Gold & Silver Daily
"So, where do we go from here? A good question for which I have no good answer."

¤ Yesterday In Gold & Silver

Gold rallied a bit early in Far East trading, but the moment it got too close to $1,780 around 10:00 a.m. Hong Kong time...there was someone there to sell it off, with the low of the day coming moments before 11:00 a.m. in London nine hours later.

From there, the gold price spent the next five hours digging itself out of that hole, but the moment that it punched through the $1,780 price mark around the close of London trading at 11:00 a.m Eastern time, another seller was waiting in the wings to sell it down below Friday's closing price.

Although gold did make it above Friday's closing price for a few hours...all of its New York gains disappeared by the time trading was over at 5:15 p.m. Eastern.

The gold price closed at $1,768.10 spot...down $5.50 on the day.  Net volume was a not-so-light 117,000 contracts...give or take.

The silver price more or less followed the same price path as gold, but the price was more 'volatile'.  I note that the early morning sell-off in London took the silver price below the $35 the ounce spot price for a few moments.  The subsequent rally took silver back up to its Far East high at a couple of points during the Comex trading session, but that wasn't allowed to last...and silver got sold off from there, but did managed to recover a bit in the New York Access Market.

Silver closed at $35.46 spot...up a nickel from Friday.  Gross volume was immense...over 124,000 contracts...but almost all of that was roll-overs out of the March contract...and by the time all that double counting was removed, only about 3,000 contracts net were traded yesterday.

The dollar index had a smallish 25 basis point rally in the early going in London trading...and held onto most of those gains until the close of the New York session.

The gold stocks poked their nose into positive territory for just a few minutes when the New York gold price reached its zenith just before 11:00 a.m. Eastern time, but then sank back into the red for the rest of the day as the gold price got sold off going into the close.  The HUI finished down 0.98%.

Virtually every company that made up Nick Laird's Silver Sentiment Index closed down on the day, but the SSI only closed lower by 0.93%.

(Click on image to enlarge)

The CME's Daily Delivery Report showed that 88 gold and 42 silver contracts were posted for delivery tomorrow.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that Jefferies was the big short/issuer in silver with 40 contracts...and the Bank of Nova Scotia was the long/stopper with 37 contracts.  JPMorgan was nowhere to be found.  The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

There were no changes reported in GLD yesterday...but over at the SLV ETF they reported taking in another 728,691 troy ounces of silver.

The U.S. Mint had another small sales report.  They sold 3,500 ounces of gold eagles...2,000 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes...along with 170,000 silver eagles.  Month-to-date the mint has reported sales of 19,500 ounces of gold eagles...6,500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes...and 1,420,000 silver eagles.

Over at the Comex-approved depositories on Friday, they reported receiving 595,366 ounces of silver...and shipped a smallish 32,896 troy ounces out the door.  The link to that action is here.

Silver analyst Ted Butler had his weekly review for his paying subscribers on Saturday...and here are three free paragraphs.

"Since the price lows of late December, we have added $250 to the price of gold on a 65,000 contract increase in the net speculative long/commercial short position on the COMEX. This is the equivalent of 6.5 million oz of gold. While these are paper ounces, from a quantity perspective, it dwarfs any verifiable change in ownership in physical ounces, such as in ETFs. Simply put – we went up $250 in gold because speculators bought and commercials sold 65,000 net contracts on the COMEX and the speculators were more aggressive. Where does that leave us and where do we go from here?"

"Back in December, it was easy to call for higher prices in gold and silver because of the very bullish COT set up and I hoped I had conveyed that at the time. There was little additional speculative selling that the commercials could rig at that time. Now, it's different. There is enough potential speculative selling in place that the commercials could arrange for prices to decline enough to trigger off that selling. Does that mean that the commercials will definitely rig prices lower now? No, not necessarily. But they could. The commercials could also be forced to buy back shorts in gold, as happened to them this past August amid soaring prices. My point is that it is different now than it was in late December, when it looked like a sure trip north in price. We may be headed much higher from here; it’s just that I can’t say that with certainty. I wish I could, but I can’t. I can tell you if we go down big in the relative near term, it will be because of the dirty rotten commercials rigging prices lower. But they may not be able to pull that off, so we have to be prepared for that as well."

As for silver, we are nowhere near the favorable COT set up that existed in late December. We could go down, we could go up. Both price possibilities have occurred in the past from similar COT readings. If we go down, it will be solely due to commercial rigging, same as always. But there are some very compelling factors pointing to higher silver prices, including the tight physical situation. In fact, the obvious and outrageous short position of JPMorgan has become so extreme that it could serve as the catalyst for a price explosion."

As I mentioned in my Saturday column, if you remove all the market-neutral spread trades from the Commitment of Traders Report, it shows that JPMorgan is short a bit more 25% of the entire Comex silver market.  Any questions? 

Here's a Point & Figure chart for gold that goes all the way back to 1975.  Nick Laird sent it to me last evening.  As Nick said in the covering e-mail..."The two legs up in the bull market so far stand out loud & clear."  Yes they do...and let's hope that the third leg is even louder and clearer...and starts soon!

(Click on image to enlarge)

I have a lot of stories today...too many, in fact.  Quite a few of them have to deal with the G20 meeting of financial 'leaders' in Mexico City on the weekend...and all the hullaballoo about Greece.  I'm delighted to leave the final edit up to you.


¤ Critical Reads

No, ITG, Zero Hedge Would Prefer To Not Regulate You Either

Here's a story that was posted over at was sent around to all the Casey Research editors last night.  Jeff Clark called it the "Zero Hedge Manifesto"...and that pretty much sums it up.  I thank Casey Research's own John Grandits for digging this story up.  I don't like the idea of staring off today's column with an absolute must read...but if you read no other non-gold related story today...this is the one I would pick.  The link is here.


Philadelphia Fed president notices that Fed is rigging markets

Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Plosser said that central bank purchases of mortgage-backed securities may be an inappropriate foray into policy that should be conducted by the U.S. Treasury.

"When the Fed engages in targeted credit programs that seek to alter the allocation of credit across markets, I believe it is engaging in fiscal policy and has breached the traditional boundaries established between the fiscal authorities and the central bank," Plosser said according to prepared remarks of a speech he gave in New York on Friday.

This Bloomberg article, plus one other link, is contained in this GATA release...and the link is here.


Why We Should Still Be Worried about a Double-Dip Recession: Jim Rickards

The late summer and fall of 2011 was filled with fears of a double-dip recession in the United States coming hard on the heels of the 2007-2009 recession, frequently referred to as the Great Recession. With improved economic news lately including lower unemployment, lower initial claims, higher growth, and higher stock prices, this recession talk has died down. That's why Lakshman Achuthan, the highly respected head of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, caused a stir last week when he repeated his earlier claim that a recession later this year was almost inevitable despite the better news.

Economists dislike the concept of depression because it has no well-defined statistical meaning unlike recessions that are conventionally dated using well-understood criteria. They also dismiss the word "depression" because it's, well, too depressing. Economists like to think of themselves as master manipulators of fiscal and monetary policy levers fully capable of avoiding depressions by providing the right amount of "stimulus" at just the right time. They tend to look at a single case—the Great Depression of 1929 to 1940—and a single cause—tight money in 1928, and conclude that easy money is the way to ban depressions from the business cycle.

This story was posted over at the website yesterday...and I thank reader Randall Reinwasser for sending it along.  The link is here.


Wine Cache Rescues Those Short of Cash

Some U.S. pawnbrokers are taking liquid assets - literally.

Fine wines are among the items they will accept as collateral for loans, along with family jewels and fine art, as a practice common in Britain and France catches on across the Atlantic.

Liquidity issues, or a cash shortage, can be found on most rungs of the economic ladder, the pawnbrokers said.

"You'd be amazed by how many wealthy individuals have terrible credit ratings. And besides, if you go to a bank, it can take weeks or months to get a loan. When we make a loan, it's usually the same day," said Jordan Tabach-Bank, head of Beverly Loan Co.

This very interesting Reuters piece was picked up by yesterday...and is well worth the read if you're interested in fine wine pawn shops.  I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sending it along...and the link is here.


German minister tells Greece to exit eurozone

Germany's interior minister on Saturday came out strongly in favour of debt-stricken Greece leaving the eurozone, arguing that this would improve its chances of becoming competitive again.

"I do not mean that Greece should be kicked out of" the 17-nation eurozone, said Hans-Peter Friedrich in an interview with news magazine Der Spiegel, "but to create incentives for an exit that they cannot turn down."

"Outside European monetary union Greece's chances of regenerating itself and become competitive are definitely bigger than if it remained inside the eurozone," said Friedrich.

Absolutely true, of course.  This AFP story was posted on the website on Saturday...and I thank reader 'h c' for sending it along.  The link is here.


G20 to Europe: show us the money

Leading economies told Europe it must put up extra money to fight its debt crisis if it wants more help from the rest of the world, piling pressure on Germany to drop its opposition to a bigger European bailout.

Euro zone countries pledged on Sunday at a Group of 20 meetings of finance leaders to reassess the strength of their bailout fund in March, which could clear the way for other G20 countries to contribute more funds to the International Monetary Fund.

"This will provide an essential input in our ongoing consideration to mobilize resources to the IMF," the G20 said in the final communiqué of the two-day meeting of finance ministers and central bankers due to be released later on Sunday.

This Reuters piece was posted on the website on Sunday...and I thank Australian reader Wesley Legrand for sending it along.  The link is here.


Greek Debt Deal Merely Buys Time: World Bank's Zoellick

The latest Greek bailout totaling 130 billion euros would merely buy time, outgoing World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in an interview in Singapore with Reuters.

"It's too early to know, partly it depends on the actions the Greeks have to take," he said. "I think that the European Union has dealt with Greece as one element but the core elements are really going to be the success of some of the bigger countries, such as Italy and Spain."

But he said bailouts weren't necessary for these two countries or Portugal.

Methinks that Robert is whistling past the proverbial graveyard...and he knows it.  But he has to keep up appearances, I suppose.

Reader Phil Barlett sent me this short story from Saturday...and the link is here.


No Reprieve for Greece from Debtor’s Prison: James Turk

Greece remains in debtor’s prison.  That horrible fate was confirmed this past week with the ‘group-sentencing’ handed down by Brussels’ eurocrats, Merkel, Sarkozy, the ECB and IMF, and most shameful of all, the Greek politicians who accepted the brazen ultimatum delivered to them. 

One can only wonder what these politicians were thinking, and whose interests they were really serving.  The €130 billion that is supposed to ‘help’ Greece barely does anything at all to revive the economic prospects for that beleaguered country.  Other than some money that will trickle-down into economic activity by ensuring the ongoing payment of the €8,594 per month salary (plus additional perquisites) going to the members of the Greek parliament as well as some other odds-and-ends, the rest simply passes through Greek books into the hands of the reckless lenders who foolishly made too many loans in the first place.  Once again, the bad loans made by irresponsible, reckless lenders are socialized.

If Greek politicians were really acting in the best interests of the Greek people, they would have taken the same path chosen by Iceland’s leaders – default.

James doesn't mince words in this essay posted over at the Free Gold Money Report on Sunday.  It's definitely worth the read if you have the time...and the link is here.


Europe Gets Ready for Round 2 of Bank Loans

This week the ECB will offer a second installment of the three-year loans that they  made available last November. After that first injection of cash helped reopen bank financing markets in Europe and bolster stock and bond markets around the world, there is intense interest in how much money banks will borrow, and what the effect will be.

A few analysts say borrowing could approach 1 trillion euros, a significant amount, but the majority expect about half that, in line with the first round of three-year loans. One unknown is how much healthy banks will draw on the central bank’s credit in order to make a profit by borrowing money at 1 percent and investing in assets that pay a higher return, like government bonds. The bank will announce the results Wednesday morning.

If banks borrow significantly more than the 489 billion euros ($647 billion) that they did in December, that may be seen as a sign they are prudently filling their coffers for the years ahead. But some analysts say it could also be seen as an indication that European institutions are more vulnerable than people thought.

It's another case of "print, or die."  There is no turning back now.  Hyperinflation is now baked in the cake.  This story was posted in The New York Times on Sunday...and is another Phil Barlett offering.  The link is here.


Injecting Cash: Europe's Banks Are Addicted to ECB's Cheap Money

The European Central Bank will give European banks another massive round of emergency loans at bargain-basement rates on Tuesday, with financial institutions expected to borrow up to one trillion euros. The ECB is playing down the risks of providing so much cheap money, but critics say that banks have become too dependent on the flow of easy cash.

For Kleanthis Papadopoulos, chairman of Greece's TT Hellenic Postbank, the situation is not looking good. "I can't give any new credits," he admits soberly.

Although this financial lifeline has become essential for bankers like Papadopoulos, many of his colleagues in the industry see it as a sheer luxury: "We don't need it," says Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann. "We will only take part if it makes economic sense for us." And the ECB's offer is hard to refuse. After all, where else is it possible to borrow money so cheaply?

But when does an emergency become business as usual? And how big is the danger that Europe's banks will simply forget how to stand on their own two feet if they are continuously being propped up?

A very good question.  This story was posted on the German website yesterday...and I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us.  It's well worth reading...and the link is here.


Spanish revolt brews as national economic rearmament begins in Europe

Spain's new prime minister has looked into the abyss and recoiled.

Though he swept into office as an apostle of orthodoxy, Mariano Rajoy has since delved into Madrid’s ghastly accounts and concluded that it would be "suicidal" to try to slash the budget deficit from 8pc of GDP to 4.4pc of GDP this year, as demanded by Europe's fiscal Calvinists.

Such a policy would require a further €40bn or €50bn of cuts and accelerate the downward spiral already underway, beyond the 1.7pc contraction expected this year by the International Monetary Fund.

The unemployment rate would rise to well over 25pc with six million out of work by the end of the year, equivalent to 30pc under the old definition used in the last jobless crisis in the early 1990s.

A study by BBVA of 173 cases of fiscal squeezes in OECD countries over the last thirty years concluded that demands on Spain are almost unprecedented. They found only four such cases, and three were offset by devaluations. The fourth was Ireland in 2009. The country crashed into slump, culminating in a 54pc fall in Dublin house prices.

Just another one of the PIIGS getting ready for the slaughterhouse.  This Ambrose Evans-Pritchard offering was in the Sunday edition of The Telegraph...and is Roy Stephens second offering of the day.  It's a must read...and the link is here.


George Osborne: UK has run out of money

In a stark warning ahead of next month’s Budget, the Chancellor said there was little the Coalition could do to stimulate the economy.

Mr. Osborne made it clear that due to the parlous state of the public finances the best hope for economic growth was to encourage businesses to flourish and hire more workers.

“The British Government has run out of money because all the money was spent in the good years,” the Chancellor said. “The money and the investment and the jobs need to come from the private sector.”

Mr. Osborne’s bleak assessment echoes that of Liam Byrne, the former chief secretary to the Treasury, who bluntly joked that Labour had left Britain broke when he exited the Government in 2010.

This is another story from the Sunday edition of The Telegraph...and another Roy Stephens offering.  The link is here.


China risks 'middle income trap' without free market revolution

China’s spectacular catch-up growth is nearing its limits, leaving the country prey to the "middle income trap" over coming years unless Beijing embraces the free market and relaxes its suffocating grip over the economy.

A joint report by the World Bank and China’s Development Research Centre has warned that the low-hanging fruit of state-driven industrialization is largely exhausted.

"As China’s leaders know, the country’s current growth model is unsustainable," said Robert Zoellick, the World Bank’s president. "This is not the time just for muddling through. It’s time to get ahead of events."

China clearly needs to hack away a thicket of impediments, starting with the semi-feudal Hukou system that denies rural migrants rights to urban registration, or access to healthcare, education and housing in the cities.

This is another Ambrose Evans-Pritchard offering from The Telegraph.  This one was posted at their website yesterday evening.  It's well worth reading...and I thank Roy Stephens once again for bringing it to my attention.  The link is here.


How Wall Street Is Raising the Price of Gas

Every time you fill up your car with gas, your dollar ends up in the hands of  a wide range of interests from around the world. Some of your money goes to oil companies, some  of what you pay goes to refineries, and more still gets divided up by the gas stations you stop at.

What may surprise you, however, is what one of Wall Street’s top regulators has to say about who else you’re paying: speculators on Wall Street.

Bart Chilton, a commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission,  the federal agency that regulates commodity futures and option trading in the United States, said it’s time to look at home — in addition to overseas — when searching for the reasons why gas prices are on the rise.

Bart Chilton is a hero to some...but not to me.  You have to ask yourself why he doesn't mention the fact that one speculator in particular is short more than 25% of the entire Comex silver market.

This story/video was posted on their website on Thursday...and I thank reader 'John Q. from California' for sending it along.  The link is here.


Paulson Said to Tell Clients Gold Fund Will Top Others

John Paulson, the hedge fund manager seeking to rebound from record losses in 2011, told investors his Gold Fund will outperform his other strategies over five years, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The billionaire, at a meeting yesterday at the Metropolitan Club in New York, said the metal is the best hedge against currency debasement as countries inject money into their economies, said the person, who attended the event and asked not to be named because the information is private. Paulson also cited gold as a hedge against the euro currency, as a breakup may occur, and an eventual increase in inflation.

The manager told clients his own money comprises 55 percent of the Gold Fund’s $1.2 billion in assets, the person said. The fund, which can buy derivatives and other gold-related securities, declined 11 percent last year after the metal slumped 14 percent in the final four months.

This Bloomberg story from last Friday was sent to me by Washington state reader S.A...and the link to this must read story is here.


Archaeologists show off priceless gold haul

For the first time archaeologists are showing a 1.8-kilo haul of gold they found while performing excavations around a gas pipeline last year.

The bracelets, rings and other objects have been stored at Lower Saxony's State Conservation Office since they were found in April 2001 near the town of Syke while engineers prepared for construction of the so-called Nord Stream pipeline.

The haul included 117 objects, the most recent of which appear to date from the Middle Bronze Age, around 3,000 years ago.

Investigations have revealed that the gold likely came from Central Asia, although researchers are still unsure how it ended up in Europe.

This very interesting read was posted on the German website last Thursday...and I thank reader Bob Fitzwilson for digging this up on our behalf.  The photo itself is worth the trip...and the link is here. [Note: When I re-checked this link at 4:56 a.m. Eastern time, the website was down, so I hope it's back up by the time you get around to viewing this story.- Ed]


L.A. Times notes that 'the gold market is moving east'

A bit player only a decade ago, China has emerged as one of the most important forces in the global gold market, helping fuel the rising value of the precious metal.

Already the world's largest producer -- it overtook South Africa in 2007 -- China is now bedecking itself in bling. It's on track to become the globe's largest consumer of gold as early as this year, knocking off India, whose elaborate wedding dowries kept it on top for years.

Some of China's gold is going to its central bank as the government quietly boosts reserves. But the biggest driver is Chinese consumers. They're snapping up jewelry, coins, and bars as a hedge against inflation and to flaunt their rising wealth.

This story was posted in the L.A. Times very late Sunday night...and I plucked it from a GATA release yesterday.  Their headline reads "China refines its role in global gold market'.  It's an absolute must read, of course...and the link is here.


Bribes hold back Chinese in Australia mining: WikiLeaks

Chinese mining interests in Australia are being held back because they believe they must pay bribes to get what they want, according to a former senator quoted in emails released by WikiLeaks.

The private email is one of a huge number from the US-based global intelligence company Stratfor that the whistle-blowing organisation began publishing Monday.

The assessment, titled "Insight -- China/mining", said that Chinese firms were unable to overcome a corruption mindset when doing business Down Under.

"Where foreign companies do get access to tenements, they always seem to lose out because the mining sector in China is one of the most corrupt sectors of all," the unnamed former senator reportedly said.

Quite frankly I didn't believe this story until I checked with some of my friends in the mining industry, only to find out that it was the here it is.

This AFP story was filed from Sydney yesterday...and was posted over at the website.  I thank Australian reader Wesley Legrand for bringing it to our attention.  It's well worth the read...and the link is here.


Iran's gold, currency reserves at $110 billion: Tehran Times

The value of Iran’s gold and foreign currency reserves rose by $30 billion, hitting $110 billion in 2011, Fars news agency reported yesterday.

Iran ranks 22nd among 175 countries of the world in terms of the gold and foreign currency reserves, the report added.

Meanwhile, Yahya Al-e Es’haq, head of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines, said that Iran's gold reserve value set a new record, standing at nearly $17.5 billion. 

The country's gold reserve amounts to nearly 907 tons in weight, Al-e Es’haq said on February 1st.

This very short 4-paragraph story was posted in the Tehran Times on Sunday...and you just read it.  The link to the hard copy is here...and I thank Roy Stephens for this, his final offering in today's column.


Is Gold Money? Iran Says "Yes"

This short commentary by Casey Research's own Andrey Dashkov and Louis James showed up in yesterday's edition of Casey's Daily Dispatch.  It's worth reading...and the link is here.


Something big imminent for metals: James Turk

GoldMoney founder and GATA consultant James Turk told King World News last night that the continued strength of the precious metals after last week's strong gains signals that something big is about to happen.

Let's hope so.

I thank Chris Powell for providing the above paragraph of introduction...and the link to the KWN blog, which is certainly worth the read, is here.



¤ The Funnies

Although these five cartoons are a little dated, I thought them worth posting nonetheless...and I thank reader Kevin Cassidy for sharing them with us.

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¤ The Wrap

Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say "See, if it weren't for the government, you wouldn't be able to walk." - Harry Browne

With February coming to an end, there wasn't much going on, except for the last roll-overs out of the March delivery month in silver...and that was pretty massive.  Not only massive yesterday, but for the last week or so.  As I said yesterday, it will be interesting to see how many contract holders are left standing for delivery when the First Day Notice Report comes out this evening...and I'll comment on that in Wednesday's column.

According to the CME's Preliminary Volume Report for Monday, the last of the February deliveries were posted yesterday...88 in gold and 42 in silver...and there's nothing else outstanding for the February delivery month in either metal, as all deliveries are now complete.  Another delivery month has passed without incident.

The March open interest in silver is down to 7,521 contracts, as 12,639 contracts exited the March contract yesterday.  No doubt these 7,521 contracts will decline further in the next couple of days.

For the months of January and February, there were 2,231 silver contracts posted for delivery.  Of that amount, Jefferies issued/delivered 2,002 contracts... which represents 89.7% of the total.  The big stoppers, as you already know, were the Bank of Nova Scotia and JPMorgan.  They received 1,373 contracts and 738 contracts respectively.  This is a serious amount of silver.

And, just as an aside, of the 738 contracts that JPMorgan received...298 contracts were in its client account...and 440 contracts were in its proprietary [house] trading account.  So it's doing more silver business in house than it's doing for its clients.  Hopefully the Volker Rule will put an end to all this.

So, where do we go from here?  A good question for which I have no good answer.  Ted Butler says that we could go either way...up, for all the right reasons...and down, for all the usual reasons.  And, as you read further above, James Turk feels that "something big is imminent".  So place your bets.

In overnight trading, the gold price didn't do much of anything until shortly before 2:00 p.m. Hong Kong time during their Tuesday afternoon.  A small rally commenced that lasted less than an hour in London, before getting sold off...and as of 5:12 a.m. Eastern time, gold is up about seven bucks.

Silver got sold off a hair in Far East trading earlier today...but rallied a bit after that, before running into the usual selling pressure shortly after London trading began.  As of 5:18 a.m. Eastern time, silver is up less than a dime.  Relatively speaking, net volume in both metals is on the lighter side...and the dollar index is off about 20 basis points.

Today is the cut-off for Friday's Commitment of Traders I'm looking forward to the rest of Tuesday's price activity with great interest.

I'm all done for today...see you tomorrow.