I wrote last week that there was a scramble going on globally by entities seeking to take physical possession of the gold on which they have a legal claim, most of which is sitting either in alleged “allocated” big bank bullion vaults or in alleged “allocated” accounts in Comex custodial warehouse vaults.
I also demonstrated mathematically, using the reported numbers on the CME website for precious metals futures open interest and warehouse gold/silver stocks, that the amount of gold represented by Comex futures open interest far exceeds the amount of deliverable gold on the Comex (the analysis is even more extreme for silver). In fact, if less than just 10% of the buyers of June gold contracts demand delivery, the Comex won’t have enough gold to cover the legal claims. For silver (July silver) it’s even more extreme.
This is a global problem and not just endemic to the Comex. Globally, the legal claim of ownership on physical gold far exceeds the amount of gold represented by paper futures, LMBA forward contracts, leased gold and vault receipts. The latter – vault receipts – is where the big banks in London have the most severe problem, as gold this is supposed to be sitting in “allocated” accounts under the name of the legal owner who bought and paid for those bars has been largely leased out. I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, I received this comment from John Brimelow’s “Gold Jottings” report, which comes from Gerhard Schubert, head of Precious Metals at Emirates NBD, the largest banking group in the Middle East. Keep in mind that Middle Eastern buyers demand physical delivery of their gold. Here’s the quote from his latest weekly report:
I have not seen in my 35 years in precious metals such a determined and strong global physical demand for gold. The UAE physical markets have been cleared out by buyers from all walks of life. The premiums, which have been asked for and which have been paid have been the cornerstone of the gold price recovery. It is very rare that physical markets can have a serious impact on market prices, which are normally driven solely by derivatives and futures contracts…
I did speak during the week with several refineries in the world, of course including the UAE refineries, and the waiting period for 995 kilo bars is easily 2-3 weeks and goes into June in some cases. A large portion of the 995 kilo bars in the UAE goes normally into the Indian market, but a lot of the available 995 kilo bars are destined for Turkey, at this time. We heard that premiums paid in Turkey have reached anything between US $ 20 and US $ 35 per ounce.
The price hit of two weeks ago has triggered a serious scramble for physical gold and silver. Reports like the above comment have been flooding from Europe, the Comex has had about 30% of its gold bars literally drained from the customer accounts of the Comex bank custodian vaults and the U.S. mint is running way behind on demand for silver eagles and some weights of gold eagles. Ditto for the Canadian mint.
And then I get a call from a close friend in NYC last Friday. His career has been in private wealth management in the private bank department of the Too Big To Fail banks. He’s been looking for work and chats with old colleagues all the time. He called my Friday and told me he just got off the phone with a very high level private banker from a big Euro-based TBTF bullion bank, but who was at JP Morgan until about six months ago.
This guy told my friend that there is a scramble by many very wealthy European families/entities to get their 400 oz bars out of the big bank vaults. He knows this personally, for a fact. He said the private banker community is small over there and the big wealthy families all talk to each other and act on the same rumors/sentiment. The Bundesbank/Fed and the ABN/Amro situations triggered this move. He knows for a fact JPM tried to calm fears about 3 months ago by sending a letter to it’s very wealthy clients assuring them their bars were safe, in allocated accounts. He said right now those same families are walking into the big banks like JPM and demanding delivery of their bars or threatening to take their $100’s of millions in investment portfolios to competitors. His wording was “these people are putting a gun to the heads of private banks and demanding their gold.”
I know this information is good because I know my friend’s background and when he tells me his source is plugged in, the guy is plugged in. Not only that, my friend’s source said that there’s no doubt that someone like a John Paulson, not necessarily specifically him, but entities like him or it may include him, have held a gun to GLD and demanded delivery of physical in exchange for their shares.
Regarding the Bundesbank/Fed situation, recall that the Bundesbank asked to have some portion of its gold sitting – supposedly – in the NY Fed vault in NYC sent back Germany. The total amount is 1800 tonnes. After behind the scenes negotiations, the Fed agreed to ship 300 tonnes back over seven years. To this day, the time required for that shipment has never been explained. Venezuela demanded the return of its 200 tonnes held in London, NYC and Switzerland and received it all within about four months.
And regarding the ABN/Amro situation. ABN/Amro offered a gold investment account product that offered physical delivery of the gold in the investment account when the investor cashes out. About a week before the gold price smash, ABN sent a letter to its clients informing that the physical delivery of the bullion was no longer available and that all accounts would be settled with cash at redemption.
I believe it was these two events that triggered the big scramble for physical gold by wealthy families/entities who were suspicious of the integrity of their bank vault custodial arrangement anyway.
In fact, what we are now seeing is the final stages of the paper gold/silver bullion market, which has grown at a parabolic rate over that last 13 years, and includes Comex futures, LMBA forward contracts, OTC derivatives – which is an even bigger paper market than the Comex – leased gold claims/contracts and warehouse receipts.
At some point there will be an even bigger “run on the bank” by those looking for delivery of the physical gold/silver that they have been “assured” is sitting in their “trusty” bank custodian vault. I know for myself that I have seen enough from the JPM’s of the world to not trust anything they do or say. I think a lot more people are finally coming to that same conclusion. At some point there will be a complete collapse of trust in the paper monetary system and the price of gold/silver will really go parabolic, as the masses realize all at once – and far too late I might add – that everything that was rumored over the last 13 years about paper gold, gold leasing, etc is actually true.