Gold and Silver Backwardation

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 - 12:12pm

I am not backing down from this and it is OK for otherwise agreeable people to disagree. No one has all the answers, regardless of their level of expertise and experience, and differing opinions are what make a market.

And I'm expecting a bottom here, too. The charts are looking better...which, admittedly when compared to last week, isn't saying much.

Let's start by revisiting DrC, crude and Sylvia. Ten days ago, they gave us clues that a period of "general commodity weakness" was coming. What are they saying now? Well, all three look poised for a rebound. Will they? And again, why is this important? Because buying interest in these 3 will almost always spark some spillover interest in the PMs, regardless of that day's Bullion Bank intentions or POSX movements.

Let's start with crude. Recall that I urged traders and even those with UCO to consider taking profits at $98. I expected a drop to $93 and we got it. So, now what? It would appear that the $95 level holds the key. Above there and the possibility exists for a jump back to the $98-100 level and a possible breakout. Below $95 and you have to guard against a drop toward $90, maybe even $88.

And what about copper? On the drop last week, it seemed everyone and their brother was mentioning how we all need to keep an eye on "DrC". That is, of course, true but I'm not here to sound any alarm least not yet. As you can see, after failing to hold the breakout that we were closely monitoring two weeks ago, copper has simply fallen back into the pennant which has contained it for over a year. Until and unless a sustained breakout occurs, it remains rangebound and, within the range, subject to support and a bounce right near these current levels.

And then there's Sylvia. How many times did we discuss that old dame 2-3 weeks ago, closely watching the $1735 level for a breakout? In the end, it's hardly a surprise that it didn't break out and what you see now is what always happens when a breakout fails. Namely, everyone attempts to head for the exits at once! The result is a sharp drop. But look what has happened. Successive attempts to press it even lower and under $1600 failed late last week and now she's likely primed for a sharp, short-covering, snapback rally.

So, in this context, what can we expect this week from the metals? First of all, anything is possible. You should know that by now. However, both charts are clearly oversold in the short-term and look poised for a rebound. We may even be able to generate some momentum and then create a virtuous cycle of short-squeezing. We'll see about that but, at a minimum, I am confident that the lows of last week are going to hold.

Of course, we may not get much today because of the expiration of the March13 silver options. We also need to keep in mind that Thursday will be First Notice Day so expect a lot of volatility. Again, though, I think we've found an end to this latest downdraft and I firmly believe that March is going to be very interesting and very fun. (Ides+7)

OK, now onto this backwardation stuff. As mentioned above, this will be a hot topic around here this week as I plan to record a podcast with our pal, Andy, either tomorrow or Wednesday. (It just kind of depends on how busy things are in the markets.) I also hope to visit with the ultimate expert in this topic, Sandeep Jaitly of The Gold Basis Service newsletter. My goal is to give you plenty of information so that you can make your own decision as to the significance of the data. Again, no one has all the answers and we must always be willing to study and learn.

So, what are we looking at when measuring for backwardation in gold and silver? (Particularly gold, which is NOT a commodity, it is a currency. Don't think so? Ask the Turks or the Iranians or the Chinese what they think.) For this purpose, we measure what are called the BASIS and the C0-BASIS. Well, what are those?

BASIS = Front delivery month Comex future bid vs the SPOT ask/offer.

Co-BASIS = SPOT bid vs Front delivery month Comex future ask/offer.

Let's put that in numbers. Let's say that SPOT is currently bid at 1579 and offered at 1580 and that the April13 contract is bid at 1580 and offered at 1581. This gives us a BASIS of 0 and a Co-BASIS of 2. This is fine and this is normal "contango". But when we speak of current backwardation, that's not what we have. When we see backwardation, it begins when the BASIS turns negative and the Co-BASIS moves toward zero. So, now another example:

SPOT is still at 1579 by 1580 but the future is also 1579 by 1580. Now the BASIS is -1 and the Co-BASIS is 1. This is mild backwardation. Nothing crazy and it could simply be caused by front month liquidation as we head toward contract expiration and First Notice Day...kind of like where we are now in March13 silver.

Alarm bells begin to ring when BOTH the BASIS and Co-BASIS move into negative territory. Again, for example, when SPOT is 1579 by 1580 yet the nearby future is 1578 by 1579. This creates measurable and actionable backwardation as the BASIS is now -2 and the Co-BASIS is now zero. Again, this could be just a temporary situation caused by overdone, waterfall declines and other, assorted Cartel shenanigans.

The key word, though, is TEMPORARY. When the Co-BASIS reaches into negative territory, arbitrage should almost immediately turn it back positive. WHY? Because at a negative C0-BASIS, you should be able to sell your physical on the spot market and then immediately purchase, with the intent of taking delivery, a front month futures contract. By doing so, you are locking in a RISK-FREE PROFIT. Again, you might be asking why and how?

Look at the numbers in the backwardation scenario above. You can sell 100 ounces of physical at $1579. You can then guarantee the return purchase of your physical in 2-6 weeks by buying a futures contract for $1578. You just made $100. Do that with 100 contracts and you make $10,000. Do that with 1000 contracts and you make $100,000. Do it every day for a week and you make $500,000. Because people are willing and able to do that, the backwardation closes and the market flips back into contango.

But here's the deal...April13 gold, which will expire in about 5 weeks, is now consistently in backwardation, not just on the BASIS but on the Co-BASIS, too. WHY??? Why aren't the arbitrageurs jumping at the free money? THAT is the question.

Later this week, when I speak with Andy, we'll attempt to definitively answer this question and provide a further explanation as to what this signals for future price. For now, though, I'm going to leave this right here for your discussion. If you want to do some of your own homework on this subject, I strongly suggest you start with this excellent piece from Dr. Antal Fekete. It's worth your time and very informative.

Have a great day. I look forward to a very interesting and exciting week.


About the Author

turd [at] tfmetalsreport [dot] com ()


The Watchman
Feb 25, 2013 - 6:35pm
Feb 25, 2013 - 6:35pm

Maund on Punk Assets

There is now such an overwhelming array of technical evidence that the Precious Metals sector is forming a major bottom, that by the end of reading this update you will, or should unless you are stupid, understand why we now have no choice but to turn strongly and unequivocally bullish on the sector. Up until now we have had some reservations, but these have been swept away by the latest truly extraordinary data.

old tradesman
Feb 25, 2013 - 6:37pm
Feb 25, 2013 - 6:43pm

Hello Turd

I listened to A.M. on KWN and he spoke about the COMEX "casino" and compliance departments that forbid trading there.

In your upcoming podcast can you ask him to update us on NASE?

You can tell him kn33bar has been pestering you.


The Watchman
Feb 25, 2013 - 6:44pm
fast mover
Feb 25, 2013 - 6:45pm

Responses to random blog topics

for trading AM's or Paul C's reco's I use IB (Interactive Brokers)

as far as FB, I've never had and refuse to join this social medium

the only silver shortage that i know of is my stack...I'm working hard at remedying

these teenage boys that crash my home everyday at lunch drink all the milk and eat all the cereal

that is all, continue with cleaning up Stalag 13


Feb 25, 2013 - 6:47pm

and having scanned the thread for significant news

I notice the unintentional irony of life, and that Mme Lagarde, the fearless leader of the IMF, was honoured at a conference sponsored by the Daily Beast.

While I have been (theoretically) improving my humours, I have been immersed in Charles Dickens, and the role of gold and silver is omnipresent. But this passage really caught my eye, as it should all those elites who repeat the follies of the past. From A Tale of Two Cities, describing France before the revolution (I apologize for its length, but the first sentence at least is worth pondering):

France, less favoured on the whole as to matters spiritual than her sister of the shield and trident, rolled with exceeding smoothness down hill, making paper money and spending it. Under the guidance of her Christian pastors, she entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his view, at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards. It is likely enough that, rooted in the woods of France and Norway, there were growing trees, when that sufferer was put to death, already marked by the Woodman, Fate, to come down and be sawn into boards, to make a certain movable framework with a sack and a knife in it, terrible in history. It is likely enough that in the rough outhouses of some tillers of the heavy lands adjacent to Paris, there were sheltered from the weather that very day, rude carts, bespattered with rustic mire, snuffed about by pigs, and roosted in by poultry, which the Farmer, Death, had already set apart to be his tumbrils of the Revolution. But that Woodman and that Farmer, though they work unceasingly, work silently and no one heard them as they went about with muffled tread: the rather, forasmuch as to entertain any suspicion that they were awake, was to be atheistical and traitorous.

In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and protection to justify much national boasting. Daring burglaries by armed men, and highway robberies, took place in the capital itself every night; families were publicly cautioned not to go out of town without removing their furniture to upholsterers' warehouses for security; the highwayman in the dark was a City tradesman in the light, and, being recognised and challenged by his fellow-tradesman whom he stopped in his character of "the Captain," gallantly shot him through the head and rode away; the mail was waylaid by seven robbers, and the guard shot three dead, and then got shot dead himself by the other four, "in consequence of the failure of his ammunition:" after which the mail was robbed in peace; that magnificent potentate, the Lord Mayor of London, was made to stand and deliver on Turnham Green, by one highwayman, who despoiled the illustrious creature in sight of all his retinue; prisoners in London gaols fought battles with their turkeys, and the majesty of the law fired blunderbusses in among them, loaded with rounds of shot and ball; thieves snipped off diamond crosses from the necks of noble lords at Court drawing-rooms; musketeers went into St. Giles's, to search for contraband goods, and the mob fired on the musketeers, and the musketeers fir on the mob, and nobody thought any of these occurrences much out of the common way. In the midst of them, the hangman, ever busy and ever worse than useless, was in constant requisition; now, stringing up long rows of miscellaneous criminals; now, hanging a housebreaker on Saturday who had been taken on Tuesday; now, burning people in the hand at Newgate by the dozen, and now burning pamphlets at the door of Westminster Hall; to-day, taking the life of an atrocious murderer, and to-morrow of a wretched pilferer who had robbed a farmer's boy of sixpence.

All these things, and a thousand like them, came to pass in and close upon the dear old year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Environed by them, while the Woodman and the Farmer worked unheeded, those two of the large jaws, and those other two of the plain and the fair faces [the Kings and Queens of England and France], trod with stir enough, and carried their divine rights with a high hand. Thus did the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five conduct their Greatnesses, and myriads of small creatures- the creatures of this chronicle among the rest- along the roads that lay before them.

And we think we have it bad.

fast mover
Feb 25, 2013 - 6:47pm

These darn drones

So, when is someone going to produce a small E M P device or electro magnetic whatchacallit that will interrupt personal/living quarter drone invasion and make the tech affordable? Wearable scrambling tech?

Feb 25, 2013 - 6:59pm

How many people here have a Facebook account

They are to lazy to cancel. I know I've been meaning to cancel mine. I only kept it to contact a few family members. The majority of my "friends" are people who I haven't seen since high school and nobody seems to "get it". We all have TFM. We should all cancel our FB accounts

Feb 25, 2013 - 6:59pm

bond rates

the treasury rates sure got whacked today ! 2 Year 0.23% -0.02 (-8.00%) 5 Year 0.76% -0.08 (-9.52%) 10 Year 1.86% -0.13 (-6.53%) 30 Year 3.07% -0.13 (-4.06%) any ideas what is happening in the tbill markets ?

SteveW Doctor J
Feb 25, 2013 - 7:04pm


Your home purchase and mortgage papers are legal documents and should have below your signature: E & OE.

Feb 25, 2013 - 7:05pm

The true inwardness of it ~ 1896

Title: The true inwardness of it

  • Creator(s): Keppler, Udo J., 1872-1956, artist
  • Date Created/Published: N.Y. : Published by Keppler & Schwarzmann, 1896 October 28.
  • Summary: Print shows Puck drawing back a curtain to show a "Laborer, Farmer, [and a] Business Man" what is going on behind, with the Bryan campaign's support of the "Silver Trust", as a man shows a paper to a bloated silver mine owner that states "To Silver Mine Owners: If Bryan is elected we shall make the people pay you an increase of 64 cts. on every ounce of your silver. This means a profit to you of $36,000,000 a year. We ask you to contribute one month's profit of $3,000,000 to elect Bryan. Merrill's Popocratic Circular".
  • Caption: Puck Now you can see, gentlemen, that the Bryan campaign is not in the interest of the people, but simply and solely in the interest of the Silver Trust.

Feb 25, 2013 - 7:05pm

re analogy between government and farms

not strong. Without farms there would be far fewer animals. It is an omnivore's moral dilemma and salvation: if I didn't eat beef, that cow would never have been alive. Now maybe she/he would have preferred to never chew cud, given that a bolt to the head was the sudden tragic end, but I am happy to believe otherwise. But the government is not both breeding us and preparing to slaughter us for meat, and many farm animals would never be bred and would certainly die without the farmer.

Just sayin'. I have a thing for romanticizing nature.

Feb 25, 2013 - 7:05pm

MMT is basically Keynesianism, IVARS


they both say fiat government spending when things are tough can stimulate the economy, which is true.

they both also say debt is bad, at a point, and when things are rolling again, go to low as government spending as possible and pay down the debt incurred from spending thru the 'tough' times.

like communism, they both ignore basic human nature ------maximizing your environment[greed].

in a collective of spoiled homo sapiens and politicians elected BY THEM, there is no paying down debt when u can----its run up more ......why not?----things are rolling after all.

there is no 'saving the last keg of beer' for tomorrow midnight at the frat party.

and Keynes never considered the demographic entitlement bubble dilemma, he lived before that.

Feb 25, 2013 - 7:05pm


I am on neither twitter nor facebook. Tweeting and friending were never for me. I have a twitter account but only because I was able to snag a name that an adversary of mine wanted and I got it first. I have never tweeted, but I still have that twitter account just to be a dick. I have had it for four years. I am a stacker/prepper not a tweeter/friender.

Beastly Stack
Feb 25, 2013 - 7:12pm


Thanks for your effort and I have always believed in your conviction. Great post this morning!

Feb 25, 2013 - 7:14pm

Yeah. I opened my FB account

Mainly to scope out marketing opportunity and see what it was about. Once on there people came outta the woodwork with friend requests. I haven't logged on in over a year. I heard they are hard to cancel. But I am thinking it may be worth it to rid myself of it.

Beastly Stack
Feb 25, 2013 - 7:15pm

What a Day

Did you have fun today, we have lots more going on this week. I really hope you read my weekend post. I just posted more of what I see to look for tomorrow. Please check if interested in trading currencies.



Feb 25, 2013 - 7:17pm


"stupid's in the water these days........they're gonna drink it anyway...........til they don't know right from wrong"

this could be our theme song.

Video unavailable
Feb 25, 2013 - 7:17pm

@ancientmoney: I don't know which is more depressing

@ancientmoney: I don't know which is more depressing, the scenario portrayed in that article or the fact that is seems so plausible.

Feb 25, 2013 - 7:20pm
Feb 25, 2013 - 7:24pm

We Want You Big Brother

US Internet providers start spy program to stop file-sharing

February 25, 2013 22:18

Starting this week, Internet Service Providers will start throttling connection speeds for customers alleged to be pirating copyright-protected materials.

Months after a controversial “six-strike” program was slated to be rolled out by the biggest ISPs in the United States, the Copyright Alert System (CAS) confirmed on Monday that the initiative has gone live.

The program, critiqued by Internet freedom activists and privacy advocates alike, will let ISPs take six steps of escalating severity in handling incidents where customers are believed to be illegally sharing material. Through the “graduate response” approach, suspected copyright criminals could be issued a series of warnings for illegally downloading protected content.

With the first strike caught by the CAS, a customer could be issued a warning. As strikes increase, however, “mitigation measures,” connection speed throttling and termination of service are all possible options.

“Practically speaking, this means our content partners will begin sending notices of alleged P2P [peer-to-peer] copyright infringement to ISPs, and the ISPs will begin forwarding those notices in the form of Copyright Alerts to consumers,”

Jill Lesser of the Center for Copyright Information rights in a blog post on Monday.

“Consumers whose accounts have been used to share copyrighted content over P2P networks illegally (or without authority) will receive Alerts that are meant to educate rather than punish, and direct them to legal alternatives. And for those consumers who believe they received Alerts in error, an easy to use process will be in place for them to seek independent review of the Alerts they received,” she adds — neglecting to mention that the appeals process costs customers $35 a pop.

SteveW knavechild
Feb 25, 2013 - 7:34pm

@Knavechild An educated person

"Moving to New Zealand was probably the best thing I've ever done...otherwise I'd still be ruining dinner parties."

I'll agree with that. If I were at the other end of my life I would surely have done the same. Now an educated person is one who can hold within their mind two totally incompatible ideas simultaneously. Its good training for dealing with the cognitive dissonance.

Its probably the Facebook and TV that is causing some concern but you can't spend all your time worrying about the coming collapse of civilization. For me the Patriot Act 2001 was a wake up call but I didn't start to learn about the economy until the 2008 crash, although I've been aware of peak oil since 1973. I suspect that we will become more dependent upon local communities and TPTB will eventually lose influence.

Feb 25, 2013 - 7:35pm

QE forever or until the 4th qtr.?

Feb. 25, 2013, 7:03 p.m. EST

Fed's Lockhart backs QE at least into second half

By Greg Robb

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The Federal Reserve should stick with its current $85 billion per month bond-buying program, at least into the second half of the year, said Dennis Lockhart, the president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, on Monday. "All things considered, I do not think that monetary policy has yet crossed the line where the benefits of the current policy -- specifically the quantitative easing element -- are swamped by serious concerns over problems the policy might be creating for the longer term," Lockhart said in a speech at the University of Tennessee. Markets have been worried that the Fed will scale back the bond-buying program after the minutes of the central bank's last meeting in January showed some officials are nervous about making the balance sheet bigger. B. Bernanke: "QE is necessary....the benefits outweigh the costs." Jackson Hole ~ 8/31/12
Feb 25, 2013 - 7:37pm

If in the U.S.

I would contact Jim Comiskey at ADM Investor Services in Chicago

fast mover
Feb 25, 2013 - 7:39pm

@fast mover: knock yourself out.

@fast mover: knock yourself out.

This has been my answer to the drone issue since I first heard about it. I don't have the facilities to build any of these and my electronic skill set is decades out of place.

Feb 25, 2013 - 7:40pm

The second half...

of the CENTURY... that is...

Feb 25, 2013 - 7:45pm


"Tweeting and friending were never for me."

Oh dear, oh dear. It's like fresh chum to a great white.

I'll be kind and resist this time. .

Feb 25, 2013 - 7:46pm

@Grublux: Facebook. I had an

@Grublux: Facebook.

I had an account as Puck T. Smith. Somehow I managed to get nearly 1,000 friends. I was focused on political issues and agorist/anarchist alternatives to the current paradigm. It became too much of a timesink. I eventually closed it out. I still have an account under my real name. I use it to stay in touch with a few friends and family. I visit maybe once a day. Life is much more sedate now.

Feb 25, 2013 - 7:48pm

Grand Funk Railroad (2)

American Band - Grand Funk Railroad
Grand Funk Railroad -- I'm Your Captain


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