October 2, 2022

Gold Demand In Asia Remains Insatiable

As gold demand in Asia soars, vault companies are racing to keep up with storage demand.  In July, Gold and Silver Blog reported on a massive new gold vault being constructed in Hong Kong by Malca-Amit due to unrelenting physical demand for gold in Asia.  The new vault was designed to hold 1,000 metric tonnes of gold and as of July, had already taken in 2,400 tonnes of gold owned by gold exchange traded funds.

It turns out that Malca-Admit should have built a much larger vault.  As demand for physical gold continues to increase, other companies have joined the race to provide secure depositories for wealthy investors.  The Wall Street Journal reports that demand for high-security vault capacity in Asia is soaring in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Brink’s Co., for example, has increased its storage space for precious metals in Singapore more than threefold over the past year, to 200 square meters, and is building a bonded warehouse in Shanghai to store high-value consumer goods and precious metals.

“We are growing, and driving that growth is the storage of precious metals and also bank notes,” said Jos van Wegen, the company’s senior manager of global services in Singapore.

Comprehensive data on the volume of high-security storage capacity in the region isn’t available. But demand for gold is clearly rising.

China’s gold demand in the third quarter of this year was 176.8 tons—16% of global demand and up 47.1% from the same period three years ago, according to the World Gold Council. Hong Kong’s demand totaled 6.9 tons in the third quarter this year, up 56.8% from the third quarter of 2009.

Singapore imported 36.7 tons of gold in the first 10 months of this year, well down from 62 tons in the full year 2011. The government’s announcement in February that, in a bid to become a gold-trading hub, it would scrap a 7% goods and services tax on gold, silver and platinum hurt imports for much of the year. Fourth-quarter gold-import figures for Singapore are expected to be stronger, World Gold Council executives say.

While physical gold requires storage space, it does offer a lot of value in a relatively small package. At around $1,690 a troy ounce, a metric ton of gold is valued at $54.3 million, but would take up only slightly more space than a standard case of 12 wine bottles—though most gold is stored in ingots.

Malca-Amit, a company that stores and transports diamonds and precious metals, has lockups in Hong Kong and Singapore, and is preparing to open one in Shanghai in the first quarter next year. The Shanghai vault will also hold art and luxury goods such as high-value mobile phones and designer handbags.

Malca-Amit’s Singapore vault, capable of holding 600 tons of gold, is almost full, and the company is seeking more space. The amount of gold stored there has increased 200% from a year ago, it says.

Its recently opened Hong Kong vault can hold 1,000 tons of gold, which would be worth more than $54 billion. It is almost large enough to hold the official reserves of China, which total 1,054 tons, according to World Gold Council data.

Malca-Amit has gold-storage sites in New York and Zurich, but the focus of its expansion is firmly on Asia, executive director Joshua Rotbart said. Some Asian investors who are storing their gold in the U.S. and Europe are keen to move it closer to home as more storage space becomes available, he said.

The recent price weakness in gold is apparently viewed as a buying opportunity by sophisticated Asian investors seeking to protect their wealth from the torrential flood of printed money being produced on a global basis by central banks (see Central Banks Pledge Unlimited Money Printing).

On a recent visit to the Chinatown section of Bangkok, I witnessed first hand large crowds of customers in Chinatown’s numerous retail gold stores.  Gold has never defaulted on its promise as a means of wealth preservation, something clearly understood by the citizens of a country whose history goes back thousands of years.

Customers at Bangkok retail gold store

Chinese Gold

Chinese Gold

U.S. Mint Numismatic Precious Metals Sales Decline

According to Coin Update, sales of numismatic precious metal coins showed weekly sales declines.  Future sales, however, may increase due to an upcoming price decrease based on the recent correction in precious metal prices.

The latest report of the United States Mint’s numismatic product sales shows mostly lower numbers for precious metals products. Elsewhere in the report, the Chester Arthur Presidential $1 Coin and Alice Paul Bronze Medal Set makes its debut.

Ten out of sixteen gold numismatic products showed weekly sales declines compared to the prior period. The US Mint currently has these products priced based on an average gold price within the $1750 to $1799.99 range. With the market price of gold below this range for the entire reporting period, buyers may be showing restraint as they await the next weekly pricing adjustment.

Eighteen out of twenty-seven of the silver numismatic products showed weekly sales declines compared to the prior period. The US Mint raised prices for many of these products earlier in the month when the market price of silver was approaching $35 per ounce. Silver has since fallen back from this level, although the higher product prices remain in effect. The America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins showed sales declines across all nine options currently available. Gains were seen for the 2012 Proof and 2012-W Uncirculated Silver Eagles compared to the prior period.

The 2012 Proof Platinum Eagle, which is the only available platinum product, showed negative sales on the week.

See the full sales report for U.S. Mint numismatic products here.

Month to date figures for U.S. Mint gold and silver bullion coins remains strong.  Through October 24th, the U.S. Mint sold 2,584,000 one ounce American Eagle Silver Bullion coins.  If the current sales pace continues, monthly sales could exceed 3.5 million ounces which would be the second best monthly sales total after January when 6,107,000 silver Eagles were sold.

Sales of the American Eagle Gold Bullion coins also remain strong through October 24th with 48,500 ounces sold.  If the current pace of sales is maintained, total sales of the American Gold Bullion coins should reach almost 65,000 for October which would be the third highest sales month of the year.  In January the U.S. Mint sold 127,000 ounces of gold bullion coins followed by 68,500 ounces in September.

Although gold prices have soared over the past decade and the purchasing power of the dollar has collapsed, the American public still does not recognize the value of gold and silver as a store of wealth.  Expect this to change as the bull market in precious metals continues.

Gold Bullion Coin Sales Soar 76% In September, Silver Sales Up 13%

According to the latest report from the U.S. Mint, demand for both gold and silver bullion coins during September surged to the highest levels since January.

Total sales of the American Eagle Gold bullion coins during September soared 75.6% to 68,500 ounces from 39,000 ounces in August.  Monthly sales of gold bullion coins have fluctuated widely during 2012 with a high of 127,000 ounces in January and a low of 20,000 ounces in April.   The average monthly sales of gold bullion coins through September is 53,500.

Total sales of the American Eagle Gold bullion coins through September total 481,500 ounces.   Unless sales surge dramatically during the last three months of the year, 2012 will be the fourth year of declining sales of the gold bullion coin.   As detailed below, the all time record for sales of the gold bullion coins was during 2009 when sales exceeded 1.4 million ounces.

Gold Bullion U.S. Mint Sales By Year
Year Total Sales Oz.
2000 164,500
2001 325,000
2002 315,000
2003 484,500
2004 536,000
2005 449,000
2006 261,000
2007 198,500
2008 860,500
2009 1,435,000
2010 1,220,500
2011 1,000,000
Sept-12 481,500
Total 7,731,000

U.S. Mint sales of the American Eagle Silver bullion coins during September totaled 3,255,000 ounces, up 13.4% from August sales of 2,870,000 ounces.

Investor demand for the American Eagle Silver bullion coins has been relatively consistent throughout the year.  After a very strong January during which over 6.1 million coins were sold, demand remained strong with monthly sales well in excess of 2 million ounces except for February when sales slumped to 1,490,000 ounces.  If monthly sales of the American Eagle silver coins continue at the September sales pace, total sales for 2012 will be close to the record year of 2011 when almost 40 million ounces were sold.

Total annual sales by the U.S. Mint of the silver bullion coins since 2000 are shown below.  Sales for 2012 are through September.

American Silver Eagle Bullion Coins
YEAR OUNCES SOLD
2000 9,133,000
2001 8,827,500
2002 10,475,500
2003 9,153,500
2004 9,617,000
2005 8,405,000
2006 10,021,000
2007 9,887,000
2008 19,583,500
2009 28,766,500
2010 34,662,500
2011 39,868,500
Sept-12 25,795,000
TOTAL 224,195,500

The American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins produced by the U.S. Mint can only be purchased by Authorized Purchasers who in turn resell the coins to other dealers and the general public.  Numismatic versions (uncirculated or proof) of the American Eagle series coins can be purchased by the public directly from the U.S. Mint.

Platinum Has Soared 17% Since Early August – What Now?

Since establishing multiple chart bottoms at $1,400 during June and July, platinum has soared along with other precious metals.  Based on the London Fix Price, platinum has soared 16.5% from a low of $1,390 on August 3, 2012 to a September 20 closing price of $1,620.

In early August, Gold and Silver Blog examined the ostensibly poor fundamentals which had driven down the price of platinum and concluded that, based on the widely held bearish consensus and chart action, platinum had already fully discounted all bearish news.  In addition, the gold to platinum ratio had reached a low not seen since 1985, another signal that platinum was undervalued.  (See Platinum Perspectives – Time To Buy or Will The Bears Win?)

Courtesy: Kitco.com

Despite the recent normal consolidation in platinum, prices are likely to move substantially higher over time along with the rest of the precious metals complex.

As noted in early August, Platinum can be purchased from the U.S. Mint in the form of Proof Platinum Eagles.

The U.S. Mint has been producing the Proof American Platinum Eagle since 2009.  According to MintNewsBlog, the entire 2009 production of 8,000 Proof Platinum Eagles sold out in a week.  During 2010, the U.S. Mint produced 10,000 Proof Platinum coins which also quickly sold out.  During 2011, the mintage was set at 15,000 coins but the sales pace slowed considerably with pricing set at $2,092 and the coin has still not sold out with total sales of 14,760 as of the last U.S. Mint report.  On August 9th, the U.S. Mint announced that production of the 2012 Proof American  Platinum Eagles will be set at 15,000 coins.  Orders are limited to 5 per household with initial pricing at $1,692.

For investors disinclined to hold physical platinum, positions can be easily established through the purchase of the ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (PPLT) which holds physical platinum.  The PPLT holds a relatively small amount of platinum reflecting the lack of broad investor participation in the platinum sector.  The PPLT recently held about 5,000 ounces of platinum valued at $79.6 million.  Gold remains the premier investment choice in precious metals but a position in platinum could add some luster to an investor’s precious metals portfolio.

Courtesy – yahoo finance

More on this topic:
Closed Platinum Mines Offset By Stockpile Surplus – Is A Surprise Platinum Rally Coming?

Platinum Soars $78 On Week As Bodies Pile Up In South Africa

Gold Mining Industry Becomes Attractive To Capital Markets

By Vin Maru

Over the past summer we suggested that we would see more money become available to quality mining projects from banks sitting on tons of cash ready to loan out on credit worthy projects in their ever increasing need for higher yield. In our September 11th, 2012 blog post we stated that “Project funding will become available via bank loans on favourable projects; we can expect alot of money coming into the resource space and new projects will move towards production”.

Here is an exerpt from the TDV Golden Trader newsletter sent out to subscribers on July 23, 2012:

I suspect alot of that money will come into the commodities market and especially into the mining sector. There are many great projects which show great preliminary economic studies with today’s current prices of commodities. Banks can provide the funds necessary to help put projects into production by way of corporate bonds or loans with higher interest rates. Even with a 7-10 % rate, many of these projects are very economical, provide a positive IRR and have short payback period (3-5 years). Potential producers should really look at this option for funding their projects, the interest rates are reasonable and this would eliminate the need for further dilution.

It is also in the bankers’ best interest in making these loans to the various development projects for many reasons. First, they will be making a much higher positive yield over the next 3-5 years than most other fixed income investments. They can probably become first in line as a creditor guaranteeing their investment and using the company assets and reserves to help determine valuations as possible collateral. Also, their funds are probably safer at a cash flow positive producing mine versus buying bonds of a pig country that can only make interest payment by robbing Peter to pay Paul. In their need to make secure investments, banks can also guarantee their payments will not be interrupted by keeping a floor under the commodities prices. This floor price can be achieved by forcing the producer to hedge part of their production at current prices, thus guaranteeing a predictable minimum future cash flow.

Lately we have seen more debt offerings, issuance of debentures and credit being given to mining companies who can prove strong economics on new projects or expansion to current mining operations. Here are few examples from the last few months:

Stornoway Diamond Corp. (TSX:SWY) has entered into a mandate letter with seven financial institutions concerning debt financing for the company’s Renard diamond project in northern Quebec. The mandated lead arrangers are Bank of Montreal, Caterpillar Financial, Export Development Canada, Investissement Quebec, Nedbank Capital Limited (London Branch), Societe Generale (Canada Branch) and The Bank of Nova Scotia which will arrange senior loans of up to $475 million, the company says.

Lake Shore Gold Corp. (“Lake Shore Gold” or the “Company”) (TSX:LSG)(NYSE MKT:LSG)  announced today that the Company has completed the previously announced public offering (the “Offering”), on a “bought deal” basis, of C$90 million principal amount of 6.25% convertible senior unsecured debentures (the “Debentures”) maturing on September 30, 2017.

Kirkland Lake Gold Announces $50 Million Private Placement of Convertible Debentures – The Debentures will mature on June 30, 2017 (the “Maturity Date”), unless earlier redeemed, and will bear interest, accruing, calculated and payable semi-annually in arrears on June 30 and December 31 of each year, at a rate of 6.0%. 

While the quality juniors have been able to raise capital in the last year, most are still finding it difficult to raise funds. In the past, small producers and exploration companies relied on the capital markets to raise funds by way of private placement and issuing shares which have been highly dilutive and overall negative for investors in these companies. We have a feeling that many juniors will be able to raise capital in this market, but they will have to be creative in their approach to getting funding deals done without diluting shareholders.

Private Sector Enters the Gold Mining Industry

However, the nature and investing climate for the mining sector has changed recently. We are now seeing investment funding and credit becoming available to mining companies from the private sector. Cluff Gold (TSX:CFG) a West Africa focused gold mining company recently announced a strategic alliance with Samsung C&T Corporation where Samsung will provide an unhedged US$20M facility to Cluff Gold in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU also provides a framework for the potential long term funding of Cluff’s Baomahun project and other development opportunities.

In my opinion, Samsung, being a visionary in the electronics industry, has realized it needs to make strategic investments with its cash in order to protect purchasing power and secure availability of gold and silver to be used in its products. This is a game changer and as fiat paper currencies get destroyed by the central banks and governments, the smart money will continue to gravitate towards gold, the true store of wealth. This could be the start of a new trend where private sector corporations start paying attention to gold as currency and hedge against paper assets. I would expect this trend to continue as more private companies and fund manager will find a need to diversify out of paper money and into the currency of last resort: gold. While it may be difficult for these companies and institution to buy the physical metal on the open market, the smart money will go right to the source and get invested where profits can be maximised, which means going to the miners.

We are in next phase of this bull market in precious metals, and gold and silver will continue to move higher now that printing money to infinity has become official policy. It will be the miners who are still undervalued and have growth potential that will really benefit from this next round of QE and rising gold prices. Expect to hear more stories about investments coming to the mining sector and as this trend grows, so will the attention being paid to the minors. While the ETFs may be a good way to trade the price of metals rising, the leverage and exponential gains will be made with selecting the right mining company. The next leg of this bull market will benefit the miners and they could easily outperform the gold price over the next few years, this is where we see the real gains to be made.

I will be speaking at the Cambridge House Toronto Resource Investment Conference on September 27 and 28, 2012. You may register here to attend the show. I will be presenting a 30 minute workshop on Friday the 28th at 4:00 pm on “Trading Opportunities: Looking for Catalysts and Developing Strategies to Trade Precious Metals Shares”. On Thursday morning I will also be a panel speaker alongside Bill Murphy, Chris Powell, and Jay Taylor discussing gold’s diminishing supply and increasing demand.

If you enjoyed reading this article and are interested in protecting your wealth with precious metals, you can receive our free blog by visiting TDV Golden Trader.

Fed’s Open Ended Money Printing Will Destroy The Purchasing Power Of U.S. Dollar

By Axel Merk

May we suggest a Twitter version of today’s FOMC statement: “Don’t worry, be happy! ” – No, the economic outlook hasn’t improved. In fact, the Fed may want you to take a valium to stomach the ride ahead. Alternatively, if you don’t get mollified by the Fed’s “communication strategy”, you may want to consider taking action to protect the purchasing power of your hard earned dollars.

Here’s the challenge: the Federal Reserve (Fed) wants to keep interest rates low across the yield curve (from short-term to long-term rates) to aid the economic recovery. But good economic data might send the bond market into a tailspin, i.e. raise long-term rates and thus cause massive headwinds to the economic recovery. We got a taste of how quickly the bond market can sell off earlier this year when the economy appeared to pick up some steam. Higher interest rates would further encourage the major deleveraging that market forces still warrant, not a desirable scenario from our understanding of Fed Chairman Bernanke’s thinking.

Engaging in further rounds of asset purchases (“Quantitative Easing”, “QE3”, “QEn+1”) may alleviate some of those upward pressures on interest rates, but the moment a program is announced, the market prices it in and looks ahead, threatening to mitigate any lasting impact of QEn+1. Picture the Fed as trying to hold a carrot in front of the donkey, well, market, to make us believe another stimulus is coming, without actually giving it. That way, the Fed can print less money to achieve its goals. The Fed calls it communication strategy.

Some have suggested a more open-ended approach to asset purchases. But that would likely come with some sort of guidance as to when to stop it, such as when a certain level of unemployment or nominal growth is reached. Given that everything Bernanke has done has been signaled well ahead of time (the blogosphere is full of the “best kept secret”, the likelihood of more QE), introducing a completely new concept is rather un-Bernanke-ish. You may not agree with Bernanke, but as an investor please don’t act surprised.

In recently released FOMC minutes, the Fed tells us that it might communicate to the market that rates may remain low even as the economy recovers. Bingo! We have long argued that Bernanke considered the early monetary tightening during the Great Depression as a grave mistake, as it undid all the “progress” that had been achieved. But more to the point, the Fed needs to get our attention away from the economy. By keeping the link to the economy, the Fed will always struggle to keep the upper hand on the bond market. So forget about the carrot: we need valium, not carrots. By communicating with the market that rates will remain low independent of how the economy might perform, the bond market just might not be selling off as aggressively as economic growth picks up.

That’s exactly the path we believe the Fed is going to go down. It will be interesting, however, to see what the Fed’s explanation will be. We doubt they will use the valium analogy. Some Fed watchers would like to see a nominal GDP target or something similar, but don’t bet your donkey on Bernanke going that far.

The basic challenge is – and we are interpreting here as we don’t think the Fed or any central banker in office would ever frame it this way: the Fed wants to have inflation, wants to move the price level higher to bail out home owners, wants to push up nominal wages, and wants to push up nominal GDP to make the debt burden more bearable. But the Fed doesn’t want the market to price in inflation, as that would push interest rates up.

That’s why we may be heading ever more into the “Land of Make-Believe.” But as investors enjoy their valium, the U.S. dollar is at risk of melting away under their feet. Drugged up, we are too busy laughing at Greece and doling out advice to Europe to notice that our “don’t worry, be happy” approach might lead to rather unhappy purchasing power. If you think you are above the fray, let me just ask whether you have watched the euro in recent months? As of late, that perceived weakling of a currency appears to be giving the greenback a run for its money. We are not suggesting that investors dump their U.S. dollars and exchange them all for euros. However, we would like to encourage investors to consider embracing currency risk, for example through a managed basket of currencies, as a way to manage the risk posed to the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar. Adding currency exposure to a portfolio may have valuable diversification benefits.

Some sympathize with the ever greater complexity of monetary activism around the world. But it’s really rather simple: there’s too much debt in the world. To deal with the debt, countries may deflate, default or inflate. In the US, we have what both Bernanke and his predecessor Greenspan have called the printing press; as such, so their argument goes, the U.S. dollar is safe – in nominal terms at least. Greece is not capable of procuring valium, which creates a different set of challenges. But stop pitying Greece and consider taking action to protect your purchasing power at home.

Please sign up to our newsletter to be informed as we discuss global dynamics and their impact on gold and currencies. You can also engage with me directly at Twitter.com/AxelMerk where I provide real-time updates on the economy, currencies, and global dynamics..

Axel Merk
President and Chief Investment Officer, Merk Investments
Merk Investments, Manager of the Merk Funds

Gold and Silver Bullion Coin Sales Jump 25% In August, San Francisco Silver Eagle Set Sold Out

The latest sales figures from the U.S. Mint for August show a significant increase in sales of both gold and silver bullion coins.

Sales of gold bullion coins during 2012 have varied dramatically from month to month with a high of 127,000 ounces in January to a low of only 20,000 ounces in April.  Monthly gold bullion sales through August have averaged 51,625 ounces.

Monthly sales of silver bullion coins have been more consistent during 2012.  The U.S. Mint sold over 6 million ounces of silver bullion coins in January, but the monthly pace has tapered off to under 3 million ounces.  The average monthly sales of silver bullion coins through August is 2,817,500.

American Eagle Gold Bullion Coin Sales

Total sales of the American Eagle Gold bullion coins during August totaled 39,000 ounces, up 27.9% from July’s total of 30,500 ounces.  Total sales of gold bullion coins by the U.S. Mint through August totaled 413,000 ounces, valued at approximately $700 million based on today’s closing gold price.

On an annualized basis, the U.S. Mint will sell almost 620,000 ounces of  gold bullion to investors this year valued at $1.0 billion if the price of gold remains at $1,692.  During 2009, the peak year of gold bullion coin sales by the U.S. Mint, investors purchased 1,435,000 ounces valued at $1.4 billion based on the average price of gold of $972 per ounce.

Investors who have reduced gold bullion purchases due to the increased cost per ounce will no doubt regret this decision as the price of gold continues to increase.  The value of gold should be viewed in the context of the reduced purchasing power of the dollar – as the Federal Reserve constantly destroys the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar, the “dollar cost” of gold will naturally increase.  The price of gold is merely reflecting the fact that paper dollars are worth less and less every day.

As the Fed continues to do what it does, expect the bull market in gold to continue.

Listed below are yearly sales figures for the American Eagle gold bullion coins since 2000.  Sales for 2012 are through August 31st.

Gold Bullion U.S. Mint Sales By Year
Year Total Sales Oz.
2000 164,500
2001 325,000
2002 315,000
2003 484,500
2004 536,000
2005 449,000
2006 261,000
2007 198,500
2008 860,500
2009 1,435,000
2010 1,220,500
2011 1,000,000
2012 413,000
Total 7,662,500

American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Sales

Sales of the American Eagle Silver bullion coins by the U.S. Mint during August totaled 2,870,000 ounces, up 25% from the July total of 2,278,000 ounces.  Investor demand for silver has remained strong, with many investors taking the opportunity to purchase additional silver below the highs reached during 2011.  Sales of the silver bullion coins remain near record levels and total sales for 2012 should be well in excess of 30 million ounces for the third consecutive year.

Total annual sales by the U.S. Mint of the silver bullion coins since 2000 are shown below.  Sales for 2012 are through August.

American Silver Eagle Bullion Coins
YEAR OUNCES SOLD
2000 9,133,000
2001 8,827,500
2002 10,475,500
2003 9,153,500
2004 9,617,000
2005 8,405,000
2006 10,021,000
2007 9,887,000
2008 19,583,500
2009 28,766,500
2010 34,662,500
2011 39,868,500
Jul-12 22,540,000
TOTAL 220,940,500

U.S. Mint Numismatic American Eagle Gold and Silver Coins

Both the American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins can only be purchased from the U.S. Mint by Authorized Purchasers who in turn resell the coins to other dealers and the general public.  The numismatic versions of the American Eagle series coins can be purchased directly from the U.S. Mint.

Many of the numismatic silver coins produced by the U.S. Mint attract strong demand and often times, the coins will sell at a premium in the secondary market.  A recent example of this is the 2012 San Francisco Silver Eagle Set.  According to the Mint News Blog:

The 2012 San Francisco Silver Eagle Set was one of the United States Mint’s most anticipated product releases of the year. Each set contained one 2012-S Proof Silver Eagle and one 2012-S Reverse Proof Silver Eagle.

Product sales began on June 7, 2012 at 12:00 Noon ET with pricing of $149.95 per set. Rather than establishing a maximum product limit, as had been done for similar products in the past, the US Mint would accept orders during a four week ordering window and produce the sets to meet the total demand. A sales odometer which was updated daily gave collectors an indication of the progress of the offering. Sales officially closed on July 5, 2012 at 5:00 PM ET. The last indicated sales total was 251,302 sets.

On the secondary market, prices for the sets remain above the issue price. A quick survey of eBay auctions completed within the past few days show the prices realized for raw sets mostly falling into a range of $180 to $190, compared to the issue price of $149.95.

Sets which have been graded by PCGS or NGC and received the top grade of Proof-70 have sold for premiums above raw sets. Sets with the two coins graded PCGS PR70DCAM and PR70 have recently sold for prices around $425 to $450. Sets with the two coins graded NGC PF 70 Ultra Cameo and PF 70 have sold for prices around $300 to $325.

How To Avoid Financial Fraud In The Gold Market

By Vin Maru

Financial Alchemy and Fraud In Gold

The gold bull market is alive and well as the summer doldrums come to a close and gold accumulation and trading starts to heat up going into the fall.  As the gold bull market matures and it draws more attention from investors all around the world, it does open up the doors for fraud.  By now we have heard many stories and accusations about manipulations by central planners, bullion banks, short-sellers and futures traders.  The regulators in the West have largely ignored these accusations and have looked the other way when it comes to oversight and creating a fair and legal market place for precious metals.

Financial Fraud in the Gold Market

When it comes to opportunity for fraud, the East is not innocent either.  Last month, police in Central China rounded up 33 people suspected of illegal gold-futures trading.  The case involved 5,000 investors and at least 380 billion Yuan ($59.62 billion) in which the suspects claimed to be agents of overseas companies dealing in London gold with the promise of huge returns.  They promoted investments in Loco London gold and charged exorbitant consulting fees without warning investors of the risks of these transactions or having a signed detailed contract.  This had been going on since October 2008 in a low key operation using private bank accounts, mobile phones and online messaging services.  Several suspects were caught and detained since March 2, 2012 while more arrests are expected to be made across China as the investigation continues.

As observers of the precious metals market, we know that many Eastern central banks are accumulating physical gold.  It is in their best interest to accumulate the physical metal and diversify out of toxic Western paper assets that were sold to them by the western financial puppet masters.   It is obvious that Western cartels like Goldman Sacs and JP Morgan are great at creating and selling financial instruments of mass destruction.

One only has to look at the CDO market or the mortgage backed securities sold in the past decade.  These paper products were backed by mortgages from over inflated real estate bought by people who could not afford to buy property and were thus set up to fail.  Another example is the derivative market which is reportedly over $600T worth of contracts used for “hedging” all the toilet paper assets sold by Western institutions.  This includes derivatives and “insurance” products to protect from default or significant changes in valuation on assets such as government bonds, interest rates & credit default swaps and most other paper assets.  There is no way these contracts are backed by any real asset and when they are called to perform, the system will collapse.  This is most likely why they changed the name and structure of the recent Greek default on bonds; they cannot afford to trigger the derivative time bomb.

Any observer of the financial markets can see that the derivative market is just an insurance scam being sold as a hedging tool for paper products.  They cannot and will not every pay out on derivatives because the cascading effect would bring down the system.  Yet the paper pushers are still selling these “contract assurances” in volumes in order to create a “financial hedge” of the entire system.    When push comes to shove, planners may not let Goldman or JPM collapse because they are TOO connected to fail and they are the ringleaders in pushing paper products for the world to buy in their pump and dump scams.

Masters of Alchemy – Turning Paper in to GOLD

This past week, it was reported that George Soros was unloading investments in major financial stocks and started investing back in gold by way of GLD.  We always question the choice of investment vehicles used by large fund managers.  As a investor in the gold sector, why wouldn’t anyone stick with the physical metal vs. an ETF such as GLD which is supposedly backed by gold?  There have been lots of questions around GLD and its physical holdings, which was primarily sold by JP Morgan, one of the many bullion banks with a questionable short position in the precious metals market (Silver in particular).  If the past decade is any indication of paper manipulation (and they are known to have a track record for selling paper products which turn out to be fraudulent), why would anyone buy an ETF like GLD from these Masters of Financial Alchemy when they have the proven ability to turn paper into gold?

When looking at GLD and the many other “un-backed” gold trading vehicles being sold into the market, these products are very questionable on how much gold they have held on storage or available for delivery.  Even if there was significant amounts of gold, with the lack of good auditing practices, who knows how much is really owned by the fund.  Much of it could be used as collateral, hypothecated, leased out or swapped in contracts by the issuers of these products.  When called to perform and deliver the gold, expect questions of ownership and scandals much like MF Global or PFGBest.  This is the nature of products created by the Wall Street paper pushers; everything should be questioned eventually.  But for now and most of this bull market, GLD will not be questioned or audited.  It will be used as another tool for selling an ETF in a particular asset class, one that will become more and more in demand as the bull market for gold evolves.  This ETF will be used by the likes of all major trading houses, funds, sovereigns and investors because it is a trading vehicle and a proxy for gold, and it could be used for hedging purposes much like the derivative market.

Going back to why Soros would invents in such a fund:  Our suspicion is that Soros is reducing exposure in financials because they have structural problems and have many questions surrounding the assets they hold.  While a $50M withdrawal is not much for a fund his size, a purchase of $130M in GLD is significant.  His strategy is probably to take these funds and go long on GLD as a hedging tool for the exposure he still has remaining in financials.  Soros is just being smart and realizing that he must hedge using gold, even if it has to be with GLD.  He knows the paper pushers need GDL as a tool for hedging, so do not expect it to collapse anytime soon.   This means more than likely that the “Masters of Financial Alchemy” such as JPM Morgan and Goldman Sacs will continue to sell paper with promises of gold backing and it will get accepted by the market as “Good as Gold”. We at TDV, however, know better.

At this point, it is a very wise move for anyone who doesn’t have any exposure to gold to start getting exposure immediately.  If you have not taken this necessary step to protect your assets and hedge against any potential financial storm that may be brewing, you are placing yourself and any remaining assets at risk.  Owning the physical is always suggested as a private investor, but if need be look at GLD as a trading and hedging vehicle.

In a strange and ironic way, we need GLD to continue its paper scams as it still legitimizes gold as an investible asset class.  The more GLD grows and continues to gain attention, the stronger and longer this bull market will last in precious metal.   As much as we realize that GLD could be a scam and owning the physical is the prudent thing to do, we cannot discount the need for GLD as a tool for hedging.  There is no way the physical market for gold can absorb demand coming from central banks, pension funds, sovereigns and the general investing public all at the same time.  It would make gold reach sky high prices in very short order which would not be healthy for a strong and long gold bull market.  Unfortunately, we need GLD and more gold ETFs around the world.  There is way too much fiat paper floating around and much more coming, the physical market couldn’t absorb this amount of funny money coming into the physical sector.  As much as I hate to say this, GLD is a necessary evil for the longevity of this bull market.   There is many more reason why we need more gold backed ETFs and products such as GLD mentioned above, however using this ETF as a hedging tool is a very important one.

In the near future we will look at additional reasons for owning gold through the various ETFs as a tool for trading and hedging.  We will also explore the various options available for owning paper or physical gold in the numerous ETFs around the world.  This information will be made available on our blog to everyone interested in evaluating gold specific ETFs. If you enjoyed reading this article and are interested in protecting your wealth with precious metals, you can receive our free blog by visiting TDV Golden Trader.

Gold Bullion Coin Sales Plunge 50% In July, Silver Sales Off 20%

The latest sales figures from the U.S. Mint show that sales of both gold and silver bullion coins declined dramatically during July.  While sales of silver bullion coins have remained at historically high levels, sales of the gold bullion coins have been in a steep decline since 2009.

American Eagle Gold Bullion Coin Sales

Sales of the American Eagle Gold Bullion coins during July totaled 30,500 ounces, a 49.2% decline from June sales of 60,000 ounces.  Two previous months of the year had lower gold coin sales than July.  During February 21,000 ounces of gold bullion coins were sold and in April only 20,000 ounces were sold.   The year to date average monthly sales figures for gold bullion coins total 53,428 compared to a monthly average of 83,333 during 2011.

The all time yearly sales record for the American Eagle gold bullion coins was set during 2009 when it looked as if the entire U.S. banking system was about to collapse.  Sales in each subsequent year have been lower than 2009 despite the increase in the price of gold since then.  In 2009 gold closed the year at $1,087.50 per ounce, subsequently hit a high of $1,895 on September 5, 2011 and closed today at $1,615.90 in New York trading.  If sales during 2012 are annualized, total gold bullion coin sales will reach approximately 641,000 ounces, the lowest amount since 2007 when yearly sales came in at 198,500 ounces.

Listed below are yearly sales figures for the American Eagle gold bullion coins since 2000.  Sales for 2012 are through July 31st.

Gold Bullion U.S. Mint Sales By Year
Year Total Sales Oz.
2000 164,500
2001 325,000
2002 315,000
2003 484,500
2004 536,000
2005 449,000
2006 261,000
2007 198,500
2008 860,500
2009 1,435,000
2010 1,220,500
2011 1,000,000
2012 374,000
Total 7,623,500

The graph below shows gold bullion coins sales since 2012, with sales annualized for 2012.

American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Sales

According to the U.S. Mint, sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coins totaled 2,278,000 ounces during July, a decline of 20.3% from June’s total of 2,858,000.   The highest monthly sales of the silver bullion coins during 2012 was 6,107,000 ounces recorded in January followed by the lowest monthly sales of 1,490,000 ounces in February.  Average monthly sales of the silver bullion coins through July was 2,810,000.

The silver bullion coins have showed resilient demand despite the drop in silver prices since mid 2011.  Based on year to date sales figures, total sales of the silver bullion coins could approach 34 million ounces, not far below the record sales figure recorded in 2011 when almost 40 million ounces were sold.

Total annual sales by the U.S. Mint of the silver bullion coins since 2000 are shown below.  Sales for 2012 are year to date totals through July.

American Silver Eagle Bullion Coins
YEAR OUNCES SOLD
2000 9,133,000
2001 8,827,500
2002 10,475,500
2003 9,153,500
2004 9,617,000
2005 8,405,000
2006 10,021,000
2007 9,887,000
2008 19,583,500
2009 28,766,500
2010 34,662,500
2011 39,868,500
Jul-12 19,670,000
TOTAL 218,070,500

The American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins are sold by the U.S. Mint only to Authorized Purchasers who in turn resell the coins to the general public and other dealers.  Numismatic versions of the American Eagle series gold and silver coins can be purchased by the public directly from the U.S. Mint.

Would Auditing The Fed Send Gold Higher?

By Vin Maru

The House Passes H.R. 459 Bill from Ron Paul to Audit the Fed

July 25, 2012 should go down in history as the date the Federal Reserve may become fully accountable to the US government. A motion to pass the bill as amended was unanimously approved by the house to require a full audit of the boards of governors of the Federal Reserve System and banks. This will be done by the Comptroller General of the US before the end of 2012 and they are required to issue their report within 12 months of enactment.  The votes in the House in the bill’s passing this was 326 yea votes to 99 nay votes with 7 non votes.  Interestingly enough it was the Republicans that strongly supported this bill with 239 yea and 1 nay vote, while the Democrats voted 88 yea and 98 nay.

There are many hurdles ahead of this bill before it takes effect; it still has to be ratified by the Senate and the President.  However, finally getting approved in the House is a step in the right direction.  Even if it does pass how much effect will the audit have in reality?  Probably not much since the banking institution known as the Federal Reserve operates outside of any law.  Even if they are found guilty of any wrong doing in managing the value of the US dollar or being involved in rigging the Libor rate, who will be there to prosecute them?  Remember they operate outside the law, so even if they are found guilty, it will be the US citizens and holders of paper/digital US dollars that will somehow pay for it.

In a world where bank’s losses are socialized, the Federal Reserve (the banker for banks) misconducts have always been socialized on the people.  Of course, this socialization of losses by the Fed has been taking place ever since its illegal inception.  In 1913, the Federal Reserve stole the power to issue and control money by introducing the Federal Reserve note, something we call the US dollar.  Since then, it is estimated that the dollar has lost 95% of its purchasing power by way of inflation (the increase of the money supply), so it really has only 5% left to go.   As the value of the US dollar moves towards its intrinsic value of zero, gold and silver as true money has only one way to go and that is up.

Usually first reactions are correct and looking at this news the value of the US dollar reacted negatively, while gold went higher in most major currencies around the world.

Could This be the Catalyst that Gold Needs for a Major Break Out to the Upside?

In a manipulated market, it’s tough to say, but the fact that there is support for auditing the Fed and making it accountable is definitely a step in the right direction.  With the recent news about major banks manipulating the Libor rate, any investigation into the Fed’s involvement is most welcome and has to be gold-positive.  Recently, we have been writing about how gold is moving towards the financial system with several different proposals for making it a tier 1 asset class and its use as collateral by financial institutions. If these proposals take effect, they are planned for January 2013, which coincides nicely with this audit being completed by the end of 2012.

Normally, the summer doldrums represent the lows in price for precious metals with a significant rally occurring in the fall and winter.  With this recent down turn, we have most likely seen the lows, and there are many catalysts for G&S to move higher into next years.

For example:

1. Food inflation is rising with this drought.

2. Gold could carry a zero risk weighting on bank books by Jan 2013 (BIS and FDIC are proposing this).

3. Paper currencies are Fiat, essentially worthless, but they will be used to create inflation, there is no other choice at the moment—QE to Infinity.

4. Market manipulation by bullion banks will be overrun by physical buyer (mostly now coming from central banks).

5. The investment community is only 1% invested in gold; historically this has been 5-10%.

6. Political tensions with Iran could heat up again later this year or early next, causing higher oil prices and as such gold.

7. More banking manipulation and scandals are emerging this summer, the Libor scandal is just the tip of the iceberg.

8. They system for true price discovery is broken, regulators have failed and the LBMA & Comex have lost all control and credibility.

9.  The price suppression by the west will be overrun by the East and physical buyers. The West cannot win this paper game.

10. MOST importantly: GOLD and SILVER is a hard asset and it has a history of over 5000 years being REAL MONEY. This paper/digital money has been only in place over the last 100 years and is doomed to fail.

Now is the time to be investing in gold and silver, during this consolidation.  A long period of consolidation is usually followed by a major move either to the upside and downside.  Given gold and silver’s favourable fundamentals, the break out will most likely be to the upside as gold moves towards the financial system.  Today’s positive price action could be the start of a new trend higher going into the fall and early next year.  If this trend plays out, there will be several opportunities to trade in and out of several precious metals ETFs.  The gold miners are great value compared to gold and we have been evaluating several that have great upside potential and production growth.

The key is to be ahead of the curve before it happens, take a position and place a tight stop loss in case this is a fake break out and gold continues to correct lower against its fundamentals.  If the correction in gold is over and we are at a start of a new trend higher over the next year, this summer will prove to one of the best buying opportunities we have seen in a very long time.  Significant profits could be made buying gold and many of the producers during the summer doldrums and then selling into the fall and winter, the only question is are you positioned to take advantage of a trend change in gold when it happens.

If you enjoyed reading this article and are interested in protecting your wealth with precious metals, you can receive our free blog by visiting TDV Golden Trader.

Cheers