Switzerland, now a fiat currency nation, has decided to dump more gold on international markets. Time to talk about who is mining gold, who is selling gold and who is buying. And this brings us to the two big nations with big trade deficits: the USA and India. I have some suprizing thoughts about both countries and the future price of gold.
The Swiss National Bank said Thursday it will sell 276 US tons of gold reserves over the next two years.
The sale would fetch about $5.2 billion (euro3.9 billion) at current prices.
The proceeds will be used to increase Switzerland's foreign currency reserves, national bank directorate member Thomas Jordan told reporters.
The share of gold in Switzerland's currency reserves has risen to 42 percent from 33 percent since mid-2005 due to the increase in gold prices. Jordan said the sale would return the share of gold in the currency reserves to their previous level.
This news flew around the gold bug sites, of course. Time for us to examine gold facts and statistics! And not for trade or profit but to see where it comes from and where it is going and what this all means for the future. After spending several hours at this activity, once again, the raw data showed interesting paths and one of these leads straight to...INDIA. I haven't talked much about India so it is time to fix that oversight.
Goverments are selling gold all the time. This is due to the world operating on the basis of a massive fiat currency: the dollar. This paper has nothing to do with anything except what everyone wants it to be vis a vis all other currencies, all are connected first to the dollar and then to other things. The USA is enjoying the fruits of empire and this is the chief apple. The USA has decided to make the dollar weaker in a ploy to stop the ever-growing trade deficit with the world. But this gambit has failed totally since the main trade partners with the USA all have huge FOREX reserves. But this activity has caused the price of gold to soar and this disturbs more than one central bank so they are now increasing their paper holdings in the hopes this will prop up the dollar.
Here is a story from 4 years ago about countries selling off gold from back when the USA decided we had no inflation and dropped interest rates to 1%:
Germany - sold 12 tonnes of gold in 2001, as commemorative gold coins.
Holland declared a policy of selling 300 tonnes over 5 years from 1999. The Dutch do not advertise their sales in the market as they happen. They have sold 100 tonnes in year 1. 27 tonnes in year 2. 9 tonnes in year 3, and 33 tonnes in year 4 (so far).
Portugal sold 15 tonnes in December 2002 and 30 tonnes in February 2003, apparently as a result of options taken out in 1997/8. [source]
Switzerland plans to sell 1300 tonnes. They have sold annual amounts of 120, 220 and 283 tonnes, project a further 283 tonnes in 2003 and will cease selling after 2004.
The UK has sold 395 tonnes in a public auction programme which finished in March 2002.[source]
So, Switzerland was selling off all the gold it accumulated during the 20th Century? And then stopped. So why did they restart this process except to prevent some sort of financial melt-down somewhere across the Atlantic? Germany sold gold, too. After 9/11, all sorts of nations decided to prop up the USA's economic system in order to preserve the New World Order but this only made things worse for us here since it made our trade deficit explode in size and has significantly weakened the USA as an economic entity.
I was curious about who is buying and selling gold so here is some of the raw data from the Galmarley article (click on all images to enlarge):
I knew Russia was producing gold but China? I read the Chinese news all the time and very carefully and the fact that the leadership never says anything about gold means the Chinese dragon is living like all dragons live: they hoard gold and don't talk about it especially to gods, dwarves or Siegfrieds. Russia always held their own gold close to their chest but have lost control of it repeatedly in history. The same goes for China: their entire gold hoard was stolen by the British and a host of others on the British heels. I still have gold certificates from 70 years ago, all worthless, of course. Gold still remains the fundamental basis of all wealth despite governments denying this.
February 06, 2004
Statistics recently published by China Gold Association (CGA) indicate that China's gold output reached 200.598 tons in 2003. This was the first time that China's gold output topped 200 tons.
Official at CGA said China's gold output in 1949 was 4.5 tons. After reaching the level of 100 tons in 1995 it took China only 8 years to reach a new high of 200 tons. China has become one of the main gold production countries. Gold industry has grown from a few mines at the founding of the People's Republic of China to a complete and independent industrial complex with full functions.
The Swiss announcement means the world gold markets will go down if there are few buyers for this latest infusion of gold. But actually, this isn't so unusual at all, really. Here is an 8 year old story about the Bank of England selling off its gold reserves right at the height of the .com madness:
Independent, The (London), May 8, 1999 by Diane Coyle Economics Editor
BRITAIN WILL be selling more than half of the gold held in the reserves at the Bank of England, the Treasury announced yesterday, in a move that signals the end of an era for the precious metal in the world monetary system.
The surprise announcement sent the price of gold plummeting more than $9 lower to $279.90 an ounce, close to the lowest level for 20 years. The Treasury's decision was seen in the gold market as a forerunner of similar announcements by other central banks and the International Monetary Fund.
The proceeds from the UK's sale of 125 tonnes (around 4 million fine troy ounces) of gold - 3 per cent of total reserves - this financial year will be invested instead in interest-bearing dollar, euro and yen assets. Over the next few years the plan is to reduce gold reserves from 715 tonnes to 300 tonnes. The sales will take place through a series of auctions every other month starting on 6 July.
It is funny that the Labor party decided gold wasn't worth holding and even tanked the gold markets with this sale only to see the price of gold nearly double since that sale so this choice was, to put it mildly, a lousy one which Brown still tries to shrug off as he reaches for the real Gold Ring of Power: to become the top American Stooge! Yesss! Precioussss!
All the major currencies and even formerly grim bankers who knew the value of vaults of gold, the Swiss, have all decided it is time to terminate the connection between gold and the paper stuff they publish so gleefully. All the major banks outside of the very secretive Chinese Dragon and the increasingly secretive KGB Bear, are selling off gold these days.
Last month (1999) Switzerland severed the link between the Swiss franc and gold and passed legislation permitting its Central Bank to reduce its holdings by up to 1,300 tonnes. The US, Germany, France and Italy will hold the largest remaining gold reserves.
Time to check out the International Monetary Fund facts and figures! We have none for China, there is no way China will let us peek into their dark cave of wealth but the biggest surprise for me today was to see that the Dragon makes gold! It is a major gold producer. The fact that China produces more than Russia is astonishing. Live and learn. Japan has to import its gold as well as oil and this means they have some serious trade inflation going on under the surface, always, this makes me very suspicious what with their continuing contention they are not seeing any inflation at all.
Looking at these IMF data sheets, one can see something goofy is certainly going on. The USA has the largest gold hoard on earth at Fort Knox thanks to the British Empire going bankrupt via WWI and WWII and being forced to give us most of their wealth. I can't reproduce the German IMF numbers but their reserves are at $117 billion which is far greater than our lousy $60+ billion. Their gold certificates are at $74,605 billion while England now has only $53 billion in reserves and $31 billion in gold certificates.
Switzerland's reserves are nearly identical to ours. Their gold certificates are at $27 billion and their holdings are 41 million troy ounces. US troy ounces are 261 million. So how can Switzerland say they have too much gold vis a vis their cash (fiat paper) reserves? It is 6X smaller than our own!
Russia is one of the top gold producers. Its own FOREX reserves are #3 in the world. As of last April, $369 billion. But Russia has, officially, only 12 million troy ounces of gold. This is due to communist ineptitude and outright looting when the USSR fell. A lot of that gold ended up in Switzerland. Russia has $9 billion in gold certificates.
Japan has increased its FOREX reserves this last two months which is why the yen is dying and nearly all currencies in the world. It stands at $911 billion last month. Probably much higher today since the yen lost even more value this week. They have $16 billion in gold certificates and 24 million troy ounces. This is slightly more than 1/2 the amount Switzerland is holding.
To understand who is accumulating wealth and who is spending money seeking wealth, we have to look at he statistics for who buys this gold and in what volumes. We have a good idea who is holding what (except for the suspicious dragon, of course) so who is buying up the gold that goes on the world's markets? Another eye-opener indeed.
India is far and away, #1. This doesn't shock me, actually. The rupee has a nasty history. My parents were often stationed in India since WWII. They had to carry gold coins from Switzerland when they travelled there because more than once, the currency issued to them lost so much value between the Embassy front door and the end of the train journey, gold was good as... gold there. The next best thing was a shortwave radio or a gun. All three meant you were God.
But today's stats did interest me a lot. India buys twice as much gold as the next country on the list. This is pure imports and has a gigantic effect on India's trade balance figures. The USA, as always, buys more and imports more than it produces: 56 tonnes extra. This adds to our trade deficit, too. Like everything, people seeking shelter by buying gold not only drive up world gold prices but also makes our trade deficit worse. And the key to everything is right there: we are spending much more than we are selling.
China buys 120 tons more than they produce. But they have a global trade surplus so this accumulation of gold is adding to their wealth, not subtracting from it. Japan imports 1/3rd the amount of gold China imports. The Japanese want to keep their trade surplus as big as possible so they make this sacrifice and instead, peg themselves to the paper dollars. The percentage of gold vis a vis paper fiat money is miniscule. China is in the same boat but they are rapidly moving paper money to gold. I expect the Swiss gold to go down the Chinese maw.
India hopes all the European nations sell off all their gold. The more who do this, the more India can buy and they have a bottomless appetite for more gold. And this is problematic on several important levels.
Blame it to the ever-rising oil prices and significant increase in non-oil imports, merchandise trade deficit is widening with every passing day. And if trend continue, without capital inflows being directed to build productive capacities, India is on the verge of facing the next Asian financial crisis.
Foreign Institutional investors (FIIs) is fast emerging as the main drivers of the Indian capital market because of strong fundamentals of the Indian economy and a high expectation on returns. With Sensex climbing up the ladder since April 2003, setting milestones after milestones, there seems to be no stopping them either.
According to the latest trade statistics released by the Directorate-General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics relating to the first five months of this financial year (April-August), the deficit in India's merchandise trade stood at $17,431.2 million as compared with $9,728.5 million during the corresponding period of the previous year. If this 80 per cent increase in the deficit persists over the rest of the year, the trend could take India's trade deficit to close to $50 billion over the financial year 2005-06.
So, India is by far and away, the world's major gold market and they are running an economy in the red? India has made a lot of money from outsourcing jobs from Europe and America. And the people gaining these jobs don't put money in bank accounts, their families rush out with that week's pay and buy gold. So India is having both inflation and a trade deficit that is beginning to cause problems. We can see from the IMF figures that India has no real reserves, they are a debtor nation, one controlled by the IMF and the world banks. This means they are very, very shaky, vulnerable to any stresses such as major businesses suddenly demanding pay cuts or removal of jobs due to rage at home as a recession begins to force politicians to act as if they are serving their nations instead of international money men like the Rothschilds (the head of that household in Paris died yesterday of old age).
Much of the recent debate on RBI intervention versus a hands-off policy in the foreign exchange market has focused primarily on the competitiveness of the rupee. Those in favour of heavier intervention have claimed that a continuously appreciating rupee would compromise export growth and eat into aggregate growth rates.
Thus if the current growth momentum has to sustain, policies have to be put in place to correct the appreciation.
All nations have to deflate their currency in order to play the trade game. Japan is champion at this: the rulers there have the ruthless energy to destroy their own people if this means killing inflation. The despair and destruction of this policy is only just dawning on the rulers there: they are killing off the population, not as horribly as in Zimbabwe or Rwanda but they are efficiently terminating themselves. India has a huge population and the people there are still physically reproducing, unlike Japan. India can't deflate the currency and thus hide oil and gold inflation, this will start revolutions and riots which are popping up all over the place anyway! So the government will juggle things and hope nothing will fall apart, a bad plan but there are few options in a world that is undergoing significant inflation of fundamentals while Japan has set the bar so low, it is barely above zero!
If the yen were to begin rising against the rupee, for example, this would significantly change the flow of money. But I don't see this happening. I see another Asian Currency Crisis especially if the Dragon of China decides to destroy Japan's trade with the USA via currency games. Right now, China is playing nice. But they can change this in a matter of hours if they feel they must.
From the above article:
India surprisingly doesn't fare too badly on this score-sheet. Using these indices, India's exchange rate has moved up in real terms by about 6.7 per cent in the period between June 2006 and April 2007. In the same period China's REER went up by 4.5 per cent, Thailand's by a little over 7 per cent and so on.
The point is simple--we have certainly lost competitiveness in an absolute sense but so have our competitors. Thus, in relative terms we might not be that badly off after all.
Inflation is global and fuelled by the same sources and all this is denominated in dollars and the USA is the chief criminal here with our fake inflation statistics which our government pretends is very, very low even as it soars here at home. This affects the value of the dollar abroad and is why we are seeing increasing stresses and lots of hot talk of retaliations and demands each other change something, somehow.
As if this were possible in the present matrix.
The Reserve Bank of India is exploring the use of a dollar sell-buy swap to drain liquidity from the banking system, having used the most common instruments over the last two and a half years in its fight against inflation.
It is now examining whether sell-buy swaps in the foreign exchange market could postpone the creation of rupee liquidity immediately after its intervention in the foreign exchange market. The swap involves selling dollars with a simultaneous agreement to buy them back at a future date at a specified price.
The RBI has to try out newer ways of liquidity sterilisation as the limit for absorption under its market stabilisation scheme is close to hitting the ceiling.
Also, the central bank has already used the cash reserve ratio (CRR), the amount of cash it requires banks to deposit with it, aggressively since December 2006, raising it by 150 basis points to 6.50 per cent.
India has to go to the IMF for help when it tries to play the same currency games Japan and China are playing. But thanks to oil and gold purchases, India is too poor to play hardball with the Big Guys. The game we are playing and losing is affecting India who is on our side, namely, running in the red. Countries running in the red are in danger of being overturned by countries running in the black. This is why the focus on only China infuriates me. The USA has trade deficits with a host of people and if we can't face the facts about Canada, Japan and China simultaneously, we are doomed! These three run a gigantic trade surplus with us and each has its own facets in this matter but the main, uniting feature is our gas-quzzling, debt gulping appetites.
India has to cut the trade in gold and the USA has to cut energy use and raise tariffs on all Asian goods. This will trigger either a trade war or worse but there are no other solutions at this point. One is a value-added tax like Europe has had off and on for many years. At least our government won't be in the red and maybe income taxes would be reduced and more people might save money.
The share of all mortgages entering foreclosure rose to 0.58 percent from 0.54 percent in the fourth quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a report today. Subprime loans entering foreclosure rose to a five-year high of 2.43 percent, up from 2 percent, and prime loans rose to a record 0.25 percent.
The median U.S. home price probably will fall this year for the first time since the Great Depression in the 1930s, according to Lawrence Yun, an economist at the National Association of Realtors. Tumbling prices make it difficult for people who fall behind in loan payments to escape foreclosure by selling, said Doug Duncan, chief economist for the Washington-based bankers' group.
The USA's economy is already contracting. This burst bubble isn't due to people losing jobs and then homes dropping in value, this is a pure bubble. People have their jobs but inflation has stripped them of the value added on their properties and now the bills are due and people grope to pay but cannot. So they are abandoning their homes and their property investments that were supposed to make them all rich.
Unlike stocks that simply vanish, being pieces of paper, houses are physical objects that can cause serious problems in housing declines: arson, vandalism, criminal usage, squatters. This destroys not only the vacant homes but whole communities. Cities can burn down. I saw this first-hand during the financial crisis of the mid-1970's. How can Wall Street be celebrating 'good news'?
Here is a photo of a PDF about the 1991 financial crisis:
This is when I lost a lot of money so I remember this time period well. We had a smaller housing bubble compared to today's monster but it did pop and it did cause some mayhem and certainly cost Bush his re-election chances. Clinton bit the bullet and persuaded the Democrats in Congress to raise taxes and our situation improved immediately but the Democrats were voted out by outraged taxpayers who wanted Santa Claus and we got him with a vengence indeed.
I published this bit only to show how interconnected our economies are these days and why ignoring the big players is stupid and why focusing only on China as if this is the sole cause of all the effects we see, is plain stupid. Nor should the media focus only on one or another statistic: this isn't enough. Of course, the only way to drive sales is to refuse to see the bigger picture, of course.
U.S. stocks rallied for a second day, led by commodities producers, after oil and metal prices advanced on prospects that an expanding economy will stoke demand for raw materials.
Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest oil company, and rival Chevron Corp. helped the Standard & Poor's 500 Energy Index climb to a record. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., the biggest copper miner, rose to a second straight peak.
Crude oil rose to an 11-week high in New York on concern that U.S. refineries are failing to keep up with growing gasoline demand, and after Iran said it isn't willing to suspend its nuclear program.
Refineries operated at 89.2 percent of capacity last week, the lowest since May 4 and the lowest utilization rate in 15 years for the second week in June, an Energy Department report showed yesterday. Iran, the Middle East's second-largest producer of crude oil, said its nuclear research is advancing. The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons.
Oil prices are going up and stocks for oil giants are soaring as investors imitate vultures and seek carcasses to rend. The USA can't pay for infinite rises in energy costs. Both India and the USA are equally vulnerable here. Both see people frantically buying gold and gulping down oil while not covering this with exports to other nations. The USA has enough reserves in Fort Knox to overspend a little but we are now running a trillion in the red and this is 10X bigger than India's red ink. But India is weaker and if it goes under, it can drag down an interesting collection of people including an army of gold bugs betting gold will go up when things go bad.
But India is the biggest player in the gold markets so if it goes down, gold will collapse in value since no one is going to be buying and if more nations sell, then that is it for gold. This is why watching all parts of the earth is vital if one wants to know what is going on.