Gold Blast-Off Starts Friday?
By Patrick A. Heller October 27, 2009
There are two significant events this week that could exert pressure for higher gold prices. Because of this, I expect to see major behind-the-scenes actions to try to suppress gold (and silver) prices until the middle of Thursday afternoon.
First, the U.S. government’s Treasury debt auctions will sell the greatest amount of debt ever sold in one week. The net debt increase of $153 billion is so high it will exceed the current authorized federal debt limit. Flooding the financial markets with so much debt is a sign of weakness for the U.S. dollar. As the dollars declines in value, the price of gold in U.S. dollars invariably rises.
Second, we will also see the expiration of options contracts in two days. If the spot price at the close of trading on the day that gold (and silver) options contracts expire is higher than the contract price on a call option, the owner will exercise the option to demand immediate delivery of physical gold. The higher the price of gold, the more call options that will be exercised. Conversely, a lower gold spot price will reduce the demand for gold for immediate delivery. There is a major block of call options at $1,050, so expect prices to stay below that level through Wednesday night.
As we have seen previously in 2009 with large Treasury debt auctions and options expirations, the price of gold was clobbered before these events, and not allowed to rise quickly until after the last Treasury auction closed on Thursday afternoon. I see no reason to expect a different pattern this week.
H.R. 1207, the bill in Congress calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve System (that would also likely result in an audit of the U.S. government’s gold holdings) is under current consideration in the House Financial Services Committee. Hearings began last month. With over 330 co-sponsors of this bill and of the Senate’s companion bill S. 604 (over 75 percent of all members of Congress), there would be reasonable prospects of enactment.
A couple of months ago, the Fed hired a government-relations lobbyist to combat H.R.1207. Various Fed officials have tried to intimidate Congress and the public by stating that enactment of this legislation would result in higher interest rates, higher consumer prices and a falling value of the U.S. dollar. None of these threats seemed to have stopped H.R. 1207 from moving along.
On Oct. 20, a new tactic to combat H.R. 1207 was implemented. Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Bob Corker R-Tenn., introduced S. 1803, the Federal Reserve Accountability Act. This alternative bill pretty much guts any attempt at Federal Reserve accountability by allowing only limited audits of the Troubled Asset Relief Program and similar high profile bailouts. I expect to see Fed officials pushing for this bill as a way to sidetrack H.R. 1207.
Last Friday, Bloomberg reported an interview with Shayne McGuire, director of global research at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, the nation’s seventh largest pension fund. McGuire noted that his retirement fund has now invested $250 million of its $95 billion in total assets in precious metals, mining stocks, and exchange traded funds. McGuire further predicted that pension funds were going to have to significantly increase the percentage of their portfolios devoted to precious metals.
Also last Friday, Dennis Gartman, the analyst who writes the Gartman Letter, said that he expects gold to become the world’s largest reserve currency. Gartman is not fan of gold and rejects any possibility that the price of gold has been suppressed. His gold trading recommendations over the past five to 10 years have almost always lost money. There are gold traders who have made profits by trading the opposite of Gartman’s recommendations.
Analyst Adrian Douglas is publisher of the Market Force Analysis and now serves as a member of the board of directors of the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee. He issued an essay Saturday where he argues that the volume of gold traded on the London bullion exchange could not be supported by the reported sales of 15,000 tons (482 million ounces). By Douglas’s calculations, the London market needed a minimum of 64,000 tons (2.05 billion ounces) of gold to be sold to support its reported trading volume. He believes that any disclosure that this much extra gold has been sneaked onto the market, leaving less inventory available to cover open contracts in London, could cause a panic in the gold market.
Bill Murphy is the chairman of GATA. He reported late last week the latest scoop from a London trader who has been his source of secret information since the early years of this decade. This source has an extremely accurate record on trends. For instance, he was the first to tell Murphy that it looked like the Chinese government was regularly buying gold reserves, including information on quantities, back in 2003. This same source says he has recently added two American clients, one a very wealthy individual and the other a large corporation, with instructions to execute major physical gold purchases. His source told Murphy that he is having extreme difficulty locating any sizeable quantities of physical metal to fill the orders.
There has been little new reported about the rumors of counterfeit gold bars which are actually gold-plated tungsten. One Chinese company has a Web site (www.tungsten-alloy.com) where it offers to provide tungsten as a gold substitute. On the first page of its Web site, just below a picture of gold ingots, it states, “Also, it is widely adopted in making faking coins . . .” To the extent that counterfeit 100- and 400-ounce gold bars exist, this company almost certainly could fabricate them.
In the meantime, I have heard rumors that all gold bars at the central banks in France and China are being checked for counterfeits. Central banks would have a strong desire to keep such stories from becoming public knowledge, even if no counterfeits were uncovered. If, however, the public got a whiff that one or more major central banks were holding counterfeit gold bars, that could spark a gold-buying panic.
In the summer, I warned that the commercial real estate market would be hard hit in the fall. On Oct. 26, Capmark, one of America’s largest commercial real estate lenders, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Expect more bad news from this sector in the coming months.
Russia’s central bank has been an aggressive buyer of gold for some time. Late last week a story appeared that a state-owned Russian enterprise might be selling up to 45 tons of gold. If you read the details, you learn that the sale may be as small as two tons. This story is baffling analysts as the Russian central bank could almost certainly snap up the entire amount being offered for sale.
In only one month in the past three years has the Russian central bank reduced its gold reserves. About the only thought that makes sense of this story is that the Russians are astute traders. If everyone thinks the Russians are selling instead of buying, that could knock down the price of the gold to the Russian central bank after this story breaks.
Following the anticipated price dip during the first few days this week, expect the current bull market in gold to come roaring back.
Patrick A. Heller owns Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes Liberty’s Outlook, the company’s monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at http://www.libertycoinservice.com. Other commentaries are available at Financial Sense University (www.financialsense.com). His periodic radio interviews on WILS-1320 AM can be heard at http://www.amlansing.com, on the Korelin Economic Report at http://www.kereport.com, and on Coin Chat Radio at www.coinchatradio.com.