Russia Adds 300,000 Ounces of Gold to Its Reserves in February

21 March 2017 — Tuesday


The gold price chopped quietly higher in morning trading in the Far East on their Monday — and by 11 a.m. China Standard Time it was up 5 dollars.  It chopped mostly sideways until the spike high tick of the day was set about thirty minutes before the London open.  From that point it chopped equally quietly lower until about ten minutes before the COMEX open — and as soon as that event occurred, it headed higher until around 12:30 p.m. EDT.  It chopped sideways into the close from there.

The gold price traded in a 7 dollar price range throughout the Monday session, so I shan’t bother with the high and low ticks.

Gold finished the Monday session in New York at $1,233.90 spot, up $5.10 from Friday’s close.  Net volume was pretty quiet at a bit over 105,500 contracts — and roll-over/switch volume was nothing special.

It was mostly the same price pattern in silver, with the day’s low tick coming at precisely 10:00 a.m. EDT in New York, which was the London p.m. gold fix.  It rallied a few pennies from there, before chopping sideways for the rest of the day.

Like gold, the high and low ticks in this precious metal certainly aren’t worth looking up, either.

Silver closed in New York yesterday at $17.395 spot, up 2.5 cents on the day.  Net volume was very quiet at just under 28,000 contracts.

The price action in platinum was almost the same as it was for gold.  It rallied a few dollars until around 11 a.m. CST — and then chopped mostly sideways until around noon in Zurich.  It was sold down to its low tick of the day just minutes before the COMEX open — and then, also like gold, rallied until a few minutes after 12 o’clock noon EDT.  There looked to be a $970 spot ceiling in place at that point — and it bounced off it multiple times going into the 5:00 p.m. EDT close.  Platinum finished the Monday session in New York at $969 spot — and up 6 bucks from its Friday close.

Ditto for palladium.  After its pre-COMEX open low, the rally that followed got capped and sold off a bit just a few minutes before 1 p.m. in New York.  Palladium closed at $780 spot, up 5 dollars on the day.  It would have obviously closed higher if allowed — and I think it’s safe to say that would have been the case with the other three precious metals as well.

The dollar index closed very late on Friday afternoon in New York at 100.37 — and chopped sideways for a bit when the market opened shortly before 5 p.m. EDT on Sunday afternoon.  Shortly after that time, it began to head lower, with the usual ‘gentle hands’ putting in an appearance just as it was about to slice below the 100.00 mark.  The low tick was 100.02.  It ‘rallied’ unsteadily from there until the 100.45 high tick was set just minutes before 2 p.m. EDT.  It rolled over a bit from there until around 4 p.m. — and then traded mostly sideways into the close.  The dollar index finished the Monday session at 100.35 — which was down 2 basis points from Friday.

Here’s the 3-day U.S. dollar index chart so you can see its move on both Sunday and Monday…plus Friday as well.

And here’s the 6-month U.S. dollar index and, as always, you can read into it whatever you wish.

The gold stocks opened up about a percent — and then sank back to trade either side of unchanged until shortly after 1 p.m. EDT.  They began to head higher from there — and closed on almost on their highs, as the HUI finished up 1.44 percent.

The price action in the silver equities was about the same, but not quite as enthusiastic.  Their lows came around 11:25 a.m. in New York — and they chopped quietly higher from there into the close, as Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment/Silver 7 Index closed up 0.95 percent.  Click to enlarge if necessary.

The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and 118 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Wednesday.  ABN Amro issued 106 of those contracts out of its client account — and Canada’s Scotiabank issued the other 12 out of its own account.  Of course it was, just as Ted Butler said, JP Morgan as the only long/stopper of note…with 95 contracts for its own account, plus 20 for its ‘client’ account.  Morgan Stanley picked up the other three contracts for its client account.  The link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.

So far this month, there have been a total of 3,414 silver contracts issued and stopped.  Of that amount, JP Morgan has picked up 2,394 contracts for its own account, plus a further 678 for its ‘client’ account.

The CME Preliminary Report for the Monday trading session showed that gold open interest in March dropped by 15 contacts, leaving 17 still open.  Friday’s Daily Delivery Report showed that 13 gold contracts were posted for delivery today, so that means that 17-13=4 March contracts were covered in addition to the 13 contracts delivered…most likely because the short/issuer had no gold to deliver — and the long/stopper on the other side of the trade sold them their long contract so they could cover.  Silver o.i. in March declined by 4 contracts, leaving 549 still open, minus the 118 contracts mentioned in the previous paragraph.  Friday’s Daily Delivery Report showed that zero silver contracts were posted for delivery today, so that means that 4 March contracts were covered — and probably for the same reason I just spoke of for those 4 contract holders in March gold.

For the third business day in a row, there was a withdrawal from GLD.  This time an authorized participant took out 123,774 troy ounces.  It was exactly the opposite in SLV, as an a.p. added 1,231,209 troy ounces — and I would suspect that this deposit was used to cover an existing short position.

The U.S. Mint finally had a sales report worthy of the name.  They sold 4,500 troy ounces of gold eagles — 4,500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes — and 715,000 silver eagles.

I would suspect, as I mentioned last week, that the rally we’ve had during the last four business days might finally inject a bit of life into the currently moribund retail bullion market.  That appears to have been the case — and it will be interesting to see how long it continues.

It was another zero in/out day for gold over at the COMEX-approved depositories on the U.S. east coast on Friday.

It wasn’t much different in silver, as only 5,088 troy ounces were received — and none shipped out.  That tiny amount of activity was at Delaware — and I shan’t bother linking it.

But it was another busy day over at the COMEX-approved gold kilobar depositories in Hong Kong on their Friday, as a very chunky 7,839 kilobars were reported received — and only 210 were shipped out.  All of this action was at Brink’s, Inc. as per usual — and the link to that, it troy ounces, is here.

Since yesterday was the 20th of the month — and it fell on a weekday — the good folks over at The Central Bank of the Russian Federation updated their website with their February data.  During that month the added another 300,000 troy ounces of gold to their reserves.  They now hold 53.2 million troy ounces/1654.7 metric tonnes of gold.  Here’s Nick’s updated charts with February’s data added in.  Click to enlarge.

It was another fairly slow news day on Monday — and nothing much exciting happened on the weekend, either.  There’s no glass-lined highly radioactive crater where North Korea used to be, at least not yet, so I don’t have much in the way of hard news for you.  However, I do have quite a number of very interesting stories that are worth your while, if you have the time and/or the interest.


More Proof of Janet Yellen’s Idiocy — David Stockman

During the last 129 months, the Fed has held 86 meetings. On 83 of those occasions it either cut rates or left them unchanged.

So you can perhaps understand why Wednesday’s completely expected (for the last three weeks!) 25 bips left the day traders nonplussed. The Dow rallied over 100 points that day.

Traders understandably believe that this monetary farce can continue indefinitely, and that our Keynesian school marm’s post-meeting presser was evidence that the Fed is still their friend.

No it isn’t!

Janet Yellen’s sing-song gibberish was the equivalent of a monetary DEFCON 1, alerting all except the most addicted Kool-Aid drinkers to get out of the casino.

This commentary by David showed up on the Internets site on Saturday — and it comes to us via Brad Robertson.  Another link to it is here.

$596 billion budget, 800 plus bases: The massive U.S. military machine

There was no shortage of cuts proposed in Trump’s budget for 2018, which was released earlier this week.

However, one of the few departments that did not receive a haircut was the Department of Defense. If the proposed budget ultimately passes in Congress, the DoD would be allocated an extra $54 billion in federal funding – a 10{f02ffe5e8b39fd7974c2720d01ccf381ddc9ebb4164215842085b3c57e4f642e} increase that would be one of the largest one-year defense budget increases in American History.

To put the proposed increase in context, the United States already spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined. Meanwhile, the additional $54 billion is about the size of the United Kingdom’s entire defense budget.

With over half of all U.S. discretionary spending being put towards the military each year, the U.S. is able to have extensive operations both at home and abroad. Our chart for this week breaks down military personnel based on the latest numbers released by the DoD on February 27, 2017.

In total, excluding civilian support staff, there are about 2.1 million troops. Of those, 1.3 million are on active duty, while about 800,000 are in reserve or part of the National Guard.

Well, dear reader, the U.S. Department of Defense turned into the War Department a long time ago.  All other countries defend their homeland from within their borders.  But rules of international law no longer apply to The Empire.  This very worthwhile article, which bears the headlined from the ZH website, put in an appearance on the Internet site yesterday — and the first reader through the door with it was Brad Robertson via Zero Hedge.  Another link to it is here.

Oroville Dam: 17 March Spectacular Re-Opening of Main Spillway

I got there just in time to witness the “Grand Re-Opening” of the main spillway at Oroville after 2 weeks and 1.25 million cubic yards of debris removed.  Also a complete press briefing update.

This 19:20 minute video clip was posted on their website last Friday — and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way on Sunday.

This Is Going to Blow Sky High” – Observations on Canada’s Housing Market

Originally, I thought this would be a bit of a joke.  There were billboards in all the Toronto subway cars advertising the Canadian Real Estate Wealth Expo – learn how to become a millionaire.  I thought this was so ridiculous, it may be fun.  What better way to experience the top of the housing market than watching Tony Robbins and Pitbull along with a bunch of U.S. real estate professionals explain how Toronto real estate is the path to riches.

Prices were originally $150 per ticket, but I was able to buy for $50.  While it deeply bothers me that I paid $50 to these shameless (amoral) self-promoters, I thought it would be worth it to witness, in person, the top of the housing market.

I had thought, there can’t be that many people stupid enough to attend this, but I was very wrong – 15,000 people were there!  I was blown away.  Bubbles are largely psychological.  This crowd was tangible proof of that.  15k people in one spot listening to Americans explain why real estate in Toronto is an exceptional investment.  The whole experience was horrifying.

Nowhere in any of this was there ever a mention of risk, the dangers of leverage, how terrible negative equity can be, how that can trap you, etc.

This is going to blow sky high.

After spending 27 years in residential real estate sales, I know this phenomena intimately, having lived through a couple of these myself.  This commentary appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 6:54 p.m. EST yesterday evening — and another link to it is here.

Theresa May Will Trigger Article 50 on March 29, Starting Brexit Process

Britain’s ambassador to the E.U. Tim Barrow told the office of European Council President Donald Tusk that Britain will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, Mrs. May’s spokesman said. He said he expects talks to begin promptly, but that the U.K. understands the 27 E.U. countries will want time to deliver their response.

Slack said that “after we trigger, the 27 will agree their guidelines for negotiations and the Commission’s negotiating mandate” and added that “president Tusk has said he expects an initial response within 48 hours. We want negotiations to start promptly”.

E.U. Council president Donald Tusk is now expected to respond formally in the next two days, although the detailed E.U. negotiating position is not expected to emerge until later in the spring.

David Davis, the U.K.’s Brexit secretary added that “The Government is clear in its aims: a deal that works for every nation and region of the U.K. and indeed for all of Europe – a new, positive partnership between the U.K. and our friends and allies in the European Union.”

As the Financial Times adds, the pre-announcement of the timing of the Article 50 letter is partly aimed at preparing financial markets for the formal start of the Brexit process which will last at least two years.  Downing Street has been anxious in recent months to counter the risk that major Brexit announcements are inevitably accompanied by falls in the value of the pound.

This Zero Hedge story, ‘borrowed’ from the Financial Times, was posted on their Internet site at 7:35 a.m. on Monday morning EDT — and it’s courtesy of Brad Robertson as well.  Another link to it is here.

Outrage as Juncker boasts that no-one else will want to leave the E.U. after they see how badly the UK is punished for Brexit

Eurosceptics have reacted with fury after Jean-Claude Juncker boasted that no-one else will want to leave the E.U. after they see how harshly Britain is punished.

The European Commission chief crowed that the ‘example’ of the U.K. would ensure the survival of the Brussels club.

He also threatened that Theresa May will have to accept demands from the E.U. for a divorce bill.

But his bullish stance was derided by Brexiteers who branded him ‘out of touch‘ and accused him of living in a ‘fool’s paradise‘.

Half memberships and cherry-picking aren’t possible. In Europe you eat what’s on the table or you don’t sit at the table,’ Juncker added.

But Tory MP Peter Bone told MailOnline: ‘It is like the dying words of the leader of an empire as it collapses.’

This story appeared on the Internet site 10:01 a.m. GMT on their Monday morning, which was 6:01 a.m. in New York — EDT plus 4 hours..  It was updated about six hours later.  I ‘borrowed’ it from yesterday’s edition of the King Report — and another link to it is here.

Deutsche Bank Plunges Into Red For 2017 After Dilution, Revenue Warning

After raising capital at a 35{f02ffe5e8b39fd7974c2720d01ccf381ddc9ebb4164215842085b3c57e4f642e} discount over the weekend, Deutsche Bank shares are tumbling once again – back into the red for 2017 – after CEO John Cryan warned that revenue would be “broadly flat” in 2017. As Bloomberg reports:

Germany’s biggest bank has seen revenue falling or little changed from last year across most of its businesses. For the full year, the lender expects revenue to be “broadly flat,” it said in its annual report published Monday.

    While an economic recovery in Europe, expectations for fiscal stimulus in the U.S. and rising interest rates should bolster the bank, “2017 will remain a year of change,” Cryan said in the report.

    In a prospectus for the offering, also published Monday, the bank said “segmental revenues” through mid-March are “slightly lower” than in the comparable period last year. Revenue was flat in equities sales and trading, while debt sales and trading as well as corporate finance are up from a year earlier, though by a smaller margin than in the first two months. Revenue in the private wealth and commercial clients unit is flat in the first two months of the year, and global transaction banking declined.

Deutsche Bank said earlier this month that the new phase of its overhaul will cause the loss of additional jobs, without specifying how many. That comes after an announcement in 2015 that it would eliminate about 9,000 jobs by the end of 2018 to cut costs — and judging by the stock’s recent collapse – there’s more work to be done.

This short 1-chart Zero Hedge news item appeared on their website at 9:37 a.m. EDT yesterday morning — and it comes to us courtesy of Brad Robertson as well.  Another link to it is here.

Deepening E.U. Banking Crisis Meets Euro-TARP and Taxpayers

Events are moving so fast in Europe these days, it’s almost impossible to keep up. While much of the attention is being hogged by political developments, including the election in the Netherlands, Reuters published a report warning that the European banking sector may face even higher bad loan risks if the ECB begins to scale back its monetary stimulus programs, something it has already begun, albeit extremely tentatively.

The total stock of non-performing loans (NPL) in the E.U. is estimated at over €1 trillion, or 5.4{f02ffe5e8b39fd7974c2720d01ccf381ddc9ebb4164215842085b3c57e4f642e} of total loans, a ratio three times higher than in other major regions of the world.

On a country-by-country basis, things look even scarier. Currently 10 (out of 28) E.U. countries have an NPL ratio above 10{f02ffe5e8b39fd7974c2720d01ccf381ddc9ebb4164215842085b3c57e4f642e} (orders of magnitude higher than what is generally considered safe). And among Eurozone countries, where the ECB’s monetary policies have direct impact, there are these NPL stalwarts:

  •     Ireland: 15.8{f02ffe5e8b39fd7974c2720d01ccf381ddc9ebb4164215842085b3c57e4f642e}
  •     Italy: 16.6{f02ffe5e8b39fd7974c2720d01ccf381ddc9ebb4164215842085b3c57e4f642e}
  •     Portugal: 19.2{f02ffe5e8b39fd7974c2720d01ccf381ddc9ebb4164215842085b3c57e4f642e}
  •     Slovenia: 19.7{f02ffe5e8b39fd7974c2720d01ccf381ddc9ebb4164215842085b3c57e4f642e}
  •     Greece: 46.6{f02ffe5e8b39fd7974c2720d01ccf381ddc9ebb4164215842085b3c57e4f642e}
  •     Cyprus: 49{f02ffe5e8b39fd7974c2720d01ccf381ddc9ebb4164215842085b3c57e4f642e}

That bears repeating: in Greece and Cyprus, two of the Eurozone’s most bailed out economies, virtually half of all the bank loans are toxic.

This story was posted on the Internet site on Friday — and I dug it out of a Zero Hedge article that Brad Robertson also sent our way.  Another link to it is here.

Merkel Offers ‘Olive Branch’ to Russia as “Solution to Many International Conflicts

After admitting to notable differences with President Trump during a press conference with Japanese PM Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel poured some cold water on the neocon narrative as she appeared to offer an olive branch to Russia – hardly painting Putin as the enemy of all and destroyer of worlds.

Speaking at a news conference in Hanover with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuked President Trump’s comment that Germany owes U.S. and NATO “vast sums,” saying that no country spends its entire defense budget on NATO, reiterating her view that projects such as crisis prevention, foreign aid count toward defense budget, not just military spending.

And finally Merkel stated that:

we want to have possibilities for scaling back sanctions when the Minsk accord is implemented, because we want to include Russia as an international actor in the solution of many conflicts.”

Clearly offering an olive branch to Putin – something that we are sure the Democrats and Neocons (who now seem to be acting in unison) will, we are sure, reject as soon as possible.

Finally, Merkel has done what was necessary.  Good on her!  This news story showed up on the Zero Hedge website at 9:28 a.m. on Monday morning EST — and is courtesy of Brad Robertson.  Another link to it is here.

Denmark’s government now has no foreign currency debt — for the first time in 183 years 

Denmark’s central government paid back the entirety of all its foreign currency loans for the first time in “at least 183 years,” the country’s central bank said on Monday.

On 20 March 2017, the Danish central government will repay its last loan in foreign currency, totalling 1.5 billion dollars. Thus – for the first time in at least 183 years – the Danish central government has no foreign currency loans,” a statement from the Danmarks Nationalbank said.

The government had previously undertaken foreign loans to ensure that it could keep its foreign exchange reserves at adequate levels. However, reserves have plunged in recent years, meaning that no more loans have been taken, allowing existing ones to be repaid.

FX reserves have shrunk thanks to huge interventions in the market from the central bank in order to keep the Danish krone pegged to the euro, which have drained the reserves.

Denmark’s central bank makes clear that Monday’s news does not mean it is without any debt, just that all debt it has is now denominated in Danish currency.

This news item, filed from London, put in an appearance on the Internet site around 2 p.m. Central Europe Time [CET] on their Monday afternoon — and I thank Swedish reader Patrik Ekdahl for sharing it with us.  Another link to it is here.

Turns out Bluetooth is named after an old Scandinavian king who died over 1,000 years ago


It’s been around for 20 years. We see the name and iconic logo on virtually every device we own — Bluetooth headphones, Bluetooth speakers, even Bluetooth-enabled toothbrushes.

As is the case with most product names we encounter every day, we often take for granted that they are just called what they are called. A frappuccino is a frappuccino because it sounds tasty, right? Actually, it’s a frozen cappuccino. WiFi may just seem like a funky word for the life-sustaining force that makes internet browsing possible, but it’s actually short for “Wireless Fidelity.”

What about Bluetooth? What is the so-obvious-it’s-funny explanation for the technology that made you think strangers on the bus were talking to you when in reality they were just on the phone?

As it turns out, Bluetooth is named after a 10th-century Scandinavian king.

You couldn’t make this stuff up!  A fascinating story.  No fake news here!  This was posted on the Internet site on Monday as well — and it’s the second offering in a row from Patrik Ekdahl — and it’s very much worth reading.  Another link to it is here.

A decent sized salmon now costs more than a barrel of crude — and it’s fantastic news for Norway’s fish industry

Record-priced salmon has helped Norway counter plummeting incomes from oil. During 2016, the average price of wild salmon jumped 40 percent compared to the year before, writes Dagens Industri.

The price of a 4,5 kilo salmon has now surpassed the price of a barrel of Brent crude.

Norway is by far the world’s largest producer of salmon, with some 50 percent of the market. Last year, it exported almost a million tons of the fish that makes up sushi dinners all over the world, which amounted to a value of 61,4 billion NOK (US$7,5 billion).

In spite of fantastic demand, Norway’s fish producers may have a tough time to increase their supply, which may cause further price increases.

The thing with salmon is that it takes about three years from when you decide to increase production until the fish reaches the market. So there are relatively long lead times,”  Kolbjørn Giskeødegaard, fish analyst at på Nordea, told Dagens Industri

Another interesting story from Patrik.  This was also on the Internet site yesterday — and another link to it is here.

The border area between North and South Korea may be the tensest place on earth

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Friday it may be necessary to take preemptive military action against North Korea if the threat from its weapons program were to reach a level “that we believe requires action.”

Tillerson’s comments came after he visited the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea – a heavily fortified strip of land that may be the tensest place on the planet.

Although the Korean War is technically over for the U.S., the North and South are still very much at war – maintaining guard towers and thousands of troops facing each other, waiting for the next invasion.

The buffer zone created by the 1953 Armistice between North and South is called the demilitarized zone (DMZ), although there’s a huge military presence. This border is filled with fencing, mines, and troops on both sides with itchy trigger fingers

This excellent photo essay of a place none of us will ever get to see first hand, was posted on the Internet site on Friday afternoon CET — and it’s the fourth and final offering of the day from Patrik Ekdahl.  It’s definitely worth your while if you have the interest — and another link to it is here.

No Need For Another Korean War — Eric Margolis

Panmunjom, the ‘peace village’ on the incredibly tense demilitarized zone (aka DMZ) between North and South Korea, is one of the weirdest places I’ve ever visited. Tough North Korean soldiers lurk about, watched by equally tough South Korean troops in one-way sunglasses and an aggressive judo ‘warrior’ stance.

When I was filming at Panmunjom, we were warned to beware of North Koreans who could at any moment rush into the main conference room and drag us into North Korea.

It was into this crazy house that the new, jet-lagged U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was transported from turbulent Washington. After a quick look at the DMZ, Tillerson announced `no more Mr. Nice Guy.’ The U.S. had run out of `strategic patience’ with North Korea and will go to war to end North Korea’s ‘threat’ to the U.S., he warned.

Tillerson, formerly CEO of EXXON, is well-versed in world affairs but the Korean peninsula’s complexities could be too much for him to quickly absorb. Immediately threatening war is no way to begin a diplomatic mission. But Tillerson was obviously reading from a script written by his boss, Donald Trump, whose knowledge of North Asian affairs makes Tillerson look like a Confucian scholar.  Welcome to Trump’s credo: tweet loudly and walk with a big stick.

What would war between the U.S. and North Korea mean? A very grim scenario if it occurs.

This commentary by Eric showed up on his own website on Saturday sometime — and the first person through the door with it was Kathmandu reader Nitin Agrawal.  It’s certainly worth reading — and another link to it is here.

New Zealand Expels U.S. Spy With Broken Nose and Black Eye, After “Incident

It’s not just U.S.-Russian relations that have devolved to the level of spontaneous diplomat expulsion.  According to Reuters, New Zealand has expelled an attache at the U.S. Embassy after Washington refused to waive his right to diplomatic immunity in relation to a police investigation of a potentially serious crime, after an “incident” which gave him a broken nose and a black eye, media and authorities said. New Zealand Television said the man had worked alongside New Zealand’s intelligence service, the Government Communications Security Bureau, which is a member of the so-called Five Eyes signals-intelligence alliance binding the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

In other words, the unnamed diplomat was most likely a U.S. spy – which would explain why the government refused to strip him of his immunity –  who got into a fight, and quickly vacated the country.

New Zealand police said they responded to the incident near the capital Wellington on March 12 involving an employee of the U.S. Embassy. They did not say what work the employee did or give any other details. The U.S. government later declined a police request to waive the employee’s diplomatic immunity, the New Zealand Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Officials in Wellington and our Ambassador in Washington, D.C. have clearly conveyed to the United States the expectation that foreign diplomats obey the law in New Zealand and are seen to face justice in New Zealand,” Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said in a statement Monday.

Even in ‘The Shire’ the forces of Mordor are active.  I’m sure J.R.R. Tolkien would be horrified if he could see what The Empire has morphed into since WW2.  This Zero Hedge spin on a Reuters news item appeared on their website at 1:14 p.m. on Monday afternoon EST — and another link to it is here.

Massive $5.6 Billion Treasure Hunt Is On For Sunken British Gold

After more than two decades of searching, Britain might finally get some of its sunken WWI and WWII gold back, as Britannia’s Gold launches an operation to recover $5.6 billion worth of the yellow-metal that went missing after British ships were attacked by the Germans.

It is believed that the British government used ships to transport gold and other precious metals worth £300 billion ($372 billion) during First and Second World Wars to pay for military equipment.

The sunken ships were specifically targeted by Germans in order to put extra financial pressure on the British Empire during the wars, Britannia’s Gold stated on its website.

It took scientists 25 years and eight million documents to create a database and track down 700 out of 7,500 of the sunken vessels.

This news item was posted on the Internet site very late on Sunday evening EDT — and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for pointing it out.  Another link to it is here.

The Dancing Bears — Jeff Thomas

In the early 2000s, I recommended to associates that we were in for a major gold boom. Most thought that this was a ridiculous suggestion and didn’t buy a single ounce. I continued to recommend the purchase of gold regularly over the ensuing years, and the price continued to rise. Only in 2011 did they start to buy, at a time when gold was peaking. We were due for a correction and in late 2011, it arrived.

For several years, the price has remained in the neighbourhood of $1,200—roughly the price it needs to be to bother removing it from the ground.

During that time, gold has periodically risen a bit, then gotten knocked down again. It’s understandable that this should happen. Central banks have a stake in holding down the gold price, since a rising gold price makes it appear more attractive than storing cash in banks. We’ve reached the point that the central banks have run out of tricks to float the economy and we’re already past due for a crash.

But crashes don’t always occur as soon as they become logical. As long as the public can be fooled into remaining confident in the system, a doomed economy can limp along for a bit before toppling. Statistics on unemployment and inflation can be fudged (and they have been). The stock market can be falsely pumped up (and it has been) in order to create the illusion that all is well. These factors, taken together with knocking down the price of gold periodically, helps to convince people that they should keep their money in cash and their cash in the bank, not in gold.

This gold-related commentary by Jeff appeared on the Internet site on Monday — and it certainly worth reading if you have the interest.  Another link to it is here.


For years, photographer Tanja Brandt has made it her mission to capture magnificent photos of animals and wildlife. Recently, the German artist found a new challenge when she photographed the unique bond between
two unlikely friends: Ingo, a Belgian shepherd, and Poldi (Napoleon), a one-year-old owlet.

The owlet and canine have a special “protector-protected” relationship and that their affection towards each other couldn’t be any more evident. Ingo lovingly guards Poldi, who apparently “doesn’t know how to live free.

The owlet hatched two days after his six brothers and sisters, therefore, has always been very vulnerable due to his small size. Comparatively, Ingo was raised by a family of strong, and oftentimes ruthless, police dogs.  The click to enlarge feature doesn’t help with these photos.


The COMEX March silver delivery process continues to play out both as expected — and as extraordinary in the amounts of metal taken by JP Morgan.  But after the first days of delivery, based upon the usual formulae that the COMEX uses to assign deliveries, it was obvious that JP Morgan would be taking a boatload of silver contracts, mostly for itself, but also for a customer(s). JP Morgan has now taken [2,394] contracts in its own name, already way above the 1,500 supposed contract limit and the most I can ever recall being stopped. In addition, JPM has stopped an additional [678] contracts for customers. Based upon the remaining open interest in the March futures contract (over 400), I have to once again up my recent estimate of what JPM would stop in its own name from 2,500 to 2,700 contracts.

A closer examination of the above data reveals just how dominant JPMorgan has been in this March silver delivery. Of the 24 clearing firms listed in the above table, there are only two other net silver stoppers this month, Morgan Stanley to the tune of [56] contracts and Citicorp to the tune of 19 net contracts, both on behalf of customers  – compared to the [3,072] net contracts that JPM and its customers have stopped. Never have I seen such a mismatch. A number of thoughts cross my mind, including don’t these other competitors of JPMorgan see what’s going on? Are they not the least bit concerned that JPM is gobbling up every available physical ounce of silver and that a good number of them are short paper COMEX contracts up the ying yang?

This is especially true since either this March silver delivery is the tightest ever or, at the very least, is putting on the greatest impersonation of tightness I have ever seen. About the only comparison that comes to mind is more than 32 years ago when I knew a client of mine was set and in position to take delivery of more than a thousand contracts of frozen orange juice, although I clearly didn’t know the full ramifications of the other side not having the actual goods. I am not a participant, in any way, in the current March silver delivery tightness, just an observer, but are the other big silver clearing shorts oblivious to what’s going on? I wouldn’t expect the average person to fully appreciate the unfolding COMEX silver delivery tightness, but I would imagine close competitors of JPM (assuming it has competitors) would be all over this data. Yet I see no signs of such awareness.Silver analyst Ted Butler: 18 March 2017

With such low volume in both silver and gold yesterday, not too much should be read into yesterday’s price action except to note that there was, as always, nothing free or fair about it.

Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals, plus copper.  Standing back and looking at the gold and silver charts in particular, it does appear that unless their respective prices break out to the upside pretty quick, it certainly looks as if an interim top is being placed in both metals.  That’s certainly true in silver where, for the fourth day in a row, silver wasn’t allowed to close above its 50-day moving average.

But with both these precious metals set up the way they are in the COMEX futures market, it isn’t an outcome I would bet any of my hard-earned money on.  But the Big 4 traders will do what they want with precious metal prices, regardless.  The click to enlarge feature helps a bit with the first four charts.

And as I type this paragraph, the London open is still an hour away because of the Daylight Saving Time thingy, but even without London yet open it’s been busy every since trading began in New York at 6:00 p.m. EDT yesterday evening — and I’ll start with the dollar index…

It didn’t do much until shortly after trading began at 6:00 p.m. on Monday evening in New York — and by 6:30 p.m. it had jumped up to its 100.47 high.  Then it began to head lower at a precipitous rate, followed concurrently by the prices of all four precious metals, which had been rallying a bit up until that point.  The dollar index bottomed out at the 100.12 mark by 9:30 a.m. China Standard Time on their Tuesday morning — and it certainly appeared that the usual ‘gentle hands’ were involved with that save once again.  It rallied from there until shortly before noon in Shanghai, making it up to the 100.28 mark.  It rolled over from there — and the index is down 12 basis points at 3 p.m. China Standard Time [CST] — and an hour before the London open.

And as I just said, the precious metals got hammered by the powers-that-be because it was obvious that they were about to head higher with a vengeance — and silver was back above its 50-day moving average at that point as well.

Gold’s current low came minutes before noon in Shanghai trading — and is down $4.40 at the moment.  Silver is off its earlier low as well — and down ‘only’ 5 cents.  Platinum is down 10 dollars — and barely off its low tick.  Palladium suffered the least — and is down only a buck at the moment.

Net HFT gold volume is already pushing 47,000 contracts — and that number in silver is 6,800 contracts.

I have no idea what has happened to warrant this price activity, but it’s a lead-pipe cinch that ‘da boyz’ were at battle stations as something was about to go ‘bump in the night’.

Today, at the close of COMEX trading, is the cut-off for this Friday’s Commitment of Traders Report — and unless JPMorgan et al smash the bejesus out of the precious metal prices today, there will certainly be big deterioration in the commercial net short positions in both silver and gold in that report.  But I’ll reserve final judgement until tomorrow’s column once I have today’s closing price to look at.

And as I post today’s column on the website at 4:05 a.m. EDT, I see that precious metal prices have turned a bit lower in the last hour.  However, things have quieted down a fair amount going into the London open.  Gold is now down $5.80 an ounce, silver is lower by 7 cents — and platinum is still down the same 10 bucks it was an hour ago.  Palladium is now down two dollars.

Net HFT gold volume is coming up on 52,000 contracts — and that number in silver is a hair under 8,000 contracts.

The dollar index is down a bit more, but off its current ‘gentle hands’ 100.08 low tick by a bit — and is down 25 basis points as London opens.

After what happened in Far East trading today, I’ll be prepared for any eventuality when I check the charts later this morning.  Whatever is going on, is being controlled by the powers-that-be, although they appear to have their hands full at the moment.

That’s all I have for today, which is more than enough — and I’ll see you here tomorrow.


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