Massive Volume Spikes in Gold and Silver on the Job Numbers

04 February 2017 — Saturday


The gold price traded a few dollars either side of unchanged in morning trading in the Far East on their Friday — and except for a small bump in price going into the London open, the gold price traded ruler flat until 11:30 a.m. GMT.  From there it sold off a couple of dollars going into the 8:30 a.m. EST job numbers.  The rally that began at that juncture wasn’t allowed to amount to much — and it was capped and the rolled over at 10:45 a.m. in New York.  From there it sold off 7 dollars over the next four hour period, but caught a bid at 2:45 p.m. in the thinly-traded after-hours market, almost making it back to its high tick of the day by the 5:00 p.m. EST close of trading.

The low and high ticks were reported as $1,208.30 and $1,223.20 in the April contract.

Gold finished the Friday session in New York at $1,219.50 spot, up $4.10 from Thursday’s close.  Net volume was sky high once again at 203,000 contracts.

Here’s the 5-minute gold tick chart courtesy of Brad Robertson.  There was a bit of volume involved in morning trading in the Far East, but it dropped back to nothing after 9 p.m. Denver time on Thursday evening, which was noon on Friday in Shanghai. The standout feature was the monstrous stand-alone 16,000+ contract volume spike at 6:30 a.m. Denver time when the job numbers were released in Washington.  Volume didn’t really fall off to background levels until after 14:00 MST, which was 4 p.m. in New York.

The vertical gray line is 10:00 p.m. Denver time, midnight in New York — and 1:00 p.m. China Standard Time [CST] the following afternoon in Shanghai—and don’t forget to add two hours for EST.  The ‘click to enlarge‘ feature is a must.

Silver’s price pattern was mostly the same until a few minutes before noon in London — and it was sold down about a dime into the noon silver fix, but gained half of the back in very short order, before trading flat into the job numbers.  Its rally at that point was handled in the same manner as it was for gold, except ‘da boyz’ drove the price well back below unchanged shortly after the COMEX close.  However — and also like gold, it rallied back to close up a bit on the day.

The low and high ticks in this precious metal were recorded by the CME Group as $17.26 and $17.54 in the March contract.

Silver was closed on Friday afternoon at $17.49 spot, up 3.5 cents on the day.  Net volume was very heavy once again at just under 56,000 contracts.

Here’s the 5-minute tick chart for silver, also courtesy of Brad.  In all respects it looks identical to the 5-minute gold chart, complete with the huge volume spike at the release of the job numbers.  For the most part, volume was back to background sometime after 12:30 p.m. Denver time, which was 2:30 p.m. in New York.

As in gold, the vertical gray line is 10:00 p.m. Denver time, midnight in New York — and 1:00 p.m. China Standard Time [CST] the following afternoon in Shanghai—and don’t forget to add two hours for EST.  The ‘click to enlarge‘ feature is a must as well.

In most respects the platinum chart was similar to the silver chart, complete with the sell-off shortly before the noon silver fix in London.  The low tick of the day was set about thirty minutes later — and the price chopped higher from there until shortly after 12 o’clock noon in New York.  It didn’t do much for the rest of the day — and managed to close at $1,001 spot, up 4 dollars from Thursday.

Although palladium rallied a few dollars in the first hour of trading once it began at 6 p.m. EST on Thursday evening in New York, it came under selling pressure after that — and chopped broadly lower, with the low tick of the day coming at, or minutes before, the London p.m. gold fix.  The sharp rally after that wasn’t allowed to get far — and it sold off a few dollars from there into the 5:00 p.m. EST close.  Palladium finished the Friday session at $747 spot — and down 9 bucks on the day.

The dollar index closed very late on Thursday afternoon in New York at 99.82 — and after selling off about 10 basis points around 9 a.m. China Standard Time on their Friday morning, it began to chop higher, with the 100.15 high tick coming about 11:40 a.m. GMT in London. [ recorded the high tick at 100.26…but just eye-balling the chart, it doesn’t even look close. – Ed]  It fell down to its 99.56[?] low tick shortly after 10:30 a.m. in New York after the jobs report was released — and at noon it began to head higher.  It rolled over once again around 2:45 p.m. EST — and continued lower right into the close.  The dollar index finished the day at 99.73 — and down 9 basis points from its close on Thursday.

And here’s the 6-month U.S. dollar index chart — and you can read into it whatever you wish.  If Mr. Trump want’s a lower dollar index, all he has to do is ask those ‘gentle hands’ I speak of often, to cease and desist.

The gold stocks sold off a bit at the open of trading in New York on Friday, but once the ‘fix’ was in, they rallied to their respective highs very quickly after that.  They chopped mostly lower after the gold price got capped — and back into negative territory from there, but turned higher around 2:10 p.m. EST when the gold price began to creep higher — and the shares managed to squeeze a positive close, as the HUI finished up 0.08 percent.  Like I did on Thursday, I’ll call it unchanged.

It was mostly similar for the silver equities, although their rally out of negative territory lasted until shortly before 11 a.m. EST.  They were back to unchanged by around 2:30 p.m…but crawled higher from there into the close on the back of a slowly rising silver price.  Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index closed higher by 0.53 percent.  Click to enlarge if necessary.

And here are three charts from Nick that tell all.  The first one shows the changes in gold, silver, platinum and palladium for the past week, in both percent and dollar and cents terms, as of Friday’s closes in New York — along with the changes in the HUI and Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index.   The Click to Enlarge feature really helps on all three.

And the chart below shows the month-to-date changes…such as they are…as of Friday’s close.

And here are the year-to-date changes…

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that 156 gold and zero silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Tuesday.  For the second day in a row, the only short/issuer worth noting was ABN Amro with 138 contracts out of its client account.  And, once again, it was “all the usual suspects” as long/stoppers…HSBC USA, Scotiabank and JP Morgan with 76, 40 and 29 contracts for their respective in-house [proprietary] trading accounts.  The link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Friday trading session showed that gold open interest in February declined by 175 contracts, leaving 2,211 still around, minus the 138 mentioned just above.  Thursday’s Daily Delivery Report showed that 136 gold contracts were actually reported for delivery on Monday, so that means that 175-136=39 gold contract holders fled the February delivery month.  Silver o.i. in February dropped by 4 contracts, leaving 163 still open.  Thursday’s Daily Delivery Report showed that 6 silver contracts were actually posted for delivery on Monday — and since o.i. only fell by 4 contracts, that means that 6-4=2 more silver contracts were added to the February delivery month.

Regarding gold deliveries so far, they’ve certainly dropped precipitously in the last two days — and I’m kind of wondering why we aren’t further along after Day 4 of the February delivery month.

There was a decent sized deposit in GLD yesterday, as an authorized participant added 105,671 troy ounces.  And as of 6:56 p.m. EST yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV.

There was a smallish report from the U.S. Mint on Friday — and the first one for the month of February.  They sold 2,000 troy ounces of gold eagles — 2,500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes — and zero silver eagles.

In our telephone conversation yesterday, Ted said that a reasonable assumption can be made that JP Morgan was buying up silver eagles that weren’t being purchased by the general public in January because, as he so succinctly put it…who else could the buyer be when retail bullion sales are “glaringly weak“?  After 30 years, Ted’s contact base in the retail silver world…and beyond…is unmatched by anyone on the Internet — and I have four years worth of recent retail bullion sales experience under my belt — and I’ll unhappily confirm what Ted says.  This has been the situation for years, but nobody wants to talk about it.

There was a bit of gold movement over at the COMEX-approved depositories on the U.S. east coat on Thursday.  There was 21,884 troy ounces received at Canada’s Scotiabank — and 3,215.100 troy ounces/100 kilobars [SGE kilobar weight] shipped out of HSBC USA…plus 96.450 troy ounces/3 kilobars [U.K./U.S. kilobar weight] shipped out of Manfra, Tordella & Brookes, Inc.  The link to this activity is here.

The huge in/out movement in COMEX silver just don’t seem to end.  On Thursday, there was 1,220,561 troy ounces reported received, plus 503,721 troy ounces shipped out.  One container load each [600,000+ troy ounces went into CNT and Scotiabank — and all of the ‘out’ activity was at Scotiabank as well.  The link to that is here.

It was pretty quiet over at the COMEX-approved gold kilobar depositories in Hong Kong on their Thursday.  They didn’t receive any — and only shipped out 233 of them.  All of the activity was at Brink’s, Inc. as per usual — and I shan’t bother linking this small amount.

The Commitment of Traders Report, for positions held at the close of COMEX trading on Tuesday was more or less as expected in silver, but a positive surprise in gold.

In silver, the Commercial net short position increased by 6,329 contracts, or 31.6 million troy ounces of paper silver.  They arrived at that number by purchasing 2,070 long contracts, plus they added 8,399 short contracts.  The difference between those two numbers is the change for the reporting week.

Ted said that the Big 4 traders added about 1,900 contracts to their already monstrous short positions — and he attributes all of that to JP Morgan…and pegs their short position at 22,000 contracts, up from 20,000 contracts last week.  The ‘5 through 8’ largest traders added around 1,600 short contracts — and Ted’s raptors, the commercial traders other than the Big 8, decreased their short position by about 2,800 contracts.

The Commercial net short position in silver now stands at 89,413 COMEX contracts, or 447.1 million troy ounces of paper silver held short.

Under the hood in the Disaggregated COT Report, the Managed Money traders accounted for all of the change in the Commercial net short position, plus a bunch more.  They added 5,081 long contracts, plus they decreased their short position by 2,781 contract as well, for a totally weekly swing of 7,862 contracts, which is the sum of those two numbers.

Here’s the COT chart for the last three years — and as the silver price sneaks higher, the Commercial traders [blue bars] continue to act as short buyers and long sellers of last resort against all comers in the other two trading categories, principally the Managed Money traders in the technical fund category [the red bars].  Click to enlarge.

In gold, the Commercial net short position only increased by 5,429 contracts, or 542,900 troy ounces of paper gold — and I must admit that I was expecting a number three times that size, or maybe more.  Ted was amazed as well.

They arrived at this number by reducing their long position by 7,216 contracts, but they also reduced their short position by 1,787 contracts as well — and the difference between those two numbers is the change for the reporting week.

The Commercial net short position in gold is up to 13.18 million troy ounces of paper gold.

Ted said that the Big 4 actually reduced their short position by around 300 contracts during the reporting week — and the ‘5 through 8’ largest traders also decreased their short position…them by 3,300 contracts.  The heavy lifting was done by Ted’s raptors, the Commercial traders other than the Big 8…as they reduced their long position by around 9,000 contracts.

I would suspect, although I didn’t discuss it with Ted, that maybe the one or two Managed Money traders that were ‘just visiting’ in the Commercial category because of the large size of their short positions recently, exited the scene during the reporting week — and that’s why the Commercial net short position was as small as it was.  But I await ‘the word’ from Ted on that, as he’s the real expert when it comes to all this.

Under the hood in the Disaggregated COT Report, it was the Managed Money traders once again doing all the work, plus more.  Not only did they add 5,504 long contracts during the reporting week, they also covered 4,579 short contracts, for a total change of 10,083 contracts…almost double the change in the Commercial net short position.

As in silver, the changes in gold that made up the difference between what the Managed Money traders and the Commercial traders did, came courtesy of the traders in the ‘Other Reportables’ — and Nonreportable/small trader categories.

Here’s the 3-year COT chart for gold — and I have nothing to add to it other than what I said about the changes in silver — and they apply equally to gold as well.

Before leaving the COT Report, I’d like to caveat my comments on the changes in gold — and maybe silver a bit as well — by stating that all the big changes in both precious metals during the reporting week just past, occurred on the Tuesday cut-off day.  It’s entirely possible that not all of that day’s volume is included in this week’s report — and if that’s the case, then the deterioration in both was probably somewhat worse that these numbers show.

Of course, Ted’s comments in his weekly review later this afternoon should be considered as the last word on this issue — and I await what he has to say with great interest.

Here’s Nick Laird’s “Days to Cover” chart updated with yesterday’s COT data for positions held at the close of COMEX trading on Tuesday.  It shows the days of world production that it would take to cover the short positions of the Big 4 — and Big ‘5 through 8’ traders in each physically traded commodity on the COMEX.  These are the same Big 4 and ‘5 through 8’ traders discussed in the COT Report above.  Click to enlarge.

For the current reporting week, the Big 4 are short 139 days of world silver production—and the ‘5 through 8’ traders are short an additional 51 days of world silver production—for a total of 190 days, which is more than 6 months of world silver production, or about 461.7 million troy ounces of paper silver held short by the Big 8. [In last week’s report the Big 8 were short 181 days of world silver production. – Ed]

In the COT Report above, the Commercial net short position in silver is 447.1 million troy ounces.  So the Big 8 Commercial traders…as usual…hold a short position larger than the Commercial net position to the tune of 461.7 – 447.1 = 14.6  million troy ounces…give or take.

In my conversation with Ted yesterday, he pegs JPMorgan’s short position at around 22,000 contracts, or 110 million ounces, which is up from the 20,000 contracts/100 million ounces it was a week ago.  A 110 million ounces works out to around 45 days of world silver production that JPMorgan is short.  That’s compared to the 190 days that the Big 8 are short in total.

The approximate short position in silver held by Scotiabank works out to around 53 days of world silver production.  For the eleventh week in a row, Scotiabank is the King of the silver shorts in the COMEX futures market.

The two largest silver shorts on Planet Earth—JPMorgan and Canada’s Scotiabank—are short about 98 days of world silver production between the two of them—and that 98 days represents a bit over 70 percent of the length of the red bar in silver in the above chart.  The other two traders in the Big 4 category are short, on average, about 21 days of world silver production apiece.  The four traders in the ‘5 through 8’ category are short a hair under 13 days of world silver production apiece.

To put it another way, the short positions of Scotiabank and JPMorgan combined, represents a bit more than 50 percent of the short position held by all the Big 8 traders combined.  How’s that for a concentrated short position?

The Big 8 are short 49.3 percent of the entire open interest in silver in the COMEX futures market — and that number would be around 55 percent once the market-neutral spread trades are subtracted out.  In gold it’s 42.8 percent of the total open interest that the Big 8 are short.

In gold, the Big 4 are short 42 days of world gold production, unchanged from last week — and the ‘5 through 8’ are short another 19 days of world production, which is down from the 20 days reported in the prior week, for a total of 61 days of world gold production held short by the Big 8.  Based on these numbers, the Big 4 in gold hold about 69 percent/two thirds of the total short position held by the Big 8.  How’s that for a concentrated short position within a concentrated short position?  At least it’s not quite as bad as silver in that regard, but close enough to be considered the same.

The “concentrated short positions within a concentrated short position” in silver, platinum and palladium held by the Big 4 are about 73, 74 and 70 percent respectively of the short positions held by the Big 8.  All these percentages are basically unchanged from last week’s COT Report.

Here’s a chart that Nick Laird passed around last evening.  It shows the World’s Central Banks’ Gold Reserves going back to 1950 — and Nick just updated it with the 2016 data.  Note the amount of gold they sold in the 16-year period between 1992 and 2007 to keep prices suppressed and meet physical demand.

Of course it should be pointed out that these so-called ‘reserves’ may contain a lot of paper gold, because countries don’t have to report physical gold in the vault — and gold leased out — as separate line items in their respective financial statements.  If they did, it’s a given that the chart below wouldn’t look anything like this, particularly for the last 25-year period.  Click to enlarge.

I have a fairly large number of stories for you today — and quite a few that I’ve been saving for today’s column for the usual length and/or content reasons.


Doug Noland: The Wrath

Our new President and his Administration are at this point an enigma. Folks are beginning to accept that he’s not going to change, which is none too comforting to many. Shock and dismay understate reactions both at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to financial markets, when anxiety begins to strike simply repeat, “de-regulation, tax cuts, de-regulation, tax cuts…” The President certainly has everyone’s attention, with Wall Street and corporate America having donned kid gloves.

But I don’t believe anyone is comfortable that they understand what the President and his inner circle really have in mind. Whatever it may be, they’re going to be in your face tough and idiosyncratic. How big of a conflict are they willing to accept early in the new Administration? At the end of the day, I suspect they don’t share the view that America will be made great again through hedge funds, inflated securities prices and ever greater quantities of “money” and Credit. Sure, they’ll play the game so long as they see it to their advantage.

Markets, of course, remain convinced that buoyant securities markets are more indispensable than ever – and that Trump will bluster but knows better than to mess with the markets or their benefactor, central banking. Not that they’re in any hurry to burst Bubbles, but the Trump folks have their own perspectives, ideas and ambitions. I suspect that Carney’s “15 minutes of fame” comment resonates within The Inner Circle. A new era has commenced, and these central bankers and Wall Street icons have occupied the limelight for too long already.

Doug’s weekly Credit Bubble Bulletin certainly qualifies as a must read this week — and another link to it is here.

Markets Are Experiencing Cognitive Dissonance — Jim Rickards

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term to describe a situation where perception and reality are out of sync.

It’s similar to what most people refer to as “denial.” The patient sees things one way, but the reality is different. Of course, it’s just a matter of time before reality prevails and the patient is jolted back to reality. This process can be fast or slow, easy or painful, but the important thing to bear in mind is reality always wins.

Something like cognitive dissonance is going on in markets right now. Markets have been temporarily euphoric over Trump’s tax, regulatory and spending policies. Those policies are important to business and credit cycles and economic growth.

The perception is that happy days are here again. The new Trump administration is expected to pour trillions of dollars of stimulus spending and tax cuts into the economy. Immediately after the Nov. 8 election, investors took a quick look at Trump’s policies and decided they liked what they saw.

Reality is another matter. I’ve been warning my readers lately that the Trump trade is levitating in thin air and is ready for a fall. Now that reality could be beginning to sink in.

This commentary by Jim put in an appearance on the Internet site on Thursday — and it comes to us courtesy of Harold Jacobsen.  Another link to it is here.

A “Color Revolution” Is Under Way in the United States — The Saker

A Russian joke goes like this: “Question: Why can there be no color revolution in the United States? Answer: Because there are no U.S. Embassies in the United States.

Funny, maybe, but factually wrong: I believe that a color revolution is being attempted in the USA right now.

While I did predict that “The USA is about to face the worst crisis of its history” as far back as October of last year, a month before the elections, I have to admit that I am surprised and amazed at the magnitude of the struggle which we see taking place before our eyes. It is now clear that the Neocons did declare war on Trump and some, like Paul Craig Roberts, believe that Trump has now returned them the favor. I sure hope that he is right.

Let’s look at one telling example:  U.S. intelligence agencies are now investigating their own boss! Yes, according to recent reports, the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and Treasury Department are now investigating the telephone conversations between General Flynn and the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyk.

He is also Trump’s National Security Advisor. In other words, his security clearance is stratospherically high and he will soon become the boss of all the U.S. intelligence services. And yet, these very same intelligence services are investigating him for his contacts with the Russian Ambassador. That is absolutely amazing. Even in the bad old Soviet Union, the almighty KGB did not have the right to investigate a member of the Communist Party Central Committee without a special authorization of the Politburo (a big mistake, in my opinion, but never mind that). That roughly means that the top 500 members of the Soviet state could not be investigated by the KGB at all. Furthermore, such was the subordination of the KGB to the Party that for common criminal matters the KGB was barred from investigating any member of the entire Soviet Nomenklatura, roughly 3 million people (and even bigger mistake!).

But in the case of Flynn, several U.S. security agencies can decide to investigate a man who by all standards ought to be considered at least in the top 5 U.S. officials and who clearly has the trust of the new President. And that does not elicit any outrage, apparently.

This long commentary by The Saker, which was posted on the Internet site on Sunday, was an important article that I posted in my Tuesday column.   At that time, I said I would post it in my Saturday column as well — and here it is.  It certainly falls into the absolute must read category.  I had several subscribers send it to me, but the first one through the door with it was Larry Galearis late on Sunday morning Denver time.  Another link to it is here.

TRUMP PRESIDENCY: The first SNAFUs already — The Saker

It is a rare privilege to be able to criticize a politician for actually fulfilling his campaign promises but Donald Trump is a unique President and this week he offered us exactly this opportunity with not one, but three different SNAFUs to report.

First, there was the botched raid against an alleged al-Qaeda compound in Yakla, Yemen. First, let me commit a crimethink here and remind everybody that for all the great Hollywood movies, Americans have a terrible record of doing special ops. The latest one was typical. First, it involved Navy SEALS, one of the most disaster-prone US special forces. Second, it involved special forces from the United Arab Emirates (don’t ask why, just don’t). I am pretty sure that using U.S. Rangers alone would have yielded better results. Third, as always, they got detected early. And then they began taking casualties. This time from female al-Qaeda fighters. Finally, they botched the evacuation. They did kill some kids and, so they say, an al-Qaeda leader. More about this raid here and here. As I said, this is pretty much par for the course. But I am sure that some Hollywood movie will make it look very heroic and “tactical”. But the real world bottom line remains unchanged: Americans should give up on special ops, they just can do it right.

Second, there was the absolutely terrible press conference by General Flynn.

[N]ot only did Flynn put Iran “on notice” like a high-school principal would do to a rowdy teenager, but FOX TV is already speaking about “lines in the sand”. Wait – were “lines in the sand” not one of the dumbest features of the Obama Presidency? And now, just one week in the White House, we see Trump doing exactly the same?

This also begs the question of whether a very intelligent man like Flynn seriously and sincerely believes that he can bully or otherwise scare Iran. If he does – then we are all in a lot of trouble.

This commentary by The Saker was posted on his own website on Friday sometime — and it’s certainly a must read as well.  I thank Larry Galearis for this article as well — and another link to it is here.

Sierra Nevada snowpack is biggest in 22 years — and more snow is on the way

After a month of huge blizzards and “atmospheric river” storms, the Sierra Nevada snowpack — source of a third of California’s drinking water — is 177 percent of the historic average, the biggest in more than two decades.

The last time there was this much snow on Feb. 1 in the Sierra was in 1995. Pete Wilson was California’s governor, “Seinfeld” was the top-rated show on television and Steve Young had just led the 49ers to a blowout win in Super Bowl XXIX.

In a breathtaking shift for a state that had been mired in five years of punishing drought, 25 feet of new snow has fallen on Heavenly ski resort in South Lake Tahoe since New Year’s Day. Freeways and schools across the Sierra have been closed at times, and firefighters are having trouble finding fire hydrants.

Some are buried under 12 or 13 feet of snow,” said Eric Guevin, fire marshal at the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District in Zephyr Cove, Nevada, just north of the California state line. “We’ve had to use metal detectors to find them.

After a week to dry off, a new round of storms is set to roll into California. A Pacific system will dump up to 3 more feet of new snow in the Sierra by this weekend.

Some good news to report for a change!  This happy news item put in an appearance on the Internet site at 5:00 a.m. PST on Wednesday morning — and was subsequently updated about seven hours later.  I thank ‘aurora’ for bringing it to our attention — and another link to it is here.  This is a news item that had to wait for my Saturday column.  It’s certainly worth reading if you have the interest.

Why Hollywood As We Know It Is Already Over

With theater attendance at a two-decade low and profits dwindling, the kind of disruption that hit music, publishing, and other industries is already reshaping the entertainment business. From A.I. Aaron Sorkin to C.G.I. actors to algorithmic editing, Nick Bilton investigates what lies ahead.

A few months ago, the vision of Hollywood’s economic future came into terrifyingly full and rare clarity. I was standing on the set of a relatively small production, in Burbank, just north of Los Angeles, talking to a screenwriter about how inefficient the film-and-TV business appeared to have become. Before us, after all, stood some 200 members of the crew, who were milling about in various capacities, checking on lighting or setting up tents, but mainly futzing with their smartphones, passing time, or nibbling on snacks from the craft-service tents. When I commented to the screenwriter that such a scene might give a Silicon Valley venture capitalist a stroke on account of the apparent unused labor and excessive cost involved in staging such a production—which itself was statistically uncertain of success—he merely laughed and rolled his eyes. “You have no idea,” he told me.

After a brief pause, he relayed a recent anecdote, from the set of a network show, that was even more terrifying: The production was shooting a scene in the foyer of a law firm, which the lead rushed into from the rain to utter some line that this screenwriter had composed. After an early take, the director yelled “Cut,” and this screenwriter, as is customary, ambled off to the side with the actor to offer a comment on his delivery. As they stood there chatting, the screenwriter noticed that a tiny droplet of rain remained on the actor’s shoulder. Politely, as they spoke, he brushed it off. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an employee from the production’s wardrobe department rushed over to berate him. “That is not your job,” she scolded. “That is my job.”

The screenwriter was stunned. But he had also worked in Hollywood long enough to understand what she was really saying: quite literally, wiping rain off an actor’s wardrobe was her job—a job that was well paid and protected by a union. And, as with the other couple of hundred people on set, only she could perform it.

This raindrop moment, and the countless similar incidents that I’ve observed on sets or heard about from people I’ve met in the industry, may seem harmless and ridiculous enough on its face. But it reinforces an eventuality that seems both increasingly obvious and uncomfortable—one that might occur to you every time you stream Fringe or watch a former ingénue try to re-invent herself as a social-media icon or athleisure-wear founder: Hollywood, as we once knew it, is over.

There’s no dateline on this very interesting Vanity Fair article.  But reading what movies they’re talking about, it’s safe to say that it was posted on their website sometime in 2017.  For obvious reasons, it had to wait for today’s column — and I found it in the Tuesday edition of the King Report.  Another link to it is here.

U.N. Official Admits Global Warming Agenda Is Really About Destroying Capitalism

A shocking statement was made by a United Nations official Christiana Figueres at a news conference in Brussels.

Figueres admitted that the Global Warming conspiracy set by the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, of which she is the executive secretary, has a goal not of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity, but to destroy capitalism. She said very casually:

This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”

She even restated that goal ensuring it was not a mistake:

This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.

I was invited to a major political dinner in Washington with the former Chairman of Temple University since I advised the University with respect to its portfolio. We were seated at one of those round tables with ten people. Because we were invited from a university, they placed us with the heads of the various environmental groups. They assumed they were in friendly company and began speaking freely. Dick Fox, my friend, began to lead them on to get the truth behind their movement. Lo and behold, they too admitted it was not about the environment, but to reduce population growth. Dick then asked them, “Whose grandchild are we trying to prevent from being born? Yours or mine?

All of these movements seem to have a hidden agenda that the press helps to misrepresent all the time. One must wonder, at what point will the press realize they are destroying their own future?

This is right of G. Edward Griffin’s book, “The Creature From Jekyll Island:  A second look at the Federal Reserve“.  This story showed up on the Zero Hedge website at 5:57 p.m. EST.  Several readers sent me these statements from rather fringe websites — and I waited until it showed up on Zero Hedge before venturing to stick it in my column, although I’m certainly not strongly endorsing ZH, either.  I thank Dave Rodgers for sending it our way — and another link to it is here.

The Medieval Ritual Behind Britain’s New £1 Coin

The 12-sided £1 coin (US$1.27) includes security features including a hologram and a dual-metal composition to make it harder to fake. But in a ritual dating to at least the year 1282, the coins were presented for the Trial of the Pyx in London on Tuesday. Below the pomp and ceremony in the opulent hall of the Goldsmiths’ Company lies rigorous conformity tests that will take until April to complete.

Thousands of coins, carried in boxes known by the Latin name pyx, are brought from The Royal Mint in Llantrisant, South Wales, to the heart of the capital under heavy guard. Coins are randomly selected throughout the year for presentation. “I won’t be able to relax until April 28—and I’ve already started worrying about next year,” said compliance and systems manager Gwyn Roberts.

First recorded publicly in 1282, the trial is presided over by the Queen’s Remembrancer, the senior judge at the Royal Courts of Justice an office now held by Barbara Fontaine—the first woman to do so.

Coins of precious metal, including gold and silver, are among the commemorative coins facing the trial. The Royal Mint sells these around the world, with its Britannia and Sovereigns among the best-known and sought-after by collectors.

Assay Office staff inspect the coins. While modern methods such as X-ray fluorescence tests are sometimes used in assaying, the Royal Mint says some century-old procedures, including assaying by fire, is more accurate, and thus employed in the trial.

No, dear reader, I’m not making this up.  But if I hadn’t seen this very interesting Bloomberg story/photo essay about it, I would have thought someone guilty of pulling my leg.  There’s no date or time on this ‘news’ item, but I would assume it’s from Friday — and I thank Hong Kong subscriber Graham C. for pointing it out.  Another link to it is here.

Greece is in a mess but not at the brink

Who benefits if Greece defaults on its debts? Neither its creditors nor its obstreperous government. That is the best reason to hope that tense talks on whether the country deserves the next slice of an 86 billion euro bailout will end amicably before around 6 billion euros of debt comes due for repayment in July. If rationality prevails Greece will still be in a mess, but not at the brink.

The reason the country’s negotiations have dragged on for so long is that all sides are being unreasonable in their own ways. Germany, de facto lead creditor, refuses to go ahead unless the International Monetary Fund does too, even though the international lender brings ever less to the table. The IMF itself is insisting that Greece’s ruling Syriza government make politically toxic pledges in order to meet a fiscal surplus target of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product. And Syriza is refusing to cut generous pensions or lower the country’s too-high income tax threshold.

The question is who blinks first. If the IMF backs down it will look weak, but if it walks away the institution will look as if it doesn’t care about Europe. Germany would have to go back to its parliament to get new approval for a revamped Greek rescue plan – a particularly tricky request in an election year.

This Reuters article, filed from London, showed up on their Internet site at 6:06 a.m. EST on Friday morning — and I thank Richard Saler for finding it for us.  Another link to it is here.

Foes of the Trump and Putin Détente:  John Batchelor Interviews Stephen F. Cohen

All eyes and ears are focused on Trump and Putin as they move towards a détente. And the opposition forces are also marshalling in predictable ways in Washington and elsewhere. Batchelor immediately mentions the recent phone call between Trump and Putin and is hopeful that a summit between the two leaders may happen as soon as July. And not unrelated we also see a renewal of more intensive artillery duels along the Donbass borders in Ukraine. Nevertheless Cohen is optimistic that Trump sees himself as a détente president  – “even if he may not know how to do it” – but the effort is very positive according to Cohen. Equally important is that it is reported that during their phone call both leaders treated each other with equal respect. And most important for Cohen is that with this phone call he has informed the National Security Institutions: “This is what the boss wants”. For this writer this means that along with the executive orders administered very rapidly after the inauguration that he is going to be tough in his presidency and do what he has said he would do. This is a hugely positive start. Whether some of his policies will happen, however (the trade tariffs with Mexico), remains to be seen.

In the next segment the problems ahead for détente are discussed. The main ones are the opposition to détente led by Senator McCain, the ending of sanctions in Europe, and the Ukraine Civil War. Cohen also discusses rants by Senator McCain against détente that are supported by the New York Times. Similarly the spike in Kiev attacks on the Donbass is also a ploy against détente. From my perspective given that the sanction problem for Europe probably ends with détente, and the political in-fighting and outrageous rants by McCain and the MSM are increasingly contained as only internal damage to political elements in government and what passes for the media there. (Americans don’t really care, and the discredit of the media as self-inflicted damage is similarly ignored by Americans.) The very process of Trump performing proactively is a positive process, albeit a rocky one, and a victory for common sense, peace and stability.

Some of the peace gains are passive ones, as the Kiev government in Ukraine continues to lose support in Washington, and in Europe a restless electorate and an increasingly impoverished export sector is posing tough political opposition to the Russian sanctions, the EU position on Ukraine, and to the whole question of Russia and its relationship to Europe. Germany’s Merkel is suffering the blow back the most.  In Russia we see positive outcomes too as Putin is clearly open to détente. But Trump’s anti-Muslim immigration policy may be a problem for Putin, as Russia has a large Muslim population; he would not like to see restlessness there. And, of course, the other problem for Russia is working around NATO and the Baltic States’ historical fear of Russia.

This will also be part of Trump’s détente problems as the partisan differences will be inevitably exploited in Europe, NATO, and by Washington’s still undefeated “war party”. What remains are real problems in the order of business of détente with Russia: Syria War negotiations, the ISIS war in the M.E., Iran and China. The problems shared by both, I think, will see resolution. The rest (IMHO) will need Trump to be more flexible than he has indicated as his policies of choice. Trump will have to find new and significantly more accurate points of view to reassess the US relationship to Iran and China if the New Cold War is to end. This may require a huge learning curve and an intellectual way of thinking that is unfamiliar to Trump. Is he up to the task?

Of course, dear reader, most the events in Poland and Donbass have occurred since this interview was done — and I would certainly think that they dynamics of the situation have changed somewhat, at least in the short term.  This interview was done before Tuesday — and posted on the his website on Tuesday — before hostilities really erupted.  Hopefully next week’s commentary will bring more clarity to the situation in the Ukraine.  Once again my biggest of all THANK YOUs go to Larry Galearis for the above executive summary — and I also thank Ken Hurt for being the first one through the door with the link.  Another link to this 40-minute audio interview is here — and it’s always a must listen for any serious student of the New Great Game.

Iran to Ditch U.S. Dollar in Official Reports

Iran will stop using the U.S. dollar as its currency of choice in its financial and foreign exchange reports from the new fiscal year that begins in March, announced the governor of the Central Bank of Iran late Saturday.

Iran’s difficulties [in dealing] with the dollar were in place from the time of the primary sanctions and this trend is continuing, but we face no limitations regarding other currencies,” Valiollah Seif also said in a televised interview as reported by CBI’s official news website.

Seif gave strong hints that the country may opt for euro in releasing its key economic reports.

Stressing that the U.S. dollar makes up a meager portion of the country’s foreign trade, the official said it would not be logical for the U.S. currency to be the base currency for economic reports under the current circumstances.

In other words, we have to set a currency as the basis of financial reporting that has better stability and greater application in our foreign trade,” he said.

This story was posted on the Financial Tribunal website  on Monday — and it’s something I found  in the Miles Franklin Daily Report on Friday.  Another link to it is here.

Who’s top rooster in the South China Sea? — Pepe Escobar

As we enter the Year of the Rooster, a fierce debate rages over whether Donald Trump is trying to stake his claim as the Great Red Rooster lording it over the South China Sea.

First we had Secretary of State nominee Rex “T. Rex” Tillerson equating Chinese island-building activity in the South China Sea to “Russia’s taking of Crimea” and insisting “access to these islands also is not going to be allowed.” Then we had White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s pledge to defend “international territories” in the South China Sea.

All this after Trump had blamed Beijing for building a “massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea.

Keeping things consistent, U.S. Think Tankland, through its myriad octopus-like manifestations, has invariably called for the proverbial “military muscle” to prevent that favorite neocon mantra: “Chinese aggression”.

China’s Foreign Ministry has been remarkably cool. While stressing Beijing would not be drawn in to a “hypothetical” situation – a U.S. blockade – “non-negotiable sovereignty” over Nansha Qundao (the Spratly islands) and surrounding areas was once again stressed. Moreover, “the United States is not a country directly involved in the South China Sea.”

This commentary showed up on the Asia Times a week ago — and because of its length and subject material, was another item that had to wait for my Saturday missive.  I thank Ellen Hoyt for sending it along on Monday — and another link to it is here.

Japanese regional banks to join yuan payment network

Hiroshima Bank and 13 other Japanese regional banks will connect to an interbank payment network that enables direct yuan wiring to mainland China — a move that will lower transaction fees and boost convenience for customers.

Joining the China International Payments System will reduce fees and processing days. Juroku Bank and Joyo Bank are also among the Japanese banks taking advantage of the system introduced by the People’s Bank of China.

They will be connected one by one after the end of the Chinese New Year holidays via the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, which connected to the system last year.

Previously, payments to mainland China had to be processed by clearing banks such as those in Hong Kong. CIPS can cut costs by several dollars (10 yuan equals US$1.45) per transaction. Payments can be completed on the same day if certain conditions are met.

China’s central bank is considering operating CIPS past the current 8 p.m. closing into the early hours the next morning, as it works to improve the system’s convenience.

This won’t have the U.S. based SWIFT system in a twist, but it does prove that the U.S. now has limited power over the international payment system if push really becomes shove for any or all nations at some point in the future.  The above four paragraphs are all there is to this brief news item, filed from Shanghai, that appeared on the Internet site at 4:10 a.m. JST on their Thursday morning.  A link to a hard copy of this story is here — and I thank Dr. Dave Janda for passing it around yesterday.

JGB yields yanked back from 1-year highs by BOJ’s special buying operation

Japanese government bond yields were yanked back from one-year highs on Friday after the Bank of Japan conducted a special bond buying operation for only the second time, arresting an earlier surge in yields.

The benchmark 10-year yield was up half a basis point at 0.110 percent after climbing to 0.150 percent, its highest since late January 2016.

Longer-dated JGB yields had surged across the board earlier on Friday on disappointment over a regular BOJ debt buying operation that excluded the purchase of superlong bonds.

The central bank, however, later offered to buy 10-year JGBs in a special operation, dragging down the benchmark yield from its session high.  The BOJ offered to buy 10-year JGBs at a yield of 0.110 percent and said the purchase was aimed at keeping the benchmark yield at its target of around zero percent.

For now, the 10-year yield appears to be capped at current levels after the buying operation showed where the ceiling was,” said Soichi Takeyama, fixed-income strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

This Reuters article, filed from Tokyo, put in an appearance on their website at 12:49 a.m. EST early on Friday morning in New York — and I thank Richard Saler for his second contribution to today’s column.  Another link to it is here.

Climate Change: What the scientists say

Climate change is an urgent topic of discussion among politicians, journalists and celebrities…but what do scientists say about climate change? Does the data validate those who say humans are causing the earth to catastrophically warm? Richard Lindzen, an MIT atmospheric physicist and one of the world’s leading climatologists, summarizes the science behind climate change.

This video is posted on the Internet site — and has been viewed well over 3 million times — and it’s certainly a must watch.  As you know I have a background in the atmospheric sciences as well — and I’ve said right from the outset that all this global warming [which has now morphed into climate change, because there is no global warming] propaganda was pure bulls hit — and I still say that.  Saskatchewan reader Steve Buttinger sent it my way last weekend — and it’s another item that had to wait for my Saturday column — and another link to this 5:04 minute video clip is here.

Utah Bill Sets Stage For State Gold Depository, Further Encourages Use of Metals As Money

A bill introduced in the Utah legislature would build on the state’s Legal Tender Act, creating a foundation for further action to encourage the use of gold and silver as money, and take another step toward breaking the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.

Rep. Ken Ivory (R-West Jordan) introduced House Bill 224 (HB224) on Jan. 27. The legislation would add several provisions to state law designed to encourage the use of gold and silver as legal tender. Passage would set the stage for expansion of gold repositories in the state and authorize further study on several sound money policies.

Specifically, HB224 would authorize the investment of public funds in specie legal tender held in a commercial specie repository. Under existing code, “specie legal tender” means gold or silver coin and bullion. “Commercial specie repository” means an institution that holds or receives deposits of specie legal tender that is located within the state. Practically speaking, passage would give the state the option to hold funds in gold and silver instead of Federal Reserve notes.

The legislation would also direct the State Money Management Council to make rules governing quality criteria for a commercial specie repository, in consultation with the state auditor.

This precious metal related news story showed up on the Zero Hedge website at 12:54 p.m. on Friday afternoon EST — and I thank Jim Gullo for pointing it out.  Another link to it is here.

India gold demand picks up as jewellers resume buying post-budget

Demand for gold in India rose this week as many jewellers resumed purchases after having stayed away for a few weeks hoping for an import duty cut in the government budget.

On Wednesday, the Indian government presented its budget for the 2017/18 financial year, but did not change the import duty on gold.

The bullion industry had been urging a reduction in the duty to combat smuggling, which has increased since India raised import duty to 10 percent in August 2013 in an effort to narrow a gaping current account deficit.

Since there is clarity on duty structure now, jewellers have started buying. Even at higher levels, they are making purchases,” said Ashok Jain, proprietor of Mumbai-based wholesaler Chenaji Narsinghji.

This Reuters news item, co-filed from Mumbai and Bengaluru, was picked up by the Internet site yesterday — and I found it on the Sharps Pixley website last night.  Another link to it is here.

Gold demand up by 2 pc as investment surge: WGC

Global gold demand grew by 2 per cent in 2016, to 4,309 tonne, mainly driven by inflows into gold-backed Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) in the US and surge towards bars and coins in China during the fourth quarter, according to World Gold Council (WGC). The total demand in 2015 stood at 4,216 tonne, WGC data revealed.

“Global gold demand rose by 2 per cent in 2016 to 4,309 tonne, the highest level since 2013. This was driven by inflows into gold-backed ETFs of 532 tonne, the second-highest year on record, as investors responded to concerns over future monetary policy, geopolitical uncertainty and negative interest rates,” WGC’s Gold Demand Trends report has revealed.

In China, the demand for bars and coins surged in the fourth quarter due to price dip in November and currency weakness also helped to boost overall investment demand by 70 per cent, to a four-year high of 1,561 tonnes,” WGC Managing Director, India, Somasundaram PR told PTI here.

The rise in overall investment demand was also aided by continued global economic and political uncertainty, most notably Brexit and the US elections, the report said.

This gold-related news item, filed from Mumbai, showed up on the Internet site at 1:47 p.m. IST on their Friday afternoon — and it’s the second story in a row that I plucked from the Sharps Pixley website.  Another link to it is here.

Dying for gold: A miner’s life in northern Russia

Mining for gold is a tough job. The shift lasts 11 hours a day, and miners can only work from May to October.

This fabulous photo essay about placer gold mining in Siberia is a must see/read.  The geography looks similar to that of the Yukon, or northern Quebec here in Canada.  It was posted on the Russia Behind the News website on Wednesday — and I found it in the sidebar of a story posted on the Internet site the same day.


Reader Doug Clark suggested that I post photos of the Central American resplendent quetzal — a bird of some fame and beauty that is also the national bird of Guatemala — and the name of their local currency as well.  I’m happy to oblige.  The click to enlarge feature only works on the first photo.


Today’s pop ‘blast from the past’ is from an American rock group that was formed in 1967 — and really came into their own in the very late 1960s and early 1970s.  I remember spinning their 45s on CHAR-FM radio in Alert, N.W.T. during the three years that I was there from November 1970 to March 1973.  If you’re of certain vintage, you should remember it well — and the link is here.

Today’s classical ‘blast from the past’ is a piece I was listening to on CBC-FM as I was driving over to the bullion store where I do business here in Edmonton.  The work is so long, that I never heard all of it, but I couldn’t get it out of my head, so you’re stuck with it here.  It’s the 4-movement Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 83 by Johannes Brahms.

Brahms began work on the piece in 1878 and completed it in 1881 while in Pressbaum near Vienna. The public premiere of the concerto was given in Budapest on November 9, 1881, with Brahms as soloist, and was [not surprisingly] an immediate success.  It’s been at least a year since I featured it last — and here is Krystian Zimerman doing the honours as soloist, along with the Vienna Philharmonic.  It was recorded back in 1985 — and the late Leonard Bernstein conducts.

The audio doesn’t start right at the beginning of this video, but only when the french horn begins the first movement.  The link is here.

While many may disagree, I don’t think all the big technical funds appreciate the role they play in the positioning game and their influence on price, although some must know by now. And, I’m starting to think, most of the banks which take the other (and usually upper) side of the positions the technical funds put on, may not fully realize what they are doing. I am certain that JP Morgan knows what it is doing, as no one buys more than half a billion ounces of actual silver at bargain basement prices by accident. But I haven’t detected any physical buying of silver from anyone other than JPM.

JP Morgan is the smartest, most connected and powerful market crook of all. In silver (and gold), no one even comes close. It figured out that the only way of covering the big COMEX silver short position the bank inherited from Bear Stearns nine years ago was by physical accumulation. It was and is impossible for JP Morgan or anyone else to build up a 550 million ounce position in COMEX futures contracts because no one is capable of shorting such quantities in paper contract form – it would stand out like a sore thumb. Having neutralized their original paper short exposure years ago, JPM continued to amass physical material for the purpose of an historic financial windfall, which it can achieve at will.Silver analyst Ted Butler: 01 February 2017

There wasn’t much price action in either gold or silver on the release of the job numbers at 8:30 a.m. EST yesterday morning — and I would suspect the reason for that was the monster volume spike in both precious metals that occurred in the 5-minute time interval after the announcement.  I’ve never seen a stand-alone volume spike that size in gold before — and almost the same can be said for the volume spike in silver.  If you want to check them out, they’re in the 5-minute tick charts at the top of this column.

And even though silver closed up on the day, it only closed above its 100-day moving average by a nickel.  That’s a line in the sand that appears is being vigorously defended at the moment, as silver’s closing price has been within pennies either side of that moving average for the last four trading days in a row.

What it means — and which direction it will break, or be allow to break, is still very much unknown, but does bear watching.

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals, plus copper, once again — and the silver chart comes complete with its 100-day moving average in lieu of the 200-day moving average that appears on the other three precious metal charts.

I must admit that I was expecting Trump to dial back on U.S. foreign confrontations during the first hundred days of his presidency, but that certainly hasn’t been the case.  He’s has just about everyone riled up on an economic, monetary…and/or military front.

If this is his idea of “draining the swamp” in Washington and Wall Street…the citizens of the U.S. in particular…and the world’s population in general, are in for a rude awakening.  If anything, he’s been adding water to the swamp, not taking it out.   Both articles by The Saker at the beginning of the Critical Reads section are must reads for a reason…as is Doug Noland’s.

In this wildly uncertain and politically-charged environment that exists now, it’s hard to say what precious metal prices will do going forward, or be allowed to do.  After watching “the Donald” in action since his election…and long before he became president…I’m of the opinion that all bets should be off, as I have no idea what his next moves are going to be, or how the markets will react [or be allowed to react] when he makes them.

Our uncertain world has gotten even more precarious in the last week — and my advice about a current passport and money/precious metals outside your own country is even more shrill this week.

I thought I’d already lived through the “worst of times” under all the U.S. Presidents that have been elected since the turn of the 21st century.  But I have this rather uneasy feeling that I’ve been wrong about that — and the worst may still lie ahead for all of us.

How did it come to this?

I’m done for the day — and the week — and I’ll see you here on Tuesday.




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