Sunday Night Discussion

Sun, Apr 22, 2012 - 5:55pm

I recognize that sometimes the pages of comments here get a little overwhelming for some readers. However, there are times when great information is provided within but it gets overlooked by most visitors to the site. The previous thread contained another such gem so I thought I'd start this new thread.

Many questions abound over the LBMA and the spot/physical market. Yesterday, Turdite "71185208" asked the following question:

How does the LBMA work (for idiots)?

Submitted by 71185208 on April 21, 2012 - 2:36pm.

I get how futures exchanges work. But I'm confused about how the LBMA operates.

If the LBMA has a greater impact on price discovery and yet the LBMA is not an exchange like the COMEX is an exchange, but rather a trade association, then how does trading on the LBMA affect price? If information is not shared in real time as on an exchange, and it's all OTC, then I assume one LBMA member isn't supposed to know what another is doing in real time, i.e. at what price and what quantities gold is being sold for at any particular moment, right?

So how do buyers and sellers on the LBMA get pricing signals? Is any information shared between members?

Let's say I'm a sovereign wealth fund and I want to buy gold. Maybe I want some stored in London, maybe I want to take delivery. What advantage is there to using the LBMA over using the COMEX? Anonymity? Can I buy in far greater quantities? How do I know I'm getting a good price? How do I know what other players in the market are doing in the aggregate if there is not COT report for the LBMA?

I'm really confused about how pricing works on the LBMA. If trader/buyer A doesn't know what trader/buyer B is doing, and LBMA member A doesn't know what LBMA member B is doing, how on earth is price discovered????

Please would somebody kindly give an idiot's guide to MECHANICS of how the LBMA works (not just comments about it being a trade association, this doesn't clear anything up for me), as opposed to a futures exchange (COMEX).

Thank you in advance for knowledgeable comments.


"Tabberto" chimed in this morning with a thoughtful, reasoned response:

Good Questions, far from comprehensive answers here, but...

Submitted by Tabberto on April 22, 2012 - 2:26am.

7118...great questions 

Its a complex issue, that centres on size and the Fixes, plus is a simple function of history. Just to clarify though, the LBMA is an association of all the big ugly banks loathed in Turdland, that trade and clear 'Spot' Gold and Silver, and the COMEX is a futures market. The fact that its called 'London' is a bit irrelevant and can prove to be a distraction when trying to understanding the meaning/role of the LBMA.

some more reading material for you below. A key takeaway is that the LBMA cleared $20bn per day in 2009 alone (for sure more than that now) which is because of the massive number of forwards, swaps and general paper crapola that pass for Precious Metals trades and absolutely affect the price discovery mechanism - this is also why the likes of Jeff Christian think its fine to be 100 or 300:1 paper to silver within the price discovery mechanism - I append his own damning 'Bullion Banking Explained' piece. It is also an issue of market depth, big players always want the deepest pond (or Dark Pool!!) to swim about in. The COMEX futures market is really a speculative market dominated by different forces than the LBMA 'spot' market and generally is a bit more 'whippy' in the way it behaves due to the different kind of investor. 'Spot' is where you go for delivery of large amounts (albeit 300:1 leverage inbuilt there), you buy at spot and then have a 'wholesaler' within that system make delivery for you, which is why COMEX contracts are so rarely delivered: they just need to be ABLE to be delivered in order for that market to retain a sheen of credibility. Be clear neither the LBMA nor COMEX have credibility, hence why the upcoming Deliverable and FULLY allocated 'spot' silver receipt exchange in China could be so interesting. Given the choice between the unregulated joke that is COMEX and the 0.3% backing offered by the LBMA any trader or big physical buyer of Silver would be likely to want to get involved in a new and more transparent entity versus either of the 2 other options. This could lead to bifurcation in the price discovery mechanism as the new exchange starts to 'make the price' as it could grow exponentially in size by attracting real longs while also forcing the existing shorts elsewhere (ie London and COMEX) to unwind their paper positions.

What I have written here is far from comprehensive and may contain the odd small point of inaccuracy as fwiw I don't actually use the LBMA or COMEX but have some understanding of the differences. Strongly suggest you and other Turdites read the links below though as they make for worthy background to the subject.

from wiki:

Market size

The bulk of global trading in gold and silver is conducted on the over-the-counter (OTC) market. London is by far the largest global centre for OTC transactions followed by New York, Zurich, and Tokyo. Exchange-based trading has grown in recent years with Comex in New York and Tocom in Tokyo generating most of the activity. Gold is also traded in forms of securities, such as exchange-traded funds(ETFs), on the London, New York, Johannesburg, and Australian stock exchanges.

Although the physical market for gold and silver is distributed globally, most wholesale OTC trades are cleared through London. The average daily volume of gold and silver cleared at the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) in November 2008 was 18.3 million ounces (worth $13.9 billion) and 107.6 million ounces (worth $1.1 billion) respectively. This means that an amount equal to the annual gold mine production was cleared at the LBMA every 4.4 days, and to the annual silver production every 6.2 days.[1]. The Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee claims that clearing data substantially understates the true amount of gold traded, due to the netting of trades in the calculation of Clearing Statistics.[2] They claim the LBMA market is $5.4 trillion a year.[3]

[edit]Account Types

[edit]Allocated Accounts

Allocated Accounts are accounts held by dealers in clients’ names on which are maintained balances of uniquely identifiable bars, plates or ingots of metal ‘allocated’ to a specific customer and segregated from other metal held in the vault. The client has full title to this metal with the dealer holding it on the client’s behalf as custodian. To avoid any doubt, metal in an allocated account does not form part of a precious metal dealer’s assets.[4]

[edit]Unallocated Accounts

Unallocated Accounts represent the most popular way of trading, settling and holding gold, silver, platinum and palladium. Transactions may be settled by credits or debits to the account while the balance represents the indebtedness between the two parties. Credit balances on the account do not entitle the creditor to specific bars of gold or silver or plates or ingots of platinum or palladium but are backed by the general stock of the precious metal dealer with whom the account is held. The client in this scenario is an unsecured creditor.[4]

[edit]Unallocated Risks

The total quantity of unallocated gold is estimated to be 15,000 tonnes at the end of 2008[5] which supports the 2,134 tonnes on average of spot gold trade through London every day representing 14.2% of the pool. This compares to average daily turnover in UK equities of between 0.34% and 0.63% for the 12 months ending September 2009.[5] While members of the LBMA provide no information on the backing for unallocated gold the improbably high turnover is suggestive they are operating a fractional reserve system where unallocated accounts are only partially backed by physical gold. Similarly to a bank run this makes LBMA unallocated gold accounts susceptible to loss if a sufficient number of market participants request delivery of physical bullion.[citation needed]


And then "S Roche" added to the discussion this afternoon:

@71185208 & Tabberto Gold Spot Price & Manipulation

Submitted by S Roche on April 22, 2012 - 3:59pm.

Jesse had a go at this in 2010.

Summary: There is no transparent, 3rd party referenced, gold delivery backed spot price. There is a calculation based on the front month futures price (which can be cash-settled if needs be) on a Net Present Value basis, that is what is published by Comex/Globex and picked up by subscribers and Trading Platforms (the TPs then modify the price internally) and there is the London AM & PM Fixing. The LBMA market making banks have an informal market spot price based on 25 LGD (400Oz) bars that is apparently quoted on Bloomberg and Reuters terminals. So, the Spot Gold Price (and silver) is something that you are expected to take on faith.

I haven't yet found the original version of "Comex is a sideshow" that Jesse references Adrian Douglas as saying, but in trying to find it I was inevitably led to the Comex/LBMA issue, and manipulation.

The size of the LBMA is paper based...sound familiar? Just as London has been exposed by the failure of AIG and MFGlobal in the Great Re-Hypothecation Scandals, it stands to reason the London Bullion Market is the Mother of Great Re-Hypothecation Scandals with fractional reserve gold banking of 1:100, that is one part gold to 100 parts "paper" in unallocated accounts, according to GATA's excerpted testimony of Jeffrey Christian at the CFTC's hearings . I understand that Christian later recanted on this testimony as to the exact level, but in other publications he has said that 40:1 leverage is practised. If you read Christian's testimony, he is the one constantly saying how truly complicated it is and that few will understand, he even confuses fellow former Goldmanite Chairman Gary Gensler, who asks him to clarify his statements.

Here is Adrian Douglas's written testimony to the CFTC hearings, which at 8 pages is quite straightforward:

It seems, at this stage of my understanding, that any efforts to bring Comex precious metals trading into line would just further side-line Comex and increase the need of the Bullion Banks and other large institutions in the precious metals markets to "get the money to London", (a la AIG and MFG), where it can be re-hypothecated to eye-watering levels.

If there is one take-away from all this, it is two words: take delivery. 


Anyway, there seems to be considerable confusion as to how the spot market functions relative to the Comex. I invite all to pose additional questions in the comments of this thread and, perhaps, some Turdites with intimate knowledge of the process will continue to chime in with answers.

Have at it! TF

About the Author

turd [at] tfmetalsreport [dot] com ()
Does Feb19 Comex gold close above $1250 on Friday?
Total votes: 184


Tube · Apr 22, 2012 - 5:58pm



Yes! I made it...Now that is out of my system, I won't do it again

silverstax · Apr 22, 2012 - 5:59pm

My first first?

Damn Tube, well played sir wink The quest continues....

wildstylechef · Apr 22, 2012 - 6:07pm

Turd who ho

What a great fun Thanks

Big L · Apr 22, 2012 - 6:29pm

Is nothing real?

It's all just chips moving around on a board? Eh? buying and selling little pieces of paper that are supposed to stand for something and actually stand for nothing.

I'm not surprised, not sure if I'm disappointed or disillusioned either. Just wishing there was some solid ground somewhere on this stupid planet other than 'take delivery'.

Bobbejaan · Apr 22, 2012 - 6:45pm

@Xty ... Re:- Book Burning (from last thread)

Xty said :-

We once actually had a book burning at my parent's cottage - we couldn't give them away, and we weren't going to carry them out. But my brothers and I, raised in academia, felt very badly about what we were doing. So we gave each book a chance - if the first page made us laugh, we kept it - if it mentioned breasts, we threw it out. Of course, if it made us laugh and mentioned breasts, it was given a place of honour.

I hope Charles Dicken's famous Sequel "A Tale of Two Titties" wasn't amongst the burnt offerings due to it's immortal opening line of "It was the breast of times, it was the worst of times" devil wink blush

Tecumseh · Apr 22, 2012 - 6:45pm

Wanted to try this again. . .

Video unavailable
DavidSilverSwe · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:06pm

trading has begun.

but no action now. looking forward to the week though, a lot of drama in europe now!

¤ · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:09pm

Muchas Gracias'

For the new thread. 

Another flat opening in the PM's, so far. 

¤ · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:14pm

Nothing is real

Powerman 5000 - Nobody's Real
Xeno · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:22pm

The Fix Is In

WOW! Greatposts and just goes to show how much someone can miss just being away for a couple days.

As I understand it, the London price fix is a fairly simple process. The members of the LBMA (bullion dealers and banks) get together twice a day and balance all of their combined orders (buys and sells) and come to an agreement as to the price which all these orders will settle.


The Gold Fix

A major consequence of the OTC structure of the gold bullion market is the gold "fix". This is an alternate mechanism of price discovery which is designed to allow gold traders to trade at a fair market price.

Twice a day the members of the 'fix' in London conduct what amounts to an elegant private auction which establishes the price at which the number of buy orders matches the number of sell orders. The fixers will be acting both on their own behalf and for those customers of theirs who have issued orders for them to trade at the 'fix'.

The result is the gold fix price which comes out once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The fix price is published widely in newspapers, on the internet and on teletext services, and is a good guide to the value of gold at that instant. It is the widely used method by which traders establish a fair price for a physical gold transaction. On the internet you can see it at and at

The gold fix is often the means by which a customer's physical gold order is filled by a gold dealer, but it means the customer has to wait until gold is next fixed to find out how much has been paid or received for bullion. This might well cause a purchaser to miss a market move (which could of course be either in his favour or against him).

On the other hand the knowledge that the price paid was the result of a substantial number of orders in perfect balance means that it is known that a fair price has been paid.

And walla, the fix is in.

cpnscarlet · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:30pm

Unfortunately Funny

SGS has posted on YouTube after a long break. He is as depressed as any of us, but to the point of not thinking straight. For example, he says the Egypt gas cut-off on Israel is the start of dominos falling, but then says nothing will happen all summer. The PM depression has his wiring frayed IMHO, but it can do that to you.

As for my depression and current ambivalence, I will sort of quote SGS tonight... "F*** it! Here's the picture". Mods - go get a soda...

cpnscarlet · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:30pm
ACM · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:31pm

What It Boils Down To Is…..

.....What you have stacked is all you can be sure is real, or really yours.

¤ · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:35pm


Do you have a thread going of your train and the entire set-up?

If so, let me know where. If not, maybe consider it if your so inclined. I like the pics.

I used to work with a guy many years ago who was totally into the hobby like yourself and his set-up was pretty magnificent/impressive.

Xeno · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:36pm

Thos Rails

CPN - those rails of yours are just too realistic lol

Is that Dead Man's Curve? and I wonder how many trains went off the rails because they missed the curve when the engineer was rubbernecking.

cpnscarlet Xeno · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:41pm

Xeno - Thanks, but

Tubular Lionel "O" track is generally considered the most out-of-scale, unrealistic track that can be used for any railroad model (toy or scale), although the added ties and ballast helps the illusion.

However, as to my fine scale painting techniques on figures...yes...very realistic.

cpnscarlet ¤ · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:43pm

@IS7 - Just started this ...

@IS7 - Just started this ... will add more during the week for you.

¤ · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:49pm

Just checked it out

Looks pretty interesting and I just put you in a favorites folder I keep for this site.

Thanks for sharing that yes

exiledbear Big L · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:54pm

@big L

Old saying about futures - Selling something you don't have to someone who doesn't want it anyway.

Xeno · Apr 22, 2012 - 7:55pm


Sorry about the scale, the only Lionel I had was the big ones about 4 decades ago before everything went HO.

But yeah, your choice of scenery is apropo for these days. lol

recaptureamerica · Apr 22, 2012 - 8:15pm
recaptureamerica · Apr 22, 2012 - 8:17pm
Magpie · Apr 22, 2012 - 8:18pm

NSA whistleblower interviews


Binney served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as technical director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could "create an Orwellian state." Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national television about NSA surveillance. This interview is part of a 4-part special. Click here to see segment 2, 3, and 4. [includes rush transcript]

recaptureamerica · Apr 22, 2012 - 8:19pm

US federal scientists

US federal scientists identify first pieces of Japanese tsunami debris to reach Alaska

Monedas · Apr 22, 2012 - 8:31pm

Thanks for the chart, Mood Indigoooo !

As you all know....I'm a Herder of Coins ! My little herd has wheels ! Roll along little doggies ! I have little gravitas and few credentials in the Crimex....just a shit load of Yankee common cents ! They punished the traders in MFGlobal....and Jon Corzine is freer than Zimmerman and still "Bundling for Bama" ! Could it be they are punishing the Options players....Puts and a continuation of the multi-leveled, slow burn on our community ? Or, are they stalling for time ? They realize they're screwed....the Gold is pretty much where it is and where it is going to stay....they can't corner the market or drop it like a rock and make one last big grab....the game is over and those on the outside....are on the outside ? Given a long enough time line....a flat line means you're dead ! Monedas 1929 Comedy Jihad ICU Humour devil

R man J · Apr 22, 2012 - 8:33pm

I think we are on the verge

All the dire threats are lining up and intensifying. Those who watch these things are aware. I am a stacker, and somewhat of a prepper, but most of all I am a man satisfied only with truth. I find that truth not in the words of men, but of God. But since this conversation is supposed to be about physical metal, Comex, LBMA, I was grateful for HarveybOrgan's interview on the Chris Martenson site. He revealed so much. I highly recommend listening. Also I AM A STACKER, not a trader, but still I subscribed to Jim Willie's Golden Jackass. What a great source of information. I have read his free stuff for years. With apologies to Mr. Willie I have to insert a quote from his April newsletter. ◄$$$ THE EYE OF THE HURRICANE IS IN FULL VIEW (EXCEPT FOR BANK OFFICIALS). THE FALSE CALM BELIES THE DIRE SITUATION. SEVERAL DEEPLY DANGEROUS AND EXTREME HIGH RISK FACTORS ARE LINING UP. NEVER SINCE THE LAUNCH OF THE HAT TRICK LETTER HAS THE JACKASS PERCEIVED SO MANY DIVERSE POWERFUL THREATS TO THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM AND GLOBAL ECONOMY. THE INSTABILITY OF THE CURRENCY MONETARY SYSTEM IS ON THE VERGE OF GRAND DISRUPTION FROM THE UNSTOPPABLEL EVENTS. $$$

recaptureamerica · Apr 22, 2012 - 8:34pm

Iran claims to have

Iran claims to have reverse-engineered US spy drone Of course the US calls BS...but they also said same when Iran claimed to possess the drone.

Magpie · Apr 22, 2012 - 8:39pm
¤ · Apr 22, 2012 - 8:43pm
recaptureamerica · Apr 22, 2012 - 8:58pm

Cops Would Be Liable

Cops Would Be Liable Arresting Citizens For Recording Under Approved Conn. Bill

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