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Alasdair Macleod

Executive Summary

  • Why China & Russia are placing the highest priority on increasing their gold reserves
  • The Asian SCO's agenda for re-defining trans-Asian money
  • The looming crisis in paper currencies
  • The 6 key reasons to amass paper gold today

If you have not yet read Part 1: Why Gold Is Undervalued available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Part 1 summarized gold’s technical position, the market position, made a value judgement against fiat dollars, described and quantified the paper market, and noted the long-term shifts of bullion into Asia. There are three big subjects left to deal with: the dynamics at the hear of the West-to-East flow of physical bullion, the scope for an accelerated deterioration in the purchasing-power of paper currencies, and the financial cold war between the advanced western economies and the Asian Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO.

Understanding The Flow Of Gold Into China & Russia

China

China’s appetite for gold has only become obvious in recent years. In reality, we do not know how much gold China has imported. We only know that for whatever reason she appears to be importing significantly larger quantities than publicly admitted. It is worth bearing in mind that this started long before the Shanghai Gold Exchange was established in 2002; the original regulations delegated total control of gold and silver to the Peoples Bank (the central bank – PBOC) in June 1983. Given at that time the west was selling gold down to the $250 level, China has most probably been secretly stockpiling gold for the last thirty years.

The 1983 regulations appear to have been introduced to take advantage of freely-available supply. Between 1983 and 2002 there was significant leasing activity by European and other central banks as well as outright sales in addition to mine output. Furthermore, the bear market from 1980-2000 led to considerable divestment of privately owned gold vaulted in Switzerland. The following table summarizes the estimated effect.

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Approximately half the above-ground stocks in 2002 appears to have changed hands since 1983. The principal buyers were the Middle East until the mid-1990s and India after the Gold Control Act was rescinded. No one has suspected China of acquiring meaningful quantities of gold during this period, but the timing of the 1983 regulations suggests otherwise. India’s demand between 1990 and 2002 was only 5,426 tonnes, with perhaps 2,000 tonnes smuggled in the seven years previously, leaving 68,424 tonnes unaccounted for. And while Middle Eastern oil exporters were certainly buying in quantity it is unlikely they would have taken more than 35,000-40,000 tonnes, which leaves 28,000-33,000 tonnes unaccounted for. Conversion of bullion into jewellery for the European and North American markets could have absorbed 5,000 tonnes at most, but equally there were other sources of supply such as Russia, which was forced to sell all her gold (507 tonnes) during the financial crisis in 1998, and potentially some net selling as a result of the Tiger economies’ crisis at about the same time.

There is only one logical conclusion: China passed regulations in 1983 to acquire gold bullion. This being the case, before 2002 she could easily have secretly acquired over 20,000 tonnes. And this explains why she was then happy to let her own citizens in on the act…

The Case For Owning Physical Gold Now
PREVIEW

Executive Summary

  • Why China & Russia are placing the highest priority on increasing their gold reserves
  • The Asian SCO's agenda for re-defining trans-Asian money
  • The looming crisis in paper currencies
  • The 6 key reasons to amass paper gold today

If you have not yet read Part 1: Why Gold Is Undervalued available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Part 1 summarized gold’s technical position, the market position, made a value judgement against fiat dollars, described and quantified the paper market, and noted the long-term shifts of bullion into Asia. There are three big subjects left to deal with: the dynamics at the hear of the West-to-East flow of physical bullion, the scope for an accelerated deterioration in the purchasing-power of paper currencies, and the financial cold war between the advanced western economies and the Asian Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO.

Understanding The Flow Of Gold Into China & Russia

China

China’s appetite for gold has only become obvious in recent years. In reality, we do not know how much gold China has imported. We only know that for whatever reason she appears to be importing significantly larger quantities than publicly admitted. It is worth bearing in mind that this started long before the Shanghai Gold Exchange was established in 2002; the original regulations delegated total control of gold and silver to the Peoples Bank (the central bank – PBOC) in June 1983. Given at that time the west was selling gold down to the $250 level, China has most probably been secretly stockpiling gold for the last thirty years.

The 1983 regulations appear to have been introduced to take advantage of freely-available supply. Between 1983 and 2002 there was significant leasing activity by European and other central banks as well as outright sales in addition to mine output. Furthermore, the bear market from 1980-2000 led to considerable divestment of privately owned gold vaulted in Switzerland. The following table summarizes the estimated effect.

 src=

Approximately half the above-ground stocks in 2002 appears to have changed hands since 1983. The principal buyers were the Middle East until the mid-1990s and India after the Gold Control Act was rescinded. No one has suspected China of acquiring meaningful quantities of gold during this period, but the timing of the 1983 regulations suggests otherwise. India’s demand between 1990 and 2002 was only 5,426 tonnes, with perhaps 2,000 tonnes smuggled in the seven years previously, leaving 68,424 tonnes unaccounted for. And while Middle Eastern oil exporters were certainly buying in quantity it is unlikely they would have taken more than 35,000-40,000 tonnes, which leaves 28,000-33,000 tonnes unaccounted for. Conversion of bullion into jewellery for the European and North American markets could have absorbed 5,000 tonnes at most, but equally there were other sources of supply such as Russia, which was forced to sell all her gold (507 tonnes) during the financial crisis in 1998, and potentially some net selling as a result of the Tiger economies’ crisis at about the same time.

There is only one logical conclusion: China passed regulations in 1983 to acquire gold bullion. This being the case, before 2002 she could easily have secretly acquired over 20,000 tonnes. And this explains why she was then happy to let her own citizens in on the act…

Executive Summary

  • The West is extremely vulnerable to financial and currency de-stabilisation through precious metals
  • Access to energy supplies will be the real weapon used in the battle over Ukraine (and future geo-political wars)
  • Why sanctions against Russia will not succeed
  • The East is mobilizing to become less dependent on the West

If you have not yet read Is Part 1: Ukraine: A Perspective from Europe available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Russia’s strategy towards Ukraine appears to be to ensure NATO is excluded from Ukrainian territory, the irony being that if NATO members hadn’t interfered with Ukrainian politics in the first place the current crisis would not have occurred. As it is, at a minimum she will seek to secure Donetsk and Luhansk and force the Kiev government to drop any ambitions to join the EU economic bloc.

The fact that NATO is divided between on the one side the US and UK plus all its ex-communist members and on the other the great European welfare states, requires there to be two distinct levels of Russian strategy. They must not be confused with each other, one macro and the other micro.

Macro-Geopolitics Linked To Gold

At the higher level there is the geopolitical clash with the US. This is not just a matter of Ukraine, but it is rapidly becoming the Shanghai Cooperation Council versus America. The US is also embroiled in territorial disputes between its allies and China over mineral rights in the South China Sea. The Middle-East now sells more oil to China than the US, and by leaving the US sphere of influence will fall increasingly under the SCO’s spell. Presumably, America has woken up to the threat to its hegemony from the powerful alliance that is the SCO, together with the loss of Pakistan and India into that sphere of influence. It goes further: even Turkey, a long-standing NATO member, plans to defect to the SCO, apparently a personal project of Recep Erdoğan, the recently re-elected Prime Minister.

American-initiated actions against Russia will probably be kept by Russia and the SCO in this big-picture context. It will be treated as an attack against an SCO member, speeding up integration and trade agreements designed to exclude the US dollar as a settlement medium. In this context the SCO members already appear to have agreed on the need to increase gold ownership as an undefined part-solution to replace the US dollar as the currency standard. In other words, the rush to acquire above-ground gold stocks will continue, and China through her refiners is processing and keeping increasing quantities of African-sourced gold as well as her own which would otherwise have gone to the West.

The Russian central bank has been adding to her monetary gold reserves and officially now has more than China (though China is known to have substantial holdings of bullion not currently declared as monetary reserves). All mine output is likely to be absorbed by the State. Russia has continued to build her gold reserves at a time when it could be argued by western analysts that she needs to hold on to all her foreign currency, given the prospect of escalating sanctions. The truth is that…

The Rise Of The East
PREVIEW

Executive Summary

  • The West is extremely vulnerable to financial and currency de-stabilisation through precious metals
  • Access to energy supplies will be the real weapon used in the battle over Ukraine (and future geo-political wars)
  • Why sanctions against Russia will not succeed
  • The East is mobilizing to become less dependent on the West

If you have not yet read Is Part 1: Ukraine: A Perspective from Europe available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Russia’s strategy towards Ukraine appears to be to ensure NATO is excluded from Ukrainian territory, the irony being that if NATO members hadn’t interfered with Ukrainian politics in the first place the current crisis would not have occurred. As it is, at a minimum she will seek to secure Donetsk and Luhansk and force the Kiev government to drop any ambitions to join the EU economic bloc.

The fact that NATO is divided between on the one side the US and UK plus all its ex-communist members and on the other the great European welfare states, requires there to be two distinct levels of Russian strategy. They must not be confused with each other, one macro and the other micro.

Macro-Geopolitics Linked To Gold

At the higher level there is the geopolitical clash with the US. This is not just a matter of Ukraine, but it is rapidly becoming the Shanghai Cooperation Council versus America. The US is also embroiled in territorial disputes between its allies and China over mineral rights in the South China Sea. The Middle-East now sells more oil to China than the US, and by leaving the US sphere of influence will fall increasingly under the SCO’s spell. Presumably, America has woken up to the threat to its hegemony from the powerful alliance that is the SCO, together with the loss of Pakistan and India into that sphere of influence. It goes further: even Turkey, a long-standing NATO member, plans to defect to the SCO, apparently a personal project of Recep Erdoğan, the recently re-elected Prime Minister.

American-initiated actions against Russia will probably be kept by Russia and the SCO in this big-picture context. It will be treated as an attack against an SCO member, speeding up integration and trade agreements designed to exclude the US dollar as a settlement medium. In this context the SCO members already appear to have agreed on the need to increase gold ownership as an undefined part-solution to replace the US dollar as the currency standard. In other words, the rush to acquire above-ground gold stocks will continue, and China through her refiners is processing and keeping increasing quantities of African-sourced gold as well as her own which would otherwise have gone to the West.

The Russian central bank has been adding to her monetary gold reserves and officially now has more than China (though China is known to have substantial holdings of bullion not currently declared as monetary reserves). All mine output is likely to be absorbed by the State. Russia has continued to build her gold reserves at a time when it could be argued by western analysts that she needs to hold on to all her foreign currency, given the prospect of escalating sanctions. The truth is that…

Executive Summary

  • Central planning are colluding but failing to diminish world demand for bullion
  • The BRICS are planning a future of less dependence on the West, and gold will play a role
  • The East sees gold as "on sale" at today's prices
  • Analysis shows they're right; gold is much cheaper than it should be compared to pre-QE levels

If you have not yet read There Is Too Little Gold in the West, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part I, I went through the history of Asian demand for gold, starting with the Arabs’ need to find a home for increasing quantities of petrodollars from the late 1960s onwards. My conclusion was that there is very little bullion in private ownership left in the West, there is an unmanageable short position in the unallocated gold accounts held with the bullion banks, and the bulk of accessible monetary gold controlled by central banks is already leased and has been sold into the market to satisfy Asian demand.

The result is that merely suppressing the gold price to enhance credibility of the dollar as a reserve currency is no longer the problem. The problem is now one of crisis management. Western central banks have done everything they can, even persuading the Reserve Bank of India to suppress India’s gold imports. We know this is most probably the case because the Indian authorities have already learned the lesson that gold imports could not be controlled, which is why the Gold Control Act was abolished in 1990. Furthermore, the newly-appointed RBI Governor, Raghuram Rajan is an ex-IMF chief economist, has spent a significant part of his career in the U.S., and is therefore likely to be fully sympathetic with Western central bank objectives. He appears to be the West’s place-man.

Other than the question of Indian demand, there are two possible reasons for the flows of gold from West to East: geo-political, whereby one or more Asian nations are deliberately creating a potential crisis for the West, and different valuation criteria. Both are true and…

The Very Real Danger of a Failure in the Gold Market
PREVIEW

Executive Summary

  • Central planning are colluding but failing to diminish world demand for bullion
  • The BRICS are planning a future of less dependence on the West, and gold will play a role
  • The East sees gold as "on sale" at today's prices
  • Analysis shows they're right; gold is much cheaper than it should be compared to pre-QE levels

If you have not yet read There Is Too Little Gold in the West, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part I, I went through the history of Asian demand for gold, starting with the Arabs’ need to find a home for increasing quantities of petrodollars from the late 1960s onwards. My conclusion was that there is very little bullion in private ownership left in the West, there is an unmanageable short position in the unallocated gold accounts held with the bullion banks, and the bulk of accessible monetary gold controlled by central banks is already leased and has been sold into the market to satisfy Asian demand.

The result is that merely suppressing the gold price to enhance credibility of the dollar as a reserve currency is no longer the problem. The problem is now one of crisis management. Western central banks have done everything they can, even persuading the Reserve Bank of India to suppress India’s gold imports. We know this is most probably the case because the Indian authorities have already learned the lesson that gold imports could not be controlled, which is why the Gold Control Act was abolished in 1990. Furthermore, the newly-appointed RBI Governor, Raghuram Rajan is an ex-IMF chief economist, has spent a significant part of his career in the U.S., and is therefore likely to be fully sympathetic with Western central bank objectives. He appears to be the West’s place-man.

Other than the question of Indian demand, there are two possible reasons for the flows of gold from West to East: geo-political, whereby one or more Asian nations are deliberately creating a potential crisis for the West, and different valuation criteria. Both are true and…

Executive Summary

  • Spain: after tens of €billions in bailouts, its banks still need more
  • Germany: its largest banks are ridiculously levered
  • France: its banks are deteriorating fast with the sinking French economy
  • UK: bail-ins are now on the table

If you have not yet read Part I: Europe's Precarious Banks Will Determine the Future available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Spain and Bankia

The true state of the Spanish economy (i.e., it is in depression) should be uppermost in our minds when we consider recent developments at Bankia, the Spanish mortgage bank formed only thirty months ago out of the wreckage of Spain’s regional mortgage banks. Bankia underwent a subsequent bail-out only a year ago and has been a continuing disaster, as shown by the share price in the chart below.

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Having fallen from an adjusted €106 to only 68 cents as recently as last November, the share price tells us that Bankia is simply bust. The new G20 bail-in rules cannot have helped Bankia hold on to its deposits; the only deposits left should be those of the small depositors prepared to rely on government insurance.

The Cyprus bail-in precedent has undoubtedly made Bankia’s position worse than it would otherwise be. At March 31st Bankia…

Where Will the Minsky Moment Occur?
PREVIEW

Executive Summary

  • Spain: after tens of €billions in bailouts, its banks still need more
  • Germany: its largest banks are ridiculously levered
  • France: its banks are deteriorating fast with the sinking French economy
  • UK: bail-ins are now on the table

If you have not yet read Part I: Europe's Precarious Banks Will Determine the Future available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Spain and Bankia

The true state of the Spanish economy (i.e., it is in depression) should be uppermost in our minds when we consider recent developments at Bankia, the Spanish mortgage bank formed only thirty months ago out of the wreckage of Spain’s regional mortgage banks. Bankia underwent a subsequent bail-out only a year ago and has been a continuing disaster, as shown by the share price in the chart below.

 src=

Having fallen from an adjusted €106 to only 68 cents as recently as last November, the share price tells us that Bankia is simply bust. The new G20 bail-in rules cannot have helped Bankia hold on to its deposits; the only deposits left should be those of the small depositors prepared to rely on government insurance.

The Cyprus bail-in precedent has undoubtedly made Bankia’s position worse than it would otherwise be. At March 31st Bankia…

Executive Summary

  • France:  Bet on a bankruptcy of the French government
  • Italy:  Will not be able to fund its debt obligations without external help
  • Spain:  The best outcome at this point is years of grinding financial repression
  • UK:  At growing risk of a big upward spike in price inflation, leading to a currency crisis

If you have not yet read Part I, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Individual States

France

Perhaps the cameo event that best describes French attitudes was the recent correspondence between Maurice Taylor Jnr, head of Titan International, the tire manufacturer, and Arnaud Montebourg, France’s Minister for Industrial Renewal. While it was good theatre, the serious points were that on average a French worker at an industrial plant works for three hours a day, and that the Minister resorted to threats that any Titan products imported into France would be “inspected by the relevant authorities with extra zeal.” That is the way things are done in France: Upset the Minister or a government functionary and none of your product gets to market, as Mr Taylor will shortly find out.

France has an official unemployment rate of about 10.5%, which would be somewhat higher if it were not for three-hour days in many of the factories. Taxes on employers are among the highest in Europe, and employment legislation is so onerous that employing an extra hand is the last option for all private sector employers.

Large companies, such as Peugeot-Citroen, generally tolerate poor labour productivity and sub-standard quality products partly because the unions are strong, and partly because senior managers look to government to “help” by providing subsidies and by other means. Consequently, private-sector manufacturing is not competitive, and sales in the troubled Eurozone are collapsing. Peugeot’s share price says it all.

Decades of government protection have left France’s industrial sector in the weakest position of the larger Eurozone economies. Smaller businesses, outside the major cities, are heavily reliant on agricultural produce and hospitality, much of which is undeclared, untaxed, and untaxable. Furthermore, France’s farmers have long been beneficiaries of the EU’s agricultural subsidies, and have never had to be efficient.

Europe: Welcome to the Domino Effect
PREVIEW

Executive Summary

  • France:  Bet on a bankruptcy of the French government
  • Italy:  Will not be able to fund its debt obligations without external help
  • Spain:  The best outcome at this point is years of grinding financial repression
  • UK:  At growing risk of a big upward spike in price inflation, leading to a currency crisis

If you have not yet read Part I, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Individual States

France

Perhaps the cameo event that best describes French attitudes was the recent correspondence between Maurice Taylor Jnr, head of Titan International, the tire manufacturer, and Arnaud Montebourg, France’s Minister for Industrial Renewal. While it was good theatre, the serious points were that on average a French worker at an industrial plant works for three hours a day, and that the Minister resorted to threats that any Titan products imported into France would be “inspected by the relevant authorities with extra zeal.” That is the way things are done in France: Upset the Minister or a government functionary and none of your product gets to market, as Mr Taylor will shortly find out.

France has an official unemployment rate of about 10.5%, which would be somewhat higher if it were not for three-hour days in many of the factories. Taxes on employers are among the highest in Europe, and employment legislation is so onerous that employing an extra hand is the last option for all private sector employers.

Large companies, such as Peugeot-Citroen, generally tolerate poor labour productivity and sub-standard quality products partly because the unions are strong, and partly because senior managers look to government to “help” by providing subsidies and by other means. Consequently, private-sector manufacturing is not competitive, and sales in the troubled Eurozone are collapsing. Peugeot’s share price says it all.

Decades of government protection have left France’s industrial sector in the weakest position of the larger Eurozone economies. Smaller businesses, outside the major cities, are heavily reliant on agricultural produce and hospitality, much of which is undeclared, untaxed, and untaxable. Furthermore, France’s farmers have long been beneficiaries of the EU’s agricultural subsidies, and have never had to be efficient.

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