Raiding the GLD

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 - 12:26pm

Time to broach this subject again.

Just yesterday, the GLD saw a withdrawal of 8.88 metric tonnes. This followed a drawdown of nearly 23 tonnes on Wednesday. In fact, since the start of 2013, the GLD is now down 59.61 metric tonnes or 4.42% of "inventory".

Hmmm. Now where has that gold gone?

  • Has it simply been returned to the Authorized Participants' vaults as investors reduce their exposure to precious metals?
  • Have GLD investors liquidated shares and taken delivery?
  • Or, as argued back in November, are the APs using the GLD as a store of gold that they can easily access anytime they struggle to find legitimate physical metal to deliver to clients demanding immediate allocation and delivery?
  • If the third bullet is true, then GLD drawdowns would be symptom of very strong, global physical demand.

    So, for your consideration, let's revisit this issue. First, here's a reprint of the points that Andrew Maguire made initially. The full link can be found here:


    The bullion banks finance their ‘physical inventory’ by leasing it or selling it to GLD and SLV shareholders/investors, then the bullion banks in turn use these ETF’s inventories as a ‘flywheel’ to both manage and leverage their physical reserves. For this walk-through, I will use GLD as an example. (One can substitute SLV for all that is described below relating to GLD except the basket sizes are smaller, constituting 50,000 shares).

    Baskets of GLD shares are bought and sold through a limited number of Authorised Participants. The authorised participants, (AP’s), are JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Newedge (a joint venture between Société Générale and Credit Agricole CIB), RBC, Scotia Mocatta, UBS and Virtu Financial. This is how it is supposed to work. The size of each GLD basket comprises of 100,000 shares, each share representing just less than 1 troy oz. The AP’s, transfer ALLOCATED physical gold to the trustee who in turn creates the required number of new baskets of shares and then transfers these newly created shares back to the AP. To redeem the shares for physical gold or silver, the AP’s transfer any number of the baskets of 100,000 shares back to the trustee who then redeems these shares and transfers allocated gold back to the AP.

    This is all well and good on the face of it, but there are a number of ways this ‘allocated’ gold backing the shares in the ETF can be diluted /hypothecated in order for the bullion banks to ‘manage’ their physical reserves.

    If, as is often the case, there is insufficient allocated inventory available to the bullion bank at the current Comex driven & discounted spot fix price to create the necessary new GLD shares backed by allocated gold, then it is possible for a bullion bank to borrow short these GLD shares from the ETF instead of providing the required Allocated physical to the trustee to meet this obligation thereby ‘fly wheeling’ this physical demand in order to meet obligations elsewhere, likely at the day’s gold fix. This obviously has the effect of manipulating price lower vs. the true immediate supply demand fundamentals as no allocated physical metal has to be bought on the open market at that days fix to meet this new share demand as should be the case.

    This is now the point where transparency evaporates. The AP claims to be Short GLD while concurrently claiming to be backing it with an equal size long ‘UNALLOCATED’ spot gold position. However, LBMA unallocated gold accounts are run upon a fractional reserve requirement and leveraged around 100/1 so there is very little need to back this transaction with any real physical at this point; this is left until later as explained below. To unwind this short GLD position, the bullion bank has to ALLOCATE the required amount of unallocated gold and then transfer this gold back to the trustee thereby receiving back the required # of shares in order to repay the original GLD shares sold short.

    However, in conjunction with concurrent concentrated short futures positions, the sole object of this entire charade is to assist in depressing the price of gold at times of strong physical demand so that the futures price can be capped, usually at key inflection points where the price would break out and also swamp the very large concentrated Comex short positions. If this were not the case, the bullion bank would simply bid up that days fix price until it reflected that days true supply demand price levels for that fix and provide allocated gold to meet this real demand at that higher price.

    The resulting distortion now created between the real and paper market price is exacerbated through the use of heavy position concentration and leverage in the futures and derivatives markets, where these very same bullion banks then seek to profitably repay the shorted GLD shares at a lower price at the point at or below where the lines cross profitably. This then puts these bullion banks in a position to finally spot index UNALLOCATED gold against this naked short position only then moving to buy the now discounted unallocated gold into the Comex contrived dips. These discounted unallocated long spot index positions are then ALLOCATED at the upcoming fix, enabling both the repayment of the GLD short position at a profit but most importantly controlling the rise in price against much larger derivative positions elsewhere.

    Conversely, as evidenced by the steady 12-year stair step rise in prices easily observed in the daily and weekly charts, despite this many-year capping, we have also seen an ever larger and untenable LBMA unallocated short positions grow to what I now consider to be extreme danger levels. The reason is as follows: When the Bullion bank needs to make good on the unplanned/unanticipated CB and sovereign physical allocations at the fixes, they have regularly achieved this by going long GLD vs. short/selling UNALLOCATED gold. They then immediately turn around and transfer the required number of baskets of GLD shares to the trustee and receive ALLOCATED gold in return. Instead of settling/covering the short UNALLOCATED leg with this ALLOCATED gold, they are forced to satisfy these CB and Sovereign allocations by providing them this metal instead. The longer term price charts reveal this stair step higher, whereas we see no reduction, in fact from 2008 an increase, in the naked short Comex, (and unallocated OTC), bullion bank positions.

    I hope this has been helpful in providing an insight into the internal dynamics of the ETFs and how the bullion banks continue to operate in the shadows.

    Quite a few folks found this explanation a little too technical and slightly confusing. To help the cause, a few days later I took a stab at deciphering Andy's message:


    Finally today, please allow me to take a stab at explaining in greater detail the "Guest Post" from Andrew Maguire. I posted it on Wednesday as we were leaving for Thanksgiving and I can see now where it caused some confusion. As you know, one of my favorite techniques for explanations is the chronological layout so let's give that a try. Additionally, I think I'm laying this out accurately. This is how I understand it. I'll check with Andy on Monday to ensure that this is at least close to being accurate. If it's not, I'll post some additional clarification then.

    1. The "Authorized Participants" have a special relationship with the fund whereby they issue metal, 100,000 ounces at a time, to the fund in exchange for 100,000 share blocks.
    2. This should function as a two-way street where the AP can get its metal back by redeeming shares and the AP can also supply additional metal in exchange for additional shares. THIS, HOWEVER, IS WHERE THE TRICKERY AND MANIPULATION BEGINS.
    3. On big UP days in paper price, there is often a big physical demand in London and a big demand for additional shares in GLD.
    4. This is a double whammy of demand. The Bullion Bank (and Authorized Participant) should have to not only supply metal at the London allocation but this same BB/AP might also have to deliver metal to GLD to cover all of the newly-issued shares.
    5. I think you can see where that's a lot of metal and, in an environment of limited inventories, rapid BB/AP supply depletion would lead to shortages and even higher prices.
    6. So, here's the trick they employ to manage the situation, even doing so at a profit: The GLD delivers the gold back to the AP without the AP actually redeeming their shares. The AP is considered to be "short" the shares, instead.
    7. These shorted shares provide the "offer" against the investment world "bid" for GLD shares that day on the NYSE. Since no new shares are needed to be created that day, no new demand for physical deposit is created, either.
    8. On the other side of this trade, GLD delivers metal to the AP as if it had redeemed the shares, though. The AP uses this metal to settle the physical allocations for that day.
    9. So, where there should have been two, separate demands for physical, the demand was met by short-selling GLD and then using this GLD metal to meet allocations in London.
    10. The effect is then chronicled by Harvey and others as "gold went up $20 but, mysteriously, GLD shed 2.72 tonnes".
    11. Here, then, is how they reverse these "trades" and return everything to where they were. The BB/AP that is short the metal to the GLD needs to put it back in at some point. The next time a paper price raid is effected on the Comex, the AP itself takes delivery of some metal in London.
    12. This metal is then returned to the GLD in exchange for a "covering" of it's short position.
    13. This, typically, takes place on a DOWN day where Harvey et al notice that "though gold declined $15, the GLD added 2.72 tonnes of metal today. Go figure."

    Anyway, I hope this helps explain the process. Again, the Bullion Bank that is also an AP of the GLD can "flywheel" metal into and out of the GLD and/or SLV anytime they need to in order to meet physical demand elsewhere. In the process, the BB/AP conveniently provides liquidity for GLD/SLV share demand, which negates additional GLD purchasing which would have otherwise been necessary. It's a true WIN-WIN-WIN for the BB/AP as they are able to cap and control price while appearing to have no problem meeting London demand and then they turn around and cover all the positions at a profit on the next bout of price weakness.

    Again, THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HOW IT WORKS. The banks are supposed to supply metal to both the GLD and the London buyers. There is not, however, sufficient supply to make this happen at the current price levels. So, instead of allowing price to rise to the natural equilibrium of buying and selling interest, the BB/AP uses the tricks outlined in Andy's guest post to manage and cap the situation. On the bright side, THIS CANNOT CONTINUE FOREVER and, WHEN it fails, the reset in price will be spectacular to behold.


    By the time the next week rolled around, there was an active discussion on the internet regarding the accuracy of this analysis. (No doubt this post will reinitiate the "discussion" and bring out many of the same commentators.) Here's a link to the follow-up discussion, posted a few days later. Before you form an opinion on the matter, you'll definitely want to read both sides of the issue:

    So there you have it. All of this should all make a very interesting reading assignment for you as we wait for today's GLD numbers. Could there be another huge drawdown? If so, what does it mean? Does it even matter? I look forward to reading your comments.


    p.s. Andy just recorded this morning another interview with KWN. Be sure to check that site later today for the full interview.

    About the Author

    turd [at] tfmetalsreport [dot] com ()


    Feb 23, 2013 - 11:59am

    Probable all time high run scenario for Gold and Silver

    I think in order PM run up from exiting channels ($1526-$1800, $26-34.50), they need to make final spike low below these channels (let’s say below $1500 and $25.50 intraday). It will create enough energy for huge reversal in opposite direction. It may happen next week or next month, nobody knows…

    But without this spike low everybody is in these channels, just not enough energy …

    Please advise what you think…

    Feb 23, 2013 - 11:37am

    End of Great (discredited) Keynesian Experiment :-)

    Here is a link to an article by Scott Minerd, chief investment officer of Guggenheim Funds. John Mauldin referenced him in his last e-mail.

    good read and insightful


    Feb 23, 2013 - 11:18am

    Visual Reference: GLD

    Here is a selection of GLD Price Charts over various time frames:

    SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) 1 Day Price Chart

    SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) 1 Month Price Chart

    SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) 6 Month Price Chart

    SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) 1 Year Price Chart

    SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) 2 Year Price Chart

    SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) 5 Year Price Chart

    Dyna mo hum
    Feb 23, 2013 - 11:07am
    Feb 23, 2013 - 11:00am

    Saturday Morning Market News

    Release the Doves: Central Banks' Brave New Words - The Economist

    Our Fear of Debt Is Misplaced

    No One Remembers Last Bond Bear

    Are Junk Bonds Ready for Fall?

    EU: Euro Zone to Shrink Again

    Chasm Opens Between Weak French, Strong German Economies

    Berlusconi Could Crash Markets

    Forget the Oscars, Behavioral Economists Win - Cass Sunstein, Bloomberg

    What Our Brains Can Teach Us About Technology - David Eagleman, NYT

    Mr. Trump: Beyond Billionaire's Bluster - Martin Dickson, Financial Times

    Going Forward, Stocks Should Beat Bonds - Paul Sullivan, New York Times

    Are Markets Becoming More Short Term? - Mark Roe, Project Syndicate

    The Advisors Who Thrive In Tough Markets - Steve Garmhausen, Barron's

    Is Now the Safe Time To Sell Your House? - Ruth Simon, Wall Street Journal

    After Bankrupting Hostess, Unions Rake In Federal Dough - Editorial, IBD

    Alarm Bells Should Be Ringing In Europe - Mohamed El-Erian, Fortune

    Getting Ugly: China Wants Respect? Rein In Its Hackers - The Economist

    'Devastating' Sequester Without Any Spending Cuts - Bill Wilson, Forbes

    Forget Sequestration, the Real Shutdown Is 3/27 - Matthew Yglesias, Slate

    Sacrificial Public Servants? Oh My, Grab Your Wallet - David Asman, Fox

    Obama's Delusions: Unequal To a Limping Economy - Peter Ferrara, Forbes

    5 Reasons Not to Worry About the Sequester - Boak & Pianin, Fiscal Times

    More Inflation Is the Cure for Fed's Impotence - Ryan Avent, Bloomberg

    Competition Is Necessary in All Areas, Including Money - Jeff Snider, RCM

    Strike Three and The American Consumer Is Out! - Katie Little, CNBC

    Wal-Mart's Bad News Is Our Good News - Neil Irwin, Washington Post

    A Tax That May Change the Trading Game - Floyd Norris, New York Times

    Two Weird Things Happening in Private Equity - Simone Foxman, Quartz

    The Great Venture Capital Contraction - U. Gupta, Institutional Investor

    The California Tax That Terrifies Tech - Omar Akhtar, Fortune

    An Exodus of California Companies to Texas? - Rex Sinquefield, Forbes

    You Just Can't Stop the Oil from Flowing - Robert Bryce, Slate

    Say, Does Anybody Remember 'Peak Oil'? - Vaclav Smil, The American

    Free Trade Magic Won't Save Europe - Matthew O'Brien, The Atlantic

    Detroit Gave Unions the Keys, and Nothing Is Left - Kyle Smith, Forbes

    Everything's Cool on Wall St., Right? RIGHT?? - Jeff Reeves, MarketWatch

    Maybe It's Time to Jump Back into Japan? - Steven Goldberg, Kiplinger

    Poor Data, Technicals Suggest More Downside - Anthony Mirhaydari, MSN

    It's Time to Adjust, Not Time to Panic or Sell Out - Jim Cramer, TheStreet

    Is the U.S. Nearing a Tipping Point on Debt? - Neil Irwin, Washington Times

    A Sequester of Fools - Paul Krugman, New York Times

    A "Responsible" Fed Could Hurt the Recovery - Peter Coy, BusinessWeek

    Bahamas Hootenanny Is a Good Economic Sign - Robert Milburn, Barron's

    The Dire Warning From Wal-Mart - Jim Jubak, MSN Money

    Comeback Sign: U.S. Carmakers Are Hiring - Bill Vlasic, New York Times

    They Bailed On Their Homes, Now They Want Back In - Diana Olick, CNBC

    Why Should Taxpayers Give Big Banks $83B a Year? - Editors, Bloomberg

    Feb 23, 2013 - 10:54am

    Saturday Morning World News

    The Coming Atlantic Century - Anne-Marie Slaughter, Project Syndicate

    U.S. Must Stop China's Bullying of Japan - Friedberg & Schoenfeld, RCW

    Why Wasn't There a Chinese Spring? - Steve Hess, The Diplomat

    The World Must Lessen Its Reliance on Robots - Ravi Velloor, Straits Times

    Obama Sending Wrong Message on Syrian Lives - David Rohde, Reuters

    Media's Careless Reporting on Iran - Yousaf Butt, Bulletin of Atomic Sci.

    Did Hugo Chavez Return to Venezuela to Die? - Peter Wilson, Foreign Policy

    Why Is UN Praising Castro Regime? - Fabio Rafael Fiallo, RealClearWorld

    Welcome to Phase Three of the Arab Spring - Paul Berman, New Republic

    Is a Sunni Sexual Revolution Underway? - Nicolas Pelham, Playboy

    To Fend Off India, Pakistan Tore Itself Apart - Mohsin Hamid, NY Times

    How France Got So Lazy - Janine di Giovanni, The Daily Beast

    The Case Against More North Korea Sanctions - Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato

    Obama's Bad Brotherhood Bet - Jonathan Tobin, Commentary Magazine

    Port Said Unrest Unites Soccer Fans, Workers - James Dorsey, ME Soccer

    How the CIA Globalized Torture - Open Society Institute

    America in Strategic Retreat from the Mideast - INEGMA

    State of the Global Jihad Online - Washington Institute

    North Korea's Bad Nuclear Investment - Chatham House

    Europe's Crisis Is Far from Over - Brian Carney, Wall Street Journal

    French Workers Aren't Lazy - Howard Davies, Financial Times

    Hezbollah-Sunni War Is About to Start - Hanin Ghaddar, NOW Lebanon

    Brazil: The Self-absorbed Giant - Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald

    Iran's Shrewd Move - Michael Makovsky & Blaise Misztal, Weekly Standard

    China Is Keeping the Peace at Sea - Allen Carlson, Foreign Affairs

    Censorship Alive and Well in Canada - Elizabeth Renzetti, Globe and Mail

    A Syrian Crackup Looks More Likely - Rami Khouri, The Daily Star

    What If China 'Droned' the Dalai Lama? - Tom Gallagher, Common Dreams

    Another Hollywood Insult Aimed at Iran - Nazee Moinian, NY Daily News

    U.S. Energy Power Will Reshape Military - Nikolas Gvosdev, WPR

    No, North Korea Isn't Testing Iran's Nuke - Jeffrey Lewis, Foreign Policy

    It's Finally Time to Come Home, America - Patrick Buchanan, Creators

    The End of the European Dream - Stefan Auer, Eurozine

    A Tale of Robot Love in Japan - Aubrey Belford, The Global Mail

    Only Arming Moderates Can Save Syria - The National

    Saudi Arabia Must Reform, Slowly - Gulf News

    India Must Put British Crimes Behind It - Times of India

    Feb 23, 2013 - 10:51am

    (No subject)

    Styx- The grand illusion + lyrics

    Welcome to the grand illusion
    Come on in and see whats happening
    Pay the price, get your tickets for the show
    The stage is set, the band starts playing
    Suddenly your heart is pounding
    Wishing secretly you were a star.

    But dont be fooled by the radio
    The tv or the magazines
    They show you photographs of how your life should be
    But theyre just someone elses fantasy
    So if you think your life is complete confusion
    Because you never win the game
    Just remember that its a grand illusion
    And deep inside were all the same.
    Were all the same...

    So if you think your life is complete confusion
    Because your neighbors got it made
    Just remember that its a grand illusion
    And deep inside were all the same.
    Were all the same...

    America spells competition, join us in our blind ambition
    Get yourself a brand new motor car
    Someday soon well stop to ponder what on earths this spell were under
    We made the grade and still we wonder who the hell we are
    All rights go to Styx

    Feb 23, 2013 - 10:41am

    I've Seen All Good People

    I've Seen All Good People - Your Move by Yes
    Feb 23, 2013 - 10:40am

    Trader Dan & Gold Community...Mr. Beale

    Firstly, I do not think TD had TF in mind with those comments so it's ok to keep the revolver in the holster.

    It does appear though that the gold blog community is starting to crack just a wee bit in it's cannibalization of some of it's members and participants or posters within it that are feeling some real pressure to come up with definitive answers on many or all occasions when big price swings do happen. Historical things are not on a time schedule and only happen when those who can facilitate them are ready to do so.

    What the overall sniping or defensive postures tell me is that we are in the thick of it and at the latter stages where a strong move upwards is coming soon (by August is my guess). We've been consolidating and ramping back in forth in range for quite sometime all the while that phyz demand from CB's has gone through the roof. All of us are applying logic and some form of supply/demand equation to the situation when in fact it's a bunch of BIS/CB bankers who will decide to act when almost everyone is not expecting it. History will emerge out of the blue.

    The other thing with some of the comments outside of here (JSM & TD etc) is that after all of this sideways action that there is not a whole lot to say that is fresh that hasn't already been said so the sniping and defensive postures are reactionary and kind of fresh topics. A topic I would stay away from.

    In the end, it will be the person who knows that were right in the middle of something historic who also realizes that the forces at work and the changes that are coming are not on a time schedule and are subject to forces and undercurrents (CB's/BIS) that just about every one on the planet has no clue or knowledge of.

    My outlook or preference is to not hear or see the sniping of others so that they can be right or the first one to call the move up or down etc. What I want to see (and appreciate) is the person who can brush off the accusations or challenges who has the foresight/guts to recognize the forces at work and knows that inevitably big change is coming.

    The only people at this time who know anything and who can pull the levers of history are the primary CB's and the BIS , not necessarily in that order.

    Trader Dan is human and just saying what he see's and reads while feeling cannibalized while he does it himself on some level. The gold community is feeling the pressure in the throes of a historic global monetary moment that to them is unreasonable and totally out of their control. That helpless feeling is part of the reason the gold community is starting to bite each other because all along they've been right except for the overwhelming CB/BIS influence and their time table.

    We're getting close and it's definitely exciting.

    Negnu Network - Money speech
    Ilya Repin
    Feb 23, 2013 - 10:39am

    I agree with Trader Dan’s

    I agree with Trader Dan’s comments, I think he is right that there is indeed many out there who have an obligation to constantly call for bottoms and tops and post irrelevant articles just to generate income for themselves, which is something everyone needs to do.

    However, Dan’s rejection of the manipulation theory leaves him just as guilty as he will only support what pays his bills, what butters his bread. Dan is probably well aware of the manipulation, surely no one can deny it. However, as a trader he can’t really come out and talk about it for either of three reasons.

    a) It makes him feel less valuable as a person knowing his whole profession is manipulated before him

    b) he doesn’t want to rock the boat as he trades well and makes money. And that’s what matters to traders.

    C) he knows and is too fked off to talk about it

    The trader adage of “would you rather be right or rich?” is the voice from Dan’s side of the fence, which is itself a hugely nihilistic view of the world and does make him slightly robotic. However, you have to be... If you want to trade its damn good advice.

    I listen to Dan on the KWN metals wrap and I enjoy his commentary, he’s experienced in the way markets move and offers very valuable insight and is pretty down t earth which I like.

    You could argue that on average Dan’s post are more helpful than TFs as he provides mildly useful information on a daily basis where as TF does not. Only About 3:10 of TF articles, (such as the one above from Andrew Maguire) are at all informative but these easily make up for the general lack of content in the other 7

    All in all, I don’t know what all the bickering is about. Dan is Dan TF is TF. They are in different professions and so of course they see, or say they see, things differently.

    ill read TF for broad behind the scenes goings on. GLD SLV situations and access to the voice of people like Maguire. I don’t check TF for his charts at all or is bottom calling. I read Dan for daily chart analysis but don’t always agree.. The rule in trading is to “TRADE YOUR OWN PLAN” ... and that doesn’t mean you can’t observe others. Perhaps you think the opposite and it helps your own case. All information is good.

    TFs info is of greater magnitude and important for LONG TERM. But Dans can help you make SHORT TERM cash.

    I advise you listen to both. AND MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND

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