver made it through the $17 spot mark once the COMEX opened in New York at 8:20 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning, but wasn't allowed to close there.

The low and high were recorded as $16.84 and $17.14 in the May contract.

Silver finished the Wednesday trading session at $16.955 spot, up 1.5 cents from Tuesday's close.  Net volume was pretty light at only 27,000 contracts, about the same as Tuesday's volume.

The platinum chart was a carbon copy of the silver and gold charts.  That white metal closed at $1,141 spot, up 6 dollars on the day.

Palladium's rally didn't last as long---and was much weaker, but it still manged to close up a dollar on the day at $763 spot.

The dollar index closed late on Tuesday afternoon in New York at 97.24---and managed to hang around that number until shortly before 7 a.m. GMT, which was the open of the gold market in London.  From there it chopped lower, hitting its 96.58 low tick right at 8:30 a.m. in New York.  From there it rallied back to just a hair under the 97.00 level by 11:15 a.m. EDT, before selling off a handful of points into the close.  The index finished the Wednesday trading session at 96.93---which was down 31 basis points from Tuesday.

Here's the 6-month U.S. Dollar Index to keep you up to date.

The gold equities opened in the black, but began to head lower almost immediately.  I would guess that part of the decline was due to what was going on in the gold market, but part of it was obviously selling in response to what was happening in the general equity markets yesterday.  In the end, the HUI closed down 1.47 percent.

The same can be said of the silver shares---as Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed down 1.34 percent.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that 1 lonely gold contract, along with 129 silver contracts, were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Friday.   The big short/issuer was Credit Suisse.  They weren't even close to being on my short list, so their appearance here is a big surprise.  But it should come as no surprise to anyone at this juncture, that it was JPMorgan as the big long/stopper once again.  They picked up 100 contracts in their in-house [proprietary] trading account, along with 14 contracts for their client account. The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Wednesday trading session showed that March gold open interest, after jumping up many hundreds of contracts on Tuesday, had them all subtracted out yesterday, as March o.i. dropped by 389 contracts back down to only 92 contracts remaining.  I don't know what that was about.  Silver open interest fell by 134 contracts down to 212 contracts remaining, minus the 129 contracts in the previous paragraph, so we're getting close to the bottom of the barrel for March deliveries in both metals.

There was another withdrawal from GLD yesterday, as an authorized participant took out 38,387 troy ounces.  Since the gold rally began a week ago---211,137 troy ounces of gold have been withdrawn from GLD---and nothing has been deposited.

There were no reported changes in SLV yesterday---and since the rally in silver began a week ago, there have been 2.01 million troy ounces of silver withdrawn from SLV, with nothing deposited. 

The folks over at the shortsqueeze.com Internet site updated their website yesterday with the new short positions in both SLV and GLD as of mid-March.  The short position in SLV increased by a tiny 1.00 percent, from 16.87 million shares/troy ounces, to 16.95 million shares/troy ounces.  The short position in GLD rose by 13.23 percent, from 1.14 million troy ounces to 1.29 million troy ounces.  In terms of the number of shares involved for GLD, it would be ten times these amounts.

Just after I hit the 'send' button on today's column, Switzerland's Zürcher Kantonalbank updated their website with the data from their gold and silver ETFs as of the close of business on Friday, March 20---and this is what they had to report.  Their gold ETF took a big jump, as 21,834 troy ounces were added during the reporting week.  It was the same with their silver ETF, as 237,164 troy ounces were added.  These represent the biggest one-week additions in many years.

There was a tiny sales report from the U.S. Mint.  They sold another 72,000 silver eagles.

There was a lot of gold activity at the COMEX-approved depositories on Tuesday.  In the regular depositories there was only 835.900 troy ounces reported received---and 1,028.800 troy ounces shipped out.  Using the conversion factor of 32.151---a number that Nick Laird provided the other day---these amounts work out to within a whisker of 26 and 320 kilobars respectively.  The link to that activity is here.

Over in the week-old Gold Kilo Stock depositories, it was a very busy day indeed---and I'm trying to make some sense of what's happening over there, as there have been huge in/out movements on a couple of days at Brink's, Inc.  On Tuesday, they reported receiving 614,791.422 troy ounces [19,122 kilobars]---and they also reported shipping out 529,430.517 troy ounces, which works out to 16,467 kilobars.  The link to that activity is here.

It was pretty straightforward in silver, as 234,806 troy ounces were received by Canada's Scotiabank---and 401,806 troy ounces were shipped out, with virtually all of it coming from the vaults over at HSBC USA.  The link to that action is here.

I've hacked and slashed---and cut back the stories to a reasonable number.

¤ Critical Reads

Durable Goods Orders Drop And Miss In Worst Run Since Lehman

For the 3rd of the last 4 months, Durable Goods Orders fell and missed expectations (the worst run since Lehman). A 1.4% drop (against expectations of a 0.2% rise) is made worse by downward revisions of the last month's modest bounce. Across the board the numbers are a disaster - Ex-Trans fell 0.4%, Ex-defense fell 1%, Capital Goods Shipments fell 1.4% with capital goods ex-air dropping a stunning 7.6% YoY.

  • *U.S. FEBRUARY DURABLES ORDERS FALL 1.4%; EX-TRANS. DROP 0.4% (both big misses)
  • *JANUARY DURABLE GOODS ORDERS RISE 2%, REVISED FROM 2.8% GAIN (major downward revision)

New orders fell for Computer products, fabricated metals, machinery, transportation, motor vehicle, and a dramatic plunge in non-defense aircraft new orders and even larger (33.1%) collapse in defense aircraft orders.

This news item appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 8:37 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning---and today's first story is courtesy of reader M.A.

Dow tumbles 292 points as economy shows cracks

Wall Street is no longer cheering bad economic news.

The Dow dropped 292 points and the S&P 500 declined almost 1.5% after the latest in a long line of alarming economic reports.  The tech-heavy NASDAQ tumbled over 2.3% -- its biggest drop in nearly a year -- as investors worry that biotechs may be overvalued.

For weeks the stock market rallied because investors saw every economic speed bump as an indication the Federal Reserve would keep interest rates extremely low for longer and longer.

"You're at a point now where you can no longer say bad news is good news. That's not working anymore. You've got to show some growth here," said Joe Saluzzi, co-head of trading at Themis Trading.

This article showed up on the money.cnn.com Internet site at 5:05 p.m. EDT yesterday---and I found it in this morning's edition of the King Report.

Price of Ground Beef Hits Record in February: $4.238 Per Pound

The average price of a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high in February, hitting $4.238 per pound, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In August 2014, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time, hitting $4.013, according to the BLS.

In September, the average price jumped to $4.096 per pound; in October, the average price climbed to $4.154 per pound; and in November, the average price climbed to $4.201 per pound.

This article was posted on the cnsnews.com Internet site on Tuesday morning EDT---and it's the second offering of the day from reader M.A.

SEC proposes forcing high-frequency trading firms to register

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday voted to propose a rule that would force high-speed trading firms to register. Such high-speed trading firms, when they conduct business only for their own accounts, are currently exempt from registration with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The rule that allows this exemption hasn't been substantively amended since 1983, the SEC says. The Michael Lewis book "Flash Boys" has brought more scrutiny on high-frequency trading.

This single paragraph story appeared on the marketwatch.com Internet site at 11:02 a.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank Brad Robertson for sending it.

Russia’s Lavrov compliments Obama

Russia has chosen to sidestep the provocative resolution passed with an overwhelming majority of 348 to 48 by the U.S. Congress on Monday urging President Barack Obama to send lethal weapons to Ukraine. Of course, Obama himself would ignore it.

However, the Russian assessment rests on more fundamental considerations. In a television interview in Moscow last week, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was optimistic that Obama is unlikely to decide on supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine. This is what he said:

“So far, the administration of US President Barack Obama has opposed supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine. They are proceeding from considerations rooted in their overwhelming desire for a political solution, and also from purely pragmatic reasons. They are aware that this could lead to a grave military situation. And the most important thing is the European Union doesn’t want it either. It is not taking its cues from a small, aggressive and noisy group of its member countries that couldn’t care less and are eager to endlessly blame Russia for all the sins in the world, to preserve the sanctions against our country, and so on. As things stand now, a change in the E.U. position seems entirely unlikely to me.” [Emphasis added.]

The friendly tenor of Lavrov remarks — as friendly toward Obama as circumstances would permit a Russian foreign minister at the moment — would suggest that there might have been Russian-American cogitations on this topic and Lavrov would have spoken in the light of recent exchanges with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Most certainly, an overall lowering of the U.S.’ anti-Russia rhetoric on Ukraine is palpable in the recent week or two.

This commentary by Indian career diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar appeared on the Asia Times website yesterday---and it's the third story of the day from reader M.A.  It's certainly worth reading.

Obama Refuses to Meet With NATO Secretary General in Washington

NATO’s new Secretary General is in Washington this week, but despite repeated requests, has been refused a meeting at the White House. Could this be another indication of rising tension between President Obama and European leaders over the proposed EU army?

Nearly every NATO country has hosted the organization’s new head, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, since he took office in October. It’s part of a long tradition which has, until now, been enthusiastically followed by US presidents as a way to illustrate commitment to one of the country’s strongest treaty obligations.

"The Bush administration held a firm line that if the NATO secretary general came to town, he would be seen by the president…so as not to diminish his stature or authority," Kurt Volker, former US representative to NATO, told Bloomberg.

This is a big "up yours" to NATO's plans for the Ukraine.  This very interesting news item was posted on the sputniknews.com Internet site at 7:21 p.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday evening, which was 11:21 a.m. in Washington.  It's the first contribution of the day from Roy Stephens.

Alberta to bleed 31,800 jobs by end of year in oil price carnage

Alberta, the Canadian province holding the world’s third-largest oil reserves, expects 31,800 jobs to be lost for the remainder of the year as a crude price crash forces producers to cut costs.

Even with the job losses, overall employment will rise 1% in 2015 because of gains carried over from December, the provincial finance ministry said Tuesday in a statement to reporters in Calgary. That compares with a 2.2% increase in employment last year. It would take a loss of 80,000 jobs before year-end to prevent employment from growing, the government said.

Suncor Energy Inc., Cenovus Energy Inc. and other oil producers have already shed thousands of jobs this year as they cut spending on new projects. The energy industry accounts for about a quarter of Alberta’s economy, making the province the most reliant on crude in Canada, and previously fueling a boom that saw real estate prices and the number of millionaires in Calgary surge.

This short Bloomberg news item found a home on the financialpost.com Internet site on Tuesday---and it's the second offering of the day from Brad Robertson.

Russian Shipbuilder to Sue German Engine Supplier

Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) is preparing to sue Germany-based company MTU for its failure to supply engines for Russian corvettes, Ekho Moskvy radio station reported on Tuesday, citing USC President Alexei Rakhmanov.

MTU refused to supply the power units under a valid €24 million contract, Rakhmanov said.

“As if it wasn’t enough to keep the engines, they also tried to take us to court to avoid returning our advance payment,” he added.

This short article, filed from Moscow, appeared on the russia-insider.com website late on Tuesday Moscow time.

Europe blocks desperate Greek attempt to stay afloat

The Greek government will not receive €1.2bn (£883m) in European rescue funds after officials ruled the Leftist government had no legal claims on the cash.

Athens requested the return of money it said was erroneously handed to creditors from Greece's own bank recapitalisation fund, the Hellenic Financial Stability Facility (HFSF).

The transfer was originally arranged by the previous Greek administration.

But eurozone officials have blocked the claim, saying it is "legally impossible" transfer the money back to the debt-stricken country.

This news item appeared on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 10:00 p.m. GMT in London last evening---and it's another news item I found embedded in yesterday's edition of the King Report.

The Political Perils of a Ukraine Default

For the last 10 days, Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko has been visiting private creditors in Europe and the U.S. to explain why they should help her create a "new Ukraine," by agreeing to write off some of its debt. Back home, meanwhile, an oligarch with a private army was busy occupying two state energy companies in a style decidedly reminiscent of the old Ukraine.

The contrast is no criticism of Jaresko, an American-Ukrainian from Chicago who seems committed to the economic reform Ukraine needs. Indeed, the attempt by Igor Kolomoisky, a billionaire businessman and regional governor, to keep control of two state energy companies is grist for the pitch she’s been making to private holders of Ukraine’s sovereign debt.

Jaresko says they'll never get a better price for their bonds than now, because there’s a calm amid the Ukrainian storm. There's something resembling a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine; the currency is stable(ish); there’s a government committed to reform under the International Monetary Fund’s $40 billion loan program; and that government has support for that in parliament.

Her list of shocks that could end this lull is longer and all too plausible -- especially if the country's creditors don't help out before May, potentially forcing the IMF to withdraw its program and force a disorderly default.

This rather short commentary was posted on the bloomberg.com Internet site at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday afternoon---and I thank South African reader B.V.  It's worth your time.

Moody’s downgrades Ukraine heralding imminent default

International rating agency Moody's has downgraded the long-term issuer rating of Ukraine to the second lowest Ca grade from Caa3, leaving the outlook negative and a high possibility of the country’s imminent default.

“Although negotiations over the specific details of the restructuring are only now getting underway, Moody's believes that the likelihood of a distressed exchange, and hence a default on government debt taking place, is virtually one hundred percent,” Moody’s said in a news release Tuesday.

Another reason for downgrading Ukraine’s rating is that foreign private lenders are expected to incur substantial losses due to the government's plan of restructuring the bonds it has issued or guaranteed, the agency said.

The negative outlook reflects the agency’s expectation that the level of Ukrainian external debt will remain very high, despite plans to restructure the debt and carry out reforms.

This short article appeared on the Russia Today website at 10:22 a.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday morning---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

'A revolution is impossible in Belarus'

The political year for the Belarusian opposition begins today, on Freedom Day, with a state-sanctioned rally.

The day, which marks the foundation of the Belarusian People’s Republic in 1918, used to bring thousands to the streets of Minsk to oppose the government of Alexander Lukashenko – who has been in power since 1994.

Not anymore. The political opposition is suffering from years of exclusion from public sphere; they have not held a seat in parliament since 1996, they are virtually ignored by state-affiliated media and the government have restricted their right to protest.

The appetite for a revolution has also been quelled by events in neighbouring Ukraine. Belarusians are cautious. The risk of the state collapse, civil strife and Russian interference seems too high. The west, particularly the US, take the same line. Preserving Belarusian independence, not democratisation, has become the highest priority.

This short, but very interesting essay appeared on theguardian.com website at 1:15 p.m. GMT on Wednesday afternoon, which was 9:15 a.m. in New York---and it's the second offering of the day from reader B.V.  I'm not sure what to make of it, but I am curious as to the reason it's appearing at this juncture.

Saudi Arabia moves heavy arms to border with chaos-stricken Yemen

Saudi Arabia is deploying a significant task force to the border with neighboring Yemen, where Houthi Shiite rebels allegedly forced the president to leave the country. President Hadi has been asking the U.N. to approve the use of foreign forces in Yemen.

The situation in Yemen remains murky, with Houthi militants claiming capture of the southern seaport of Aden, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s stronghold. The fighters say the city of Aden is now under their control and they're arresting the president's supporters there.

The rebels claim Hadi has fled the country, and announced a 20 million riyal ($100,000) reward for Hadi's capture, Lebanese-based Al-Manar TV reported, citing the rebels' representatives. While two of the president's aides have said he remains in Aden and has no intention of leaving the country, later reports claim he has left Yemen.

Yemen's president has left the country on a boat from Aden, officials told AP.  Hadi is now traveling by sea to the neighboring country of Djibouti, Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's secretary told RIA Novosti.

This longish, but worthwhile news item appeared on the Russia Today Internet site at 10:31 a.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday morning, which was 2:31 a.m. EDT in Washington.  I thank reader M.A. for digging it up for us.

Saudi Arabia launches air attacks in Yemen

Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes early Thursday in neighboring Yemen, heading a coalition of Arab nations in an effort to dislodge Houthi rebels sweeping through that country.

The strikes were a startling turn of events that came as the Houthis, in control of Yemen’s capital for months, barreled south toward the coastal city of Aden, seizing an air base along the way that was evacuated by U.S. Special Operations forces­ last week.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who had taken refuge in Aden after fleeing Sanaa, the capital, was said to have escaped. His whereabouts were unknown.

The military operation was announced Wednesday evening in Washington by Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, who said it would last until Yemen’s “legitimate government” was restored.

This news story put in an appearance on The Washington Post website at 10:20 p.m. EDT last night---and it's another article I lifted from this morning's edition of the King Report.

Chinese demand for Russian oil holds steady

Demand for Russian crude oil in the Chinese economy is expected to hold steady, despite economic faltering in both countries, a Chinese trader said Wednesday.

Chinese officials are describing a "new normal" in an economy slowing from a long period of double-digit growth. For Russia, sanctions pressure in response to crises in Ukraine and the decline in crude oil prices is pushing the country toward recession.

Chen Bo, head of the oil trading subsidiary of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., said from a bilateral energy forum in Beijing both countries would remain strong energy partners.

This UPI story, filed from Beijing, appeared on their Internet site at 6:58 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning---and I thank Roy for his final offering in today's column.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: U.S. risks epic blunder by treating China as an economic enemy

The U.S. Treasury's attempt to cripple the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank before it gets off the ground is clearly intended to head off China's ascendancy as a rival financial superpower, whatever the faux-pieties from Washington about standards of "governance."

Such a policy is misguided at every level, evidence of what can go wrong when a lame-duck president defers to posturing amateurs in Congress on delicate matters of global geostrategy.

Washington has enraged Britain by trying to browbeat Downing Street into boycotting the project. It has forced allies and friendly countries across the Far East to make a fatal choice between the US and China that none wished to make, and has ended up losing almost everybody. Germany, France, and Italy are joining. Australia and South Korea may follow soon.

Ambrose carves the U.S. a new one, which is a sure sign that they've really stepped in it this time, which is precisely what they've done.  There's also no doubt in my mind that he was given the green light to write it, as he would never have been allowed to be this vitriolic without approval from above. This absolute must read commentary appeared on The Telegraph's website at 8:37 p.m. GMT yesterday evening in London---and I found it in a GATA release that Chris Powell filed from Hong Kong on their Thursday afternoon.

Lawrence Williams: SocGen’s ultra bearish gold and silver outlook

Analysts at the French Bank Société Générale (SocGen) in their latest research report have forecast that the gold price, having given away all its early year gains, was headed sharply lower, as it saw the dollar continue its gain in strength. They thus expected the bear market in gold to continue further and saw the price as falling to average only $925 an ounce between 2016 and 2019. The timing of this report was perhaps unfortunate in that the forecast for a virtually immediate downturn in gold, together with dollar strength, predated the events of the past few days, which has seen the reverse occur. Gold bulls will be fervently hoping that the bank’s analysts are equally incorrect in their forecast of gold’s longer-term prospects.

It’s not that the SocGen predictions couldn’t happen. Anything is possible with what we see as a gold price dominated by the futures markets and thus by the financial elite (which includes SocGen).

However the more we look at physical gold flows, and the rise in Asian-located precious metals exchange participation and volumes, we just feel that the current dominance of New York and London in gold and silver price setting could be drawing to a close. It would be replaced by pricing on the new Asian precious metals exchanges where there will likely be a different ultimate agenda. Whether that will involve allowing precious metals prices to rise, and rise fast, is anyone’s guess, but the current West to East physical gold flows suggest that this could well be in the cards.

This commentary by Lawrie is definitely worth reading---and it appeared on the mineweb.com Internet site at 12:24 p.m. GMT in London Wednesday afternoon.  I thank Nick Laird for bringing it to our attention.  Perma-gold bear Jeff Christian over at CPM Group was also dumping on the "ancient metal of kings".  His comments appeared in an article on the Bloomberg website on Tuesday afternoon bearing the headline "Gold Prices Seen Declining by CPM for Third Straight Year".  I found this item on the Sharps Pixley website in the wee hours of this morning.

HSBC 'cautiously optimistic' of gold price outlook in 2015

HSBC is "cautiously optimistic" of the gold price outlook for 2015, predicting a trading range of $1,120/oz-$1,305/oz with an average price of $1,234/oz, the bank said late Tuesday, March 24.

"The possibility that deflationary pressures could bring on negative rates in some economies helps reaffirm our cautiously optimistic view on gold," head analyst James Steel said.

However, in Steel's view gold prices are not "entirely hostage" to monetary developments.

"The recent price slump below $1,150/oz may be encouraging greater demand from price sensitive emerging market buyers, notably, but not exclusively, in India and China," Steel said.

Blah, blah, blah.   As you already know dear reader, the price of gold, along with the other three precious metals, are set by JPMorgan et al in the COMEX futures market irrespective of supply and demand fundamentals---or anything else for that matter---and what they decide, or are instructed to do, determines prices---end of story.  But these so-called "analysts" are oblivious, as their jobs depend on them not seeing this.  This gold-related news item appeared on the platts.com Internet site at 5:49 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and it's another article I found on the Sharps Pixley website this morning.

Koos Jansen: Turkey's mint sometimes products more gold coins than U.S. mint

The Turkish mint gets little attention, Bullion Star market analyst and GATA consultant Koos Jansen wrote earlier today, but it is among the biggest in the world and in some recent years has produced more gold coins than the U.S. mint.

Jansen's report is headlined "The Largest Gold Mints in the World"---and it was posted on the bullionstar.com Internet site early Thursday morning Singapore time.  I thank Chris Powell for writing the above paragraph of introduction.

¤ The Funnies

Here are four more hummingbird photos from the group that reader M.A. sent our way on Monday.  These fellows are rufous hummingbirds---and it's a North American species that is very common on the west coast---and as far north as Alaska in the summer.  It, along with the ruby-throat, is a hummingbird that I'm more than familiar with.  Depending on your viewing angle and available light---and whether they're "on display" or not---they can look quite different from various viewpoints, as they can flash their iridescence at will---mostly at other male hummingbirds.

Despite their diminutive size, the male hummingbird of this [or any other] species has an A-type personality of the first order of magnitude---and to watch them go at each other in a territorial dispute, defence of a hummingbird feeder, or a prospective female, is awesome to watch.  Photo #4 is a good example of the male all puffed up and rarin' for a fight.  I've never seen "attitude" like this in such a tiny creature---and they are tiny.  A large female of this species might weigh 5 grams, the male considerably less.  Yet they fly 2-3,000 kilometers twice a year during their annual migrations.

¤ The Wrap

For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that JPMorgan appears to be long physical up the ying yang---and the great setup in the COT market structure for both silver and gold, I’m still inclined to think the big move up in silver may be at hand. Of course, if conditions change, namely, if JPMorgan loads up on the short side of COMEX silver once again, I will change my opinion. But until that time, it still looks like silver (and gold) has the green light to the upside. And I suppose, if this is the start of the big silver move, then the negative collective sentiment should be considered a contrarian confirmation indicator for a price move higher. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 25 March 2015

I wasn't expecting much in the way of price action yesterday---and that's the way it turned out.  But even a cursory glance at the gold and silver charts shows that there wasn't much action because "gentle hands" were there once again---this time at the open of the equity markets in New York, one of their favourite times to appear.

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals once again---and as I pointed out yesterday, the rallies in gold and silver appear to be faltering at the moment.  But they're only faltering because JPMorgan et al are painting the charts.

We're also coming up on the end of the the first quarter---and there will be a lot of book-squaring in front of that, so prices may be somewhat more volatile than normal, but I doubt very much if they'll be allowed get out of hand to the upside, but I'd love to be wrong about that.

As I type this paragraph, the London gold market open is fifteen minutes away.  After a quiet open in the Far East on their Thursday morning, the price began to rally a bit starting shortly before 9 a.m. Hong Kong time---and is still at it, and above $1,200 spot as I write this.  Silver is back above $17 spot, platinum is up 7 bucks---and palladium is up 4 dollars.  Net gold volume is just under 16,000 contracts, which isn't a lot---and roll-overs are about a third of gross volume at the moment.  Silver's net volume is sitting at 3,500 contracts, which is quiet as  well.  The dollar index is heading lower---and is currently down 21 basis points.

Today and tomorrow will be heavy volume days, as all the large traders [unless they're standing for delivery] have to be out of the April gold contract by the close of COMEX trading on Friday.  And as I've said all week, I doubt if we'll see any untoward moves in the precious metal prices---and as you can tell from the 6-month price charts posted above, "untoward" price movements aren't being allowed.

And as I sent today's column out the door at 5:20 a.m. EDT, I see that shortly after the gold market opened in London, the rallies in all four precious metals went vertical, which had all the hallmarks of a "no ask" market.  But shortly after 8 a.m. GMT, the not-for-profit sellers appeared in force---and are currently hard at work attempting to put these rallies back in the box.

Gold volume has exploded to 66,000 gross contracts---45,000 net.  And silver's net volume is sky-high as well at 11,500 contracts.  The dollar index got as low as 96.21---but is 10 basis points off that low at the moment---and down 61 basis points from its Wednesday afternoon close in New York.

Here's the Kitco gold chart as of 5:17 a.m. EDT, which was 9:17 a.m. in London.

I guess this is some of the price 'volatility' I spoke of as month end/quarter end approaches, but it's still surprising to see as we head into options and futures expiry for the April delivery month.

Whether there's more to come or not, is unknown---but as Ted Butler said in his quote above, we're "locked and loaded" for price moves of biblical proportions if that's what JPMorgan et al have been instructed to allow happen.  But at they moment, they're fighting these rallies with everything they've got.

I'll be more than interested to see what the lay of the land is like when I roll out of bed later this morning.

See you tomorrow.

Ed Steer

Thu, 26 Mar 2015 06:25:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Indian Gold Imports Explode in March]]> http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/indian-gold-imports-explode-in-march/ http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/indian-gold-imports-explode-in-march/#When:06:08:00Z "The final days of the current delivery month are getting interesting"

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

Once again the gold price got sold down in Far East trading on their Tuesday morning, with the low tick, such as it was, coming somewhere during the Hong Kong lunch hour.  The subsequent rally got capped at 11 a.m. GMT in London---and from there it sold off until shortly after the equity markets opened in New York.  From that point gold rallied anew, before trading more or less sideways from the 2 p.m. EDT until the close of electronic trading.

The low and high tick were reported as $1,184.70 and $1,194.50 in the April contract---and barely worth the effort of digging up.

The gold price closed in New York on Tuesday at $1,193.20 spot, up $3.90 on the day.  Gross volume was just over 215,000 contracts, but it all netted out to only 108,000 contracts, which was a couple of thousand more than Monday's net volume.

Silver's price pattern was somewhat similar to gold's but the 'rallies' weren't anywhere near as robust.  Silver traded in a 20 cent range for the entire Tuesday session---and the low and high ticks aren't worth the effort to look up.

Silver finished the Tuesday trading day at $16.94 spot, down 3.5 cents from Monday's close.  Net volume was 28,000 contracts, which was 12,000 contracts less than Monday's volume.

Platinum and palladium had somewhat similar price charts to gold and silver, but platinum's rally off it's 9:40 a.m. EDT low tick was rather anemic---and palladium didn't rally at all.  Platinum closed lower by ten bucks---and palladium was down 14 dollars.  Here are the charts.

The dollar index closed late on Monday afternoon in New York at 96.95---and made it as high as 97.28 by noon Hong Kong time.  It then rolled over and chopped lower until its 96.48 low tick, which came around 8:40 a.m. EDT.  Then it rallied as high as 97.37 or so by shortly after 11:30 a.m. in New York, before giving up some of those gains as the Tuesday afternoon session wore on.  The index finished the session at 97.24---up 29 basis points on the day.

With the gold price itself not doing too much, the gold stocks didn't do much either, as they chopped around unchanged for the entire Tuesday trading session.  The HUI closed down a smallish 0.16 percent.

The silver equities spent the entire day in negative territory, but not by a lot, as Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed down 0.29 percent.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and 154 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Thursday.  There were five different short/issuers---and the largest was JPMorgan with 54 contracts out of its client account.  On the long/stopper side it was JPMorgan raping its clients again, as it stopped 133 of those contracts---and the second place finisher doesn't even rate a mention.  Just like in silver eagles, JPM is picking up as much physical silver as it can get its hands on.  I'm sure that Ted Butler will have something to say about it in his mid-week commentary later today.  The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here---and it's worth a look, just so you can see the crime in progress.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Tuesday trading session was a bit of a shock in gold, as 373 contracts were added to March open interest---and the total up for delivery now stands at 481 contracts.  Whoever the short/issuers are, they've got three business days left to deliver this metal.

So far this month, only 8 gold contracts have been posted for delivery---and the question that still goes begging an answer is---why?  And in some respects the same thing can be said about the current March open interest in silver.

In silver, March o.i. fell by 258 contracts---and is now down to 346 contracts remaining---minus the 154 contracts mentioned above.  The physical metal that these contracts represent has to be delivered in the next three days as well---and it will be interesting to see who the short/issuers are, as it's a lead-pipe cinch that JPMorgan will be the long/stopper on most of it.

There were no reported changes in GLD yesterday---and as of 9:26 p.m. EDT yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV, either.

There was another sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday.  They reported selling 4,000 gold eagles---500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes---and another 181,000 silver eagles.

The U.S. Mint appears to be producing close to its maximum 24/7 capacity of silver eagles, as it's churning out 116,000 per day---based on a 7-day week.  And since it's not the public investor that's buying them, the question then remains as to whom it might be---and I'm not prepared to dispute Ted Butler's reasoning that it's JPMorgan.  If not them, than one or more very large buyers of that caliber.

Over at the COMEX-approved depositories on Monday, there was no gold reported received, but 25,720 troy ounces were reported removed.  Almost all of it came out of the vaults of Canada's Scotiabank.  The link to that activity is here.

In silver, 600,967 troy ounces were received---and 65,541 troy ounces were shipped out.  The link to that action is here.

I have considerably fewer stories today than I did yesterday---and I hope there are some in here that you'll find worth your while.

¤ Critical Reads

Consumer Prices Rise Most Since May 2014, Led By Gas Prices and Shelter Costs

Following the first YoY deflation since 2009 in January, February's CPI YoY data managed to scrape its way back to unchanged (very modestly better than the 0.1% drop expected). Consumer prices rose 0.2% MoM - the most since May 2014 with gas prices up MoM for the first time since June. So what is the narrative now: if tumbling gas prices didn't get consumers to spend, rising gas costs will? Ex food and energy, prices rose 0.2% MoM (slightly hotter than the 0.1% rise expected) led by the shelter index (which increased 0.2 percent) accounting for about two-thirds of the monthly increase. The rent continues to be too damn high for most, and finally the BLS is starting to realize this.

MoM, Consumer prices have jumped from the worst drop since Lehman to the biggest jump since May 2014.

This economic news item appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 8:40 a.m. EDT on Tuesday morning---and today's first story is courtesy of reader M.A.

How Cold Was It This Winter? So Cold That New Home Sales Hit a 7 Year Record!

For a minute there I thought I was reading the National Enquirer. But the Journal was not alone. All the major media outlets were reveling over the news. The Journal went on to say “New-home sales rose to the highest level in seven years in February, a sign of strong demand that could help boost the broader U.S. housing market.”

That’s the ticket! Strong demand! Housing is back, America! Low pay, unqualified borrowers are back, and we’re selling over a half million houses annually!

Behind that headline, a bump in southerly migration joined with the usual random noise in February in other regions to send the number reported by the back slapping, self-congratulatory, Washington-Wall Street media echo chamber, to da moon.

As usual, they were annualizing a monthly, seasonally adjusted, abstract impressionist interpretation of loosely estimated reality. In other words they multiplied the seasonal adjustment error plus the huge sampling error that is a feature of the first release of this data, times 12. To its credit, the WSJ did point out in a later paragraph that “February’s advance estimate came with a margin of error of plus or minus 15.2 percentage points.” 15.2%! Are you kidding me! Why are we even discussing this number?

This is what passes for news in the main stream media these days.  This commentary by Lee Adler appeared on David Stockman's website yesterday sometime---and I thank Roy Stephens for his his first contribution of the day.

The Verdict Is In, and America's 401(k) Accounts Are a Crashing Failure

For millions of Americans, the 401(k) plan is a miserable failure — it simply is not shielding enough people from financial struggles in their retirements, according to a CNBC analysis.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates the median amount in U.S. 401(k) accounts is a paltry $18,433 and almost 40 percent of workers have less than $10,000 in those instruments.

"In America, when we had disability and defined benefit plans, you actually had an equality of retirement period. Now the rich can retire and workers have to work until they die," Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist at the New School for Social Research, told CNBC.

The business network said millions of Americans approaching retirement are exiting the workforce with savings that "do not even approach what they will need" for even just healthcare.

It you are an American citizen with a 401[k] plan, this is worth reading.  It appeared on the newsmax.com Internet site at 9:00 a.m. EDT on Tuesday---and it's courtesy of West Virginia reader Elliot Simon.

Mike Maloney: The Day the Internet Died

"February 26, 2015. That was the day that freedom of the internet died." Watch Michael Maloney's latest video update to hear his thoughts on the recent ruling on Net Neutrality.

"We're adopting a solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist using legal authority that we don't have." - Ajit Pai

This brief 2:31 minute video from Mike appeared on the youtube.com Internet site yesterday---and it's worth your time.

Canada's Biggest Oil Casualty to Date: Calgary's Nexen Shutters Oil Trading Desk

Last December, traditionally perma-bullish energy trader Andy Hall shocked the world when he became the first casualty of the oil crash after Phibro, his 113 year old employer then owned by Occidental Petroleum after its sale by Citigroup, would liquidate in the US after it failed to buy a buyer. He wouldn't be the last. Overnight, Nexen Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of China's CNOOC Ltd, reported it too would close its crude oil trading division following a round of job cuts announced last week, four market sources said on Monday.

It appears that unlike money-losing shale producers, who still have some balance sheet capacity to eek out funding for a few more weeks/months of operations and product dumping (which sends prices of oil lower not higher which is what those same producers need), oil traders who largely are self-funded no longer have that luxury, and as a result of the failure of oil to bounce, have no choice but to fold it in.

From ReutersThe Calgary-based company, which was acquired by state-controlled CNOOC in 2013 for $15.1 billion, cut 400 jobs last week in North America and the United Kingdom in response to plunging global oil prices.

Three sources said Nexen was closing down its trading operations worldwide, although the majority of activity takes place in Calgary. The company will continue to market its own crude.

This is another story courtesy of the Zero Hedge website.  It was posted there at 8:22 a.m. EDT on Tuesday morning---and I thank reader M.A. for his second story of the day.

U.K. to Boost Falklands Defense to Counter Argentina Invasion Fears - Reports

The United Kingdom will bolster its defense in the Falklands amid fears Argentina may increase its military capacity and invade the islands, the Telegraph newspaper reported Tuesday.

In 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a remote British colony in the South Atlantic that Buenos Aires claimed it owned. The armed conflict between the two nations took the lives of 655 Argentinian and 255 British servicemen. The 74-day Falklands war ended when Argentina gave up their bid to control the islands.

U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon will announce troop and equipment reinforcements to the Falklands on Monday, the newspaper reported. The move comes in response to a U.K. Defense Ministry review suggesting an invasion to the islands is likely.

This news item, filed from Moscow, showed up on the sputniknews.com Internet site at 11:09 a.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday morning, which was 3:09 a.m. EDT in Washington.  It's the second offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

More capital controls as France declares war…on cash

French paper Le Parisien didn’t mince words in the headline: “La chasse au cash est lancée”. Basically ‘hunting season on cash is launched’.

Under the auspices of fighting terrorism, France’s Minister of Finance, Monsieur Michel Sapin, has rolled out a series of eight new restrictions aimed specifically at minimizing the use of cash.

Among the new restrictions is a prohibition of making more than €1,000 in cash payments (down from €3,000 before).

Large cash withdrawals exceeding €10,000 per month will also now be monitored and reported to the French authorities.

This news item was embedded in yesterday's edition of the Sovereign Man.  A reader sent me the story the other day---and I can't find it now, so this will have to do.  Simon Black sent it our way.

Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos wins 15 seats in Andalusia

Podemos, the Spanish anti-austerity party, will be a prominent force in Andalusia’s regional parliament after it won 15 seats in the party’s first election since its ally Syriza triumphed in Greece.

The Socialists, who have held power in Andalusia for more than three decades, will continue to govern the region. Lead by Susana Díaz, they won 35% percent of the vote, earning them 47 seats, shy of an outright majority.

“Andalusians have made their voices heard through the ballot box,” Díaz, 40, said on Sunday as the results came in.

The election held up Spain’s two-party system, albeit in a weakened state. The People’s party came in second with 27% of the vote, or 33 seats, but the party of prime minister Mariano Rajoy was the biggest loser on the day as the result was a steep drop from the 50 seats it won in the 2012 elections.

This news item appeared on theguardian.com website at 1:14 a.m. GMT on Monday morning---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

European Central Bank to ban embattled Greek banks from holding government bonds

The European Central Bank is set to tighten the noose on Greece a day after the president of the Bank denied the institution was “blackmailing” Athens into agreeing to bail-out conditions.

According to reports, the ECB will move to officially ban Greek banks from increasing their holdings of the country’s short-term sovereign debt, in a bid to break a potentially toxic link between lenders and the stricken sovereign.

The restriction will place a further squeeze on the cash-strapped Greek government, which could run out of money to pay wages and pensions by the end of next month.

Speaking to the European Parliament on Monday, Mario Draghi denied the ECB was acting unfairly towards the Leftist government: “We haven’t created any rule for Greece, rules were in place and they’ve been applied,” said Mr Draghi.

This rather brief news item was posted on The Telegraph's website at 9:00 p.m. GMT yesterday evening---and I found it in the wee hours of this morning.  It's definitely worth reading.

$100bn NATO claim: Serbian NGOs seek compensation for Yugoslavia bombing

Two non-governmental organizations have said NATO should be required to pay compensation for the massive damage inflicted during the 1999 bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

A meeting of the Belgrade Forum for the World of Equals and the Club of Generals and Admirals in Belgrade presented an initiative to hold 28-member NATO financially accountable for the damage that Yugoslavia sustained in the attacks.

Serbian experts put the price tag of the devastation between $60 and $100 billion.

Retired General Jovo Milanovic said that NATO’s military offensive, which was unsanctioned by the United Nations, represented "a violation of all norms of international law that caused enormous material damage to Yugoslavia and huge human casualties,” Tass quoted him as saying.

This very interesting article put in an appearance on the Russia Today website at 12:34 p.m. Moscow time yesterday afternoon---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us.

Some 10,000 miners go on strike in western Ukraine

Some 10,000 miners are taking part in a protest rally in the city of Chervonohrad in western Ukraine’s Lviv Region, all seven mines of the Lvovugol enterprise have been shut down, the Confederation of Free Trade Unions (CFTU) of Ukraine reported Tuesday.

"Ten thousand miners have stopped work and entered a new phase of an early strike. They are demanding that closure of mines be stopped, and are insisting on the resignation of Energy and Coal Industry Minister [Vladimir] Demchishin," chairman of the Independent Trade Union of Ukraine’s Miners Mikhail Volynets said.

Miners are holding posters where their key demands are written: resignation of [Energy and Coal Industry Minister] Demchishin and full repayment of wage arrears for January and February [as of March 24, only 10 million hryvnias out of 95 million have been paid].

This story, filed from Kiev, showed up on the tass.ru Internet site at 9:03 p.m.  on their Tuesday evening---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

Russian Duma may reauthorize Putin to send the Russian Army into Ukraine

“The Russian Parliament ought to once again give the President of the Russian Federation to use armed force in Ukraine if the U.S. decides to send sizable arms supplies to that country.” This announcement was made by the First Deputy Chairman of the “Just Russia” faction, Mikhail Emelyanov.

The U.S. House of Representatives adopted a resolution on Tuesday recommending the U.S. president to approve arms supplies to Ukraine. The resolution calls on the president to “use the authority provided by Congress to furnish Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons.” According to the authors of the resolution, this measure would “increase the Ukrainian nation’s ability to defend its sovereignty.” The authors of the resolution also exclusively blame Russia for the deaths suffered during the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. At the same time, they ignore the fact that a significant portion of the refugees is in Russia.

“We believe that our parliament should not ignore this resolution. If the U.S. begins genuine lethal weaponry supplies to Ukraine, we should not be shy about supporting the militia, including with weapons, and to give the president the right to send military units on to Ukrainian territory,” Emelyanov told journalists.

In his view, Russia cannot allow Ukraine to be transformed into an “international militant aimed at Russia.”

This interesting---and not entirely surprising commentary showed up on the fortruss.blogspot.ca Internet site yesterday---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

Moscow demands removal of U.S. nuclear missiles in Europe

Russia increased tension over NATO nuclear missiles Tuesday with a demand that the United States remove all non-strategic nuclear weapons from Europe.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich referred to comments by Jen Psaki, his counterpart at the U.S. State Department, that U.S. missiles are under constant U.S. control, as distorted. He added that deployment of U.S. missiles in European NATO countries is a violation of the 1968 Treaty on Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation.

Lukashevich's remarks came after tensions, already ratcheted upward by Russia's contention that it could place nuclear weapons in Crimea, increased over the weekend with the suggestion by a Russian diplomat that the Danish Navy's inclusion of radar on one ship, to involve it in NATO's missile shield, could make Denmark a nuclear target.

This UPI article, filed from Moscow, was posted on their website at 11:18 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and it is, once again, courtesy of Roy Stephens.

Russian foreign minister: attempts to organize state coup in Venezuela inadmissible

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday any attempts to interfere into Venezuela’s domestic affairs and the United States’ sanctions against Venezuelan citizens are inadmissible.

"Russia and Cuba have reiterated their solidarity with the people of Venezuela, with the legitimate authorities of that country. We consider any attempts to interfere into domestic affairs of that state, illegal sanctions imposed by the United States against a number of Venezuelan citizens inadmissible," Lavrov told journalists during his visit to Havana.

This brief news item, filed from Havana, showed up on the tass.ru website at 9:29 p.m. Moscow time on their Friday evening, which was 1:29 p.m. in Washington.  This is also courtesy of Roy S.

Anti-Russian propaganda is ‘unconvincing’, because Western narrative is false

You really couldn’t make it up. Almost 24 million people in the E.U. are unemployed. The Greek debt crisis has yet to be resolved. An Islamic State terrorist attack in Tunis, just over 100 miles from Italy. The ever-worsening problem of climate change.

And what are the E.U. elite talking about? How best to counter ‘Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns’. It’s good to know they’ve got their priorities right, isn't it?

At last week’s summit in Brussels, E.U. leaders discussed a range of options, one of which could include the setting up of a new Russian-language TV channel funded by European taxpayers.

A timetable has been laid out: we’re told the E.U.-funded European Endowment for Democracy will present media proposals to a summit in Latvia on May 21-22, and that E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will finalize the plans by the end of June.

This excellent op-edge piece put in an appearance on the Russia Today website on Monday afternoon Moscow time.  I was saving it for Saturday, but thought it worth posting now.  It's definitely worth reading---and it's another offering from Roy Stephens.

Saudi Arabia Wooing Fired U.S. Shale Workers to ‘Join Our Team’

Workers fired from U.S. shale fields after the collapse in oil prices could soon have a new boss: the nation some blame for driving that decline.

The state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co., also known as Saudi Aramco, is posting new job ads online aiming to snap up experts in extracting oil from shale as the country seeks to become a leader in that rapidly expanding effort. Tens of thousands of U.S. workers have been fired since November as oil prices plunged because of oversupplies, driven in part by an OPEC decision supported by Saudi Arabia.

That’s now giving Saudi Aramco a better chance to lure experienced workers to its own shale formations. Difficult living conditions had previously made the country a hard sell, said Tobias Read, chief executive officer of Swift Worldwide Resources, a recruiting firm.

“We’ve seen people who have historically been reticent to look at Saudi Arabia who are now more accepting of a job there,” Read said in an interview.

This Bloomberg story is nine days old---and was posted on their Internet site last Monday.  The reader that sent it to me wishes to remain anonymous.

Beijing to Shut All Major Coal Power Plants to Cut Pollution

Beijing, where pollution averaged more than twice China’s national standard last year, will close the last of its four major coal-fired power plants next year.

The capital city will shutter China Huaneng Group Corp.’s 845-megawatt power plant in 2016, after last week closing plants owned by Guohua Electric Power Corp. and Beijing Energy Investment Holding Co., according to a statement Monday on the website of the city’s economic planning agency. A fourth major power plant, owned by China Datang Corp., was shut last year.

The facilities will be replaced by four gas-fired stations with capacity to supply 2.6 times more electricity than the coal plants.

The closures are part of a broader trend in China, which is the world’s biggest carbon emitter. Facing pressure at home and abroad, policy makers are racing to address the environmental damage seen as a byproduct of breakneck economic growth. Beijing plans to cut annual coal consumption by 13 million metric tons by 2017 from the 2012 level in a bid to slash the concentration of pollutants.

This short but interesting Bloomberg article, filed from Beijing, showed up on their Internet site at 9:52 p.m. Denver time on Monday evening---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it our way.

Costa Rica is now running completely on renewable energy

Costa Rica is running without having to burn a single fossil fuel, and it’s been doing so for 75 straight days.

Thanks to some heavy rainfall this year, Costa Rica’s hydropower plants alone are generating nearly enough electricity to power the entire country. With a boost from geothermal, solar, and wind energy sources, the country doesn’t need an ounce of coal or petroleum to keep the lights on. Of course, the country has a lot of things going in its favor. Costa Rica is a small nation, has less than 5 million people, doesn’t have much of a manufacturing industry that would require a lot of energy, and is filled with volcanoes and other topographical features that lend themselves to renewable energy.

Nonetheless, it is both a noble and significant feat for a nation of any size to eschew fossil fuels completely.

Reader H.W., who went me this article last night, had this to say about it---"I used to live in Costa Rica---and can tell you this: Energy is super expensive. I suppose one can live completely with green energy, but today that price is steep."  That's probably a fair assessment of the price of "green" energy anywhere at the moment.  It was posted on the qz.com Internet site on Monday sometime.

Freeport-McMoRan: $1.1 billion in dividends just vanished

Freeport-McMoRan stunned investors Tuesday by slashing its dividend 84% – erasing a lucrative income stream for investors and serving up a big reminder these payments aren’t guaranteed.

The company, which explores for materials like copper and gold, announced it is cutting its quarterly dividend down from 31.25 cents a share down to just 5 cents. That’s a massive cut in an implied annual dividend of $1.25 a share to $0.20 a share.

Freeport’s cut is staggering. The reduction takes away $1.05 a share from investors – which is no small sum considering the company has 1.04 billion shares outstanding. All told that amounts to $1.1 billion in lost dividends. The executives will feel the loss, too. CEO Richard Adkerson will miss out on $1.6 million a year in lost dividends.

What makes this cut sting even more is that dividend reductions are extremely rare in the materials sector. There have only been 17 dividend cuts by companies in the S&P 500 materials sector in the past 10 years, including Freeport, says S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Of course, the folks that run this company would never look for the reason why gold and copper are priced the way they are today.  This brief news item showed up on the usatoday.com Internet site at 12:48 p.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank Washington state reader S.A. for sliding it into my in-box shortly after it was posted.

The Secret of Success in Mineral Exploration -- Louis James, Casey Research

As an investor, I want to bet on the jockeys who win the most races, not just the best-looking horses. So, while I’m no Tom Peters or Stephen Covey, I’ve made a study of success over the last decade. The critical question for a metals investor: what does it takes to be a serially successful mine-finder?

Before I give you the answer, let me give you a little context on just how difficult this is. It’s not as simple as looking for a needle in a haystack; it’s more like looking for a needle in a vast field of steel haystacks, each one of which will give your metal detector false positives. And it’s very expensive to drill holes into them, which is the only way you can test for a needle’s hidden presence.

The odds of any given anomaly actually indicating the presence of a mineable needle are something like one in 300. It typically takes about 10 years to get the needle out of the haystack, and commodity price fluctuations can turn cash-cow operations into money bleeders in the blink of an eye. Pricked by the fickle needle of fate.

So, why would anyone invest in such an uncertain business? Because the world simply cannot function without metals, and the rewards for those who deliver them can be spectacular. Doubling or tripling one’s investment on a successful mineral discovery is routine, and 1,000% gains (10-baggers) are common enough that resource speculators have strategies for bagging them. It’s rare, but 50 and even 100 times one’s initial investment do happen in this volatile sector.

This commentary by Louis put in an appearance on the Casey Research website yesterday---and it's worth reading.

HSBC Not Closing Gold Vaults – Safety Deposit Boxes of Clients‏ Being Closed

A rumor that HSBC is rapidly and quietly closing gold vaults where clients gold bullion was stored and gold in the GLD ETF is stored has been swirling around the Internet.

After conversations with key players in the industry including a bullion dealer who used the safety deposit boxes for storage and delivery to clients, we can now confidently say that the speculation was incorrect.

What HSBC is actually doing is closing its safety deposit box facilities some of which are in vaults and strong rooms in branches. The vaults are not specialist gold vaults rather standard vaults or strong rooms which contain safety deposit boxes. These safety deposit boxes hold all sorts of valuables – from legal documents, to family heirlooms, to art works, to jewellery and of course bullion coins and bars.

Availability of safety deposit boxes is in decline in Britain and much of the world. Costs of security, insurance and opportunity to use such facilities in a more profitable manner are driving the closures. Banks in Ireland including the Bank of Ireland claim that the safety deposit boxes are “causing an unacceptable health, safety and security risk in some branches.”

The lunatic fringe had a field day with this story when it first appeared a month or so ago, as they took the HSBC press release totally out of context---and I'm happy to see it set straight in Mark O'Byrne's commentary over at the goldcore.com Internet site  on Tuesday.  Brad Robertson was the first reader through the door with it---and it's worth our time.

Gold Markets May Finally Have Something To Cheer About

Momentum has been building amongst gold stocks this week. With gauges like the S&P/TSX Global Gold Index up 9% over the last week of trading.

The interesting thing is, this rebound has come with very little movement in the gold price itself. As I write, bullion is languishing below $1,190 per ounce.

But a few events are on the horizon that could really give gold investors something to cheer about. In some of the largest consuming nations on the planet.

A prime example being regulatory changes announced last week in the world’s top gold buyer, China. Which should go a long way toward increasing bullion demand in this part of the world.

This bit of shallow main stream fluff about gold appeared on the finance.yahoo.com Internet site yesterday morning EDT---and it's courtesy of Howard Wiener.

Koos Jansen: Indian gold imports exploding in March

India's gold imports are soaring again, Bullion Star market analyst and GATA consultant Koos Jansen wrote yesterday, even as the Indian government is searching for ways to "monetize" -- or, really, paperize -- the metal.

Jansen's commentary is headlined "Indian Gold Imports Exploding in March" and it was posted on the Singapore Internet site bullionstar.com.  I thank Chris Powell for writing the above paragraph of introduction.  It's definitely worth reading.

¤ The Funnies

Reader M.A. sent me these incredible close-up photos of hummingbirds---and I thought I'd post a couple every day until I run out.

This one is a green-crowned brilliant...and there are more photos here.

And this one is a wine-throated hummingbird...and there are more photos here.

¤ The Wrap

Since the key question of when and at what price the last technical fund short contract would be established in COMEX gold and silver has been answered by the late week rally last week, all that matters now is the extent and nature of the rally that has commenced. From past experience, we also know what will determine the extent and nature of the rally, namely, the degree of aggression in the commercial selling which must occur when the technical funds buy. Will that commercial selling be as aggressive on this rally as it has been on recent rallies over the past couple of years? As time has progressed, the rallies in gold haven’t amounted to much more than a hundred dollars or so and silver rallies haven’t exceeded $3 for some time.

Moreover, we also know from experience that within the commercial community, when the raptors in COMEX gold and silver are as heavily long as they were on the cutoff, these traders are most likely to be the early commercials on the sell side, taking quick profits from technical fund shorts which buy as prices climb. Usually, the big 4 and 8 in COMEX gold and silver don’t add to short positions until much of the raptors long liquidation has occurred. These big commercial shorts, led by JPMorgan in silver have become the de facto short sellers of last resort, because without the price capping that the increase in concentrated short selling represents, silver prices in particular, would run away to the upside. That’s why it’s easy for me to label JPMorgan as the big silver manipulator and crook without fear of consequence. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 21 March 2015

From a price perspective it was a nothing sort of day on Tuesday in both silver and gold---and it appears that the precious metals have lost their upward momentum for the moment.  I would guess that this didn't occur because of anything that was going on in the free market, but I also commented a few days ago that because the rest of this week---and next Monday---are the final days for the traders to roll out of the April gold contract, there may not be much in the way of price action while this event was unfolding---and that appears to be more or less the case at the moment.  Once the April contract has gone off the board, then we may get a better feel for what "da boyz" have planned.

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals---and just eyeballing them you can tell that these budding rallies appear to be softening.

As I mentioned earlier, the final days of the current delivery month are getting interesting.  There was a big add to gold open interest for March yesterday---and in silver, JPMorgan is gobbling up more than 50 percent of all contracts issued/delivered so far this month.  Along the way, they've been in a conflict of interest position in silver deliveries on more than one occasion, as customers in their client account have been stopped by JPMorgan in its in-house [proprietary] trading account---and that's what the Daily Delivery Report showed again yesterday.  It's for good reason that Ted Butler calls them crooks---and Jim Rickards has gone on record by calling them "the biggest criminal enterprise of all time"---or words to that effect.

With just three delivery days left [not including today] before the end of the month, the short/issuers are going to be busy---and as is always the case, I'll be more than curious to see who they are.

As I write this paragraph, the London gold market open is about fifteen minutes away.  Both gold and silver are down a bit from Tuesday's close in New York, platinum is flat---and palladium is up a couple of bucks.  Gold volume is already pretty chunky for this time of day, a bit over 22,000 contracts, with only about 15 percent of that amount being roll-overs out of April.  Silver's volume gross volume is just under 4,000 contracts, with virtually all of it in the current front month, which is May.  The dollar index didn't do much in Far East trading on their Wednesday---and is currently down 10 basis points.

Yesterday at the close of COMEX trading was the cut-off for Friday's Commitment of Traders Report.  I doubt very much if there was any deterioration in the Commercial net short position caused by Tuesday's price activity.  But there certainly has been deterioration since last Tuesday's cut-off---and we won't know how bad it is until the report comes out on Friday afternoon.  Ted's quote above certainly add clarity to the situation---and I urge to read it again, as it's spot on.

The internal structure inside the report still has a very bullish configuration, but it's not quite as bullish as it was at the close of trading a week ago Tuesday.  Ted and I are hoping for the best, but it could turn out to be the same old, same old.

So we wait some more.

And as I send this off to Casey Research HQ at 5:10 a.m. EDT, is see that gold and silver prices are back to around unchanged---and both platinum and palladium are up four bucks or so each.  Gold net volume is now a bit over 27,000 contracts, which is a very small change from two and a half hours ago---and silver's net volume is around 5,500 contracts, which isn't a lot of difference either from what it was fifteen minutes before the London gold market opened.

The dollar index, which peaked at 97.25 minutes before 3 p.m. Hong Kong time on their Wednesday afternoon, has now fallen to 96.86 two hours later in early trading in London---a decline of 38 basis points in just over two hours.

As I said above, I'm not expecting a lot in the way of price action in either gold or silver for the remainder of the week, but I reserve the right to be wrong.

See you tomorrow.

Ed Steer

Wed, 25 Mar 2015 06:08:00 +0000
<![CDATA[On CNBC Asia, GATA Secretary Discusses Gold Market Rigging and Its Consequences]]> http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/on-cnbc-asia-gata-secretary-discusses-gold-market-rigging-and-its-consequen/ http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/on-cnbc-asia-gata-secretary-discusses-gold-market-rigging-and-its-consequen/#When:06:22:00Z "Nothing would surprise me, particularly to the upside"

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

Gold began to rally the moment that trading began in New York at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, but wasn't allowed to get far---and by 10 a.m. Hong Kong time on their Monday morning, the gold price was back to unchanged.  It's low tick, such as it was, came shortly before 9 a.m. in London---and from there the price chopped quietly higher in light trading, with some activity also occurring after the 1:30 p.m. EDT COMEX close.

The low and high ticks were recorded by the CME Group as $1,178.60 and $1,191.00 in the April contract.

Gold finished the Monday session in New York at $1,189.30 spot, up $6.90 on the day.  Gross volume was a bit over 200,000 contracts, but it netted out to a reasonably light 106,000 contracts, as the roll-overs out of the April contract intensify.

The price pattern in silver was very similar---and it appeared that a not-for-profit seller showed up on a couple of occasions during the Monday session to put the brakes on the price when it was about to get to frisky to the upside, especially in the thinly-traded electronic session after the COMEX close.

The low for silver came the same time as the low in gold---and the high and low ticks were reported as $16.61 and $17.09 in the May contract.

Silver closed in New York yesterday at $16.975 spot, up two bits from Friday.  Not surprisingly, the net volume was a lot heavier at 40,000 contracts as the technical funds in the Managed Money category are now covering their short positions in earnest---and possibly going long as well.

The platinum chart looked suspiciously similar to the gold chart---and that white metals closed at $1,145 spot, up 11 bucks from Friday.

The palladium price didn't do a whole heck of a lot, but rallied a bit starting at 1 p.m. Zurich time, which was 8:00 a.m. in New York.  That budding rally got cut off at the knees twenty minutes later when the COMEX opened---and by 1 p.m. was down ten bucks off its high tick, but rallied into the close, finishing the day down only a dollar at $774 spot.

The dollar index closed late on Friday afternoon in New York at 97.92---and chopped a bit higher to its 98.20 high tick which came shortly after London opened---and it was pretty much all down hill from there, as the index finished the Monday session at 96.95---and down 97 basis points on the day.

One would have thought, we some justification in a free market, that precious metal prices would have responded more favourably to such a huge down-move in the dollar index.  But these aren't free markets we're dealing with---as they are set by JPMorgan et al in the COMEX futures market.

And here's the 6-month US Dollar Index chart so you can put yesterday's action in some sort of perspective once again.

The gold stocks gapped up a bit at the open---and then chopped very quietly higher, finishing the day up 2.04 percent.

The silver equities opened unchanged, but blasted higher, only to get sold down until around 11:15 a.m. in New York.  After that they rallied slowly but steadily, finishing just off their highs when that not-for-profit seller showed up in the metal itself just before the close.  Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment closed up 2.41 percent.

Considering the price action in the metal itself, I'm somewhat disappointed in the share price action of the companies that dig the stuff out of the ground.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and 106 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Wednesday.  Once again it was Jefferies as the only short/issuer---and JPMorgan stopped 63 contracts in its in-house [proprietary] trading account once again.  UBS was a distant second with 19 contracts stopped.  The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

I'm amazed, that with only a week left in the March delivery month, that only 1 gold contract has been posted for delivery so far---and there's still a huge number of silver contracts [relatively speaking] still open in March left to deliver.  As I said last week, one wonder what the short/issuers have to gain by holding out until the very last minute.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Monday trading session showed that March open interest in gold remained unchanged at 108 contracts.  But in silver, March open interest actually increased by 63 contracts---and that's over an above the 39 contracts that were subtracted because of today's scheduled delivery that was posted in Friday's report.  That's over a 100 contract difference in total---500,000 ounces.  There are now 604 silver contracts remaining in March.

There were no reported changes in GLD yesterday---and as of 6:35 p.m. EDT yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV, either.  But when I checked back at 3:55 a.m. EDT this morning, I noted that an authorized participant withdrew 1,434,861 troy ounces.  This is the second withdrawal in as many days.  Silver should be pouring into this ETF, not out---so it's a good bet that JPMorgan is shorting SLV shares in lieu of depositing real metal once again.

There was a sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday.  They sold 534,000 silver eagles---and that was it.  Once again these sales weren't because John Q. Public is buying them, as retail bullion sales are tepid all across North America---and that's a generous description of the current situation.

There was no activity in gold over at the COMEX-approved depositories on Friday---kilobar stocks, or otherwise.  But it was another busy day in silver, as 537,978 troy ounces were reported received---and 601,237 troy ounces were shipped out.  The lion's share of the receipts was at Scotiabank's vault---and all of the silver shipped out came out of HSBC USA.  The link to that action is here.

Here's an interesting chart that Nick Laird sent my way yesterday evening---and the title pretty much says it all.  Over 90 percent of U.S. treasuries in foreign hands are held by only twenty-five countries, but over 50 percent are held by just four countries.  Note that China's holdings haven't changed much since mid 2010---and have been declining at a snail's pace for the last couple of years.  The 'click to enlarge' feature is useful here.

For a Tuesday column, I don't have all that many stories for you today---but that may change as the evening and morning progress.

¤ Critical Reads

The world's next credit crunch could make 2008 look like a hiccup: The Telegraph

A solar eclipse, a super moon, the FTSE 100 breaching 7,000 and the U.S. Federal Reserve speaking in tongues - truly some kind of financial apocalypse must be nigh. Well, maybe.

We are certainly living in strange times. An unprecedented monetary experiment is coming to a staggered end and no one knows the potential repercussions - a plague of frogs cannot be entirely ruled out.

For the time being, the markets remain sanguine, expecting, for example, a gentle increase in the Bank of England’s main interest rate to just 1.5pc by the end of the decade. And, who knows, maybe the markets are right.

But maybe it’s too quiet. Last week, Ray Dalio, the founder of the $165bn (£110bn) hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, wrote a widely-circulated note warning his clients that the US Federal Reserve risked setting off a 1937-style crash when it starts raising interest rates again.

This commentary put in an appearance on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 7:10 p.m. GMT on Monday evening, which was 3:10 p.m. EDT.  I found it in this morning's edition of the King Report---and it's worth your time.

French Submarine 'Sinks' Entire U.S. Aircraft Carrier Group During War Games

A series of joint naval drills between the United States and France recently didn't quite turn out the way the US, no doubt, expected. The practice scenario ended with the French nuclear submarine that was acting the part of an enemy ship "sinking" the American aircraft carrier and most of its escort.

The exercises were meant to test the newly upgraded carrier, which had undergone a four year, $2.6 billion overhaul, ahead of the Strike Group's deployment.

And all those exercises went well while SNA Saphir was on the American side of the imaginary conflict, in which fictional states were attacking US economic and territorial interests. The French sub supported the American vessels in anti-submarine warfare drills. 

However, the second phase of the exercises found the French ship playing on the enemy side, charged with a mission to find and attack the Theodore Roosevelt.

And so it did, sneaking deep into the defensive screen of the Strike Group, avoiding detection by the American anti-submarine warfare assets, and, on the last day of the drill, "sinking" the Roosevelt and most of it's escort.

This cute story appeared on the sputniknews.com Internet site back on March 6---and I got this story from a reader on Sunday who wishes to remain anonymous.

"Revolution, War, Taxes" - The Complete Paul Tudor Jones Speech

Paul Tudor Jones ruffled more than a few feathers last week when he warned first that "we're in the middle of a disastrous market mania," and second he explained that "this gap between the 1 percent and the rest of America, and between the US and the rest of the world, cannot and will not persist," concluding that "historically, these kinds of gaps get closed in one of three ways: by revolution, higher taxes or wars. None are on my bucket list." His thesis is simple and profound as the following full speech shows...

Ultimately, Tudor hopes, the free market will take hold and reward the companies that are the most just...“Capitalism has driven just about every great innovation that has made our world a more prosperous, comfortable and inspiring place to live. But capitalism has to be based on justice and morality…and never more so than today with economic divisions large and growing.

Paul's TED speech runs for 10:24 minutes---and it's definitely worth your time.  It was posted on the Zero Hedge website at 5:30 p.m. EDT on Monday---and I thank Dan Lazicki for sharing it with us.

Hacking BIOS Chips Isn’t Just the NSA’s Domain Anymore

The ability to hack the BIOS chip at the heart of every computer is no longer reserved for the NSA and other three-letter agencies. Millions of machines contain basic BIOS vulnerabilities that let anyone with moderately sophisticated hacking skills compromise and control a system surreptitiously, according to two researchers.

The revelation comes two years after a catalogue of NSA spy tools leaked to journalists in Germany surprised everyone with its talk about the NSA’s efforts to infect BIOS firmware with malicious implants.

The BIOS boots a computer and helps load the operating system. By infecting this core software, which operates below antivirus and other security products and therefore is not usually scanned by them, spies can plant malware that remains live and undetected even if the computer’s operating system were wiped and re-installed.

This very interesting article put in an appearance on the wired.com Internet site last Friday---and I thank Norman Willis for sending it along.

Ukraine oligarch ‘top cash contributor’ to Clinton Foundation prior to Kiev crisis

From 2009 up to 2013, the year the Ukrainian crisis erupted, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, which is headquartered in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, a new report claims.

In 2008, Viktor Pinchuk, who made a fortune in the pipe-building business, pledged a five-year, $29-million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a program that works to train future Ukrainian leaders “to modernize Ukraine.” The Wall Street Journal revealed the donations the fund received from foreigners abroad between 2009-2014 in their report published earlier this week.

Several alumni of the program have already graduated into the ranks of Ukraine’s parliament, while a former Clinton pollster went to work as a lobbyist for Pinchuk at the same time Clinton was working in government.

Between 2009 and 2013, the very period when Hillary Clinton was serving as U.S. secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation appears to have received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation.

This interesting, but not surprising article appeared on the Russia Today website on Sunday afternoon Moscow time---and my thanks to Roy Stephens for his first contribution to today's column.

Bank of Canada, Finance Minister, and Others Face Lawsuit for Alleged IMF Conspiracy

It would be easy to assume the people suing the Queen of England, the Bank of Canada, and three ministers for a conspiracy against “all Canadians” wear tinfoil hats.

They don’t. They may be conspiracy theorists, but they are also intelligent, thoughtful people who have a lawyer with a history of winning unlikely cases.

And despite the government’s best efforts to have this case thrown out, it’s going ahead after winning an appeal that overturned a lower court’s ruling to have it tossed and surviving a follow-up motion to have it tossed again.

The government has one more chance to have it thrown out through an appeal at the Supreme Court, but that has to be filed by Mar. 29 and that looks unlikely.

This story, filed from Toronto, easily falls into the must read category---and it was posted on theepochtimes.com Internet site last Thursday---and I thank Ken Metcalfe for bringing it to our attention.

‘Can’t take any more’: Thousands protest in Dublin against proposed water charges

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Dublin on Saturday to demand the government drops its plan to introduce new water charges. Opponents say they can’t afford to pay and it is an austerity measure by the Irish government.

The organizers of the rally, ‘Right2Water’ said around 80,000 attended the protest. However local police said the figure was nearer 20,000 to 30,000, according to the Irish Times. This was the fourth and largest mass protest since October, when the Irish government, which is seeking re-election next year, decided to start charging the public for the water they use.

Irish politician Ruth Coppinger urged the protesters not to give in and pay the water charge. She believes that if people do not pay up, then the government will eventually be forced to drop the controversial charge.

This article showed up on the Russia Today website on Sunday at 9:55 a.m. Moscow time, which was 2:55 a.m. in Washington.  I thank reader M.A. for finding it for us.

French President: Russia Is a "Friendly Country"

Russia is a "friendly country" for France, French President Francois Hollande told the Society magazine in an interview published on Friday.

"For me, Vladimir Putin is first of all the president of Russia," Hollande stressed, commenting on his relations with the Russian leader. "When I talk to him, I talk to Russia, and this is the country that I respect, a great country, a friendly country," he said.

Hollande admitted there are some disagreements between Moscow and Paris. "President Putin has his own interests, own vision, his own methods and things he says are not always commonly accepted," the French leader noted. "That is why I decided to talk openly with the head of state who is always speaking directly," he added.

This short article, filed from Paris, was posted on the russia-insider.com website on Saturday---and it's the second offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

Switzerland, Luxembourg apply for China-led infrastructure bank

Despite negative noises from the U.S., Switzerland and Luxembourg have become the latest European nations to apply to join the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Chinese Finance Ministry announced.

Earlier in March, the E.U.’s leading economies – the U.K., France and Germany –announced plans to participate in the new international financial institution.

China's Finance Ministry released a statement on Friday saying it welcomes the Swiss decision to apply.

Switzerland is to become the bank’s founding member later this month if other nation members involved approve its candidacy.

This news story, was posted on the Russia Today website on Saturday afternoon Moscow time---and it's another offering from Roy Stephens.

Nazi Extortion: Study Sheds New Light on Forced Greek Loans

Loukas Zisis, the deputy mayor of Distomo, a village nestled in the hills about a two hour drive from Athens, says he thinks about the Germans every day. On June 10, 1944, the Germans massacred 218 people in Distomo, including dozens of children. Zisis, who is just 48 years old, wasn't yet born at the time of the attack.

"We can't forget the Germans," Zisis says. They came to Distomo 71 years ago with their guns. "Today they are exerting power over our village with their banks and policies," he adds. He's standing in the wind on a rocky ledge, a small man in a leather jacket, and looking out over the town. Two-thousand people live here.

The massacre, which continues to shape the place today, was one of the most brutal crimes committed by the Nazis in Greece, with the carnage lasting several hours. For decades, a trial over the massacre wound its way through the courts at all levels in Greece and Germany. Greece's highest court, the Areopag, ruled in 2000 that Germany must pay damages to Distomo's bereaved.

"But we are still waiting," says Zisis. "There has been no compensation."

This very interesting essay appeared on the German website spiegel.de on Saturday---and I thank Roy Stephens for his second story in a row.  The original headline read "Greek Study Provides Evidence of Forced Loans to Nazis".

Tsipras Heads to Berlin as Greece Prepares for Decisive Week

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Berlin with military honors amid growing speculation that the meeting will ease a deadlock between Greece and its creditors and help unlock aid.

Stocks and bonds rose on Monday ahead of Tsipras’s arrival at the Chancellery, the first official visit by the Syriza leader since his Jan. 25 election on a platform of ending the German-led austerity tied to Greece’s 240 billion-euro ($262 billion) bailouts.

After the anthems of each country were played by the German military band, Merkel led Tsipras up the red carpet and into the Chancellery, where the two leaders are holding talks, followed by a press briefing and then a working dinner.

This Bloomberg story, filed from Athens, was posted on their Internet site at 6:29 a.m. Denver time yesterday morning---and the contents of the 2:54 minute video clip---and the story underneath it---vary by quite a bit.  I consider the video clip to be worth watching, especially at the end when they start talking about the cash drain on Greece's banks last week.  The story also sports a new headline "Merkel Treats Tsipras to Red Carpet in Sign Tensions Ease".  I found this news item in yesterday's edition of the King Report.

'There are no madmen in E.U.' to send peacekeepers to Ukraine – Lavrov

The E.U. would not send a peacekeeping force to Ukraine unless the rebels endorse such a mission, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, commenting on Kiev’s request for a foreign ‘police force.’

"I believe there are no madmen in the E.U. [Previously the E.U. deployed peacekeepers] only in situations in which, as in the Balkans, all sides of a conflict agreed to it. The E.U. would never go to any region – be it southeastern Ukraine or anywhere else – unless the conflicting sides agree to such a mission," Lavrov said in an interview to Rossiya 1 channel's Sergey Brilev on Saturday.

Russia's foreign minister added that Kiev should talk to the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republic rather than Moscow to secure their backing for peacekeepers and not ignore them as it is doing at the moment.

This is another story from the Russia Today Internet site---and this one appeared there on Saturday morning Moscow time---and once again it's courtesy of Roy Stephens.

Top Russia Scholar Stephen Cohen: War between NATO and Russia a Real Possibility

Professor Stephen Cohen is one of the most respected authorities on Russia among American and Western scholars. He is an American scholar of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University. His academic work concentrates on modern Russian history and Russia's relationship with the United States.

This 14:57 minute youtube.com video speech showed up on the russia-insider.com website on Sunday sometime--and it's a must listen for sure---and my thanks go out to Roy Stephens once again.

Russia threatens to aim nuclear missiles at Denmark ships if it joins NATO shield

Russia threatened to aim nuclear missiles at Danish warships if Denmark joins NATO's missile defense system, in comments Copenhagen called unacceptable and NATO said would not contribute to peace.

Denmark said in August it would contribute radar capacity on some of its warships to the missile shield, which the Western alliance says is designed to protect members from missile launches from countries like Iran.

Moscow opposes the system, arguing that it could reduce the effectiveness of its own nuclear arsenal, leading to a new Cold War-style arms race.

This Reuters article, filed from Copenhagen, showed up on their Internet site at 2:46 p.m. EDT on Sunday afternoon---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sending it.

Alasdair Macleod: The New Order Emerges

China and Russia have taken the lead in establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), seen as a rival organisation to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which are dominated by the United States with Europe and Japan.

These banks do business at the behest of the old Bretton Woods order. The AIIB will dance to China and Russia's tune instead.

The geopolitical importance was immediately evident from the U.S.'s negative reaction to the U.K.'s announcement this week that it would join the AIIB. And very shortly afterwards France, Germany and Italy also defied the US and announced they might join. In the Pacific region, one of America's closest allies, Australia, says she is considering joining too along with New Zealand. The list of U.S. allies seeking to join is growing. From a geopolitical point of view China and Russia have completely outmanoeuvred the U.S., splitting both NATO and America's Pacific alliances right down the middle.

This is much more important than political commentators generally realise. We must appreciate that anything China does is planned well in advance. Here is the relevant sequence of events:

This commentary by Alasdair showed up on the goldmoney.com Internet site last Friday---and I thank reader M.A. for finding it for us.  It's not overly long---and it's worth reading.

China's premier asks IMF to include yuan in SDR basket

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has asked the head of the International Monetary Fund to include China's yuan currency in its special drawing rights basket, state news agency Xinhua said.

"China will speed up the basic convertibility of yuan on the capital account and provide more facility for domestic individual cross-border investment and foreign institutional investment in China's capital market," Xinhua paraphrased Li as telling IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, in a report late Monday.

Li added that "China hoped to, through the SDR, play an active role in the international cooperation to maintain financial stability and promote the further opening of China's capital market and financial area," the report said.

China's yuan at some point would be incorporated in the SDR currency basket, Lagarde said on Friday.

This Reuters article, filed from Beijing, showed up on their website at 10:00 p.m. EDT yesterday evening---and I found this in a GATA release just after midnight Denver time.

Pepe Escobar: Westward ho on China’s Eurasia BRIC road

“…it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger (to the U.S.) emerges capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America” -  Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, 1997

What’s in a name, rather an ideogram? Everything. A single Chinese character – jie (for “between”) – graphically illustrates the key foreign policy initiative of the new Chinese dream.

In the upper part of the four-stroke character – which, symbolically, should be read as the roof of a house – the stroke on the left means the Silk Road Economic Belt, and the stroke on the right means the 21st century Maritime Silk Road. In the lower part, the stroke on the left means the China-Pakistan corridor, via Xinjiang province, and the stroke on the right, the China-Myanmar-Bangladesh-India corridor via Yunnan province.

Chinese culture feasts on myriad formulas, mottoes – and symbols. If many a Chinese scholar worries about how the Middle Kingdom’s new intimation of soft power may be lost in translation, the character jie – pregnant with connectivity – is already the starting point to make 1.3 billion Chinese, plus the overseas Chinese diaspora, visualize the top twin axis – continental and naval – of the New Silk Road vision unveiled by President Xi Jinping, a concept also known as “One Road, One Belt”.

This rather short commentary, at least for Pepe, put in an appearance on the Asia Times website on Saturday---and it's certainly worth reading as well.  It's the second offering of the day from reader M.A.

Does Washington Intend War With Russia–Paul Craig Roberts Interviewed by The Saker

The Saker: It has become rather obvious to many, if not most, people that the USA is not a democracy or a republic, but rather a plutocracy run by a small elite which some call “the 1%”. Others speak of the “deep state”. So my first question to you is the following. Could you please take the time to assess the influence and power of each of the following entities one by one. In particular, can you specify for each of the following whether it has a decision-making “top” position, or a decision-implementing “middle” position in the real structure of power (listed in no specific order)

Federal Reserve, Big Banking, Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations, Skull & Bones, CIA
Goldman Sachs and top banks, “Top 100 families” (Rothschild, Rockefeller, Dutch Royal Family, British Royal Family, etc.), Israel Lobby, Freemasons and their lodges, Big Business: Big Oil, Military Industrial Complex, etc.---and other people or organizations not listed above?

Who, which group, what entity would you consider is really at the apex of power in the current U.S. polity?

Paul Craig Roberts: The U.S. is ruled by private interest groups and by the neoconservative ideology that History has chosen the U.S. as the “exceptional and indispensable” country with the right and responsibility to impose its will on the world.

Wow!  It doesn't get any more bare knuckles than this.  Paul holds nothing back.  And whether you agree with him or not, this is, without doubt, one of the most important articles that I've ever posted in this column---and easily falls into the ABSOLUTE MUST READ category.  However, as Chris Powell pointed out [and correctly so] when I sent him the story  "the intelligentsia in the U.S. has been extremely anti-Israel for years now."  That was more than apparent to all during the Israeli elections just past, so PCR is on the wrong side of this particular issue.  But, having said that, he's not far off the mark with everything else.  I thank Roy Stephens for bringing it to my attention---and now to yours.  If this doesn't scare you to death, you obviously don't understand the gravity of the situation.

Ethiopian warplanes reported to have attacked Nevsun gold mine in Eritrea

Ethiopian fighter planes bombed the site of Eritrea's Bisha gold mine, reported Al-Sahafa, a leading Sudanese Arab daily in its March 21 edition.

According to the newspaper, heavy plumes of smoke and fire bellowed from the mine, located 150 kilometers from the capital city, Asmara.

At $300-$400 million in annual earnings, the gold mine is Eritrea's only source of revenue, the newspaper added.

The paper speculated that the raid might have been intended to distract public attention from the upcoming Ethiopian elections.

This story was posted on the asmarino.com Internet site on Saturday---and I extracted it from a GATA release that Chris Powell filed from Hong Kong.  This may have been a propaganda piece as the story over at the nevsun.com Internet site is totally different.  It's headlined "Nevsun Provides Further Update on Operations"---and they describe it as an act of vandalism.

Nevsun reports vandalism at Eritrea mine but nothing about air raid

Nevsun Resources Ltd. is describing an attack on its Bisha mine in Eritrea as an "act of vandalism," an account that contrasts starkly with African media reports saying the mine was bombed by Ethiopan fighter jets.

In a statement released Sunday, Nevsun said vandals caused minor damage to the base of a tailings thickener at the mine during the night shift on Friday, releasing water into the plant area.

But the Ethiopian news site Tigrai Online said it had confirmed a report that the Ethiopian air force bombed the mine on Friday. Sudanese newspaper Al-Sahafa was the first to report that the attack was a military operation from Ethiopia.

A source close to Nevsun said the company is not sure what happened and isn't ruling out any possibilities until it completes an investigation. Nevsun's statement said the company has implemented additional safety precautions and no employees were harmed.

Chris Powell posted this on the gata.org Internet site shortly after I posted the above story, so I thought I'd stick this one in here without comment while we await "clarification" of the situation.
This story appeared on the financialpost.com Internet site at 7:57 p.m. yesterday evening EDT.

Lawrence Williams: South African gold mining’s fall from grace

South Africa may have regained its position as the world’s fifth largest gold producer in 2014 when all the figures have been tallied. One estimate of global gold output in 2014 records that the country produced 168 tonnes, a small increase on 2013’s 164.5 tonnes. Not so many years ago, South Africa had totally dominated world gold production producing 1,000 tonnes a year. But latest output figures from Statistics South Africa show a serious continuing decline in monthly gold production. With new across-the-board wage negotiations coming up over the next couple of months, some suggest that this year could, as a result, see a further sharp slump in output. Initial indications suggest that the wage talks may be extremely difficult. And difficult wage negotiations in the South African context can get out of hand as witness the virtual four month shutdown of much of the country’s platinum sector in 2012. This was coupled with some horrendously violent events (including the Marikana massacre when police opened fire on striking miners killing 44) and continued reports of other violence and intimidation throughout.

It’s not that we necessarily expect this to be replicated in the gold mining sector negotiations, but inter-union rivalries between the NUM, which represents around 57% of gold sector workers, and AMCU, which tends to be more militant in its approach, which currently looks after the interests of around 25% and is seeking to replace the NUM as the industry’s main union, could add another dimension – and probably not a positive one.

This commentary by Lawrie was posted on the mineweb.com Internet site last Wednesday---and somehow I missed it.  He was kind enough to point that out on the weekend, so I'm making amends now---and it's worth reading.

Sprott Money: Ask the Expert -- Jim Rogers

Geoff: Hello, and welcome back to Ask the Expert here on Sprott Money News. I’m your host Geoff Rutherford, and on line today we have Mr. Jim Rogers. Jim Rogers is a critically acclaimed author, financial commentator, and successful international investor. He’s frequently featured in such publications as The New York Times, Barron’s, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times, and is a regular guest on television shows around the world. Mr. Rogers is a co-founder of the Quantum Fund, a global investment partnership. After electing to retire at the age of 37, Mr. Rogers has served as a professor of finance at Columbia University School of Business, and has written four books on investment, including Hot Commodities, Adventure Capitalist, and Investment Biker. Mr. Rogers also designed the widely followed Roger’s Commodity Indices and travels the world highlighting the case for investment in commodities as an asset class. And with that, we’d like to welcome Mr. Jim Rogers. Good morning, or good night James. How are you doing today, sir?

Jim: I’m delighted. It’s actually morning here, Geoff. You’re in the night time, I think, but I’m in the day time.

Geoff: That’s right, that’s right. So Jim, we have a number of questions here from our listeners, so let’s get started here. We’ve been looking at what’s been happening with gold over the last week or so, even the last two weeks, and we’ve seen the price slide, we’ve seen the price go up. The question is, what conditions would prompt for you to sell your gold?

This 11:22 minute audio interview, complete with transcript, appeared on the sprottmoney.com Internet site on Monday---and I thank Dan Lazicki for sending it along.

China's Zijin in talks to buy gold, copper mines abroad

China's Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. is in talks to buy gold and copper mining assets abroad and expects to finalise some acquisitions this year, its chairman said on Monday.

Chen Jinghe said that current market conditions were favourable for acquisitions but did not identify targets.

Some talks "have almost reached maturity. ... This year there will be some important results," Chen told a news conference in Hong Kong after the company's 2014 earnings.

This Reuters article appeared on their website at 4:10 a.m. EDT yesterday, so it was obviously filed from China, but the story doesn't say where.  I found it on the gata.org Internet site.

Koos Jansen: Will The Shanghai International Gold Exchange Facilitate Gold Inclusion Into The SDR?

The Shanghai International Gold Exchange (SGEI) was launched in September 2014, to internationalize the Chinese gold market and the renminbi. The timing of the launch is quite remarkable though, in the context of changes in the international monetary system (IMS).

2015 is likely to force a major shift in the IMS. Two developments are worth watching, the SDR basket will be reviewed, the renminbi will probably be adopted later this year, and the rise of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), an international financial institution proposed by China with many Western members; currently France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, New Zealand and the UK. Both developments are severe blows to the US dollar hegemony.

Last week I reported on, (i) the IMF terms for the renminbi to be adopted into the SDR, (ii) if these terms can be met this year, and (iii) what the role of gold will be in the process (read China, Gold, SDRs And The Future Of The International Monetary System). Since then there has been more confirmation of renminbi adoption in the media.

This commentary by Koos showed up on the bullionstar.com Internet site on their Monday sometime---and it too is worth reading.

Lawrence Williams: China gold demand ups when price dips

Week 10 saw gold withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange at an impressive 51 tonnes bringing the total for the year to March 13 to a shade under 508 tonnes. Thus it looks as if Q1 withdrawals are heading for somewhere around 600 tonnes plus or minus. This compares with around 564 tonnes in Q1 2014 – the highest Q1 figure recorded to date. In 2013, which turned out to be a record full year for SGE withdrawals, the Q1 figure was only 463 tonnes, but 2013 figures soared from April onwards when a very sharp gold price drop stimulated huge Chinese demand – largely satisfied by outflows from the West’s big gold ETFs. The early March downturn in the gold price this year may thus have seen increased buying by Chinese consumers yet again.

But this year one doubts ETF outflows will really figure much in the gold flow equation. Indeed so far gold ETFs have seen small inflows since January 1. If total Chinese demand, as represented by SGE withdrawals, holds up as it well may, we could be in for another boom year for continuing physical gold flows from West to East, but without net ETF liquidations one may ask from where this physical metal will materialise?

This gold-related commentary by Lawrie appeared on the mineweb.com Internet site at 11:17 a.m. in London yesterday morning.

Lawrence Williams: Bank analysts predicting gold price and demand growth, but not nearly enough

It is so frustrating when top bank analysts ignore the data from the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) and instead rely totally on data from the World Gold Council as supplied by GFMS.  The WGC admits itself that its figure of Chinese gold consumption ignores an important proportion of the gold flows into China.  Thus in its latest analysis, Barclays comes up with the WGC line that China is back to being the world’s second largest gold consumer after India, having fallen from first place 1n 2013, and then bases its assumptions as to China’s gold consumption growth accordingly.  Barclays Bank analyst, Suki Cooper, continues on this path and states that perhaps by 2020 China could be consuming half the world’s gold output.  By our reckoning it already is – and more!

Last year’s withdrawals out of the SGE, which by law handles all China’s gold imports and domestic production, came to 2,102 tonnes – down from 2,197 tonnes in 2013 – which is already equivalent to around two-thirds of global new mined gold output.  Cooper relies on the WGC data for her analysis which puts Chinese consumption at a miserly 814 tonnes, but this ignores financial elements of demand and gold disappearing into the Chinese banking system which the WGC admits may be substantial.  If these are not elements of ‘Chinese consumption’ – a matter of semantic interpretation of what is ‘consumption’  – they are certainly relevant as gold flows, and it is gold flows into Chinese hands which have to be the most important statistical data in terms of the global gold market.

Lawrie sounds more than a bit miffed in this must read article that appeared on this website yesterday.  The media isn't paying attention to the real facts of the situation regarding China and gold---and he's annoyed.  Now he has some inkling as to how Ted Butler and GATA feel as the years---and decades---slide by.  But as I've stated for years now, the WGC, GFMS, the CPM Group, The Silver Institute---they're all in bed with the powers-that-be---and anything they publish should be read for entertainment purposes only, because as a group, they all ignore the 800 pound gold and silver gorilla COMEX short positions that are sitting in the living room with them.

On CNBC Asia, GATA secretary discusses gold market rigging and its consequences

GATA's secretary/treasurer Chris Powell was interviewed on Monday morning in Hong Kong by Bernie Lo on CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box" program, discussing gold market manipulation, the failure of mainstream financial news organizations to put critical questions to central banks about their surreptitious intervention in the gold market, the "new" gold fix in London, the market-destroying and imperialistic results of gold price suppression, and the general subversion of democracy by central banking.

A five-minute excerpt from the interview has been posted at the CNBC archives.  It's certainly worth five minutes of your time.

Ted Butler Interview: Demeter Research

Matt and Alex interview Ted Butler, long-time silver expert and analyst. Ted discusses the issue of manipulation in the precious metals futures markets, the unusual level of movement of physical silver in and out of the COMEX warehouse system, and the unusual short-side concentration of commercial banks in Dollar Index futures.

Well, I don't have to steal any 'big picture' stuff from Ted for now, as he pretty much lays it all out in this longish, but must listen interview that was posted on the demeterresearch.com Internet site on Sunday.  The actual interview itself begins at the 4:35 minute mark.

¤ The Funnies

Here's a photo of the International Space Station as it passed across the sun during the solar eclipse in Europe last week.  You can read all about it at the spaceweather.com Internet site linked here.  I'd sure like to know what frame rate this guy's camera was shooting at to get as many images of the ISS that he did.

¤ The Wrap

What’s most remarkable about the price action over the past two days in silver is that the speed and force of the two and a half day rally does not appear to be in keeping with the four previous anemic $3 silver rallies dating back to the beginning of last year. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, silver has acted funny over the past six or seven weeks in that it was not as relatively weak compared to gold on the downside as it had been in the past.

I know I warn against relying on price action in a manipulated market, but there’s something different this time – silver wasn’t as weak as it usually has been and is out of the gate quicker and stronger than it has been recently as well. To that I would add the masterful work of art, worthy of Picasso himself that the commercials rigged in getting the technical funds as short as they were in the current COT, to say nothing of JPMorgan’s accumulation of a massive amount of physical silver.

I suppose it’s possible for the commercials to slam on the price brakes at any time, but usually there is a cycle and season to price capping that evolves over time periods longer than a few days or weeks. And in order to lure the technical funds back onto the short side the commercials would have to rig a sudden and violent drop in the price of silver below recent lows and even if the commercials did rig such a price drop (this is still a manipulated market after all), it probably wouldn’t lure near enough technical funds back to the short side as existed as of Tuesday. The technical funds are much more comfortable in building big short positions on salami slicing-like price declines, rather than on big chunks to the downside---and for a variety of reasons, including expecting it for many years, I’m inclined to view this budding rally in silver as the big one. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 21 March 2015

I was happy to see both gold and silver post decent gains on Monday, but I'm careful not to read too much into this at the moment, as this is roll-over week out of the April gold contract---and all the large traders have to be out by the close of COMEX trading on Friday, with the balance out by the end of trading on Monday.  There is still a lot of open interest yet to go before first notice day on Tuesday.

Gold's net volume continues to be reasonably light---and that's because the 50-day moving average hasn't been penetrated to the upside yet.  However, gold closed above it's 20-day moving average on Monday---and that fact is certainly reflected in the volume numbers in today's Preliminary Report from the CME Group early this morning.

In silver, volume was much heavier again yesterday as the technical funds in the Managed Money category continue to cover their short positions on one hand---and go long with the other.

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals once again---and once again I've included the 6-month charts for the U.S. dollar index.

As I type this paragraph, the gold market open in London is about fifteen minutes away.  After getting sold down a few dollars to its Far East low at noon Hong Kong time, gold is almost back to unchanged.  The price pattern is the same for silver and platinum as well.  Palladium hit its low at noon in Hong Kong as well---and the price has flatlined since.

Gold volume is very light, with more than a third of it being roll-overs out of the April contract, which is an unusual amount for this time of day.  Silver's net volume is 3,700 contracts, with virtually of it in the current front month, which is May.  All in all, there's nothing going on.

The dollar index rallied a decent amount in Far East trading on their Tuesday morning, but rolled over at noon Hong Kong time---and is only up 11 basis points at the moment.

Today, at the close of COMEX trading, is the cut-off for this week's Commitment of Traders Report.  I'm not expecting big price activity for the remainder of the Tuesday session, but with circumstances on Planet Earth the way they are at the moment, nothing would surprise me, particularly to the upside.

And as I hit the send button on today's column at 5:30 a.m. EDT, I see that the smallish rallies in all four precious metals haven't gone too far now that the market has been open in London for a few hours, but the trading day is still young.

Gross volume in gold is just over 44,000 contracts, but almost half of that is roll-overs out of April and into the new front month, which is June.  Silver's net volume is barely over 6,000 contracts, with virtually all of that in May.  The dollar index is continuing to chop lower---and is down 20 basis points at the moment.

As I said earlier, I have no idea what the rest of Tuesday's trading action will bring, but with the dollar index trending lower, it's reasonable to assume that the precious metals should continue to trend higher.  But how fast and how high will be up to JPMorgan et al---and I'll be more than interested in what the charts show when I power up my computer later this morning.

I'm off to bed---and I'll see you here tomorrow.

Ed Steer

Tue, 24 Mar 2015 06:22:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Shanghai Gold Exchange Withdraws 51 Tonnes of Gold Last Week—508 Tonnes Y.T.D.]]> http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/shanghai-gold-exchange-withdraws-51-tonnes-of-gold-last-week-508-tonnes-y.t/ http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/shanghai-gold-exchange-withdraws-51-tonnes-of-gold-last-week-508-tonnes-y.t/#When:09:52:00Z "The bottom was in on Tuesday for all four precious metals."

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

The gold price chopped along just above $1,170 the ounce through all of Far East and most of London trading on Friday---and then at 9:00 a.m. EDT it began to rally, topping out around 12:45 p.m.  From there it sold off a bit until around 3 p.m. in electronic trading---and from that point traded flat into the 5:15 p.m. close.

The low and high were reported as $1,167.90 and $1,187.40 in the April contract.

Gold closed in New York yesterday at $1,1182.40 spot, up $11.40 on the day.  Net volume wasn't overly heavy at 129,000 contracts.

Here's the 5-minute tick gold chart courtesy of Brad Robertson once again.  The New York open on Thursday evening starts at 16:00 on this chart, as it's Denver time---and you have to add two hours for EDT.  Volume picks up just before the 8:20 a.m. EST open---and disappears by 3:00 p.m. EDT.  The 'click to enlarge' feature really helps here.

Silver also traded flat until 9:00 a.m. in New York yesterday morning---and its rally was far more substantial, as both the 20 and 50-day moving averages were penetrated to the upside, and it closed at its 50-day moving average.  It's a given that the technical funds in the Managed Money category began to cover some of the rather large short positions that they accumulated during the prior engineered price decline.  I'll have more on this in The Wrap.

The high was in around the COMEX close---and around 2 p.m. EDT, the price began to weaken---and then traded flat from 3:30 p.m. into the close.

The low and high were recorded by the CME Group as $16.08 and $16.89 in the May contract.

Silver finished the Friday session at $16.725 spot, up 61.5 cents from Thursday---and well off its high tick.  Because of all the moving average penetrations yesterday, net volume was way up there at 54,000 contracts.

The platinum and palladium price charts are similar in most respects to gold and silver's charts.  Platinum closed at $1,134 spot, up fourteen dollars---and palladium finished the Friday session at $775 spot, up 13 bucks on the day.  Here are the charts.

The dollar index closed late on Thursday afternoon in New York at 99.07---and didn't do much until it began to head south starting around 12:20 p.m. in London trading.  The 97.55 low tick came shortly before, or at, the 1:30 p.m. EDT COMEX close---and it rallied back to 98.00 by 3:15 p.m., before sliding into the 5:15 p.m. close of electronic trading.  The dollar index finished the Friday session at 97.81---down 126 basis points on the day.

For the the world's premier reserve currency, it's certainly been a wild ride lately.

Here's the 6-month U.S. Dollar Index chart, so you can see this "wild ride" for yourself.

The gold stocks gapped up a bit at the open---and then quietly worked their way higher until a few minutes before the COMEX close.  Then they sold off equally as quietly---and the HUI finished the Friday session up 2.74 percent.

The silver equities opened unchanged, but ran higher immediately, hitting their highs just before 1 p.m. in New York---and before the high tick was in for silver.  From there they chopped quietly lower into the close.  Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed up 3.24 percent.

Nick was kind enough to let me know that the HUI was up 4.54 percent for the week---and his Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed up a robust 6.75 percent.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and 39 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Tuesday.   Once again it was Jefferies as the only short/issuer---and JPMorgan stopped 28 of those contracts in its in-house [proprietary] trading account. 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 declined by 3 contracts to 108 contracts still left open in March---and silver's open interest in March is now down to 541 contracts, a drop of 30 contracts since Thursday---minus the 39 mentioned in the above paragraph.

An authorized participant took a large amount of gold out of GLD yesterday.  This time it was 172,750 troy ounces.  And as of 7:22 p.m. EDT yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV.  But when I was putting the finishing touches on today's column at 4:39 a.m. EDT, I noted that the iShares.com website had been updated---and it showed that 573,949 troy ounces were withdrawn.  That's a little large for a fee payment, so it's a good bet, based on recent price action, that the silver was probably needed elsewhere.  I'll be interested in Ted's take on this.

There was a tiny sales report from the U.S. Mint on Friday.  They sold 2,000 troy ounces of gold eagles---and that was all.

Month-to-date the mint has sold 34,500 troy ounces of gold eagles---8,000 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes---and 2,068,000 silver eagles.  Based on these sales, the silver/gold ratio works out to just over 48 to 1.

There was a very decent amount of gold and silver moved around at the COMEX-approved depositories on Thursday.  In gold, nothing was reported received, but 67,368 troy ounces were shipped out---all of it from Scotiabank's vault.

In the two new "Gold Kilo Stocks" COMEX depositories, there was 464,839 troy ounces reported shipped into Brink's, Inc.---and 445,291 troy ounces shipped out of the same vault.  Neither of the amounts involved looked like they were in kilobar form

In silver, only 9,173 troy ounces were reported received, but a pretty chunky 1,550,429 troy ounces were shipped out the door.  The entire amount came out of the vaults of HSBC USA.

The Commitment of Traders Report, for positions held at the close of trading on Tuesday, was everything that Ted was hoping for---and in gold, it was wildly better.

But first with silver.  In this precious metal, the Commercial net short position declined by 3,053 contracts, or 15.3 million troy ounces.  The new Commercial net short position---and probably low for this cycle---stands at 151.0 million troy ounces.   We'll never get near the 70-ish million troy ounce low of last November again---and I know that Ted will have more to say about it in his column to paying subscribers later today.

The Big 4 traders reduced their net short position by about 1,000 contracts---the '5 through 8' big traders actually added around 2,200 contracts to their short position---and the balance of the Commercial traders, Ted Butler's raptors, added another 4,300 contracts to their already large long position.  Ted pegs JPMorgan's short position at the lower end of the range that he gave a week ago---and that was 13,000 contracts.  Don't forget the JPMorgan is no longer the big silver short on the COMEX.  That title now belongs to Canada's Scotiabank.

Under the hood in the Disaggregated COT Report, the technical funds in the Managed Money category added a very chunky 5,035 contracts to their already large short position---and the 'unblinking' non-technical fund longs in the Managed Money category added another 1,002 long contracts.  Like I said last week---"'Who are these guys?"

In gold, the Commercial net short position declined an eye-watering 32,852 contracts, or 3.29 million troy ounces.  The Commercial net short position is now back to almost where it was in early November---and that is 5.65 million troy ounces.

The Big 4 traders in gold actually added about 800 contracts to their current short position---and the '5 through 8' traders covered about 10,000 contracts of their short position---and Ted's raptors added around 21,700 contracts to their current long position.

Under the hood in the Managed Money category of the COT Report, the technical funds not only sold 9,185 long contracts that they were still holding, but they also added a huge 20,264 contracts to their already-impressive short position.  I was amazed by these numbers.

I would bet money that this report represented the bottom of the price barrel from a COT perspective in all four precious metals---and without doubt there's been a fair amount of deterioration in the Commercial net short position since the cut-off, especially after yesterday's price action.  Ted is hoping that its the raptors doing a lot of long selling for profit---and that JPMorgan is buying as many of those contracts as they can.  We'll know next Friday.

Here's Nick Laird's "Days of World Production to Cover COMEX Short Positions" chart updated with Tuesday's COT data---and you can see the collective short positions of the Big 4 and '5 through 8' traders in all physically traded commodities on the COMEX.  Even though the combined short positions of the 'Big 8' traders are still outrageous and manipulative to the price, these are the lowest they've been for over four months, so take a picture!

Since yesterday was the 20th of the month---and it fell on a week day---the folks over at The Central Bank of the Russian Federation updated their website with February's data.  It showed that for the second month in a row they didn't add any gold to their reserves---and it's  a safe bet that if they did sell their February gold production, it all ended up in China.  Here's Nick's chart.

It was all over the Internet yesterday, as the Shanghai Gold Exchange withdrew 51.456 tonnes for the week ending March 13---and once again I thank Nick Laird for providing the chart below.  I have a couple of stories about this in the Critical Reads section below.

I have a huge number of stories for you today---and I hope you have enough time left in your weekend to read the ones that interest you.  I also have a quite a few lengthy and/or off-topic stories that I've been saving for today as well.

¤ Critical Reads

Oil, S&P Futures Soar as Quad Witch Volatility Arrives

Just as we warned not even two hours ago, things on quad-witching get exciting, and volatile.

And sure enough, after starting out the overnight session calmly and without much fanfare, U.S. equity futures have proceeded to surge on absolutely no news, but merely what appears to be the latest market-wide stop hunt, or as the CME's central bank liquidity rebate program is being put to good use.

This short Zero Hedge piece, with three excellent charts, appeared on their Internet site at 8:57 a.m. EDT on Friday morning---and today's first story is courtesy of Dan Lazicki.

Jim Grant on CNBC: Odds against the Fed getting it right

Jim Grant sounds the alarm on Fed monetary policy.  The Fed can change the way things look, but not what things are.

This 4:00 minute video clip from CBNC's "Squawk Box" is definitely worth your while, even though he said all this before the Fed spoke on Wednesday afternoon.  It was posted on the grantspub.com Internet site last night---and I thank reader U.D. for sending it our way.

"Market Is Hyper Overpriced" Warns Retiring Fed President; "Significant Correction" Coming

Fresh from a well-publicized dollar dispute with Goldman’s Gary Cohn, recently retired Dallas Fed chief Richard Fisher made an appearance on CNBC Friday and spoke with Rick Santelli. There were quite a number of notable exchanges including the following zingers.

Santelli: “Do you think any part of the stock market being high has anything to do with the committee you just left and if you didn’t grade the economy on a curve would you still give it a 10?”

Fisher: “Well, what worries me is how totally lazy investors have gotten, totally dependent on the Federal Reserve and I find this to be a precarious situation.”

Fisher: “Are we vulnerable in my personal opinion to a significant equity market correction? I believe we are.”

This 7:11 minute video clip showed up on the Zero Hedge website at 1:36 p.m. EDT yesterday---and it's the second offering of the day from Dan Lazicki.

When The World's Reserve Currency Flash Crashed: "I Haven’t Seen Anything Like It Since The Financial Crisis’

On Wednesday afternoon, just after the close of the market, the US Dollar, the world's reserve currency flash crashed. This is how The Wall Street Journal described the move:

In the latest episode Wednesday, a message from the U.S. Federal Reserve that it is in no hurry to raise interest rates caused a big slump in the dollar, which has run up a huge rally so far this year. The euro surged more than 4% against the buck, its biggest jump in a single day in 15 years, according to Deutsche Bank. Early on Thursday, the European currency resumed its slide.

The sheer speed of the round trip in the euro-dollar exchange rate—the world’s most heavily traded currency pair—left traders and investors reeling.

Well dear reader, I called it a near-death experience in Thursday's column---and that was before the WSJ wrote about it---and that has certainly turned out to be the case.  This must read Zero Hedge piece appeared on their Internet site at 2:23 p.m. EDT yesterday---and it's also courtesy of Dan Lazicki.

Michael Lewis Reflects on His Book Flash Boys, a Year After It Shook Wall Street to Its Core

When I sat down to write Flash Boys, in 2013, I didn’t intend to see just how angry I could make the richest people on Wall Street. I was far more interested in the characters and the situation in which they found themselves. Led by an obscure 35-year-old trader at the Royal Bank of Canada named Brad Katsuyama, they were all well-regarded professionals in the U.S. stock market. The situation was that they no longer understood that market. And their ignorance was forgivable. It would have been difficult to find anyone, circa 2009, able to give you an honest account of the inner workings of the American stock market—by then fully automated, spectacularly fragmented, and complicated beyond belief by possibly well-intentioned regulators and less well-intentioned insiders. That the American stock market had become a mystery struck me as interesting. How does that happen? And who benefits?

By the time I met my characters they’d already spent several years trying to answer those questions. In the end they figured out that the complexity, though it may have arisen innocently enough, served the interest of financial intermediaries rather than the investors and corporations the market is meant to serve. It had enabled a massive amount of predatory trading and had institutionalized a systemic and totally unnecessary unfairness in the market and, in the bargain, rendered it less stable and more prone to flash crashes and outages and other unhappy events. Having understood the problems, Katsuyama and his colleagues had set out not to exploit them but to repair them. That, too, I thought was interesting: some people on Wall Street wanted to fix something, even if it meant less money for Wall Street, and for them personally.

This very excellent essay appeared on the vanityfair.com Internet site earlier this week---and it's one of the stories I've been saving for Saturday's column.  It's a must read---and I thank UAE reader David Thorpe for sending it our way.

Jim Rickards: Contagion Déjà Vu

As my flight from New York to Hong Kong touched down on Sept. 17, 1997, and taxied to the gate, I was startled by the plane parked at the next gate.

It was an old Boeing 707 with the words “United States of America” on top of the fuselage in a configuration eerily reminiscent of the original Air Force One that carried President Kennedy’s body to Washington from Dallas after his assassination in 1963.

But this plane did not have the familiar light blue trim of the presidential fleet. Instead, it had a dark green trim in a shade I refer to as “Treasury green.” This was the government plane transporting U.S. Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin and other officials to the annual meeting of the IMF.

I was there for the same meeting, representing Long Term Capital Management, the then mysterious hedge fund that dominated trading in government bonds of countries around the world. With me were several LTCM partners, including David W. Mullins Jr., a former assistant secretary of the Treasury in charge of federal finance and vice chairman of the Federal Reserve.

This interesting commentary by Jim appeared on thedailycoin.org website yesterday---and it was originally posted on the dailyreckoning.com Internet site on Thursday.  I thank Harold Jacobsen for digging it up for us.

Recent Economic Data Shows the Good Side of Deflation

The Fed, the ECB, and the Bank of England repeatedly tell us that deflation is extremely dangerous for an economy. Central bankers, most economists, and the media speak of deflation as one of the greatest disasters that can strike an economy.

It is stunning then, given the apparent importance of the subject — and the possible collateral damage of pro-inflation policies — that few seem to bother to ask the deeper, fundamental question: does the historical data show that deflation is actually a terrible thing? The data suggests that it is not. In fact, looking at recent GDP, inflation, and employment data, one could even say that a shot of deflation is what many economies need. Let us take a look at the recent real-life examples.

This short essay originally appeared on the Mises Institute website, but got picked up by the folks over at Zero Hedge Friday morning---and it's certainly worth reading if you have the interest.  I thank Dan Lazicki once again for sending it along.

The Latest Flashing Red Light: Global Earnings Plunge Most Since Lehman

We will leave it to the chartists to provide an appropriate name for the formation shown below (mutation unchallenged head and shoulders?) but one that is obvious is that global stocks as measured by the MSCI world index have never been higher, and the global central bank bubble has now easily surpassed both the dot com bubble and the first housing/credit bubble.

But why the surge? We will leave that one to the economists, but we will observe that as BofA comments, "global equity 12-month forward EPS has turned negative on a YoY basis (-6.7%)."

In fact, as the chart below shows, global forward EPS is now plunging at the fastest rate since Lehman, and is down to levels last seen in 2011.

Here's another Zero Hedge piece.  This one was posted on their website at 10:51 a.m. EDT on Friday morning---and it's also courtesy of Dan Lazicki.

PAUL TUDOR JONES: Income inequality will end in revolution, taxes, or war

Legendary hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones II gave a dire warning about the growing gap between the rich and the poor in the U.S. during a sold out TED Talk in Canada this week. 

"Now here's a macro forecast that's easy to make and that's that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest it will get closed. History always does it. It typically happens in one of three ways– either through revolution, higher taxes or wars. None of those are on my bucket list," PTJ said, according to a video of the event viewed by Business Insider. 

During his talk, Tudor Jones, who has an estimated net worth of $4.6 billion, praised capitalism.

There's no link to the Ted video, as this businessinsider.com story is basically an executive summary.  It showed up on their website at 6:38 p.m. EDT on Thursday evening---and I thank Roy Stephens for his first contribution of the day.

Doug Noland: True Ultra-Dovishness

I have argued for a number of years now that it was imperative for the Fed to begin extricating itself from market intervention and manipulation. It was never going to go smoothly, but when it comes to dealing with market distortions and Bubbles the earlier the better. The scope of the Bubble has now grown to unprecedented dimensions – throughout virtually all securities and asset markets – and its global: stocks – small caps, mid-caps, large-caps – risky and “defensive” – growth and income; bonds – sovereign, corporate, “developed” and “developing”; and all varieties of derivatives. Anything providing a yield.

The fundamental issue is a desperate need for the Fed to commence a process of normalizing the pricing of market risk. Savings needs to generate a positive real return. The enormous ongoing flow of (unsuspecting) savings into grossly inflated risk markets only exacerbates systemic risk. The Bubbling corporate debt market needs to be tested – and some market discipline reinstated. The ETF and “bond” fund complexes, recipients of Trillions of flows, need to be tested – and market discipline allowed to run its course. The self-reinforcing stock buybacks, M&A and other “financial engineering” need to be tested by a period of tighter finance and associated risk aversion. Will they stand up?

I am convinced the underlying finance driving the markets and, increasingly, the economic boom is unstable. I believe the best kept secret is that enormous amounts of global “hot money” are flooding into king dollar asset markets – U.S. stocks, bonds, real estate and business investment. It is an unsound dynamic and it’s unsustainable.

Doug's weekly Credit Bubble Bulletin is always a must read for me---and I'll get around to it either today or tomorrow.  It was posted on his website early Friday evening---and I thank reader U.D. for sending it our way before I could find it on my own.

California is Turning Back Into a Desert and There Are No Contingency Plans

Once upon a time, much of the state of California was a barren desert.  And now, thanks to the worst drought in modern American history, much of the state is turning back into one.  Scientists tell us that the 20th century was the wettest century that the state of California had seen in 1000 years.  But now weather patterns are reverting back to historical norms, and California is rapidly running out of water.  It is being reported that the state only has approximately a one year supply of water left in the reservoirs, and when the water is all gone there are no contingency plans.  Back in early 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency for the entire state, but since that time water usage has only dropped by 9 percent.  That is not nearly enough.  The state of California has been losing more than 12 million acre-feet of total water a year since 2011, and we are quickly heading toward an extremely painful water crisis unlike anything that any of us have ever seen before.

But don’t take my word for it.  According to the Los Angeles Times, Jay Famiglietti “is the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine”.  What he has to say about the horrific drought in California is extremely sobering…

As our “wet” season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snow pack levels are at all-time lows. We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.

Data from NASA satellites show that the total amount of water stored in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins — that is, all of the snow, river and reservoir water, water in soils and groundwater combined — was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014. That loss is nearly 1.5 times the capacity of Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir.

I've posted stories about this several times over the last ten years, but all the chickens are now coming home to roost.  This essay showed up on the Zero Hedge website on Monday---and it's a must read.  The embedded 13-minute CBS 60-Minutes video clip is a must watch as well.  For obvious reasons this story had to wait for today's column---and I thank reader M.A. for bringing it to our attention.

A Police Gadget Tracks Phones? Shhh! It’s Secret

A powerful new surveillance tool being adopted by police departments across the country comes with an unusual requirement: To buy it, law enforcement officials must sign a nondisclosure agreement preventing them from saying almost anything about the technology.

Any disclosure about the technology, which tracks cellphones and is often called StingRay, could allow criminals and terrorists to circumvent it, the F.B.I. has said in an affidavit. But the tool is adopted in such secrecy that communities are not always sure what they are buying or whether the technology could raise serious privacy concerns.

The confidentiality has elevated the stakes in a longstanding debate about the public disclosure of government practices versus law enforcement’s desire to keep its methods confidential. While companies routinely require nondisclosure agreements for technical products, legal experts say these agreements raise questions and are unusual given the privacy and even constitutional issues at stake.

This article showed up on The New York Times website last Sunday---and is another item that had to wait for today's column.  I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sharing it with us.

Hillary: The New York Times Will Never Tell Us This

If she wasn’t such an ice-cold-hearted person, one might almost feel sorry for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now, before she even officially declares her candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination in 2016 to become successor to Barack Obama as President, she lands in the middle of another very ugly scandal. This new scandal might well spell the end of her presidential obsession, and that of her obsessive husband Bill Clinton to get back into the power loop.

The new scandal involves Haiti, that tormented island in the Caribbean which gets hit not only by earthquakes but also by the ravages and looting acts of the Clintons and their friends and relatives. It involves obvious misuse of Bill Clinton’s position in Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 Haitians. It involves nepotism with the brother of Hillary Clinton. It involves Hillary directly, and it involves a foundation owned by the Clinton family which works closely with a reputed Mexican narco kingpin and some of the dirtiest Clinton political associates from their days in Washington.

The timing of events here is important. On March 5, the popular web blog Breitbart published a story taken from an about-to-be-released new book by award-winning journalist, Peter Schweitzer titled, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. The book details facts around an unprecedented award for a gold mine, the first such granted in Haiti by the government in 50 years, to an obscure North Carolina company named VCS Mining to mine the Morne Bossa.

VCS Mining according to Schweitzer, had on its board of directors Tony Rodham. Never heard of him? Hillary Clinton’s family name is Hillary Rodham and Tony is her brother. Not only that, but the mining company also lists another board member, former Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. Bellerive co-chaired the “charitable” Interim Haiti Recovery Commission with former US President and Hillary’s husband (at least legally), William Jefferson Clinton.

I posted the story about this gold mine purchase when it first came out in early March---and I wondered out loud at the time, as to what this might be about.  Well, I don't need to doubt any longer.  This William F. Engdahl essay appeared on the journal.neo.org Internet site yesterday---and it tells all and names names.  In my opinion it's definitely worth reading, but that decision is entirely up to you.  It's the second offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

U.N. Orders Review of 1961 Crash That Killed Dag Hammarskjold

The plane had flown deep into the African night on a mission for peace. Finally, it drew near its destination in the copper mining region of what is now northern Zambia. The crew radioed for permission to descend. Then there was nothing.

On the night of Sept. 17 to 18, 1961, the plane, a Transair Sweden DC-6B named Albertina, was carrying Dag Hammarskjold, the secretary general of the United Nations, and 15 other people. Mr. Hammarskjold was on his way to meet with Moise Tshombe, the leader of a bloody secession movement in Katanga, a province of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo with vast deposits of strategic minerals, including uranium and cobalt.

But the four-engined plane crashed minutes after the last radio contact, in a stretch of bushland eight miles from the airport at Ndola, in what was then the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia.

The crash turned a hinge in the tortured narrative of modern Africa, poised between rule by outside powers and independence. But its cause has never been established.

This event occurred in the days before we had TV in our area of Canada.  It was on the radio---and also on the weekly newsreels at the small movie theatre in our town.  Not surprisingly, it was the American government behind it.  This must read article appeared on The New York Times website on Monday---and had to wait for Saturday's column.  I thank Roy Stephens for finding it for us.

The Decline of Vancouver

Vancouver, once a city with its own unique spin on Canadian ideals and culture, is well on its way to becoming a vacation city for the world’s rich, its economy transforming into one predicated almost entirely on catering to their luxurious proclivities, and its citizens transformed into modern serfs permitted to live in smaller dwellings on the city’s periphery, if you’ll allow me to exaggerate for effect.

Hyperbole aside, consider this: the nature of serfdom was one where serfs, unable to acquire their own plot of productive land, worked and lived on the land of wealthy nobles whom they served. In Vancouver the average person who owns a detached home made more money from capital gains on their property, roughly $100,000 per year in the last decade or so, than the average Vancouverite made in income, roughly $65,000. At those rates, it’s effectively impossible for average people without seed capital to join in on the boons of the Vancouver property boom, and so their role in the city’s largest source of wealth generation, property ownership, becomes catering to those who can take part, selling to them luxury booze, food, cars, clothes, and even their bodies. We have two classes of society forming along a divide that is growingly difficult to cross.

Real estate appreciation is not unique to Vancouver. Calgary and San Francisco, for instance, have seen gains in the real estate market near Vancouver rates, but those gains were a result of booming economies and income growth in those areas from oil and tech respectively. Vancouver has experienced no commensurate economic or income boom. According to Teranet’s housing price index, over the past 5 years Vancouver’s property prices have grown by about 23% compared to about 16% in Calgary – this despite Calgary’s economic growth running near double that of Vancouver’s over the same period. With the decline of oil prices, Calgary’s real estate market has tanked, as it would in a rational market. It’s safe to say economic prosperity has little to do with our real estate market. Anyone arguing that Vancouver growth outpaced Calgary’s because it’s a nicer place to live should note that Vancouver has been a nicer place to live than Calgary for a few decades now – suffice it to say any difference between the cities’ populations as a result of such known factors would already have been accounted for in the base population---and foreign ownership is, of course, the culprit.

This very interesting essay put in an appearance on the tumblr.com website last Saturday---and for obvious reasons had to wait for today's column.  Once again I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us.

FTSE 100 breaks above 7,000 for first time

The FTSE 100 has broken through the 7,000 level for the first time in its history, propelled by investor hopes that interest rates will stay at record lows and signs that Greece will stave off a deeper financial crisis.

Britain’s benchmark index of shares climbed 60.19 points to finish the day at 7,022.51, a 0.9pc gain that took the index to its highest ever close. A new intraday record was also set, with the index touching 7,024.21 during the afternoon.

It was a landmark moment for the index, as the 7,000 level is seen as psychologically important. The FTSE 100, which was launched in 1984, first breached the 6,000 mark in 1998 and it has taken another 17 years to surpass the next milestone.

This news story appeared on The Telegraph's website at 3:12 p.m. GMT on their Friday afternoon, which was 11:12 a.m. in New York---and as Roy Stephens said in the accompanying e-mail---"Print enough money and anything is possible…".  Amen to that, bro'!

As "Spectacular" Solar Eclipse Covers Europe, Fears Turn to Its Power Grid

Some parts of Europe witnessed a near total solar eclipse this morning, an event which, while fun to observe (not without the proper equipment please), presents a challenge for solar panels: namely, a lack of sun. As it turns out this same problem happens at night but, as The Wall Street Journal reports, the rapidity with which an eclipse darkens the earth could cause blackouts if the energy grid can’t take up the slack quick enough. Here’s more:

The solar eclipse will provide an acid test for a continent that has placed a big bet on renewable energy—but whose aging electricity grids could buckle under the strain of a sudden drop in solar power.

“Given the growth of renewables across Europe in recent years, this will require an unprecedented amount of careful balancing of supply and demand across the grid,” said Valentin de Miguel of consulting firm Accenture...

The partial disappearance of the sun Friday will place a huge strain on Europe’s energy system. Normally, when the sun goes down, it takes about an hour for the light to fade. That gives time for electricity grids to substitute the power flowing from solar panels with electricity generated from traditional sources such as coal and natural gas.  Not so with a total solar eclipse.

I flew to the "Big Island" Hawai'i back in 1991 to see my first solar eclipse.  It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life---and the world's Umbra Addicts were there in all their glory.  I will be at the solar eclipse in the U.S. on August 21, 2017---as a thousand horses couldn't drag me away from it.  An eclipse is, and will always be, a temporary but unavoidable problem for any solar array---and the bigger it is and the more people that depend on it, the worse it will be, because at totality there is no sun at all---just the glorious corona, along with any solar flares that happen to be on the sun's perimeter.  For us space/science enthusiasts, this is a must read.

Ukraine sends request for proposals for U.S.-guaranteed bond

The Republic of Ukraine has sent out a request for proposals (RFP) to banks for a new U.S. government-guaranteed bond, according to three sources.

This is the second time the U.S. government has thrown its financial backing behind a Ukrainian international bond issue.

In May 2014, the U.S. guaranteed a US$1bn Ukrainian bond maturing in 2019 through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

That bond was given a credit rating in line with the U.S. sovereign at Aaa by Moody's, AA+ by Standard & Poor's and AAA by Fitch, which is a far cry from Ukraine's credit rating, which stands at Caa3, CCC and CC with the same three agencies.

David Stockman's headline to this Reuters story reads "This Is Outrageous—–Washington To Guarantee More Ukrainian Debt So Kiev Can Fund Its Bloody Civil War"--and he may not be far from the truth on that one.  It appeared on their website at 5:18 a.m. EDT on Friday morning---and my thanks go out to Roy Stephens once again.

‘Ukraine new spy law designed as provocation, opens whole can of worms’

If Ukrainian draft law on intelligence comes into force, we might start seeing assassinations, bomb blasts, and psychological attacks in the Donbass region, says Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute.

Ukraine's parliament has passed a law allowing its intelligence units to carry out military operations in eastern Ukraine. If the President Petro Poroshenko signs the law, it would allow special services to infiltrate and operate in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics.

RT: How does this current move from Kiev correlate with the current peace process in east Ukraine?

Daniel McAdams: I think it’s a provocation and it is designed to be a provocation. The goal is stated clearly from Kiev and it’s echoed in Washington, and to a degree in Berlin, as well, which is that Ukraine needs to be whole again - that is the point they are making including eastern Ukraine and even Crimea. So it is meant to be a provocation.

This very interesting news item was posted on the Russia Today website at 12:57 p.m. Moscow time on their Friday afternoon, which was 5:57 a.m. EDT in Washington.  I thank Roy Stephens for finding it for us.

Ukraine SITREP Friday March 20th, 2015

Just like the Titanic, the Ukraine is sinking faster and faster.  By now, I expect that most of you must have heard of the quasi-insurrection in occupied Konstantinovka following the killing of a mother and child by a drunken Ukrainian APC crew.  Accident can happen anywhere, of course, but the quasi-insurrection which took place following this accident is indicative of the rage and hostility of the local population towards their Nazi occupiers.  The reaction of Kiev, however, was “picture perfect”: they blamed the accident on Russian provocateurs and flooded Konstantinovka with death squads.

Then there is the mini-war taking place between the “President” Poroshenko and the notorious Jewish oligarch Kolomoiskii over the control of Ukrtransnafta.  This is a clear sign of the deep process of “Somalization” taking place in which all the power in the country is divided between warlords.  Kolomoiskii is probably a far more powerful figure than Poroshenko and he controls the “neo-Khazarian Ukraine” (southern Urkraine, Black Sea cost, Odessa region) and there are many who believe that he is the man who paid for the downing of MH17 (Kolomoiski admitted to this on a private video call by Skype).  Still, he is ready to run should it be needed, and has therefore secured three citizenships: Ukrainian, Cypriot and Israeli.

As for the Ukrainian economy, it continues to behave like a 911 building and continues to tumble down at a free-fall acceleration.

This very interesting---and rather brief commentary appeared on thesaker.is website on Friday---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.  It's worth your while if you have the interest.

Putin's war decimates Ukraine as economy shrinks 15 percent -- The Telegraph

Ukraine's economy shrank at an alarming 14.8pc over the last three months of the year, as conflict with neighbouring giant Russia and simmering civil war have devastated the country.

The economy contracted by 6.8pc in 2014, according to the country's statistical authority, but the slump could worsen to as much as 12pc in 2015 according to government forecasts.

A collapsing currency, dwindling central bank reserves and eye-watering inflation near 30pc have led to Kiev requesting a $17.5bn bail-out from the International Monetary Fund.

The government is also looking to restructure its sovereign debt pile as part of the programme.

This news story showed up on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 11:30 a.m. GMT yesterday morning local time.

Batchelor and Cohen: Ukraine still a hot spot and getting worse

With apparently (now) three battalions of troops soon to have feet on the ground in Ukraine, war drums still pounding from politicians in Kiev and Washington and NATO spokespeople, and Minsk2 still holding, more or less, one could conclude that peace has only a chance of success. We are also informed about 1,500 or more boots connected with U.S. intelligence and other U.S. agencies in Kiev. This is clearly not about supporting Minsk2 and is all independent of growing opposition in Europe for more war in Ukraine.

War materiel is also quietly flowing into Kiev territory from the U.S. (drones and artillery tracking radar), and statements by Poroshenko and his parliament are giving strong indications that a continuation of the civil war is being strongly contemplated. Poroshenko now has funds from the IMF with which to continue his war aims. Obama, so far, is holding in support for Minsk2, but he is surrounded by opposition to the truce holding and is being out shouted by his war party.  This is a still dangerous situation and may be getting worse. Events seen boiling in the background would indicate Poroshenko is still working on a war resolution with the East.

In the meantime E.U. opposition is growing against Washington's support for more war and it is very possible that American insistence on sanctions continuing, if not increasing in scope, may bring another crisis to the E.U. Europe may not support sanctions come June when they are up for consideration by the E.U. for renewal. If it comes down to a rejection for sanctions  (which would not be dropped by Washington), this would represent a very real rift between Europe and Washington and certainly open the larger question of the continuation of the existence of NATO. Cohen states that the E.U. could very well go its own way - and perhaps with its own army. 

This 39:47 minute audio interview with Steven F. Cohen appeared on the johnbatchelorshow.com Internet site last Sunday---and for both length and content reasons had to wait for today's column.  I thank Larry Galearis for digging it up for us.

How Crimea's Sevastopol Has Changed since Joining Russia

The last year changed many things in my life, so it will be appropriate to summarize certain intermediate results associated with the changes in Sevastopol borne of the Crimean spring. I decided not to group this in blocks, so I simply write what came to my mind during the attempts to recall what has changed over a year.

1. Crimea stopped being a part of Ukraine and became a part of Russia. I wished for this event for many years, so here my dream simply came true. Those people whose dreams come true must understand very well how this feels like.

2. Ukrainian flags and Ukrainian insignia disappeared from the city. Only very rarely one can meet Ukrainian text or old advertisement banners in Ukrainian. The city speaks Russian and after the cancellation of the obligatory use of Ukrainian, which they previously tried to implant by force, the Ukrainian language simply disappeared because it wasn't needed, even though there is no special ban on the use of Ukrainian - if one wants, one can put banners in Ukrainian, the law permits it. If one wants to speak Ukrainian, one is free to do so. All of these rights are present, but nobody uses them because there is no need to do so.

3. One may now go to a movie theater without fearing the obligatory translation of the movies to Ukrainian in a city where 99% speak Russian. For several years I didn't go watch movies for the language reasons; in the last year I was there more often than in the previous 5 years.

This boots-on-the-ground commentary showed up on the russia-insider.com Internet site on Thursday---and it's certainly worth reading if you have the interest---and it's courtesy of reader M.A.  There was also an article in Newsweek on this subject as well datelined Wednesday---and it's headlined "A Year After Annexation by Russia, Crimea Remains Bitterly Divided".  I'll leave it up to you to decide which one to believe---and I've already made up my mind.

Russia Under Attack — Paul Craig Roberts

While Washington works assiduously to undermine the Minsk agreement that German chancellor Merkel and French president Hollande achieved in order to halt the military conflict in Ukraine, Washington has sent Victoria Nuland to Armenia to organize a “color revolution” or coup there, has sent Richard Miles as ambassador to Kyrgyzstan to do the same there, and has sent Pamela Spratlen as ambassador to Uzbekistan to purchase that government’s allegiance away from Russia. The result would be to break up the Collective Security Treaty Organization and present Russia and China with destabilization where they can least afford it.

Thus, Russia faces the renewal of conflict in Ukraine simultaneously with three more Ukraine-type situations along its Asian border.

And this is only the beginning of the pressure that Washington is mounting on Russia.

On March 18 the Secretary General of NATO denounced the peace settlement between Russia and Georgia that ended Georgia’s military assault on South Ossetia. The NATO Secretary General said that NATO rejects the settlement because it “hampers ongoing efforts by the international community to strengthen security and stability in the region.” Look closely at this statement. It defines the “international community” as Washington’s NATO puppet states, and it defines strengthening security and stability as removing buffers between Russia and Georgia so that Washington can position military bases in Georgia directly on Russia’s border.

This absolute must read commentary by Paul appeared on this website yesterday sometime---and the first reader through the door with it was Brad Robertson.

Drills for me but not for thee: NATO launches war games near Russian border

Despite being quick to condemn Russian military manoeuvers, NATO is conducting wide-scale war games in the Baltic states and creating a “line of troops” across Eastern Europe. The US denies a double standard, but records and transcripts suggest otherwise.

Thousands of U.S. troops and hundreds of tanks have poured into Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the past two months as part of an operation dubbed “Atlantic Resolve.” In February, 140 NATO vehicles and 1,400 troops swept through Narva, a mere 300 meters from the Russian border.

As you connect countries, there is almost a line of U.S. troops,” Defense News quoted Col. Michael Foster of the 173rd Airborne Brigade on March 2 as saying. U.S. forces have previously held joint war games with Baltic nations, with names such as “Saber Strike,” “Spring Storm” and “Flaming Sword.”

When asked why the U.S. was condemning Russian exercises inside Russia, State Department press official Jeff Rathke told Russia Today that no such statement had ever been made.

This Russia Today story was posted on their Internet site at 3:13 a.m. Moscow time on their Saturday morning---and I thank Roy Stephens for sliding it into my in-box in the wee hours of this morning.

Kaspersky slams Bloomberg report on company’s alleged ties to Russian ‘spies’

Eugene Kaspersky, founder and CEO of the multibillion dollar private software security group, slammed the recent Bloomberg article as “sensationalist” and “false,” asking whether it could be linked to Equation Group revelations by his firm.

The Bloomberg article, with the catchy headline “The Company Securing Your Internet Has Close Ties to Russian Spies” was published on Thursday.

It alleges that Kaspersky Lab, a private software security company owned by Russian national Eugene Kaspersky, ignores Russian electronic espionage cases , while only unveils cybercrimes in the “U.S. , Israel, and the E.U.

You have to wonder how low the American media will stoop?  This article appeared on the Russia Today website at 7:08 p.m. Moscow time on Friday evening, which was 12:08 p.m. EDT.  It's courtesy of Roy Stephens once again.

U.N. ruling raises hope of return for exiled Chagos islanders

Britain acted illegally in the way it has exercised territorial control over the Chagos Islands, a U.N. tribunal has ruled, raising questions over the U.K.’s claim to sovereignty and offering hope of return to hundreds of evicted islanders.

In a withering judgment, the U.K. is accused of creating a marine protected area (MPA) to suit its electoral timetable, snubbing the rights of its former colony Mauritius and cosying up to the United States, which has a key military base – allegedly used for the rendition of terrorist suspects – on the largest island, Diego Garcia.

The ruling effectively throws into doubt the U.K.’s assertion of absolute ownership, restricts the Americans’ ability to expand their facility without Mauritian compliance and boosts the chances of exiled Chagossians being able to return to their homeland.

This is the second story on this issue that I've posted in this column in the last few weeks---and is one of these stories that's worth reading only if it's of interest.  Not surprisingly, it's courtesy of Roy Stephens as well---and it was posted on theguardian.com website on Thursday.

Xinhua: China and Germany Deepen Financial Cooperation, Germany Joins AIIB and Supports RMB Inclusion Into SDR

China and Germany conducted their first high-level financial dialogue here on Tuesday and agreed to strengthen macro-economic policy coordination, develop policy dialogue and pragmatic cooperation in fiscal and financial areas.

Representing China at the first China-Germany High Level Financial Dialogue, Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai said the dialogue was established after a decision reached by leaders from both countries during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Germany last year. The main task of this dialogue is to implement agreements reached by leaders of the two countries, he added.

Ma said that confronted with a complex and fragile global economic situation, China and Germany as important economies should strengthen policy coordination, coordinate strategic cooperation, deepen financial and fiscal cooperation, consolidate and develop the positive momentum of both economies to make further contributions to the steady growth of the world economy.

Representing Germany at the dialogue, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and Deutsche Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said that Germany and China have been working together very well both bilaterally and multilaterally in financial and fiscal areas.

This story, filed from Berlin, was originally posted on the news.xinhuanet.com Internet site on Tuesday---and showed up under Koos Jansen's name yesterday on the bullionstar.com Internet site

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: China's financial power play?

The end of World War II marked a time of change and rebuilding, with a new political and economic order.

It saw the creation of the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, or IMF - institutions dominated then, and since, by the economic powers of the day, namely the United States and Europe.

China has been challenging that pecking order, as it emerged as the world's second biggest economy, and it's now backing a new development bank.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will be based in Beijing. And Europe's biggest economies are among nations defying the US to become founding members.

This 24:50 minute video interview/panel discussion was posted on the aljazeera.com Internet site at 7:30 p.m. GMT on Thursday---and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens---and I thank him on your behalf, dear reader.

Norfolk Island self-governance 'diabolical'

The Australian federal government has described Norfolk Island's self governance as "diabolical" as it moves to scrap the territory's parliament.

But the island's chief minister says replacing the parliament with a regional council is a disappointing decision that is being imposed on unhappy locals.

The government will introduce legislation next week to strip Norfolk Island of the self governance it has enjoyed since 1979. The island's legislative assembly will be temporarily replaced by an advisory council, before local government elections in 2016.

This short and interesting news item appeared on the Australian Internet site news.com.au on Thursday afternoon local time---and I thank New Zealand reader Bob Hays for finding it for us.

Sprott Money Weekly Wrap Up With Eric Sprott

Listen to Eric Sprott share his thoughts on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s recent policy statement, Greece’s approaching deadline with the European Union, and the outlook on gold.

This 7:23 minute audio interviews was posted on the sprottmoney.com Internet site yesterday.

SGE Withdrawals 51 Tonnes in Week 10, YTD 508 Tonnes

Withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange, a proxy for China's gold demand, were 51 tonnes for the most recent week reported, Bullion Star market analyst and GATA consultant Koos Jansen reported yesterday, continuing a strong pattern.

Koos slid this short commentary into my in-box yesterday---and I thank Chris Powell for the above paragraph of introduction.

Goldman, UBS Join Former 'Fixing' Banks for New LBMA Gold Price

The new London Bullion Market Association Gold Price went live for the first time on Friday, with Goldman Sachs and UBS joining the four members of the now-defunct gold "fix" in setting its electronic replacement.

Goldman and UBS joined Barclays, HSBC, Bank of Nova Scotia, and Societe Generale to set the new benchmark gold price, administered by ICE Benchmark Administration, at 10:30 GMT on March 20.

The first LBMA Gold Price was set at $1,171.75 an ounce, after five rounds of an auction to strike a balance between bids and offers.

"The London gold fixing was eclipsed today," Ross Norman, chief executive of Sharps Pixley, said. "The key question is: Will users have the necessary confidence in the number? My gut feeling is that, with six participants, yes is the answer."

When Ross Norman gives it the thumbs up, that should make you want to run screaming in the opposite direction.  The new "fix" is loaded wall-to-wall with "da boyz"---and I must admit that I was surprised to see Goldman's name pop up.  This Reuters story, filed from London, appeared on their website at 1:16 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon---and I found it embedded in a GATA release.

UPDATE: No Chinese banks in new London Gold Fixing system – yet

The new benchmarking process for gold in London has begun today, but without any direct Chinese involvement as yet. The new London Gold Fix – or LBMA Gold Price – as it is now called is beginning with only a small change from the participants in the old system – Barclays, HSBC, SocGen and Bank of Nova Scotia, will now be joined by UBS and Goldman Sachs to make up the number to six.

According to the LBMA there is as yet going to be no direct participation by any of the three Chinese banks which have expressed interest in joining and would appear to qualify for inclusion under the strict guidelines for doing so. The first new LBMA Gold Price benchmark price under the new system came in at $1171.75 at 10:30 am GMT this morning.

For the new London gold benchmarking system to have any real validity in the eyes of many of those out there who rely on the twice daily announced gold price ‘fixes’ the sooner more participants, including most importantly the Chinese, are seen as direct participants in the process the better. Otherwise it will be seen as ‘same old same old’ and will inevitably lead to the eventual setting up of a rival gold ‘fixing’ process in the main gold consuming part of the world in Asia.

Indeed the eventual disclosure that the new additional Direct participants in the LBMA Gold Price are Goldman Sachs and UBS will add fuel to the flames of those who believe that the big bullion banks will continue to control the gold price. Maybe that was why the LBMA and IBA would not announce who the participants were right up to the time the first pricing was announced.

Lawrie Williams nails it with these comments.  It's now a group of six crooks instead of the four crooks we had before.  This must read commentary was posted on the mineweb.com Internet site at 12:24 p.m. GMT yesterday---and the first person through the door with it was Dan Lazicki.  Lawrie also had additional comments over and above what he had to say in his Mineweb article---and that's headlined ''Is the new LBMA Gold Price just another Fix? $1171.75 the first new benchmark price"---and it's worth reading as well.  It's also courtesy of Dan L.

China to Allow More Gold Importers in Effort to Expand Market

China will allow more miners, smelters and other participants in the gold market to import bullion as it tries to expand trade in the world’s second-largest market.

Miners and smelters who meet certain production and investment conditions, as well as precious-metals coin makers and banks that are members of state-approved gold exchanges, will be able to import and export from China, according to rules jointly released Thursday by the country’s central bank and customs authority.

China is pushing to broaden the country’s gold trade as part of its efforts to link the mainland to global markets. The country began offering international institutions access to yuan-denominated gold contracts in Shanghai’s free-trade zone in September.

This short Bloomberg article, filed from Shanghai, appeared on their Internet site at 5:11 a.m. Denver time on Thursday morning---and I thank Casey Research's BIG GOLD editor Jeff Clark for bringing it to my attention, and now to yours.

Romania gets its gold back -- after 1,900 years

The first of what archaeologist Barbara Deppert-Lippitz calls the "most sensational finds of the last century" surfaced not in a museum but at Christie's in New York. Among more than a hundred pieces of ancient jewelry for sale on December 8, 1999, was Lot 26, a spiraling, snake-shaped gold bracelet that the auction house identified as a "massive Greek or Thracian gold armband."

Christie's estimated it would sell for as much as $100,000. When the bidding stalled at $65,000, the sale was called off -- and the bracelet and its owner disappeared back into the shadowy underworld of ancient artifacts.

It took years for archaeologists and law enforcement officials in Romania to connect the armband to reports of looting in the country's central mountains. Though it has never been recovered, Lot 26 set off an international search to recover the lost heirlooms of Dacia, an empire that was once a mighty rival to ancient Rome.

This very interesting gold-related news item appeared on the nationalgeographic.com Internet site yesterday---and I found it on the gata.org Internet site---and it's certainly worth readingThe photos alone are worth the trip.

¤ The Funnies

¤ The Wrap

Since I believe we are close to the maximum point of technical fund selling and, therefore, maximum commercial buying, more attention should be placed on what the next rally will look like, rather than how much more we have to go to the downside. I know that market sentiment is so depressed, as a result of the non-stop deterioration of price these past four years, that it is natural for most to expect that the next silver price rally will be in the mold of all previous rallies, namely, anemic and capped by aggressive commercial selling. That may turn out to be the case, but that outcome is not written in stone. The possibility of a price explosion, instead of a manipulated price capping, looms as large as ever; perhaps more than it ever has before. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 18 March 2015

Today's pop 'blast from the past' dates from 1970---and I remember spinning this 45 on CHAR-FM radio in Alert, N.W.T. [now Nunavut] back then.  That was about 44 years ago.  Where the hell has all that time gone?  This British rock band was basically a 'one hit wonder'---but what a hit it was.  The link is here.

Today's classical 'blast from the past' is one that I haven't posted for many years, but thought it worth revisiting today.  It's Tchaikovsky's violin concerto in D major, Op. 35---which he composed in 1878 when he was in Switzerland.  As with most works of great virtuosity and technical difficulty in that era, the work did not meet with universal acclaim at the outset---and it took a number of years for it to become as wildly popular as it is today.

Here's one of my most favourite soloists doing the honours, the luscious and incredibly gifted Dutch violinist Janine Jansen.  The Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra accompanies---and Paavo Järvi conducts.  The link is here.

I must admit that I wasn't expecting a decent rally in any of the precious metals yesterday, but was very happy to see them nonetheless.

But with the latest Commitment of Traders Report showing the bottom of the barrel from a contracts perspective, I'll restate what I said earlier this week---and that was that the bottom was in on Tuesday for all four precious metals---and it appeared from the numbers that everything was reported in a timely manner.

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals, along with dollar index.

Now we have to address what happens next.  Gold volume was very reasonable yesterday---and that's because no moving averages of any importance were penetrated to the upside, so the technical funds in the Managed Money category were not being induced into covering any of their short positions, or actually going long.

The same can't be said for silver, as volume exploded as two of the three critical moving averages were pierced---the 20 and 50-day moving averages---and the technical funds began to cover their short positions---and the traders in the Commercial category sold their longs, or bought the offered short positions themselves.

As is always the case, per Ted Butler's quote above, it's the interplay between the Commercial traders---"da boyz"---and the technical traders in the Managed Money category is what will determine how far these rallies go---and both of us will be watching them carefully going forward.

I wasn't entirely surprised to see "all the usual suspects" as players in the "new and improved" London gold fix.  Nothing has changed, or will change----and even the addition of one or more Chinese banks in the future probably won't make a difference.

As long as precious metal prices are controlled, particularly gold and silver, the prices of all other commodities can be broadly held in check as well.  In this way, the powers that be can keep the commodity producing nations in line, because if individual countries were being paid free-market price for the commodities they produce, then the economic order of things would certainly change---and it's for precisely that reason that prices are being suppressed.

And not that I want to beat this commentary by Peter Warburton to death, but he nailed it back in April 2001 with what I still consider to be the three most important paragraphs ever written on the subject---and their even more true today than they were back then.  Here they are once more.

What we see at present is a battle between the central banks and the collapse of the financial system fought on two fronts. On one front, the central banks preside over the creation of additional liquidity for the financial system in order to hold back the tide of debt defaults that would otherwise occur. On the other, they incite investment banks and other willing parties to bet against a rise in the prices of gold, oil, base metals, soft commodities or anything else that might be deemed an indicator of inherent value. Their objective is to deprive the independent observer of any reliable benchmark against which to measure the eroding value, not only of the U.S. dollar, but of all fiat currencies. Equally, they seek to deny the investor the opportunity to hedge against the fragility of the financial system by switching into a freely traded market for non-financial assets.

It is important to recognize that the central banks have found the battle on the second front much easier to fight than the first. Last November I estimated the size of the gross stock of global debt instruments at $90 trillion for mid-2000. How much capital would it take to control the combined gold, oil, and commodity markets? Probably, no more than $200 billion, using derivatives. Moreover, it is not necessary for the central banks to fight the battle themselves, although central bank gold sales and gold leasing have certainly contributed to the cause. Most of the world's large investment banks have over-traded their capital [bases] so flagrantly that if the central banks were to lose the fight on the first front, then the stock of the investment banks would be worthless. Because their fate is intertwined with that of the central banks, investment banks are willing participants in the battle against rising gold, oil, and commodity prices.

Central banks, and particularly the U.S. Federal Reserve, are deploying their heavy artillery in the battle against a systemic collapse. This has been their primary concern for at least seven years. Their immediate objectives are to prevent the private sector bond market from closing its doors to new or refinancing borrowers and to forestall a technical break in the Dow Jones Industrials. Keeping the bond markets open is absolutely vital at a time when corporate profitability is on the ropes. Keeping the equity index on an even keel is essential to protect the wealth of the household sector and to maintain the expectation of future gains. For as long as these objectives can be achieved, the value of the U.S. dollar can also be stabilized in relation to other currencies, despite the extraordinary imbalances in external trade.

That's all I have for today---and the week.

Enjoy what's left of it---and I'll see you here on Tuesday---Wednesday, west of the International Dateline.

Ed Steer

Sat, 21 Mar 2015 09:52:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Six Banks To Participate In New ICE Gold Benchmark, No Chinese Yet]]> http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/six-banks-to-participate-in-new-ice-gold-benchmark-no-chinese-yet/ http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/six-banks-to-participate-in-new-ice-gold-benchmark-no-chinese-yet/#When:06:12:00Z "We're in sort of no-man's land at the moment"

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

It was a pretty quiet trading day for gold on Thursday, as there was almost no follow-through price action in the Far East market---and the spike high at 9 a.m. Hong Kong time got capped immediately.  Once London opened, the gold price got sold down to its 'low' of the day around 8:45 a.m. in New York.  It recovered somewhat by 12:10 p.m. in New York---and did little after that.

The high and low ticks were reported as $1,177.00 and $1,158.60 in the April contract.

Gold finished the Thursday session at $1,171.00 spot, up $4.10 from Wednesday's close.  Net volume was 139,000 contracts.

Silver also rallied until 9 a.m. Hong Kong time on their Thursday morning---and that was its high as well.  But at noon, the silver price picked up a negative bias---and it stayed that way until 8:30 a.m. GMT.  Then also like gold, it began to head higher in fits and starts, culminating in a tiny spike at 11:30 a.m. in New York---and after that was capped the price did nothing for the remainder of the day.

The high and low for silver were recorded by the CME Group as $16.205 and $15.795 in the May contract.

Silver closed the Thursday session in New York yesterday at $16.11 spot, up 22 cents on the day.  Net volume was very decent at 37,500 contracts, which was more than was traded on a net basis on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Platinum and palladium prices were also turned lower at 9 a.m. Hong Kong time on their Thursday morning.  Platinum rallied a bit in New York---and closed higher, but palladium was closed on its low of the day, giving back almost all of its Wednesday gains.  Platinum closed up 7 bucks---and palladium closed down 17 dollars.  Here are the charts.

The dollar index closed in New York on Wednesday at 97.82---and after getting saved by "gentle hands" once again around 8:30 a.m. Hong Kong time on their Thursday morning, began to 'rally,' with the 99.44 high tick coming shortly after 2:30 p.m. EDT in New York.  It started to backslide from there---and closed at 99.07---which was up 75 basis points from Wednesday.  Here's the 3-day chart so you can put Thursday's action in some sort of perspective.

The gold stocks slid for a two percent loss in the opening minutes of trading yesterday, but rallied to just above unchanged at gold's New York high tick which came minutes after 12 o'clock noon EDT.  But, once the price began to slide, the share prices followed suit---and even though gold finished in the green, the associated shares couldn't manage to pull off the same trick, as the HUI closed down 0.50 percent.

Considering the 'rally' in the U.S. Dollar index, I suppose it could have been worse.

The silver equities had a very similar chart pattern, but their run into positive territory around noon in New York was somewhat more impressive than their golden brethren.  And even though they slid into negative territory after that, they still manged to rally in the late going---and Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed up 0.20 percent.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and zero silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Monday.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Thursday trading session showed that gold open interest in March declined by 14 contracts---and now sits at 111 contracts still open.  In silver, o.i. fell 3 contracts, the ones posted for delivery today---and open interest in this metal is now at 571 contracts remaining.

Just as an aside, I see that there are still 204,726 gold contracts open in the April delivery month---and except for those contract holders standing for delivery in April, the balance have to disappear during the next seven trading days, so next week's volume/price activity in gold will be worth watching.

There were no reported changes in GLD---and as of 9:42 p.m. EDT yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV, either.

There was no in/out activity in SLV for the reporting week ending on Wednesday, so I shan't bother posting Joshua Gibbons' comments to that effect.

There was a sales report of sorts from the U.S. Mint.  They sold 3,000 troy ounces of gold eagles---1,000 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes---and 29,000 silver eagles.

There was a decent amount of gold activity reported over at the COMEX-approved depositories on Wednesday.  Canada's Scotiabank received 32,150.000 troy ounces of the stuff, which is precisely 1,000 kilobars---and 64,609 troy ounces were shipped out of the vaults over at JPMorgan.

I just noted that two more gold depositories have been added to the COMEX list.  They are listed under the heading of "Gold Kilo Stocks", but the gold in them certainly doesn't divide out like they're kilobars.  Brink's, Inc. reports holding 744,456 troy ounces---and the other one, which is Malca-Amit Far East Ltd, holds 32,182 troy ounces.   As I've said on numerous occasions, the gold kilobar is a defacto good delivery bar on the COMEX now---and these new vaults confirm that.  All we have to now is wait for the "official" word that makes them so.  I'll be watching these accounts on a daily basis from now on as well.

In silver, nothing was reported received, but 409,456 troy ounces was shipped out of Brink's, Inc.

I have the usual number of stories for a weekday---and I hope the list doesn't get any bigger as the evening/early morning progresses.

¤ Critical Reads

The Financial Folly Lurking Beneath Yellen’s Patient Lack of Impatience

Janet’s Yellen’s pettifogging today about her patient lack of impatience was downright pathetic. Her verbal hair-splitting is starting to make medieval ritual incantations sound coherent by comparison.

But unlike the financial media’s dopey dithering about “dot plots”, Yellen at least has something to hide behind all the gibberish.  Namely, she and her merry band of money printers are becoming more petrified each month that they will trigger a thundering Wall Street hissy fit if they move to “normalize” interest rates—-even as they are slowly beginning to realize that continuance of ZIRP much longer will only intensify the market’s addiction to rampant speculation, free money carry trades and the associated risks to financial stability.

But the Fed’s new found worry that it’s tsunami of liquidity might have untoward effects doesn’t even rank as a death bed conversion. It’s way too late to worry about a financial bubble that has become epic in scope and danger; and its especially too late to think that it can be weasel-worded down from its Brobdingnagian heights.

The reason the Fed is impaled in a monster trap is that history is closing in on it. We have now had upwards of three decades of increasingly aggressive monetary inflation—-a corrosive trend culminating in what will be 80 months of zero money market rates and a massive monetization of debt claims that originally funded the consumption of real labor and capital resources.

Needless to say, that has generated a dangerous and ever widening disconnect between the real main street economy and the nominal value of assets in the financial system.

This commentary by David Stockman appeared on his Internet site late Wednesday---and is worth reading, at least until your eyes start to glaze over.  I thank reader Peter Handley for today's first story.

U.S. Dollar Recovers All FOMC Jawbone Losses, EUR Plunges 400 Pips

With EUR/USD now down over 400 pips from the after-hours flash-crash last night, the U.S. Dollar has recovered all of its post-FOMC and post-flash-crash losses, led by EUR weakness...

As it seems the life of Fed jawboning effort is now less than 24 hours...

That's all there is to this brief  Zero Hedge article, but the two embedded charts are a must to view.  It was posted on their website at 11:57 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and it's the first offering of the day from Dan Lazicki.

Even Ed Yardeni Admits "This is Not Investing...the Markets Are All Rigged"

"This is not investing," exclaims Ed Yardeni in this brief clip, "it is all about central bankers... these markets are all rigged." That is not a criticism he notes, "I just say that factually... I love these central bankers, they've been very good to the stock market." The clip is then followed by a defense of this pumping by central banks, because "we are a 401(k) society." Which apparently ignores the whole "massive inequality gap" issue that is staring America right in the eyes... But for now stocks are up so "shut up and enjoy it" as Larry Kudlow said yesterday.

Which is ironic given CBNC's front page has dueling headlines proclaiming the markets are rigged and that Flash Boy's claim that the markets are rigged has not been proven...

Baffle 'em with bullshit continues.

This Zero Hedge article appeared on their website at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday afternoon---and I thank Dan Lazicki for sharing it with us.

Pimco Downgrades U.S. Growth on Sluggish Exports, Capital Spending

Bond fund company Pacific Investment Management Co. cut its forecast for U.S economic growth in 2015, saying it expected a stronger dollar to hold back exports and that capital expenditures would slow in the energy sector.

Pimco said on Thursday in its quarterly Cyclical Forum outlook report that it expected growth of 2.5 percent to 3 percent, down from a prior outlook of 2.75 percent to 3.25 percent.

The company also said the Federal Reserve, which on Wednesday opened the door wider for a rate hike later this year, would "proceed at a fairly slow pace."

That view was backed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who participated in Pimco's Cyclical Forum earlier this month at its headquarters in Newport Beach, California.

Anyone with more than room temperature I.Q. could have made that call.  This item was posted on the newsmax.com Internet site at 1 p.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sending it our way.

Bank of New York Mellon will settle currency trade case for $714 million

The Bank of New York Mellon will pay $714 million to settle accusations that it cheated government pension funds and other investors for more than a decade, federal and state authorities announced on Thursday. It is part of a deal requiring the bank to dismiss some employees and make fuller public disclosures of its foreign exchange operation.

The settlement resolves lawsuits filed in 2011 by Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, and Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general.

The authorities accused the bank of assuring clients that they would receive the best possible rate when executing a currency trade. In reality, the authorities said, the bank did just the opposite: It provided clients “prices that were at or near the worst interbank rates,” enabling the bank to make extra cash during the 2008 financial crisis.

The victims included New York City pension funds and prominent private investors, the authorities said. City investors included teachers and police officers, while the private investment funds belonged to the likes of Duke University and the Walt Disney Company.

This story appeared on The New York Times website yesterday sometime---and I found it in a GATA release that Chris Powell filed from Singapore on their Friday afternoon.

A major U.S. energy company has filed for bankruptcy

In regulatory filings, the energy company said it had $2.35 billion in debt and $1.2 billion in assets. Management said it would face a "potential liquidity shortfall" in the first quarter of 2016, for reasons including its mountain of debt and the oil crash, according to a regulatory filing.

"Quicksilver's strategic marketing process has not produced viable options for asset sales or other alternatives to fully address the company's liquidity and capital structure issues," CEO Glenn Darden said in a statement. "We believe that Chapter 11 provides the flexibility to accomplish an effective restructuring of Quicksilver for its stakeholders."

The oil and gas company based in Texas does not expect its U.S. or Canadian operations to stop, Darden said.

The company's problems started even before oil prices began to slide last year. Last September, the company tried to sell off all its assets, but it was unable to find any buyers by December, when bids were due, it said. Moody's cut its debt rating to junk.

This Business Insider news item was picked up by the finance.yahoo.com Internet site.  It was posted on their website very late on Wednesday evening EDT---and I thank David Ball for digging it up for us.

Leaders to hold Greece talks in margins of E.U. summit

Energy, foreign affairs, and the economy will be on the EU leaders’ official agenda at Thursday and Friday's (19 and 20 March) summit.

But Greece will be the "elephant in the room", according to one diplomat from a non-eurozone country, with a crucial meeting also to take place between Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and a handful of E.U. power brokers.

Tsipras will meet on Thursday evening with German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Francois Hollande, and with the presidents of the European Council, commission and central bank - Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Mario Draghi. The president of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, will also participate.

Tsipras had been angling for such a meeting for some time to make a deal on easing Greece’s debt obligations.

"Elected officials will negotiate with elected officials and technocrats will deal with technocrats," he said to the Greek parliament on Wednesday.

This news story showed up on the euobserver.com Internet site at 7:55 a.m. Europe time on their Thursday morning---and it's worth reading.  I thank Roy Stephens for his first offering of the day.

Deadlock over Greek debt crisis could play into Russia's hands

Greece’s battle to stay solvent and in the eurozone is becoming a game of dangerous brinkmanship. Beyond the war of words between Athens and Berlin, the dark arts of diplomacy are also being played.

On Tuesday, only hours after Greece’s leftist-led government announced that the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, had accepted an offer by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to visit Berlin, it was revealed that he would also be making a similar tour to Moscow. “The prime minister will visit the Kremlin on 8 April after being invited by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin,” his office said.

Before the sun had set over the Acropolis, the top U.S. diplomat Victoria Nuland had waded in, holding talks with Greece’s foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias, in Athens.

Nuland, who is assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, flew into the capital amid mounting U.S. concerns that the great euro debt crisis has begun to pose a geopolitical threat. Allowed to veer out of control, Greece could end up in the ambit of Russia, financially bereft and without the E.U. links that keep it bounded to the west. NATO’s south-eastern flank would be immeasurably weakened at a time of mounting global security worries over Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East.

This article appeared on theguardian.com Internet site on Tuesday evening GMT---and I found it on the russia-insider.com Internet site yesterday---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

Pepe Escobar: Book by Dutch Journalist Alleges MH-17 Cover-Up

MH-17: The Cover-Up Deal: That's the title of the explosive book published yesterday in Holland by journalist Joost Niemoller.

Only one of the major Dutch newspapers - De Volkskrant - allowed Niemoller to talk about the book. Here's the translation:

"Three months after the attack, the discontent and frustration regarding MH17 in the Netherlands seems to increase more and more. The anger is aimed at the government, but the government appears to be unable to give satisfying answers about the perpetrator of the crash. This was first manifested when Dutch FM Timmermans [on October 8] spoke about the oxygen cap that one of the MH17 victims was wearing. Does the Dutch government know much more than it is willing to reveal?

This very interesting story/book review appeared on the russia-insider.com Internet back on March 9---and I thank "Michael G" for bringing it to our attention.

Lavrov condemns Reuters report on MH17 crash, calls for 'unbiased, professional' investigation

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has condemned a news report of witnesses’ statements, in which people said they had seen a rocket fired at the time of Malaysian Boeing crash in Ukraine in July 2014. "Looks like a stovepiping," Lavrov said.

Attempts at distorting facts, enforcing versions on what could have happened continue to exist, with some based on openly dirty intentions,” Lavrov told journalists on Thursday. Commenting on last week’s Reuters report on “new evidence on the downing of the Malaysian plane over Ukraine,” the minister said that it looked like the “respected agency” had published “a so-called stovepiping .”

“[There are] some witnesses, who contradict one another, and express things amusing for any specialist. For instance, some wiggling rocket, separating rocket stages, blue clouds of smoke,” the minister said, adding such information has been provided by alleged eyewitnesses, who managed to see the crash despite being 25 kilometers (15 miles) away from it, in cloudy weather.

According to Reuters, villagers in eastern Ukraine “saw a missile flying directly overhead just before a Malaysian airliner was shot out of the sky on July 17 last year, providing the most detailed accounts to date that suggest it was fired from territory held by pro-Russian rebels.”

This Russia Today news item was posted on their Internet site at 7:12 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday evening, which was 12:12 p.m. in Washington.  It's another offering from Roy Stephens.

Seriously? U.S. Now Wants Kiev to Host Moscow's Victory Day Parade

Three former U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine have come up with an op-ed article in the Los Angeles Times suggesting that Kiev, instead of Moscow, should be chosen as the venue for the May 9 Victory Day Parade.

The authors took the responsibility of not only advising world leaders to turn down President Putin’s invitation but also advocated moving celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of Nazi Germany's defeat in the Second World War to Kiev.

Steven Pifer, John Herbst and William Taylor, all three former U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine, gave their reasons for the suggested move.

“Even though Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush traveled to Moscow in 1995 and 2005 for other V-E [Victory in Europe — Sputnik] Day anniversaries, Moscow in 2015 is hardly the right place for Western leaders to gather now,” they wrote in the article.

You couldn't make this stuff up---and I'm sure that these three guys didn't think this idea up on their own.  This article appeared on the sputniknews.com website at 7:03 p.m. Moscow time on Thursday evening---and it is, once again, courtesy of Roy Stephens.

Lavrov: Washington is pushing Kiev to military solution of Donbass conflict

The US is inciting Kiev to end the crisis in eastern Ukraine by force, said the Russian foreign minister citing US support of the recent Ukrainian law on the special self-governing status of Donbass, which Moscow says undermines the Minsk-2 deal.

If Washington welcomes the action, which undermines the Minsk agreements, then we can only conclude that Washington is inciting Kiev to resolve the issue by military means,” said Lavrov at a media conference in Moscow on Thursday.

His comments were a reference to the telephone conversation between US Vice-President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday, during which Biden welcomed the decision by the Ukrainian parliament to give special status to Donbass.

On March 17, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament), passed a law granting the self-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk special self-rule status, but Moscow said the law violated the peace agreement.

This news item put in an appearance on the Russia Today website at 2:27 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday afternoon---and the stories from Roy just keep on coming.

Leaders of Anti-Maidan Movement: "We Will Never Let the Smell of Burning Tires Reach Moscow"

The "Anti-Maidan" movement in Russia was created so that law enforcement agencies do not feel alone and abandoned, said co-leader, the writer Nikolai Starikov. Along with "Anti-Maidan" colleague, Aleksander Zaldostanov - otherwise known as The Surgeon - and leader of the biker group Night Wolves, they discuss the topic of the “fifth column” in Russia, and who exactly fits into this category. The interview is from the news agency "Profile."

You consider yourselves defenders of the country from the "Orange revolution". Why did your movement emerge during October, 2014? The president's rating is higher than ever, the opposition is weak, the probability of revolution is lower than it has ever been. From whom do you want to protect us? 

Nikolai Starikov : I wouldn’t say it's too late. On the contrary, it is very timely... Our task is to express a point of view, which we believe is widespread in our society. Our people do not want the shocking events, the unraveling of things via the Ukrainian scenario. Someone had to express this idea so that a large number of public figures and organizations could join the movement

This very interesting interview appeared on the russia-insider.com Internet site early Thursday morning Moscow time---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

The Islamic State Strategy to Draw West into Final Battle -- Der Spiegel

Islamic State is making headlines by destroying historical artifacts in Iraq. But far from being an expression of medieval nihilism, the campaign on culture is a strategy aimed at drawing the West into battle. The destruction is reminiscent of that wrought by the U.S.

There is a widely held view that a jihadist who strikes a Mesopotamian statue with a hammer or uses a drill to destroy a winged bull from Nineveh is destroying the cradle of civilization, and this is certainly true. But it is also true that all of this didn't begin in February 2015 or in 2013, when Islamic State first appeared on the radar of Western media.

It began on March 20, 2003, when the American-led "Coalition of the Willing" invaded Iraq. It was this illegitimate war that created the "failed state" of Iraq in the first place, and today's threat arose from its ruins. The vacuum of power was what enabled the Islamists' fury to develop in the first place. The war on terror created today's terror being perpetrated by IS.

And it appears also to be true that American and later Polish troops caused serious damage to the ancient city of Babylon back then, undoubtedly another "cradle of mankind," when they built military camps and destroyed ancient streets, and when the rotors of their helicopters caused temples to collapse. "Look at this land," Maitham Hamza, director of the completely empty museum of Babylon, said in 2008. "It is packed with remnants. They filled their bags with them." The sandbags he was referring to, filled with archeological valuable earth, were used to secure a base for 2,000 troops. At the time, the base in Babylon was nicknamed "the Hanging Gardens of Halliburton," because this now notorious military contracting firm was responsible for the camp. Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon in the 6th century B.C., but then, 2,600 years later, American soldiers arrived and sprayed "Miss you, Smoothy!" onto the walls.

This short, but absolute must read essay put in an appearance on the German website spiegel.de at 1:56 p.m. Europe time on their Thursday afternoon---and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens.  It also sports a news headline, as it now reads "Medieval Fantasies? Islamic State Pursues Apocalyptic Logic".

U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia closed indefinitely

The U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia will remain closed until further noticed due to heightened security concerns at US diplomatic facilities, the embassy said on its website on Wednesday.

The embassy first announced the U.S. embassy and consulates have cancelled all consular services in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran for Sunday on March 15 and 16.

Telephone lines to the Consular sections will not be open during these two days. Later on March 16, the embassy announced that the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Saudi Arabia will continue to be cancelled.

A new security message will be sent out as soon as consular services return to normal, Xinhua news agency reported citing Wednesday’s statement.

This brief news item appeared on thehindu.com website on Wednesday evening IST---and I thank Brad Robertson for bringing it to our attention.

Fed urges lawmakers to toughen rules on Wall Street and commodities

U.S. lawmakers should consider overturning a decades-old rule that allows Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to extract, transport and trade physical commodities, a top Federal Reserve official said on Thursday.

Asked at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on bank regulation what rules could be strengthened, Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo said one target was the commodities exemption the two banks enjoy, which allows them to handle everything from crude oil cargoes and copper pallets to electricity lines and aluminum stockpiles.

Without naming the banks Tarullo said "it would be very much worth considering treating those two firms like the other banking companies."

There's no chance that this will ever happen.  This Reuters article, filed from New York, showed up on their Internet site at 4:14 p.m. EDT on Wednesday---and I thank Eric Gould for sharing it with us.

Suitors circle Noble after commodity trader's $1.8 billion market plunge

Singapore-listed Noble Group's 30 percent share-slump over the past month has thrust it on to the radar screens of Asian companies that want a bigger clout in global commodities trading, people familiar with the matter said.

Chinese and Japanese companies have held informal talks with investment banks about potentially making approaches to Hong Kong-headquartered Noble, a Singapore-based banker aware of the matter told Reuters, even though founder and top shareholder Richard Elman has been keen on the group staying independent.

Noble's market value has shrunk by $1.8 billion since little-known Iceberg Research accused it in mid-February of inflating asset values by billions of dollars through aggressive accounting. Noble has rejected the claim and linked Iceberg to an employee it fired in 2013.

This smells like a Long-Term Capital Management-type scenario---and it bears watching.  This Reuters story, co-filed from Singapore and Hong Kong, appeared on their website at 10:34 p.m. EDT last night---and I thank our man in Greece, Harry Grant for passing it along.

Ronan Manly: London gold trading data disappears as new fix mechanism begins

Gold researcher and GATA consultant Ronan Manly reports that much data about gold trading in London is apparently about to be hidden as the daily London gold price fixing mechanism is changed.

This follows a similar manoeuvre on the evening of 14th August 2014, when the web site of the London Silver Market Fixing Limited, www.silverfixing.com, was immediately and permanently switched off (without warning), leaving no trace of the live website.

Both the Gold and Silver Fixing Companies have a registered address of c/o Hackwood Secretaries Limited, One Silk Street, London EC2Y 8HQ. Hackwood Secretaries Limited is a company belonging to Linklaters law firm. Hackwood Secretaries is also the registered address of London Precious Metal Clearing Limited (LPMCL), the precious metals clearing company of Barclays, HSBC, Scotia, UBS, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank.

If you're looking for intrigue---or something that might look good in a spy novel or a James Bond flick---you might find it in this longish commentary by Ronan Manly that showed up on the Singapore-based Internet site bullionstar.com on Friday morning local time.  Dan Lazicki was the first reader through the door with this story---and it's definitely worth reading if you have the time.

Six banks to participate in new ICE gold benchmark, no Chinese yet

There will be six direct participants in ICE’s new gold price benchmarking process that is due to start on Friday, the exchange said during a briefing at its offices here on Thursday.

Scotiabank, HSBC, Societe Generale and Barclays were all confirmed as participants; ICE declined to identify the other two parties.

Although some Chinese banks are said to be interested in joining several of the traditional members of the current fix in the new system, the exchange said none will be involved tomorrow while they continue to work on documentation

Well, it's the same crooks as the old "fix"---and Ronan Manly informed me that UBS is the fifth bank, so the other bank/crook could be Citigroup, or maybe JPMorgan---but JPM's a long shot at best.  Not that it matters, as these are "da boyz"---the not-for-profit sellers---and the sellers of last resort.  You can call 'em what you want.  This short article appeared on the bulliondesk.com Internet site at 9:15 a.m. GMT yesterday morning---and I thank Ronan Manly for sending it our way.  It's definitely worth reading.

Lawrence Williams: Silver may bottom this year, with meaningful gains next

Analysts at precious metals consultancy Metals Focus see the silver price bottoming by late in the current year, but falling back further in the interim. This is tied in with what the consultancy sees as the prospects for the gold price over the period and suggests the much-followed Gold:Silver ratio will remain between 70 and 75 over the course of 2015. It does however see what it terms as the possibility for ‘meaningful gains’ in 2016.

While silver bulls might see this as yet another ultra-bearish outlook for the metal, at least in the short to medium term, Metals Focus does at least see $14 an ounce as the likely downside low, which is certainly less bearish than some other analysts have suggested. It is also perhaps a little less negative on gold than some of the more bearish commentators, seeing it making a recovery after any Fed rate hikes, which it sees as possibly beginning in Q3 this year. Recent statistics have shown that the U.S. ‘recovery’ is far from strong despite the spin put on it by politicians and the Fed. Given a lack of inflationary pressure any Fed rate increases are thus likely to be both modest and gradual and keep them negative in real terms. Metals Focus thus comments in its latest weekly letter that the realisation that rates will remain lower for longer will not only see the unwinding of short bets, but also encourage investors to reconsider the investment case for precious metals.

Much of silver, and gold’s, decline since the beginning of the year has been due to the rise in the rampant dollar – the dollar index has risen around 10% since January 1 – which makes any decline in metal prices less relevant in most other currencies.

And as Lawrie knows all too well, it's the grotesque and obscene short positions of the Big 8 traders in the COMEX futures market that's really keeping prices suppressed---and what Metals Focus, GFMS, or CPM Group have to say about supply/demand are next to worthless in light of this fact.  This short commentary appeared on the mineweb.com Internet site at 10:28 a.m. GMT on Thursday morning---and I thank Dan Lazicki for his final offering in today's column.

The Gold Chronicles: March 12 , 2015 Interview with Jim Rickards

This long 52:20 minute audio interview with Jim showed up on the physicalgoldfund.com website yesterday---and it was conducted on March 12.  There's also an executive summary to go with it.  I thank Harold Jacobsen for sending it our way.

¤ The Funnies

¤ The Wrap

JPMorgan has continued to stop or accept the bulk of deliveries issued against the COMEX March silver futures contract. As of Tuesday evening, JPM has taken 1,122 delivery notices (5.61 million oz) of the 2001 total notices tendered so far this month, or 56% of the total. The bank still looks on track to accept another 200 or 300 silver deliveries into the end of the month. While certainly not during every active COMEX delivery month, JPMorgan has been a featured stopper of silver deliveries on enough occasions over the past few years to fully support my speculation of a massive physical accumulation by the bank. 

Likewise, the reported sales of Silver Eagles by the U.S. Mint has continued to suggest the presence of a large buyer (and who better than JPM?). The somewhat erratic reporting schedule of Silver Eagle sales, the relative closeness to the Mint’s full production capacity, the relative very high level of Silver Eagle sales to sales of Gold Eagles (and Buffaloes), combined with persistent reports of tepid retail demand continue to point to the presence of a large buyer. And if there is a big buyer and that buyer is not JPM, then that would be most peculiar. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 18 March 2015

There was no follow-through price activity to the upside worth mentioning in Far East trading when markets opened on Thursday morning over there---and the tiny rallies that did develop, all got capped at 9:00 a.m. Hong Kong time.  It's like the events surrounding the FOMC meeting never happened at all---and that can be said for the near-death experience in the dollar index as well.

I guess there's comfort to be had in the fact that despite the big recovery in the dollar index, both gold and silver managed to post gains yesterday, so I guess one should be thankful for small mercies.

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals, plus the dollar index as of the close of trading yesterday---and all charts are courtesy of stockcharts.com.

Since we're miles below any moving averages that matter in all four precious metals, there's no reason for the technical funds to rush to cover their short positions---and there's also no reason for them to add to these short positions unless we hit new lows.  As Ted Butler says, we're in sort of "no-man's land" at the moment.

Prices will go in whatever direction JPMorgan et al decide because, as you already know, supply/demand fundamentals mean nothing.

We get the "brand new" gold fixes today, but as I've already pointed out in a story about this in the Critical Reads section above, the players involved in the old "fix" are the same players involved with the new "fix"---plus two more of "da boyz" for good measure---so nothing is going to change.

And as write this paragraph, the open of the London gold market is less than ten minutes away---and there is exactly nothing going on, as all four precious metals are virtually unchanged from Thursday's close in New York---as they traded sideways during the Friday session in the Far East.

Net gold volume is a hair under 13,000 contracts---and silver's net volume is barely over the 2,000 contract mark.  The dollar index is trading quietly lower---and is currently down 16 basis points.  There's nothing so see here, dear reader, so please move along.

Today we get an updated Commitment of Traders Report for positions held at the close of COMEX trading on Tuesday, so none of Wednesday's price shenanigans will be in it.  My hope is that all the data associated with the big down/up/down moves on Tuesday in all four precious metals will be included in the report.  I'm expecting further improvement in the Commercial net short positions in both gold and silver---and platinum and palladium as well.  But how much improvement is open for discussion.  But whatever it turns out to be, I'll have it for you tomorrow.

And as I send today's missive off to Stowe, Vermont at 5:20 a.m. EST, I note that gold and platinum aren't doing much---and silver and palladium both popped up a bit, but nothing to get excited about.  Net gold volume is now a bit over 21,000 contracts---and silver's net volume has risen to 7,300 contracts.  These are fairly big increases from a couple of hours ago considering the distinct lack of price action.  Still nothing too see---and the dollar index is still comatose, down 13 basis points now.

I must admit that I have no idea what to expect during the COMEX trading session in New York today, so nothing will surprise me when I roll out of bed later this morning.

Enjoy your weekend, or what's left of it---and I'll see you here tomorrow.

Ed Steer

Fri, 20 Mar 2015 06:12:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Chinese Banks Won’t Be Part of New Gold Benchmarking at the Start]]> http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/chinese-banks-wont-be-part-of-new-gold-benchmarking-at-the-start/ http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/chinese-banks-wont-be-part-of-new-gold-benchmarking-at-the-start/#When:06:22:00Z "The dollar index was rescued from what looked like a near-death experience"

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

The gold price traded in less than a five dollar price range right up until the Fed spoke.  The price blasted higher from there, but it was obvious from the chart that sellers of last resort were at the ready, with the preliminary rally, along with every subsequent rally meeting the same fate---and the gold price was closed well of its high tick.

The low and high were reported by the CME Group as $1,144.90 and $1,175.10 in the April contract.

Gold closed in New York yesterday afternoon at $1,166.90 spot, up $18.30 from Tuesday's close.  Net volume was only 150,000 contracts---and only 7,000 more than were traded on Tuesday.

Here's the 5-minute tick chart for gold---and as you can tell, most of the volume that mattered occurred between 2 and 3:30 p.m. EDT, which is noon and 1:30 p.m. on this chart, because it's scaled in MDT.  I thank Brad Robertson for sending it.  The 'click to enlarge' feature is a must.

It was the same for silver, as the not-for-profit sellers kept the silver price on a very short leash, as it followed an identical path as the gold price.  It made it through the $16 spot price mark, but wasn't allowed to close there.

The low and higher were recorded as $15.43 and $16.095 in the May contract.

Silver was closed well of its high on Wednesday at $15.89 spot, up only 36 cents.  Net volume was only 35,000 contracts---and only 4,000 contracts more than Tuesday.

Platinum and palladium price movements were similar.  Platinum finished up 22 dollars---and palladium was up 21 bucks on the day.  Here are the charts.

The dollar index closed late on Tuesday afternoon in New York at 99.65---and then didn't do much until it began to develop a negative bias around 9:00 a.m. EDT.  The roof caved in on the Fed news, but the real drop occurred minutes before 4 p.m. in New York, where the dollar index collapsed---and it was obvious that a buyer of last resort showed up at the 97.00 mark right at 4:00 p.m.   From that low, the index "rallied" into the close, finishing the day at 97.82---down 183 basis points, which is the biggest 1-day move that I can remember.

What is obvious is that if that "buyer" hadn't been waiting in the wings, the U.S. dollar would have imploded yesterday.

Here's the 1-year U.S. Dollar chart---and you can see just how close we came to a total melt-down, as the U.S. dollar basically went "no ask" until "not-so-gentle hands" showed up.

The gold stocks opened unchanged---and traded sideways until the blast-off at 2 p.m. EDT.  They hit their highs about twenty minutes later, before chopping sideways into the close.  The HUI finished up a respectable 5.06 percent.

It was more or less the same for the silver equities, although they ended up closing on their high tick of the day, which is something we haven't seen in a while.  Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index finished up 5.24 percent.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and 3 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Wednesday.  Not surprisingly, JPMorgan in its in-house [proprietary] trading account stopped all of them.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Wednesday trading session showed that gold open interest for March increased by 15 contracts to 125 still open---and silver o.i. fell 118 contracts, which was the delivery posted for today.  We are down to 574 contracts still open in March, minus the 3 mentioned in the previous paragraph.

There was a surprise deposit in GLD yesterday, as an authorized participant added 57,584 troy ounces.  And as of 9:52 p.m. EDT yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV.

Just as a point of interest, with the exception of a withdrawal of 125,000 troy ounces on March 3---there have been nothing but deposits into SLV since January 22.  Most of these deposits would have probably been done by JPMorgan to cover the short position that they ran up during the December/early January rally, where they had to short SLV shares in lieu of depositing physical metal.

Not to be forgotten however, is the fact that as of the close of trading on Wednesday, March 11, the price of silver had fallen by about $3.25 from its January 26 high---and only 125,000 troy ounces have been withdrawn in the interim.  The question still looking for an answer is---who has been buying all the shares of SLV that have been sold since the January 26 high if no metals has been withdrawn since?

There was no sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday.

There was a pretty decent sized gold withdrawal from Canada's Scotiabank yesterday, 96,450.000 troy ounces were reported shipped out of the COMEX-approved depositories on Tuesday.  That works out to precisely 3,000 kilobars.  The link to that activity is here.

There was decent movement in silver as well, as 604,243 troy ounces were reported received---and 111,502 troy ounces were shipped out the door.  The link to that action is here.

I've taken an axe to the stories that were sent to me today, so I hope you'll find some you like.

¤ Critical Reads

The Fed Speaks---and Zero Hedge has a lot to say about it

Rather than post each individual story from the Zero Hedge website---all of which pertain to the same thing, I thought I'd just post the hyperlinked headline and let you decide.  Although I've marked the ones that I considered the most important---especially #4 and #5.

1.  FOMC Reaction: Buy Stocks, Buy Bonds, Buy Gold, Buy Crude Oil, Sell Dollars
2.  "Flexible" Fed Loses "Patience"; Cuts Growth, Inflation Forecasts: Redline Comparison
3.  Here is the Reason Why Stocks Are Soaring, or Farewell "Recovery"... Again
4.  Liquidity Alert - Treasury Market Depth Hits New Low Ahead of FOMC [Must Read]
5.  Dollar Flash Crashes: Currency Market Pulverized as Dollar Implodes After Close [Must Read]
6.  Fed Growth Cut Unleashes Panic Buying of Everything; Dollar Plunges Most Since 2009
7.  Here is Why the Fed Can't Hike Rates by Even 0.25% [Worth Reading]

All stories courtesy of Dan Lazicki, except story #5 which reader M.A. sent our way.

Ray Dalio: Fed Rate Hike Risks 1937-Style Stock Crash

When the Federal Reserve finally raises interest rates, there could be heck to pay in the stock market, says Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund manager.

Indeed, we could see a repeat of 1937, he and colleague Mark Dinner wrote in a note to investors obtained by the Financial Times. In that year, the Fed tightened policy prematurely after the crash of 1929. This led to the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling by one-third in 1937 and continuing to decrease in 1938.

"We don't know — nor does the Fed know — exactly how much tightening will knock over the apple cart," the duo said.

"If one agrees that either a) we are near the end of the developed country central bankers' ability to be effective in stimulating money and credit growth or b) the dollar is the world's reserve currency and that the world needs easier rather than tighter money policies, then one would hope that the Fed will be very cautious about tightening."

This business news item appeared on the newsmax.com Internet site at 1:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday afternoon---and it's worth reading.  I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sharing it with us.

Low rates will trigger civil unrest as central banks lose control, BIS says

Low inflation, bond yields and interest rates around the world will push the boundaries of economic and political stability to breaking point if they continue on their downward trajectory, the Bank for International Settlements has warned.

The Swiss-based "bank of central banks" said the "sinking trend" of global rates would push countries further into uncharted territory.

It highlighted that $2.4 trillion (£1.6 trillion) of long-term global sovereign debt was now trading at negative yields, with an increasing number of investors willing to pay governments for the privilege of lending to them.

"As bond markets show us day after day, the boundaries of the unthinkable are exceptionally elastic," said Claudio Borio, head of the Monetary and Economic department at the BIS.

This commentary appeared on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 11:00 a.m. GMT yesterday morning U.K. time---and I found it embedded in a GATA release.

Fed won't raise interest rates this year: Marc Faber

"In my view, the Fed will not increase interest rates this year," the editor of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report editor said Wednesday on CNBC's "Squawk Box," pointing to dollar strength and recent disappointing economic data. "The economy simply [is] not taking off, so I don't see there will be an interest rate increase."

Faber made his comments ahead of a scheduled Wednesday afternoon statement from the Federal Open Market Committee and a news conference by Chair Janet Yellen. Some investors expect the central bank will indicate it will begin hiking short-term interest rates from near zero.

Faber reiterated his opinion that the zero interest rate policies of central banks around the world have "grossly distorted financial markets and misallocated capital."

Marc is sounding more like Jim Rickards all the time.  This 3:23 minute video clip, including a transcript, came from CNBC Hong Kong early yesterday morning local time---and I thank reader Ken Hurt for sending it.

Fannie, Freddie could need another bailout as risks rise -watchdog

U.S. housing finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could require more bailouts from U.S. taxpayers as risks are rising due to shrinking reserves, an internal watchdog for the firms' regulator said on Wednesday.

Washington bailed out the two firms in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis and has since seized all their quarterly profits while demanding the firms reduce their capital buffers.

"Future profitability is far from assured," Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General said in a report, pointing out that the firms could again chalk up losses on their derivatives portfolios, similar to those they reported in the fourth quarter.

This Reuters article filed from Washington, appeared on their website one minute after midnight on Wednesday morning---and it's another contribution from Elliot Simon.

Oil Bonds Lose Investors $7 Billion in 10 Days

Investors lured back into junk-rated energy bonds by their juicy yields are getting burned.

Oil prices have fallen more than 15 percent since March 4 to a six-year low of $42.3, wiping out $7 billion of market value of high-yield debt issued by energy companies. Prices on $1.45 billion of notes sold less than two weeks ago by Energy XXI Ltd., an oil producer that was being squeezed by its lenders, have fallen by as much as 10 percent. Comstock Resources Inc.’s $700 million of securities have declined by more than 7 percent since March 6.

The latest slump in crude is rekindling concern that oil companies will struggle to service the $120 billion of high-yield, high-risk debt they took on in the past three years amid the U.S. shale boom. That’s a sharp reversal from February when yield-starved bond investors were loading up on the debt again, pushing down borrowing costs to a two-month low.

This Bloomberg article, filed from New York, was posted on their Internet site at 5:15 p.m. MDT on Tuesday afternoon---and it's the second offering in a row from Elliot Simon.

Doug Noland: Financial Repression Authority

This 28:09 minute video/audio interview with Doug Noland of Credit Bubble Bulletin fame is the first I've ever seen him involved with.  It was conducted by Gordon T. Long on March 15---and I thought I'd post it in today's column rather than wait for the weekend.

I haven't listened to it yet, but it will get done at my earliest possible convenience.  It was posted on the youtube.com Internet site on Sunday.  I thank Dennis Meredith for finding this one for us.

Venezuela puts debt service before food imports as cash dries up: sources

Venezuela's government has told the country's food industry that it is limiting dollar disbursements for food imports so that it can pay down foreign debt amid low oil prices, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

The government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro administers most of the country's dollars through a currency control system and must pay $8.4 billion in debt service on foreign bonds by the end of the year.

Restrictions on dollars for imports have already caused shortages of basic goods including meat and olive oil, and the scarcity is weighing on the government ahead of parliamentary elections.

At the same time, concerns Venezuela could default on foreign debt have pushed its yields to the second highest of any emerging market nation, despite government assurances it is committed to servicing the bonds.

This Reuters news story, filed from Caracas, put in an appearance on their website on Monday evening EDT---and I thank reader U.D. for sending it our way.

Swedish central bank cuts key rate further below zero

Sweden's central bank took its key interest rate further into negative territory Wednesday in a surprise move aimed at supporting a return to inflation.

The Riksbank cut its repo rate by 0.15 percentage points to -0.25 percent and said it was buying government bonds worth 30 billion kronor ($3.4 billion, 3.2 billion euros) to prevent an appreciating krona from hindering an uptick in inflation.

"The executive board of the Riksbank assesses that an even more expansionary monetary policy is needed to support the upturn in inflation and ensure that long-term inflation expectations are in line with the inflation target," the bank said in a statement.

Sweden is a member of the European Union but not of the eurozone and so retains control, via its central bank, of monetary policy and interest rates.

This AFP news item, filed from Stockholm, was picked up by the news.yahoo.com website yesterday---and I thank Howard Wiener for finding it for us.

Greece adopts anti-poverty law in face of E.U. opposition

The Greek parliament approved a “humanitarian crisis” bill Wednesday, the first of a raft of social measures proposed by new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, despite stiff opposition from the European Commission, who called the law a “unilateral” action.

The bill, which adopted housing allowances and emergency food aid for the poorest Greeks, was passed with support from conservative New Democracy lawmakers, as the government snubbed efforts by the European Commission to scupper it.

"If they're doing it to frighten us, the answer is: we will not be frightened. The Greek government is determined to stick to the Feb. 20 agreement. However, we demand the same from our partners. Let them stop unilateral actions, respecting the agreement they signed,” Tsipras told parliament.

This article showed up on the Russia Today website at 5:06 p.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday afternoon, which was 10:06 a.m. in Washington.  I thank Roy Stephens for bringing it to our attention.

‘Glaring breach’: Minsk ‘violation’ sees Russia urge France, Germany to act on Ukraine

Moscow has called on Berlin and Paris to take action in regards to Kiev's non-compliance with the Minsk peace agreement, in what Russia's Foreign Minister has called a “glaring breach of the first steps of the Minsk package.”

I don't know how the political process will unfold now,” Lavrov told a news conference on Wednesday. “Yesterday I sent special notes to the foreign ministers of France and Germany, and drew their attention to the glaring breach of the first steps of the political part of the Minsk package by Kiev. I urged them to take a trilateral joint demarche in regards to our Ukrainian colleagues in order to encourage them to implement agreements which they signed, and what was supported by the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine."

Kiev didn't even take an effort in an attempt to start dialogue with the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk on the modalities of elections there, Lavrov said after negotiations with his Gabonese counterpart, Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet.

I posted a similar story to this in yesterday's missive, but this one is far more comprehensive.  It appeared on the Russia Today website at 2:04 p.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday afternoon---and I thank Roy Stephens for finding it for us once again.

Russia Ready to Give a Helping Hand to Ukraine to Overcome Ordeal - Putin

Russia will do everything in its power to help Ukraine overcome the current crisis and to re-establish normal bilateral relations as soon as possible, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.

"On our part, we will do everything in our power to help Ukraine pass this difficult period in its history as quickly as possible, and everything to re-establish normal bilateral relations," Putin said addressing a concert-meeting for commemoration of the first anniversary of Crimea's reunification with Russia.

"Extreme nationalism is, certainly, very dangerous and harmful. And I am sure the Ukrainian people will give a deserved and objective assessment of the actions carried out by those who brought the country to the current state of affairs," Putin added.

This story appeared on the sputniknews.com Internet site at 6:26 p.m. Moscow time Wednesday evening local time---and that makes it three in a row from Roy Stephens.

100,000 gather in central Moscow to celebrate Crimea reunification

Some 100,000 people, according to police estimates, gathered near Red Square in Moscow on Wednesday to celebrate the anniversary of Crimea's reunification with Russia. President Putin joined the event and sang the Russian national anthem on stage.

The gala show, titled "We are together", included a rally and a concert. It was organized by Moscow City Hall---and marked a year since Crimea joined Russia.

"A year ago, the Russian people demonstrated amazing equanimity and patriotism in supporting the people of Crimea and Sevastopol in returning to their native land. We, all together, then realized and felt with our hearts and minds how important the link of history and generations is," Putin said, adding that such historical and "spiritual" connections make people a united nation.

This colourful photo essay appeared on the Russia Today website at 6 p.m. Moscow time yesterday local time, which was 11 a.m. in Washington.  That makes it four in a row from Roy.

Obama Should Take Into Consideration Russia's Interests – Dr. Brzezinski

Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser and influential American geostrategist, believes that the deal over Ukraine's crisis should reflect Russia's interests. Instead of simply expanding sanctions against Russia, President Barack Obama should propose a comprehensive agreement, acceptable for both sides. Particularly, US leadership must provide Moscow clear reassurances that NATO will never incorporate Ukraine.

Washington has repeatedly warned the Kremlin about "the costs" Russia would pay if it did not change its stance regarding Ukrainian affairs. Over the year, as anti-Russian rhetoric grew in the US, prominent officials in the Obama administration have started openly discussing defensive and lethal weaponry supplies to Ukraine. Zbigniew Brzezinski emphasized that Washington should not step in while the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine appears to be holding. The former national adviser warned that the US involvement could be exploited "to justify a resumption of conflict."

According to Dr. Brzezinski, Washington ought to try to make an agreement in which some of Moscow's interests and some of American interests are rendered mutually compatible. Although Ukraine will most likely become a democratic member of the European Union one day, NATO should send a clear signal to Russia that Ukraine will preserve its non-aligned status, Zbigniew Brzezinski emphasized.

As I've said before, I'm not sure anyone in Washington is listing to Brzezinski anymore.  I'm not in love with this guy myself, but in this instance, it's really too bad that they aren't.  This commentary was posted on the sputniknews.com website at 7:53 p.m. on Wednesday evening local time in Moscow---and the stories from Roy just keep on coming.

China’s biggest rating agency gives Russia’s #3 lender high investment grade

The largest ratings agency in China, Dagong has given a high A- investment rating to Russia’s Gazprombank which is intending to extend its ties to China and other countries in Asia.

"The assigned credit rating from Dagong will foster further development of Gazprombank’s business network in Asia and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region,” the company quotes Gazprombank’s Deputy Chairman Oleg Vaksman in a press release on Wednesday

Dagong assigned the high A- credit rating to Gazprombank for foreign and local currencies, with a stable outlook. The rating is one notch below the sovereign rating of Russia, and at the same level as US.

Gazprombank has said it is considering placing bonds on China’s domestic debt market. The so-called ‘Panda Bonds’ can be placed by foreign companies and banks only in case the borrower receives a rating from a Chinese rating agency.

This Russia Today article appeared on their Internet site at 1:50 p.m. yesterday evening Moscow time---and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

China likely to ‘dominate’ global gold pricing in future: ANZ

As China’s financial exchanges continue to grow and expand the country is likely to “dominate” global gold price discovery in the future, ANZ said Wednesday in a research note.

“Beyond its role as the world’s largest producer and [a top] consumer of physical gold, we believe China will eventually dominate the price discovery process too, as Asia’s financial centres gradually open up. There is no reason why Shanghai should not become a major centre for gold trading provided the appropriate institutional and legal reforms take place,” the Australian bank noted.

“As Asia will comprise over half of the global economy by 2050, the rise in regional incomes will support the demand for gold investments. China and India are already the world’s largest gold consumers and incomes still have a long way to rise before reaching developed-world levels,” ANZ said.

The bank believes that Central banks are likely to continue adding to gold holdings over the long term.

What a bulls hit piece of "research" this is.  Who the hell knows that the price of anything will be ten months down the road, let alone ten years?  The gold price will be far higher than $2,000 the ounce long before 2025---as mine production will have fallen off a cliff long before then---and the precious metal price management scheme will also be history.  This piece of trash was one that I picked up off the Sharps Pixley website early this morning.

Chinese banks won't be part of new gold benchmarking at start, source tells Reuters

A handful of banks will start setting gold prices electronically on Friday, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, as Intercontinental Exchange completes a sweeping change to London's bullion benchmarks and dispenses with the century-old gold "fix."

"I would like to think (there will be) more than the current (four) ... but we'll have to wait and see," a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The LBMA, which will retain intellectual property of the new benchmark, had said that 11 entities intended to participate in the new mechanism from the start.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China International and China Construction Bank, which are ordinary members of the LBMA, were unlikely to be in the list of new participants at this stage, the first source said.

This Reuters article, filed from London very early this morning GMT, appeared on their website at 8:01 p.m. EDT yesterday evening---and I found it over on the gata.org Internet site where Chris Powell filed it from Singapore on their Thursday afternoon.

Hugo Salinas Price: Greece's currency options go beyond predatory euro and laughable drachma

Greece's options go beyond a currency controlled by its stupid creditors, the euro, and re-establishing a domestic currency, the drachma, which would purport to draw value from an economy whose main enterprises are welfare and tax evasion.

That is, as Mexican Civic Association for Silver President Hugo Salinas Price writes this week, Greece could issue a commodity currency with intrinsic value, a silver coin whose value in drachmas would be guaranteed by the nation's central bank never to fall.

The idea, of course, is a perfect solution for all nations.  Salinas Price's commentary is headlined "Letter to Alexis Tsipras from Hugo Salinas Price, Dated July 25, 2012"---and it was posted on the plata.com.mx website on Wednesday.  It's a must read for sure---and I found it on the gata.org Internet site just after I filed today's column.

¤ The Funnies

Here are the last four photos from my Phoenix trip.  Like the photos from yesterday, these were also taken around the lake at Fountain Hills as well.  The first two are of the American coot---a.k.a. a mud hen.  They look like a duck, but they aren't.  They aren't the prettiest bird in the world---and have the strangest feet, which you can see in the second photo.  They're very common in Alberta---and you can't get within a country mile of them here when they're breeding.  But they came running up in Phoenix the moment that they felt there was any chance that you might feed them, which I thought an amazing behavioral change from one part of North American to another.  No telephoto lens was necessary for these pictures.  The 'click to enlarge' feature really helps here.

This flock of American wigeons, or widgeons, flew past my head---and this was the best shot I could get with no prior warning---and it's a "rear view" shot as well.  The second one shows some of them resting quietly.  There was a limit to how close they would allow you to get, so I had to crop the second photo a decent amount.

¤ The Wrap

When JPMorgan took over Bear Stearns’ giant short position in COMEX silver (and gold) in early 2008, it had every incentive to force prices lower; which it did. What would you do if you were short tens of thousands of silver contracts and owned no physical? But as a growing physical silver shortage developed into early 2011 and prices soared, JPMorgan realized it was on the wrong side of the market equation and made the conscious decision to get on the right side of silver. So it began to use its dominant control of prices on the COMEX, not just to continue to profit on short side paper speculations, but with the added goal of picking up physical silver on the cheap. To just say that JPMorgan succeeded would be the understatement of all time.

If my speculation is correct and JPMorgan has acquired upwards of 300 million ounces of physical silver, it would not be an overstatement to call this the commodity coup of all time. Not only did JPMorgan buy three times as much silver as did the Hunt Brothers or Warren Buffett, it did so on sharply declining prices as opposed to the sharply rising prices caused by the Hunts and Buffett. And there was a lot more silver in the world at the time of the Hunts and Buffett’s acquisitions, making the JPMorgan feat that much more spectacular. Almost unbelievably, JPMorgan bought roughly a third of all the silver bullion in the world at progressively lower prices. Of course, it did take JPM four years to do so and involved a blatant downside price manipulation on the COMEX, not something attributable to the Hunts or Buffett.

If JPMorgan has acquired the amount of physical silver that I have speculated, what is the bank’s likely ultimate plan and motive? Considering that this is an organization devoted to maximum profit at the core of its purpose, it seems undeniable to me that it would seek maximum profit on its silver position. And whereas JPMorgan’s accumulation of physical silver was in conflict with the interests of silver investors over the past four years, JPM’s ultimate liquidation of its silver position is now very much in accordance with the interests of silver investors. I don’t think this makes JPMorgan any less of the market crook I have always held them to be; this is just an acknowledgement that sometimes the interests of the legitimate and illegitimate can be aligned. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 18 March 2015

It was a wild and crazy two hour trading period from the 2 p.m. Fed announcement, until the dollar index was rescued from what looked like a near-death experience at 4 p.m. EDT.  Please note the USD chart posted in the first part of this column---and also below.  It's equally obvious that JPMorgan et al were at the ready when precious metal prices exploded, as they certainly weren't allowed to get very far on any rally attempts that were made.

It was very much a case of everything that wanted to melt up, wasn't allowed to---and everything that wanted to melt down, wasn't allowed that luxury either.  It just goes to show how fragile the current financial and monetary system really is.  Free markets where nowhere to be found yesterday once again, as the Plunge Protection Team was everywhere.

Here are the 6-month precious metal charts once again, along with WTIC.  I've also posted the 1-year U.S. Dollar chart again so you can see how far it went over the proverbial cliff before being hauled back.

And as I type this paragraph, the gold market open in London is ten minutes away---and there certainly isn't much going on.  The price popped five bucks in early Far East trading on their Thursday morning---and that was it.  The same can be said for the other three precious metals---and palladium is actually down from Wednesday's close in New York.

Net gold volume is already pretty chunky, so it appears that what little price action there was in morning trading in Hong Kong met with the usual cadre of not-for-profit sellers.  The same can be said for silver, as net volume there is 5,500 contracts. 

The dollar index, which rolled over pretty hard starting around 8 a.m. Hong Kong time, appeared to get rescued once again---and it's currently up 41 basis points.

With the Fed meeting out of the way, we have one more gold-related event to deal with---and that the new London gold fix that starts tomorrow.  With Chinese banks not involved---and the usual suspects still holding the price reins, I'm not expecting much.  If it's anything other than a non-event, I'll be amazed.  But since it's happening on a Friday, I guess nothing would surprise me.

And as I fire today's effort off into cyberspace at 5:15 a.m. EDT, I note that the bullion banks have been hard at work selling down all four precious metals after their respective 9:00 a.m. Hong Kong time high ticks.  All of gold's Far East gains have disappeared, as have silver's---and palladium has had almost half of its Wednesday gains taken back already.  Only platinum is up a couple of bucks at the moment.

Gold's net volume is now a bit north of 42,000 contracts---and almost all of it is of the HFT variety in the current front month---and silver's net volume is a hair over 9,000 contracts, with 98 percent of that amount in the May contract.  The dollar index is now up 122 basis points---and will back to unchanged in no time at this rate.

That's all I have for today which, once again, is more than enough---and I'll be eager to see what JPMorgan et al have been up to when I check the charts around noon EST this morning, but at the moment it isn't looking that good.

I'm off to bed---and I'll see you here tomorrow.

Ed Steer

Thu, 19 Mar 2015 06:22:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Platinum Price Hits a 5-1/2 Year Low]]> http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/platinum-price-hits-a-5-1-2-year-low/ http://www.caseyresearch.com/gsd/edition/platinum-price-hits-a-5-1-2-year-low/#When:06:24:00Z "So---here we sit waiting for the Fed news"

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

The gold price traded in a pretty tight range through all of Far East trading on their Tuesday---but once London opened, the price developed its usual negative bias---and around 8:45 a.m. EDT, the HFT boyz and their algorithms stepped in---and the low tick came about 9:20 a.m.---which was another new low for this move down.  From there it blasted higher into the London p.m. gold "fix"---and then it got sold down until about 12:40 p.m. in New York trading---and after that it traded almost ruler flat into the close of electronic trading.

The low and high ticks were reported as $1,141.60 and $1,159.30 in the April contract.

Gold closed in New York yesterday afternoon at $1,148.60 spot, down $5.70 from Monday's close.  Net volume was 143,000 contracts.

Here's the 5-minute tick chart for gold courtesy of Brad Robertson.  The only price/volume action that matters is what occurred between the 8:20 a.m. COMEX open and 12:15 p.m. EDT, which is 6:20 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. on this chart, as it's plotted with Mountain Daylight Time.  The rest is just background noise.  The 'click to enlarge' feature is a must for this chart.

The silver price action was virtually identical to gold's, complete with the shenanigans in the last ninety minutes before the London p.m. gold fix.

The low and high ticks were reported as $15.36 and $15.72 in the May contract.

Silver finished the Tuesday session at $15.53 spot, down a dime, but the HFT boyz couldn't set a new low.  Net volume was 31,000 contracts.

JPMorgan et al dealt with platinum and palladium in a similar fashion, slamming them both to new lows for this move down, but both closed well off those lows.  Platinum finished the day at $1,091 spot, down 12 bucks---and palladium finished the Tuesday session at $758 spot, down 17 dollars.  Here are the charts.

The dollar index closed late on Monday afternoon in New York at 99.70---and made it is as high as 99.82 during Far East trading.  It headed lower just after 2 p.m. Hong Kong time---and hit its 99.30 low tick right at the London p.m. gold "fix".  Two hours later it was back up to 99.65---and then didn't do much for the rest of the Tuesday session.  The index closed yesterday at 99.65---down 5 basis points from Monday.

The gold stocks opened down two percent, but quickly blasted into the green until gold's high tick at the 10 a.m. EDT London p.m. gold "fix"---and from there they got sold down into negative territory---and stayed there for the remainder of the day.  The HUI finished down 1.64 percent.

The silver equities followed a similar path---and Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index finished down 1.81 percent.

I mentioned yesterday that the gold and silver equities were trading generally higher as the metals traded lower.  Well, that certainly wasn't the case on Tuesday.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that 2 gold and 118 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Thursday.  Once again it was Jefferies as the big short/issuer on all of them and, once again, it was JPMorgan out of its in-house [proprietary] trading account stopping 81 contracts.  Scotiabank was in distant second place with 16 contracts. These numbers are almost identical to the numbers that were reported in last Friday's Daily Delivery Report.  The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Tuesday trading session showed that there was no changes in March open interest in gold---and it remains at 110 contracts, minus the 2 mentioned above.  Silver's March o.i. was also reported as unchanged, but the 118 contracts in the previous paragraph must be subtracted for a true picture of March open interest remaining.

There was a withdrawal from GLD yesterday.  This time an authorized participant took out 86,377 troy ounces.  And as of 9:38 p.m. EDT yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV.

The folks over at Switzerland's Zürcher Kantonalbank updated their website with the weekly numbers on both their gold and silver ETFs as of the close of trading on Friday, March 13---and it should come as no great surprise that both were down again last week.  Their gold ETF was down only 5,054 troy ounces, but their silver ETF sold off 328,484 troy ounces.

There was another sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday, as they sold 1,500 troy ounces of gold eagles---2,000 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes---and another 195,500 silver eagles.

There wasn't much gold activity at the COMEX-approved depositories on Monday, as only 1,700 troy ounces were reported received---and 2,411 troy ounces were shipped out.

It was quiet as well in silver, as only 2,059 troy ounces were received---and only 101,659 troy ounces were shipped out the door.

Once again I have a lot of stories---and I'm more than happy to leave the final edit up to you.

¤ Critical Reads

Lagarde Warns World to Brace for Volatility If Fed Surprises

Emerging markets need to prepare for capital flight if investors are surprised by the timing or pace of policy changes in developed economies, the IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde said a day before the U.S. is expected to signal a shift in stance.

“We are perhaps approaching the point where, for the first time since 2006, the United States will raise short term interest rates later this year,” Lagarde said in Mumbai on Tuesday. “Even if this process is well managed, the likely volatility in financial markets could give rise to potential stability risks.”

She was sharing the stage with Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan, who has repeatedly called for more coordination among central banks to shield vulnerable markets from capital swings. The rupee was among currencies that plunged to a record when the Fed first signaled a reduction in stimulus in May-June 2013, pushing India to the brink of a crisis.

I'd say that this is an advanced warning that it might be a good time to fasten your seat belt.  This  Bloomberg article, co-filed from Mumbai and New Delhi, appeared on their Internet site at 4:44 a.m. Denver time yesterday morning---and today's first story is courtesy of Roy Stephens.

Something Strange is Going on With Non-farm Payrolls

Let's start with the basics: why is there a majority consensus that the Fed will hike rates after it removes its "patient" language tomorrow? One simple reason: non-farm payrolls. As reported earlier in the month, following the report of March's expectations smashing 295,000 jobs added, there have now been a 13 consecutive months of 200K+ payroll months, something which together with the 5.5% unemployment rate, is for the Fed is a clear indication that the slack in the labor is about to disappear and wages are set to surge.

Sadly, as we showed before, wages are not only not rising, but for 80% of the population they are once again sliding.

Falling wages aside (a critical topic as it singlehandedly refutes the Fed's bedrock thesis of no slack in a labor force in which there are 93 million Americans who no longer participate in the job market) going back to the original topic of which economic factors are prompting the Fed to assume there is an economic recovery, without exaggeration, all alone.

Is there nothing else that can validate the Fed's rate hike hypothesis? Well...no.

This interesting, but longish Zero Hedge article appeared on their website at 5:30 p.m. EDT yesterday---and the first reader through the door with it was Dan Lazicki late yesterday morning, so the story has obviously been "updated" since it was first posted.

WTI Plunges To $42 Handle On Massive API Inventory Build

For what appears to be the 10th week in a row, API reports a massive 10.5 million barrels (far bigger than the 3.1 million barrel expectation) and a 3 million barrel build at Cushing. If this holds for DOE data tomorrow (and worryingly API has tended to underestimate the build in recent weeks) it will be the biggest weekly build since 2001. WTI has plunged on this news hitting $42.60 on the April contract.

If API data is accurate (and it has tended to underestimate the inventory build in recent weeks) then this will be the biggest build since 2001...

The above two paragraphs are all there is to this brief Zero Hedge article from 4:53 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon---but the two embedded charts are worth a look.  It's the second offering in a row from Dan Lazicki.

U.S. may revoke settlement agreements in currency-rigging probes

U.S. prosecutors investigating currency manipulation are considering revoking years-old settlements and prosecuting banks for rigging interest rates, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department is weighing whether evidence of wrongdoing in currency trading means banks violated old deals resolving probes into the rigging of benchmark interest rates, said two people, who asked not to be identified because final decisions haven't been made.

Barclays Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, and UBS Group AG, which are operating under such agreements, are among banks being investigated in the currency case, as is HSBC Holdings Plc. The Justice Department is also scrutinizing whether HSBC's currency-trading practices violated a 2012 agreement settling a money-laundering probe, another person familiar with the matter said.

This Bloomberg news story, filed from New York, appeared on their website at 9:10 a.m. MDT yesterday morning---and I found it embedded in a GATA release.

Citibank in Argentina to Stop Making Bond Payments

Citibank said Tuesday it was getting out of the business of making bond payments for Argentina, the latest fallout from a bitter court fight between the South American country and a group of bondholders in the U.S.

In a statement, the bank said it was making plans to transfer Argentina's debt payments to another entity because of an "unprecedented international conflict of laws." The statement said the bank had notified the New York court overseeing the legal fight, but did not elaborate on its transition plans.

Last week, the bank found itself in a difficult position with few options. First, U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa ordered Citibank to stop processing payments to bondholders. A day later, Argentina threatened to revoke the bank's operating license if it refused to process those payments.

"Instead of staying in the frying pan or hopping into the fire, Citibank decided to simply get out of the kitchen," said Brett House, a debt expert and senior fellow at the Jeanne Sauve Foundation, a think tank in Montreal, Canada.

This AP story, filed from Buenos Aires at 4:17 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, was picked up by the abcnews.go.com website---and I my thanks go out to West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sharing it with us.

U.S. credibility at risk if IMF reforms not approved: Lew

The credibility of the United States is at risk if Congress fails to approve International Monetary Fund quota and governance reforms, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned Tuesday.

"Critically, we are seeking Congressional approval of the IMF quota and governance reforms," Lew told a hearing of the House of Representatives financial services committee, according to the prepared text.

"Our international credibility and influence are being threatened."

For more than two years the US Congress has prevented the 2010 IMF reforms from taking effect.

This short AFP story, filed from Washington, was posted on the france24.com Internet site at 4:45 p.m. Europe time on their Tuesday afternoon---and I thank South African reader B.V. for sending it along.  It's certainly worth reading.

German politicians admit Greece has case for wartime reparations

Several senior Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens in Germany have for the first time said their nation should consider paying reparations to Greece for Nazi crimes committed during the second world war, breaking ranks with Angela Merkel’s government.

Relations between Germany and Greece have deteriorated as Athens tries to renegotiate its bailout terms and Berlin fears it will ditch previously agreed financial promises.

The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, who is due to meet Merkel in Berlin on Monday, has accused Germany of using tricks to avoid paying reparations. One of his ministers raised the prospect of seizing German property to compensate victims of a Nazi massacre.

This news item appeared on theguardian.com Internet site at 2:14 p.m. GMT on their Tuesday afternoon---and it's the second offering in a row from reader B.V.

Greece Scrambles to Find Cash Ahead of $2 Billion Payment Deadline

Greece will begin debating measures to boost liquidity as the cash-starved country braces for more than 2 billion euros ($2.12 billion) in debt payments Friday.

Unable to access bailout funding and locked out of capital markets, the government will outline emergency plans to parliament later Tuesday that includes incentives for tax delinquents to pay up before March 27, when Greece needs money for monthly salaries and pensions.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government is burning through cash while trying to get creditors -- euro area member states, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- to release more money from a 240 billion-euro bailout program. Euro-area finance ministry officials will hold a call Tuesday to discuss Greece’s deteriorating finances, according to two European officials who asked not to be identified because the talk hasn’t been publicized.

This Bloomberg article, filed from Athens, showed up on their Internet site at 5:01 p.m. Denver time on Monday afternoon---and it's something I found in this morning's edition of the the King Report.

Bank of England director: 'Greece will not in any realistic scenario repay its debts'

A senior Bank of England official has said that Greece will never be able to get rid of its enormous debt mountain, since the "political pain" that its leaders would suffer would make it impossible.

Alex Brazier said that Greece could, in theory, run a surplus large enough to shrink its debt mountain, which currently runs to 176pc of GDP, after bail-outs worth €245bn.

However, he said no elected government would be able to do so, suggesting that Greece will be left with an enormous debt overhang for some time.

This story was posted on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 12:14 p.m. GMT yesterday---and it's the second article in a row that I filched from this morning's King Report.

Against U.S. Strategy: Spain Calls for End to Confronting Russia

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo spoke out against anti-Russian sanctions during his state visit to Moscow. These sanctions, he said, are harmful for both sides. Prior to this, Hungary, Italy, Greece and Cyprus had spoken out against the sanctions as well.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said after a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday that the continuation of anti-Russian sanctions or their extension basically depend on ‘whether the agreements on Ukraine are complied with or not’. The sanctions are not advantageous for either side, E.U. Observer quoted García-Margallo.

In addition, there is no need for the extension of sanctions. Since the rebels in Ukraine withdrew their heavy weapons on the basis of the Minsk peace agreement which they thus obey. This is a positive development. The E.U. also needs to take into account Russia interests while developing its relations with Ukraine. García-Margallo added that the food sanctions of the Kremlin had affected the Spanish economy.

This re-posted article was posted on the russia-insider.com website late yesterday afternoon Moscow time---and it's another offering from Roy Stephens.

Hungary, Cyprus and Greece first to return to Russian market after sanctions lifted – watchdog

Food products from Hungary, Greece and Cyprus may be the first to return to Russian supermarket shelves once the food embargo ends, said Sergei Dankvert, head of Rosselkhoznadzor, the Russian agricultural watchdog.

Russia is discussing the possibility of sending inspectors to Hungary, Greece and Cyprus in order to audit suppliers and ensure immediate exports after the sanctions are lifted, said RSN citing Dankvert.

After the issue is resolved, the service will allow deliveries only from suppliers audited by experts from the European Union, as there was long-term lack of supply, he said.

This article was posted on the Russia Today Internet site at 3:30 p.m. Moscow time yesterday, which was 8:30 a.m. EDT in Washington.  My thanks go out to Roy Stephens once again.

Ukrainian lawmakers pass bill on temporary special status of self-governance in Donbas

The Parliament of Ukraine passed on Tuesday a draft law stipulating areas in the country’s south-eastern region of Donbas, which will be enjoying a temporary special status of self-governance.

With the necessary 226 votes to pass the bill a total of 296 lawmakers from Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada voted in favor of the document.

However Verkhovna Rada postponed the entry of this law into force until elections are held in Donbas.

This brief news item, filed from Kiev, showed up on the tass.ru Internet site at 7:23 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday evening---and I thank Roy S. once again for bringing it to our attention.  It's worth reading.

Moscow urges France, Germany to intensify work on implementing Minsk accords

Resolving a problem relating to Kiev’s bill on a special status of Donbas is a priority issue now. This document is an attempt to reinterpret this status and distorts the Minsk agreements, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

"We assume, above all, that it’s necessary to urgently intensify the process within the framework of the Contact Group, because the Minsk agreements as well as the Package of Measures to implement them adopted on February 12 are a series of measures to be implemented within the Contact Group," Russia’s top diplomat said. "The Normandy Four has adopted a declaration to support this set of measures, agreeing to control this process," he added.

"By means of our daily contacts with colleagues in France and Germany, we’re talking about the necessity to send a strong signal to Kiev, which is hindering the work of the Contact Group on the implementation of the political, humanitarian and socio-economic aspects of the Minsk agreements," the Russian Foreign Minister said. He added that of primary importance now was "resolving the complex problematic situation that had emerged after President Poroshenko submitted to the Verkhona Rada a bill [on a special status of Donbas]."

This is another brief story from the tass.ru Internet site on Tuesday evening Moscow time.  It's also courtesy of Roy Stephens---and it's worth your while as well.

Political Logorrhea: Psaki's Statements Reach New Levels of Confusion

Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, said Russian troops that were stationed in Crimea at Russian military bases, legally with the permission of the Ukrainian government, occupied the peninsula prior to the referendum.

Prior to the Crimean referendum, Russia, absolutely legally with the permission of the Kiev government, had stationed its troops at Russian military bases in Crimea. That meant, regardless of the referendum, Russian troops at Russian military bases could not possibly occupy the Ukrainian territory, as they were stationed at their own bases.

Matthew Lee, a reporter from AP, asked Psaki to clarify how could Russian troops “occupy” Crimea by simply sitting at their bases without forcibly seizing or taking over anything.

Psaki attempted to parry the question with her statement that the Russians were training and sending military equipment to Crimean residents, only to realize that Crimea was not in eastern Ukraine.

“Oh, you’re talking about in eastern Ukraine now, not Crimea,” Lee tried to correct Psaki. After that the spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State got totally lost and replied with incoherent series of words.

As this U.S. State Department official found out, it's hard to keep your facts straight when you've been caught lying your ass off!  This very interesting article appeared on the sputniknews.com Internet site at 6:55 p.m. Moscow time yesterday evening, which was 11:55 a.m. in Washington.

Russia rules out handing back Crimea, expands war games

Russia ruled out handing Crimea back to Ukraine on Tuesday and a Defense Ministry official said nuclear-capable long-range bombers were being sent to the Black Sea peninsula as part of war games.

The huge military exercises, in which the Northern Fleet was put on full alert on Monday and will range from the Arctic to the Black Sea, appear to be a show of force and defiance on the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea.

Russia's parliament approved the annexation on March 21 last year after Russian forces took control of the peninsula, which is home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet, and residents backed joining the Russian Federation in a referendum.

Dismissing a U.S. pledge to keep economic sanctions in place on Russia over the annexation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "Crimea is a region of the Russian Federation and of course the subject of our regions is not up for discussion."

Of course the big lie here is that the citizens of Crimea voted by over 90 percent to rejoin Russia when given the opportunity in a free vote.  This Reuters article, filed from Moscow, appeared on their Internet site at 1:29 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it along.

Supersonic strategic bombers heading to Crimea for drills – military source

Russia’s Air Force is deploying an unspecified number of strategic nuclear-capable supersonic bombers to Crimea, according to a source. The major drills also include deployment of tactical Iskander ballistic missiles to the Kaliningrad exclave in Europe.

Several Tu-22M3 (NATO designation ‘Backfire’) variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike rocket aircraft are due to arrive to Crimea as part of global training exercises for the Russian military in the European part of the country.

“In the course of snap combat readiness drills of the armed forces strategic rocket Tu-22M3 aircraft are going to be deployed to Crimea,” a source in Defense Ministry told TASS.

Armed with a variety of air-to-sea cruise and ballistic missiles, high-precision bombs, the bomber’s specialization is the elimination of valuable seaborne targets, such as aircraft carriers and their escorts, convoys and operational squadrons.

This article from Russia Today was posted on their Internet site at 2:06 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday afternoon---and it's also courtesy of Roy Stephens.  There was also a story about this on the sputniknews.com Internet site as well.  It was headlined "Russian Strategic Strike Bombers Deployed to Crimea for Military Drills"---and it's courtesy of reader M.A.

Leaders of 26 States to Visit Moscow for Victory Day Celebrations

The leaders of 26 countries have confirmed that they will take part in Moscow’s Victory Day celebrations on May 9, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

“As of yesterday, the leaders of 26 states, as well as UNESCO and the Council of Europe had confirmed their participation,” Lavrov said.Lavrov noted that some of the European leaders accepted Russia’s invitation despite U.S. pressure.

Lavrov noted that some of the European leaders accepted Russia’s invitation despite US pressure.

Moscow is set to host grandiose celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of Nazi Germany's defeat in the Second World War.

This news item, filed from Moscow, appeared on the sputniknews.com Internet site on Sunday afternoon---and it's another contribution from Roy S.

Putin blasts WWII history rewriting as lies aimed at weakening Russia

The Russian president has again denounced attempts to rewrite WWII history, noting that the authors seek to sow strife between peoples and nations for their own geopolitical purposes.

Putin said the cynical lies about the Great Patriotic War and the attempts to blacken the reputation of the Soviet people and the Red Army have nothing to do with the truth. The president’s comments came at the Tuesday session of the committee preparing the May 9 celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War. The Great Patriotic war is the traditional Russian title for the 1941-45 campaign against Germany and its allies.

I reject these shameless conclusions and so called observations that have nothing to do with the truth. Their objective is clear – they want to undermine the power and moral authority of modern Russia and deprive it of the winner nation status with all consequences that would follow in international law,” Putin told the committee members. “They want to divide peoples and instigate conflicts among them, to use historical lies in geopolitical games.”

This Russia Today item put in an appearance on their Internet site at 3:03 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday afternoon---and it's definitely worth reading.  Once again I thank Roy Stephen for sharing it with us.

Pepe Escobar: Power Play behind Regime Change in Russia

With “friends” like European Council President Donald Tusk and top NATO commander Gen. Philip Breedlove, the E.U. certainly doesn’t need enemies.

Gen. Breedhate has been spewing out his best Dr. Strangelove impersonation, warning that evil Russia is invading Ukraine on an everyday basis. The German political establishment is not amused.

Tusk, while meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, got Divide and Rule backwards; he insisted, “foreign adversaries” were trying to divide the U.S. and the E.U. – when it’s actually the U.S. that is trying to divide the E.U. from Russia. And right on cue, he blamed Russia — side by side with the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

Tusk’s way out? The E.U. should sign the U.S. corporate-devised racket known as Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), or NATO on trade. And then the “West” will rule forever.

NATO may indeed incarnate the ultimate geopolitical/existential paradox; an alliance that exists to manage the chaos it breeds.

This absolute must read commentary by Pepe was posted on the russia-insider.com Internet site early yesterday evening Moscow time---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for finding it for us.

Stratfor Chairman Straight-Talking: U.S. Policy Is Driven by Imperative to Stop Coalition between Germany and Russia

George Friedman, Founder and Chairman of Stratfor, or what is called by many "private/shadow CIA" for its well known connections and close cooperation with the CIA, gave a very interesting speech to the Chicago Council of Foreign Affairs on subject Europe: Destined for Conflict? in February of this year.

This speech came after another interesting interview where he admits that the overthrow of Yanukovych was "the most blatant coup in history" and among other things the American "payback" for Russian involvement in Syria. 

In my humble opinion, this is one of the most important speeches I've heard in years---blatantly presenting Neocon perspective that dictates Washington's foreign policy.

This excellent story, along with an 11 minute video clip of  Stratfor's George Friedman's speech, put in an appearance on the russia-insider.com Internet site on Tuesday sometime---and it's definitely worth your while if you have the time.

Tehran's success, Riyadh's failure

Each for its own reasons, the world's major powers have decided to accept Iran as a regional hegemon, I wrote March 4 in Asia Times, leaving Israel and the Sunni Arabs in isolated opposition. The global consensus on behalf of Iranian hegemony is now coming clearly into focus. Although the motivations of different players are highly diverse, there is a unifying factor driving the consensus: the Obama administration's determination to achieve a strategic rapprochement with Tehran at any cost. America's competitors are constrained to upgrade their relations with Iran in order to compete with Washington.

The Obama administration's assessment of Iran's intentions is so positive that Iranian official sources quote it in their own propaganda. As Jeryl Bier observed at the Weekly Standard, the just-released Threat Assessment report of the director of National Intelligence makes no mention of Iran's support for terrorism, in stark contrast to the explicit citation of Iranian terrorism in the three prior annual reports. The omission of Iran's terrorist activities is noteworthy. What the report actually says is even more disturbing. It praises Iran with faint damn:

Despite Iran's intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia, Iranian leaders - particularly within the security services - are pursuing policies with negative secondary consequences for regional stability and potentially for Iran. Iran's actions to protect and empower Shia communities are fueling growing fears and sectarian responses.

Iran supposedly is doing its best to "dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia" - complete and utter falsehood. Iran is infiltrating Saudi Arabia's Shi'te-majority Eastern Province (also its most oil rich) to agitate against Saudi control, and sponsored a coup against a Saudi-allied regime in Yemen. The report attributes nothing but good intentions to the Tehran regime, and worries only that its policies will have "negative secondary consequences" due to its (understandable, of course) efforts to "protect and power Shia communities." Iran's primary motivation, in the administration's view, is to be a good neighbor and a fountain of good will. Neville Chamberlain never said such nice things about Hitler.

This short essay certainly falls into the must read category for any serious student of the New Great Game---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it our way.  It was posted on the Asia Times website yesterday sometime.

Failure to clinch nuclear deal will not be ‘end of world’: Larijani

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says the country’s legislature is not pessimistic about the prospect of the nuclear talks, and thinks that if the other party does not raise “excessive demands”, reaching a nuclear deal would be possible.

However, a failure by Tehran and the world powers to reaching a final nuclear deal “would never mean the end of world”, Larijani told a press conference on Monday. 

“We are now living without such a comprehensive deal and if an agreement is not reached, we will go after other solutions.”

Larijani, a former chief nuclear negotiator, also said the parliament “will supervise the negotiations’ dynamism with a supportive approach.”

This news item appeared on the Tehran Times early on Thursday evening local time---and I thank Roy Stephens for finding it for us.

China cuts back on U.S. debt for 5th month in a row

China, the largest holder of U.S. debt, has continued to cut back on U.S. Treasuries for the fifth consecutive month, shaving $5.2 billion from its holdings between December and January. Japan is edging closer in overtaking the number one spot.

The U.S. Treasury reported Monday that China reduced its holding from $1.244 trillion in December to $1.239 trillion in January.

Economic growth in China, which is at a 25-year low, is the most obvious explanation for the scale back. With more capital leaving mainland China, the less the government needs U.S. dollars to keep the yuan in check.

In total, foreign central banks sold off $12.3 billion in U.S. Treasuries in January, the fourth consecutive month of outflow.

This article is another one from the Russia Today website.  This one showed up there at 10:44 a.m. Moscow time on Tuesday morning, which was 3:44 a.m. in New York.  It's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens---and I thank him on your behalf.

Gold Spikes On Sudden $1.2 Billion Bid

For no good reason aside from the algos had their fun to the downside and crude ran its stops, precious metals' futures have suddenly exploded higher on heavy volume... The surge in gold saw approximately $1.2 billion notional traded...

The folks over at Zero Hedge pretty much summed it up in one sentence, although they don't get into the details---and the four excellent charts that are embedded in this brief article are definitely worth the trip.  I thank Brad Robertson for bringing it to my attention---and now to yours.

Gold eyes Fed; platinum hits 5-1/2 yr low

Platinum tumbled to a 5-1/2-year low on Tuesday as a stronger dollar, weaker gold prices and improving supply took a toll on prices.

Platinum, the worst performing precious metal of the year, fell to $1,096.50 an ounce during Asian hours, its lowest since July 2009. It is down more than 8 percent this year.

"The sentiment around platinum is quite negative. It's a combination of supply coming back online after the strikes last year and it's certainly getting no support from the gold market," said ANZ analyst Victor Thianpiriya.

What bulls hit this is, dear reader.  And the really scary part is that a lot of mining executives actually believe it!  Of course supply and demand, interest rates or the gold price have zero to do with the current prices of any of the precious metals.  It's all paper games on the COMEX by JPMorgan et al.  This Reuters story, filed from Singapore yesterday, was picked up by the finance.yahoo.com Internet site---and I thank Elliot Simon for sending it our way.

RBI decides to further restrict gold imports, retracts a day later

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had a quick change of mind between Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon regarding gold import for jewellers.

On Monday, it informed banks that they could not import gold as a consignment for outright sale to jewellers. On Tuesday, it sent another e-mail that the “e-mail sent yesterday stands withdrawn”.

Which meant a restoration of the position brought about by its February 18 circular, allowing banks to so import gold on a consignment basis and also provide gold loans to jewellers.

The quick reversal has worried some official quarters, since it means imports will stay high — the estimate is 90 tonnes for this month. The purport of Monday's mail was understood to be for tightening of such inflow, a worry for the trade deficit.

This must read article appeared on the Indian website business-standard.com on Tuesday IST sometime---and I thank Mumbai-based reader Danny Carroll for sharing it with us.

India could still cut gold import duty this year – WGC

The Indian government may yet cut the 10-percent import duty on gold this year despite choosing not to do so in this year’s budget as many market observers had expected, Somasundaram PR, the World Gold Council’s managing director in India, said.

“They have not cut it because they said ‘let us evolve, let us pass a few bills’ but 10 percent is still a lot of money,” he told FastMarkets. “When push comes to shove, it will be reduced but they will wait for certain other things but, as I see it, things are moving in the right direction.”

The Indian government confounded widespread speculation for drop of 2-4 percentage points in the duty, which has stood at 10 percent since August 2013 – it was raised three times that year from the initial four percent.

But Somasundaram doubted whether the schemes, particularly the gold-centric bonds, will find much traction with the Indian public.

“I have said it personally before that none of the schemes will work because 10 percent [in import duties] is still a huge incentive for smuggling. As long as smuggling prevails, none of these schemes will work,” he added.

This gold-related article appeared on the mineweb.com Internet site at 3:47 p.m. GMT yesterday in London---and I found it all by myself.

Koos Jansen: SGE Withdrawals in Perspective

In 2014 SGE withdrawals, which can be used as a proxy for Chinese wholesale gold demand, have lost their accuracy since the Shanghai International Gold Exchange (SGEI) was launched in September, providing foreign enterprises to trade gold in renminbi, take delivery and export the gold from the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ). SGE and SGEI withdrawals are not published separately and thus SGEI activity can distort SGE withdrawals (being a proxy for Chinese wholesale demand). This post is about what we know at this stage about SGEI activity in relation to SGE withdrawals. It’s not exact science, but it’s the best we have right now.

The SGEI facilitates gold trading in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ). The physical gold flows through the FTZ are completely separated form the Chinese domestic gold market, which is a closed market. Would we get our clear view back if SGE and SGEI withdrawals would be disclosed separately? Unfortunately not. This is because Chinese domestic banks are also trading on the SGEI, when they withdrawal from the vaults in the FTZ they can import this gold into the Chinese domestic gold market (without it being required to be sold through the SGE).

Technically, as I’ve reasoned previously,  Chinese wholesale gold demand is at most equal to SGE withdrawals, at least equal to SGE withdrawals minus SGEI trading volume. Because, it can be every contract traded on the SGEI is bought by a foreign trader that takes delivery, withdraws and exports the gold out of the FTZ.

This short commentary by Koos, which certainly falls into the must read category, appeared on the Singapore website bullionstar.com Wednesday afternoon local time---and shortly before I was about to send this column off to Stowe.

¤ The Funnies

This was the last day of our trip to Arizona and we're back in Fountain Hills, which is a northeastern suburb of Phoenix---and a beautiful spot.  The temperature was in the 20C/68F range---not like up in the "high country" from where we came.  This is a combination of desert and residential area, with this lake and fountain being the central feature.

This fellow is a male bufflehead that was swimming on the lake.  He's wintering here before heading back into Canada or Alaska somewhere to breed in the spring---and since it's already March, I'd guess he's en route now.  He was further away than I would have liked---and I had to crop the photo pretty hard---and in doing that, it left it at the fringes of what I consider acceptable.  We have them in Alberta, but they're not common.

This butterfly goes by the name Sylphina Angel---and according to Wikipedia it can be found in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.  I thank my daughter Kathleen for sending it our way.

¤ The Wrap

So it comes down to not how many COMEX silver contracts the commercials want to buy, but how many they can buy. And what the commercials can buy is what others, mainly the technical funds will sell to them. According to my analysis, if the technical funds don’t ramp up short positions to the peaks of last October, we’re getting down to the dregs of what can still be sold to the commercials. Again, once the last technical fund contract is sold, the bottom is in.

However, I could be wrong in my calculations, so let’s look at what happens in the event I am wrong and the technical funds add the 20,000 short contracts I suggest won’t be added. Or the non-technical fund longs in the managed money category liquidate longs well below the 40,000 contract level that has held to date. In that case, I look like a jerk and we go lower in price than I believe. Then what? If that were to occur, namely, massive new quantities of technical fund and non-technical fund silver contracts were sold and prices fell accordingly, we would then be in such a bullish set up in silver that it would then be impossible for prices not to explode because the commercials would then force prices to the heavens. In other words, a bullish set up far beyond anything I’ve ever contemplated.

Since I believe we are close to the maximum point of technical fund selling and, therefore, maximum commercial buying, more attention should be placed on what the next rally will look like, rather than how much more we have to go to the downside. I know that market sentiment is so depressed, as a result of the non-stop deterioration of price these past four years, that it is natural for most to expect that the next silver price rally will be in the mold of all previous rallies, namely, anemic and capped by aggressive commercial selling. That may turn out to be the case, but that outcome is not written in stone. The possibility of a price explosion, instead of a manipulated price capping, looms as large as ever; perhaps more than it ever has before. - Silver analyst Ted Butler: 14 March 2015

It should have been obvious to all but the willfully blind that JPMorgan et al, along with their HFT buddies, spun their algorithms as the Zero Hedge story mentioned above---and Bob's your uncle!  They set new lows for this move down in gold, platinum and palladium.  They certainly tried in silver as well, but the technical funds in the Managed Money weren't taking the bait, so I'd guess they're full up on the short side already.

The vertical rallies into the London p.m. gold fix that came hard on the heels of the engineered price declines, were certainly short covering rallies by the same traders that took the prices down only a few minutes earlier.

And they've been pounding the crap out of platinum and palladium lately---and you can tell from the charts below that "da boyz" didn't start on these metals until March 1---whereas in gold and silver, the engineered price declines began around the third week of January.  I've thrown in the 6-month WTIC chart as well.

So---here we sit waiting for the Fed news.

We're at lows for the precious metals and in crude oil that, quite frankly, I thought I wouldn't live to see again.  The technical funds are all loaded up on the short side---and the powers-that-be at JPMorgan et al are loaded up on the long side; or hold as small a short position that they've been able engineer.

Will we blast off from here, or will "da boyz" use the news to kick the precious metals and crude oil in the gonads one more time?  Beats me, but there's a limit to how low prices can go---and as Ted Butler said above, it's how many short positions the technical traders are prepared to put on, on the short side, as it's a given that none of them have any long positions left to sell.

The act of them placing a short contract under price pressure from the HFT boyz is what causes prices to decline.  If these technical funds are not prepared to short any further, the bottom is in, no matter how hard JPMorgan et al huff and puff from that point forward.

And as I type this paragraph, the London gold market open is about fifteen minutes away.  Gold, silver and platinum rallied tiny amounts for a couple of hours during morning trading in the Far East on their Wednesday morning, but at 10 a.m. Hong Kong time, the prices headed lower---and all four precious metal now sport a negative bias---and all are a hair below their New York closes on Tuesday afternoon. 

Net gold volume is extremely light at only 12,500 contracts---and silver's net volume is only 2,300 contracts, which is mostly fumes and vapours---so nothing much should be read into the current price action.  The dollar index hasn't been doing much either---and is currently up 4 basis points.

As I mentioned in Tuesday's column, that day---at the close of COMEX trading---was the cut-off for this Friday's Commitment of Traders Report---and I hope that all of yesterday's price/volume action will be reported in a timely manner.

And as I put the finishing touches on today column at 5:30 a.m. EDT, I see that all four precious metals got sold down a bit more at the London open, but none of them got sold down below Tuesday's low tick---and only palladium is up on the day at the moment.

Gold's net volume is around 20,500 contracts---and silver's net volume is just 4,000 contracts.  The dollar index is chopping lower---and is currently down 10 basis points.

We're "locked and loaded" for any "surprise" that IMF Managing Director Christine Legarde said might be associated with the Fed announcement---and all we can is sit here, stare at the computer screen and wait.

That's certainly what I'm doing to be doing--and I'll have a full report on what transpires in tomorrow's column.

Ed Steer

Wed, 18 Mar 2015 06:24:00 +0000