Guest Post: Andrew Maguire responds to "Trader David R"

Last week, the good folks at Miles Franklin created quite a stir by posting a blog from a supposed bullion bank insider. It seemed a rather cunning bit of disinformation so I asked my friend, Andrew Maguire, to read the piece and write up a few "clarifications".

Before we get started, it's probably best to re-visit the actual blog post from Miles Franklin. You can read it by clicking this link: http://blog.milesfranklin.com/the-cartel-and-hedgies-are-short-paper-but-long-physical-gold

Recall that regular members of "Turd's Army" not only have the ability to observe Andy's trades in real time, they also receive his weekly commentary every Sunday. (To register, click here: http://www.coghlancapital.com/daytrades-application?ak=turd_army). Andy's commentary is an invaluable service and offers true insight into the behind-the scenes dealings of the bullion banks in London. This week, Andy included in commentary his rebuttal to "Trader David R" and he has kindly made it available to all Turdites everywhere. I hope that, by reading it, you will gain an increased understanding of the bullion bank system as well as an appreciation of the ongoing campaign by Cartel agents of disinformation to deceive and confuse you.

TF

(Please understand that this post is not meant to discredit Miles Franklin or their services. They are a great firm that does terrific work in educating and serving the investing public. Ranting Andy did not approve of the blog post in question and it seems that his company published it in an attempt to "air all sides". I know that I have published a few things that I later regretted so I don't want anyone to hold this against them. They did not set out to intentionally deceive anyone, "Trader David R" did.)

_______________________________________________________________________________

The following section formed part of this week’s, (September 30th 2012), weekly commentary, written exclusively by Andrew Maguire, on behalf of subscribers of Metal Trades Services, available at Coghlan Capital, http://www.coghlancapital.com, and due to an overwhelming amount of our members requesting an explanation from an article posted this week on Miles Franklin blog titled “The Cartel And Hedgies Are Short Paper, But Long Physical Gold” and this trader’s biased assumption that there is no market manipulation.

The market dynamics discussed in the above commentary leads perfectly into some good member questions arising from an article posted this week on Miles Franklin blog titled The Cartel And Hedgies Are Short Paper, But Long Physical Gold

The article needs dissecting as it is accurate in just enough respects to appear credible but the author ends up both oversimplifying and misrepresenting the complex business of bullion banking. Considering the source of the information claims to be a specialist precious metals trader, there are some glaring inaccuracies which draw into question either his qualifications or his motives. Fact, the bullion banks are indeed long a good deal of physical and it is also true that  bullion prices are set to rise, but the article is net very misleading.  By only looking at a very small piece of a much larger overall picture, it leaves one with the impression that the bullion banks main source of income is arbitraging contango. This could not be further from the truth.  Perhaps it is best to take a paragraph at a time and break down where the inaccuracies lay and what is crucially left out.

 

“…They buy the physical silver at the same time they sell the future (on Comex) futures trade in contango (higher price than spot physical) they get zero interest rate cash from FED so borrow the money for free, they own the vaults to store the silver…. so as the future comes to maturity they can either settle against their physical long or roll the future to collect more free contango…. This is pure arbitrage paid for by the FED. This has been going on for over 30 years and why shouldn’t they be allowed to have 25% of the Open Interest? There is no manipulation because they are short the futures and long the physical and have “ZERO” price risk, but nice profits! It’s brilliant trading and completely 100% legal and that’s why they will never be charged with manipulation because there is none going on. Sometimes it’s just that easy!...”

 

In answer, The bullion banks are indeed in the business of financing, buying & selling, and owning vast quantities of physical, however, what is not mentioned in the article is a critical omission, i.e. the amount of derivative leverage employed by these banks. A simple contango arbitrage does not involve collateralizing physical metal many times over. To illustrate this here is an excerpt from ‘Bullion Banking Explained’ written by the CPM Group's Jeffery Christian in 2000.

 

“….In the second quarter 1998, one of our mining clients had a forward sale on its books which was coming due at an unattractive price. This was a silver trade, with a forward sale locked in at $5.00 coming due when silver was trading at $6.00 per ounce. In fairness to the producer, its bank had forced it to sell forward, forcing it to use forwards instead of more efficient options positions, as part of the terms of a revolving credit facility the bank had extended the producer. On our advice the producer rolled the position forward, and sold that month’s silver output at the higher $6 spot price. The chief financial officer of the mining company asked us why the bank, which had a $1 per ounce profit on the position, would allow them to roll the position forward. The explanation is that having a silver position on its books at $6 per ounce provides the bank silver assets that it can collateralize many times over, which is worth a lot more to a bank than $1 per ounce in one-time profits…”.

 

Subsequently, Jeffery Christian, testifying as an ‘industry expert’ at the March 2010 CFTC metals trading hearing, was on record admitting leverages of 100/1 as ‘normal business’. There are some circumstances in Bullion banking when it may be acceptable to collateralize more than once but clearly it can be seen that Bullion banks employ very large leverage. The same is true with the so called contango arbitrage and we see evidence of this when looking at the OCC report, where up until recently, JPMorgan and HSBC owned over 98% of all precious metals derivatives. Notably, these do not include Comex futures.

 

The moment a bullion bank or trader employs leverage, i.e. selling more futures contracts against fully allocated unencumbered physical in inventory, it is no longer a simple contango arbitrage, as profitability of this trade relies on the price not raising above the level the futures contracts were sold naked short. The protection of these naked short bets is achieved by accumulating and then controlling a sufficient % of position concentration vs. Open interest. By taking advantage of the current lack of transparency between the OTC markets and the Comex, the bullion banks and other commercials, out of view of the regulators, are able to build the necessary very large concentrations of short positions and to be able to control rises in price on the Comex. Once open interest reaches sufficient levels, to a point where enough weaker hands are able to be collusively harvested, they act as a cartel and ring the register on these positions and cover.  This is the sole reason this so called ‘contango’ trade has been very profitable and only ‘without risk’ because of the control these commercials have established by operating in the primarily ‘non-delivery’ paper futures markets.

 

As far as contango is concerned, there is in reality no contango to arbitrage. A true calculation for contango has to account for ‘real’ carry costs. Even if a bullion banks financing is near to zero, there has to be a time cost to carry, store and insure metal to maturity. This currently puts all precious metals into backwardation by anyone’s calculations. There have also been many times the metals have been in backwardation over the 30 years he alludes to. In this case, it would make more sense to sell physical and buy the equivalent futures contracts. A good recent, (no calculations necessary), illustration of this is better seen in the smaller silver market, where the bullion banks ‘footprints’ are easier to discern. As we had been noting in several Metals Trades commentaries in the weeks before the SIU2 rollover to December, silver spot bid was higher than futures ask. This condition prevailed because no bullion bank or trader was willing to take on the counterparty risk on what was a blatantly obvious ‘in your face’ arbitrage opportunity.

 

This beggars the question, if I had any unencumbered physical metal in inventory, why wouldn’t I, when presented with this opportunity, simply sell it in any size I wish and buy the cheaper futures contract, thereby immediately pocketing a ‘risk free’ profit in the knowledge I would be repaid my physical when the contract expired in a matter of a few short weeks, that is, if I was assured there was adequate unencumbered physical inventories to repay me? If you ever needed a window into just how encumbered /leveraged /rehypothecated Comex physical inventories are, the data speaks for itself and the reasons for not capitalizing upon this obvious arbitrage was not helped by the distrust created after the MFG and PFG collapses where the CME dodged their responsibility, leaving fully capitalized investors, hanging out to dry.

 

To make the statement that this contango arbitrage has been a simple easy risk free game for 30 years is simply ludicrous. Even if backwardation was not a factor, to suggest bullion banks charge nothing for carry costs because they own the vault is nonsense, as any bullion bank trader working out his month end commissions will attest to. Barclays announced this week that they are opening their own vault in London to store gold and other precious metals due to demand from their clients, they are doing this because storage is a very profitable part of a bullion banks business. That the source claims precious metal vaulting costs are free to the trading bank is the key element of this ‘contango’ trade being profitable. I have been trading precious metals for longer than the 30 years he identifies and can attest to the fact this is complete misinformation and brings the sources provenance and/or motives into question.

 

Then the next paragraph…..

 

“….Let’s go and visit their vaults and you can see all the physical silver there… Lease rates are at full carry +. There is no shortage what so ever and the banks are charging 40 bp for storage because they cannot find any more space to put it all, you can take all the physical you want! The JPM manipulation is not a manipulation, but a way of trading that has been going on for years. JPM is short futures (due to contango) and long physical. People need to understand that metals are just a derivative of the interest rate market and once people do, they will get a better understanding why the market moves the way it does….”

 

In the above paragraph, this ‘trader’ makes the assertion that there is so much physical owned by the banks that there is no more room to store it and further that you can ‘take all the physical you want’. This information is patently false, as anyone seeking silver in size will verify. I and my clients are very close to the physical market and know this is not the case. We, Sprott and many others have been subject to very large delays in receiving size allocations. As Metals Trades members know, we were recently involved with the conversion of a 10 million oz. spot index purchase we made when silver dipped into the 26’s in May. When we sought allocation, it ended up taking over 6 weeks to obtain the full order.

 

We needed this silver to be delivered to a Swiss vault, but were initially refused allocation unless we had it delivered within the LBMA system, namely to UBS in Switzerland. The client however, specifically wanted the silver stored outside the LBMA system in private vaulting facilities because they wanted to be assured they held unencumbered numbered bars in their name with no counterparty risk attached. The fact that this silver was to exit the LBMA system was of no concern as it was ultimately to be re assayed into smaller bars destined for Asian consumption and would not be reentering the LBMA system again.  Having Brinks simply pick up the paid for physical in London was refused. Considering that over 5000 tonnes of so called ‘physical silver’ is cleared between LBMA banks in London every day, this should not have posed a problem, however, these transactions although counted as ‘physical’ in reality consist of unallocated metal which the bulk of, when cleared, is simply netted on the books amongst the clearers every day with very little physical actually changing hands. Taking delivery of 312 tonnes shouldn’t have even caused a ripple, except for the fact it was ‘real numbered bars’ that were sought. If leveraged 100/1, (the lower side of Jeff Christians 400/1 silver summit estimations), this would have amounted to netting out 31,200 tonnes of unallocated silver, or a year’s mine output!

 

This was just 1 example of many we experienced; there are many other validations of delays in receiving allocation of wholesale bars in size. To those seeking neutral third party validations, this from market manipulation skeptic Dennis Gartman, written earlier in September…

 

… “We have asked questions and we too are finding out that deliverable stocks of silver are tight and growing tighter and this is especially true regarding “large” sums of silver. We shall have to do a bit more inquiry into this “problem,” but one gets the sense that should things become tighter still we may see silver futures actually move into backwardation. This has our interest, and likely it shall grow even more interesting in the days and weeks ahead. Even GATA from time to time may be right. “…

 

Then we get to the final 2 paragraphs…

 

“They are clear as day on the “Notes to consolidated financial statements” under “physical commodities.” You can see the assets. If someone actually believes that their statement is being forged, then there is nothing that I am going to say that will convince someone like that. These guys made a fortune in silver last year and it wasn’t because they were short. I know the guy who did these trades and saw the house in the Hamptons he just bought. He also had a huge flag made which has gold and silver bars on it. If you ever go to the Hamptons and you see the flag, you know who lives there!”

 

And finishes with ..

 

“I explained to you what HSBC and JPM do on the silver. They get $ from the FED for free. They own all the storage vaults, so they do not have to pay the fees for storage. They then own the physical silver in their vaults and sell the futures contracts (which are in contango) at a much higher price than OTC price so then hold the both till delivery. Since there is no cost for $ and no cost for storage, they made a fortune on earning the contango of the silver and gold market. It’s a brilliant strategy, which has made them a fortune. If you sat with me for a day I could show you how this market really works”.

Here he names HSBC and JPMorgan, the 2 banks that up until this year also held the book on over 98% of all precious metals derivatives, JPMorgan still holding the lions share. (Citi bank has now replaced HSBC).  There is no need for a bullion bank to ‘forge financial statements’ when the bank can list their highly diluted and rehypothecated unallocated assets under the heading ‘physical commodities’. There are, however, no allocated audited bar numbers to back up these ‘assets’.

I hope this provides some clarity to the questions arising from this very misinformed article.

 

Regards

Andrew Maguire

54 Comments

AC_Doctor's picture

PWNED by Mr. Maguire

PWNED by Mr. Maguire. I think Miles Franklin did us a disservice by not personally vetting this fantasy article by Trader David Jackoff.  $35 is the silver Maginot Line!!!

menudotigre's picture

2nd!

2nd!

Patrancus's picture

Thurd

Thurd

Money By Trading's picture

Gold probably going to retrace

http://wp.me/p2CT0a-69

Dollar still in an uptrend--since Sept. 14.  Most of the Evans pop was promptly given back. 

Beaucoup charts.

Colonel Angus's picture

It's good to see...

...a reasoned response even when the original was unreasonable. I think we all know of the anecdotes, but this goes much further. There is fiat to be made both as we swing upward and as we go down. The volatility here seems much higher than in other markets. This should be discussed as it reveals that we have more than a simple "cash and carry" market that has so much of an object that people can't even store any more. It also says something about forwards or options.

Almost everyone here has used Groupon. This is a forward contract. A person buys a coupon for future delivery of some (usually crappy in most of my experiences) service or object. Now it might take a couple of weeks to get the housecleaning service to come out and actually make their attempts at cleaning, but you're seeing contango right there. I buy at a smaller price today and have delivery later. We never had the delivery problems they discuss.

OK, in fairness to Groupon, the $5 for a $10 Starbuck's certificate worked well...all the times we bought them. It actually made Starbuck's nearly affordable...nearly....and we never had a delivery problem, because there are three Starbuck's on every street in America.

dropout's picture

More Smoke & Mirrors

The Comex, LBMA and bullion banks, are becoming increasingly desperate in their attempts to throw cold water on the price of gold and silver. Do not under estimate their inventiveness or the depths that they will stoop to, to accomplish this.

There are some very astute, intelligent people that work there, even though they may have low business morals. To under estimate ones enemy, is to have already lost the battle. - Sun Tzu

The time is fast approaching that the 'true' price discovery of gold and silver will be at hand and that the people with the low business morals, responsible for mispricing/manipulation will be handed their heads!

Eman Laer's picture

Looking for help

I started a thread to help find the best documentary for explaining the coming collapse to economically illiterate people. Help is appreciated.

http://www.tfmetalsreport.com/forum/4231/best-video-teach-sheeple-about-coming-collapse

¤'s picture

Thanks....

...for the new post and Andy's clarifying thoughts on this matter.

Once a 'truth' is put out there it's tough to remove it from the memory banks.

media_image.jpg

This promises to be interesting and I'm sure they'll be a retort about this post refuting the original one. Let's watch the blow-back from this guest post and the other site /author.

dropout's picture

Short Term Bear

Larry Edelson is still a short term bear in his view on gold and silver. Todays report;

http://www.uncommonwisdomdaily.com/coiling-up-big-market-moves-near-15017

rocoach's picture

I wouldn't release physical either

If I could leverage my physical at just 100x, I wouldn't be in any hurry to release it either.  Your having to wait six weeks doesn't necessarily mean I don't have it in my vault, but it could instead be that I'm trying to maximize my profits from it, before I lose those opportunities for good after I ship out the physical.

ReachWest's picture

Their Day is Coming

Thanks Turd and Andrew. That was a very interesting read and an informative response to the original article.

I'm a plebeian when it comes to this stuff, but learn more each and every day I spend in Turdville. I think when you wipe away all the fog, it really comes down to the ponzi scheme that it is. Rehypothication and Massive Dilution that has been justified many times over in the minds of the Bullion Bank participants. (So much so, that the players actually think it is a legitimate game they play - it is the ultimate HUBRIS.) Ahh - but their day is coming.

Someday - in the future - there will be books written on this PM fiasco - And Turdville (and it's enlightened citizenry) will be a chapter in those books.

pforth's picture

We really get sidetracked by the COMEX..

This article reminded me of how much we get sidetracked by the COMEX/Open Interest/COT report etc.  It's important not to forget that behind all that is this HUGE amount of derivatives that are completely opaque to us and 98% owned by JP Morgan and HSBC.  Perhaps the COMEX numbers aren't as important as we sometimes think they are.

SuperManny's picture

@ emaN laeR

Good luck with that! Hope you have more success than me! 

First of all don't get your hopes too high...

I'll check out your forum later, but in the meantime here's something to consider. This comes from someone they might  respect if they're still stuck in 'the system'.

"Former U.S. comptroller worries about Greece-like debt crisis in America"

http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2012/09/27/former-us-comptroller-worries-about.html

brad_pitts_betterlooking_brother's picture

Man Bites Dog

so mr. evans thinks the fed needs to print more?   lol.   when he says anything differently you might have news.

evans has come out the day before/day of a bernanke prairie dog appearance many times and predictably stated more printing is needed.   as we all know what followed did not always jive with evans' statements.

unless you are in the club and have the VIP insiders pass you don't know if this a bull trap or not.   how does one apply for one of those anyway?

Gramp's picture

Grasburg Mine

tylerlim888's picture

Excellent post - Thanks TF, Thanks AM

Good to see someone put their name to a post and refute Mr Trader R or London Trader anonymous trolls who are free to say anything without repercussions.

Expect ranting andy to give his MF associate a good ear bashing at the water cooler tomorrow.

BB's picture

Two cents

Not long ago I attempted to build a model of the JPMorgan contango trade. In doing this there is immediate fork-in-the road decision to be made as to the nature of the market, as reflected in this Futures 101 sentence: “Arbitrage arguments apply when the deliverable asset exists in plentiful supply, or may be freely created.” Paper silver can be freely created. If you can freely create something, you can manage its price in the market.

My take is thus: (1) the long-term trend is too strong for the Cartel to control; (2) while the contango trade, if fully covered, would yield only pennies, the contango trade levered 100-to-1 is seriously profitable; (3) within bounds, the Cartel can, in the short-term, use quote-stuffing to put the spot price anywhere it wants for a few days (option expiration day, end-of-quarter, etc.), at no significant cost to itself; (4) lines of resistance are best thought of as part of a defense (fallback lines of retreat), not positive breakthroughs.

tylerlim888's picture

Anyone notice the big moves in gold and silver today?

Volatile moves up and down, that 1780 price cap and 35 lookin place.

$1.36 range in silver (4%)

$29 range in gold (2%)

tylerlim888's picture

rocoach - counter point

great point about point of sale and delivery time.

what is the payment cycle for a tesco? 60,90,120 days?

I am on 60 days nett for a completely unrelated space, so I put up the money, produce and ship the goods, payment cycle starts day 1 they receive to distributors warehouse, they use my money, my product for their working capital, and it takes me 4 months from the first dollar spent to receipt of payment by the wholesaler.

why, because they can.

JPM, HSBC, stalling sprott et. al. to maximise there 100-1 leverage is most definately plausible, however I also believe the underlying fractional banking / fractional rehypothecated metals are always in danger of a bank run (unlike my example of retailers and their leverage of payment terms to maximise their profits).

Bollocks's picture

@tylerlim888

Nope. Nobody noticed that. Been too busy watching the price of cheese.

croc987's picture

Thanks Turd & Andrew

Thanks for blowing the lid off of this pack of lies.  Anyone who says there is "no shortage" of silver is disingenuous or does not understand silver.  Sooner or later the 100-1 silver ponzi will blow up.  However, never underestimate the power of the banksters to extend and pretend.  And don't expect the crooks to be punished, they will probably get off scot free. 

rocoach's picture

Can I sell futures

against the stack I've stored at the bottom of the lake?

rocoach's picture

Danger of Bank Run

All the more reason for them to stall physical delivery?  If there's any risk of a bank run, I, the banker, am going to keep as many assets in my physical possession as possible (regardless who actually has title...).  Another reason why banks owning vaults makes sense.

SIlverbee's picture

I have asked already but will try again

Turd, how is it that the market participants are failing to react despite the change in fundamentals that is/are underway? PM me if you prefer.

SIlverbee's picture

I believe ..

Silver was at 2% and gold at 1% before flat lining and falling back. Nothing to see move along!

Turd Ferguson's picture

The change of fundamentals

MODERATOR

The change of fundamentals are not yet apparent to 99.999% of market participants.

Colonel Angus's picture

croc987

Paging the Honorable (ahem) Jon Corzine. We have a question for Mr. Corzine...do the crooks get punished, or do they get off scot free?

SIlverbee's picture

Thanks Turd

I guess the reason for this is the bit you can't tell us. However, if that is true how will they ever find out? I know you said it would not be in the charts so that counts many traders out, it therefore is a change in the supply/demand dynamic that takes time to build? Is the fundamental change reversible e.g. not ever happen?

Syndicate contentComments for "Guest Post: Andrew Maguire responds to "Trader David R""