Gold Market Reaching The Breaking Point
November 6, 2009
Back in January, I wrote about the significance of gold breaking above $1000 again.
Rising demand for physical gold is a threat to the dollar because it signals a growing loss of confidence in the paper currency. It is also key to understand that gold prices aren't rising because of the changing fundamentals of gold, but because of the changing fundamentals of the dollar. In other words, gold isn't rallying, THE DOLLAR IS FALLING.
Gold is history's oldest and most stable currency. Its utility is simply that it is rare, and for 5,000 years people have used it to store value for the future. All the gold that has ever been produced would fit in a solid cube of about 19 meters on each side, and this cube is only expanding by about 12 centimeters a year (2%). Since the value and supply of gold itself are fairly constant over long periods of time, the main driver of gold price fluctuations is the ebb and flow of confidence in paper currencies. Rising gold prices are, therefore, a signal of a weakening currency, which is why governments hate them and try to suppress them.
Right now, there is unprecedented worldwide demand for physical precious metals. As a result of this surging demand, gold futures have experiencing backwardation, a rare market condition where gold futures trade under spot prices. It is a signal that gold prices are headed higher and that confidence in our currency is fading quickly. When gold prices break above 1,000 again, the event should be recognized for what it is: the herald of a dollar collapse.
Gold is becoming money once again. The market for the standard gold one-ounce coin is no longer fragmented. Both the ugliest and the most beautiful gold coins are traded strictly by the quantity and quality of metal content, disregarding the outward appearance of the coin. Even Indian gold buyers, who, for years, considered buying jewellery to be the best investment option, are shifting from buying gold jewellery to gold coins.
China is increasing its gold reserves, and India has just bought 200 tons of gold from the IMF. Russia had publicly stated its intention to increase its ratio of gold reserves from 2% to 10%, and Brazil is also considering IMF purchases. Gold inflows into central bank vaults are increasing.
It has been more than 40 years since governments and individuals concerned themselves about physically holding gold, but confidence in the dollar is falling and investors are being “dragged kicking and screaming into the bullish camp” as gold continues to break to the upside.
Gold demand is exploding as Investors turn to gold
Investors around the world are investing in gold bars for their safety. Big investors like David Einhorn are also turning to gold as an attractive alternative to cash, as falling interest rates on savings reduce the opportunity cost of holding gold, a non-interest bearing asset. As Mr. Einhorn put it, "Picking these currencies is like choosing my favorite dental procedure. And I decided holding gold is better than holding cash, especially now that both offer no yield." Finally, a chaotic scramble to secure physical gold has also been unleashed by negative real interest rates (below inflation) which have upset the gold "leasing" machinery in the gold industry, creating a sustained market squeeze.
Surging demand is spurring a rush at Swiss gold refiners, who cannot work fast enough to meet demand. Mints are seeing a sharp rise in sales this year due to interest so strong that dealers are reported a shortage of products such as Krugerrands and one-ounce bullion coins. One German firm is even planning gold ATMs to meet growing demand, with 500 "Gold-to-Go" ATMs to be set up in Germany, Switzerland and Austria this year.
The rush to buy gold is also filling Swiss bank vaults. Swiss gold ETFs (ZKB Gold ETF - SWX and Julius Baer Physical Gold - SWX) are moving large quantities of gold out of London and into Zurich (70 tons as of last may), and they are running out of secure vaulting space (Why doesn't GLD ever have any storage issues? Think about it). This shortage of secure storage extends across Swiss bank system with even gold clearing providers like SIS Clear (who only deals with banking counterparties) running out of space.
China is now the driving force in gold market
China is now the fastest growing market for gold, with Beijing's gold markets reporting record sales. As the Chinese economy rebounds from the global recession this year, China is overtaking India to become the world’s top gold consumer. The Chinese authorities are reinforcing this strong demand for precious metals by pushing their citizens to buy gold.
[China’s] main state-owned television company is promoting gold and silver as an investment. The government is telling its people to buy gold. What's more, every bank will sell gold and silver bullion bars in four different sizes to individuals, and China's largest bank, the ICBC, is setting up a precious metals department to handle growing investor demand.
And if the Chinese authorities are pushing gold as an investment to their citizens, it obliges them to 'protect' the gold price, as Lawrence Williams of Mineweb notes. It would be tantamount to a betrayal if it fell, never mind the loss of all-important face that would result. Just as the US and the UK stepped in to bail out its banks, so China will be duty bound to prop up gold.
But the surprising strength we have seen in gold over the summer – we never really got the summer low I was looking for – suggests that somebody is already 'buying the dips' anyway. Indeed, the gold price has this week repeatedly gone through $1,000 during overnight trading, only to fall back when the US markets open. That indicates that the buyers are out east somewhere. I have written about this before: Gold is shifting from West to East – along with the balance of power.
China is now the driving force in the gold market and can be counted on to buy whenever there is a price dip, putting a floor under any correction. So don't expect to ever see prices beneath $900 again. With growing Chinese demand, Gold is never going back down.
Looking at graphs of the price of gold, it is easy to see Chinese buying drive the market higher. For example, it was Asian buying which drove gold over $1,000 on September 8.