The Wild, Wild West: Dispatches from the lawless frontier of precious metals trading

Mon, Oct 7, 2013 - 11:58am

For five long years, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has described their investigation of manipulation in the silver markets as “ongoing”. During this investigation, trader Andrew Maguire exchanged a series of emails with personnel at the CFTC informing them that he was witnessing obvious and recognizable manipulation of these markets to such a degree that he could often recognize when a manipulative event was going to take place BEFORE it happened. Maguire then proceeded to demonstrate this for them, emailing the CFTC and informing them that a market smash was going to take place. With the CFTC watching, the manipulative event then occurred precisely as Maguire had warned them and price magically wound up at the exact level that Maguire has said it was going to. He also informed them that manipulators were using the SAXO trading platform to actually signal where they were going to be taking price days in advance, so that the traders who were in on it would know exactly where price was going to be taken. Despite having access to the records of all the trades placed during this event, the CFTC took no action while claiming its investigation was “ongoing”.

Now come the revelations that more than a year ago, two whistleblowers from inside J P Morgan provided the CFTC with detailed and specific information proving that firm’s deliberate manipulative activities in the Silver markets (link). The CFTC sat on this information for more than a year, again noting only that their investigation was “ongoing”. Then, on September 25, 2013, within days of the news of these whistleblowers being made public, the CFTC hurriedly announced an end to the investigation and stated that no charges were being filed.

Directly following on the heels of the “no viable basis to bring an enforcement action” finding, the CFTC Director of Enforcement David Meister announced his resignation from the CFTC (link). Then the Wall Street Journal announced that Agency chief Gary Gensler reportedly also resigned, turning down the Obama Administration’s offer to remain in charge at the CFTC for another five year term. He will be leaving his post within the year (link). All of these events – the CFTC ending a five year investigation, and the resignations of the Director and the Head of Enforcement – came within days of the public revelations regarding the CFTC’s inaction despite the evidence presented by the whistleblowers.

Meanwhile, clearly manipulative market activity is showing up in both short-term charts as our gracious host Turd Ferguson has noted…

…and on longer term charts:

Cheviot Asset Management’s Ned Naylor-Leyland created the chart above, and noted that PM price movements had been very strongly correlated with the price of oil for the last five-plus years… right up until 2013 and especially the period between April and June, where a $200 smash in gold was completely disconnected from any move in the oil markets, or indeed from any fundamentals whatsoever.

The most recent smash-down of the price of gold showed very clearly how deliberately manipulative orders were being placed to overwhelm the bid.

James Mac at LeMetropole Café wrote the following to Bill Murphy, describing the recent action:

What would you do if you had not only just been exonerated by the CFTC, but basically knew there is NO gold or silver manipulation that could run afoul of their "strict" criteria? Relentlessly bomb the hell out of it, that's what you would do. And indeed they are. As has been the constant pattern lately it only takes the cartel 2 or 3 crucial minutes to do the damage. The illiquid pre-Comex open, the first minute of the Comex open, and 10:00 AM are tried and true.

8:00 AM: 120 Dec. contracts traded
8:01 AM: 4,531 Dec. contracts traded

8:30 AM: 594 Dec. contracts traded
8:31 AM: 8,175 Dec. contracts traded

10:00 AM: 284 Dec. contracts traded
10:01 AM: 1,738 Dec. contracts traded

The key to any pre-planned avalanche is to set the dynamite in the perfect location. Just those 3 minutes blasted $27.80 off the POG. Those monstrous 8,175 contracts at 8:31 AM are right up there with any single minute of last April's smash job, an average of 136 per second. Note too the precise timing of the algo bombs- exactly one minute after the hour, or half-hour at 8:01 AM, 8:31 AM, and 10:01 AM.

The manipulative movements evident on the charts and in the order flow were not enough to dissuade the usual apologists/accomplices of the manipulators. After the obvious beat-down of Monday, September 30th, the standard public explanation that it was “hedge-fund selling” was trotted out yet again by several mainstream financial media sources, an explanation repeated so often to explain these movements that it is almost Kubrickian.

I have a friend who is a professional trader, and he routinely places very large orders (100,000 shares plus) for his clients so he knows intimately the mechanics of such trades. He wishes to remain anonymous, but here is what he wrote to me the day after regarding that market action, and the public explanation of hedge fund selling as being the cause:

“Rumor yesterday of fund selling was complete bs (you know this), by people that have no idea how markets work.

Lets say for example, that I want to buy 100,000 shares of a thinly traded BB stock that trades 10,000 shares on average. I route this order through my trade software to my broker and they stick the trade into one of their algorithmic trade bots who executes the order (usually on Volume Weighted Average Price, but there are others). They would NEVER, NEVER place this order “at the market” because they know that they would adversely affect the fill price for that order and move the shares significantly.

So, circling round to yesterday's trade, it's literally impossible for what they describe (the sharp drops in price caused by hedge fund selling) to happen. The trader at the fund would route those shares through their broker, and the broker would execute in a similar fashion to an equity trade that I described above. The only way that this trade could be placed like this would be the trader at the fund would have to deliberately request that the trade be executed at the market. Unless that trader wanted to be fired on the spot, he would never execute the trade in this way.

It would be virtually impossible for the explanation given publicly to be true. We both know who has the power to make orders like this.”

  • Pro Trader who wishes to remain anonymous.

CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton appeared on Bloomberg Television on October 3rd, less than a week after the Silver investigation was formally closed, to make the case that the government shut-down made markets unsafe for the investing public because the CFTC was no longer there to enforce the laws (link). During the interview, Commissioner Chilton noted “If you want the markets safe, secure, efficient, and effective, you have to keep us on the job.”

Sure, Bart. When we think of your regulation of these markets, the words “safe, secure, efficient, and effective” are EXACTLY the adjectives that leap to mind.

Precious metals markets are now the Wild West: a lawless territory where the Judges are bought and paid for, and where brutal and rapacious men are allowed to pillage the populace at will, unchecked by the rule of law. The Sheriff is too cowardly to emerge from his office, let alone do anything to go after the bad guys. He slumps impotently behind his desk, mourning his receding hairline and hoping against hope that nobody brings in more evidence of wrongdoing- not because he would then have to do something (there is no crime so egregious to cause him to bestir himself) but because such revelations make his inaction and cowardice even more publicly humiliating than they already are.

Meanwhile, the townsfolk are realizing they are completely on their own. They stay inside and keep their heads down, trying not to get preyed-on by the gangs of sanctioned looters roaming the territory. The smart ones are quietly stacking all the gold and silver bullets they can lay their hands on, knowing that they and they alone are responsible for their own safety. The rest go about their lives unarmed and uncertain. They would do well to heed the words of William Muny who, when accused of shooting an unarmed man, looked slightly baffled by the charge and replied matter of factly “Well… he should’a armed himself.”


About the Author


Oct 7, 2013 - 12:15pm


metals higher, yesssss!

Oct 7, 2013 - 12:16pm

No cavalry coming

Thanks P4.

Yep...a lawless, rigged frontier is what we're up against and there's no sheriff or cavalry coming from the looks of it.

We're on our own...buyer beware....don't get scalped.

Oct 7, 2013 - 12:20pm


First place advertising spot for rent. One Silver Maple.

Place your message here....

Contact entertainers anonymous AKA Bugzy

Oct 7, 2013 - 12:22pm

Iceland rises from the ashes of banking collapse

The previous government had twice negotiated terms under which Iceland would repay the UK and the Netherlands, with interest, for the cost of bailing out Icesave savers. It was made plain to ministers at the time that continued IMF support depended on such a deal.

But both proposals, despite being passed by the Icelandic parliament, were overwhelmingly defeated in public referenda thanks in part Gunnlaugsson. Popular opinion in Iceland had railed against what Gunnlaugsson grass roots campaign group InDefence portrayed as bullying forces from overseas, set on extracting reparations from Reykjavik akin to those sought from Germany in the Treaty of Versailles.

InDefence attacked Britain in particular, accusing Gordon Brown's government of deliberately damaging Iceland's standing in international markets in 2008 by using anti-terrorism laws to freeze the UK assets of Landsbanki. The bank, together with Iceland's finance ministry, was even place on a UK list of financially sanctioned regimes alongside North Korea and al-Qaida.

As time went on, however, eminent economists began to reassess Iceland's reputation as a pariah state, contrasting it favourably with, among others, Ireland, which had been similarly laid low by an outsized banking sector and forced to seek emergency help from the IMF.

"Where everyone else bailed out the bankers and made the public pay the price, Iceland let the banks go bust and actually expanded its social safety net," noted Paul Krugman, admiringly. Iceland, he found, had demonstrated the "case for letting creditors of private banks gone wild eat the losses".

Nobel prize winner Joeseph Stilitz agreed. "What Iceland did was right. It would have been wrong to burden future generations with the mistakes of the financial system." For Financial Times economist Martin Wolf too, it was a triumph. "Iceland let the creditors of its banks hang. Ireland did not. Good for Iceland!" Less good, of course, for the foreign creditors. And Not all of the foreign creditors are the vulture funds Gunnlaugsson talks of. British and Dutch taxpayers still have significant exposure to the Landsbanki administration. As priority creditors they have had almost 55% of their claims repaid, though the remainder will take a good deal longer to be paid out. There are UK local authorities and charities, too, which entrusted more than £1bn with failed Icelandic banks and are still waiting to get much of their money back. Meanwhile, taxpayer-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland had been one of the largest investors in Icelandic bank bonds, a position that has left it a non-priority claimant, expecting only minimal returns in its claims.
Oct 7, 2013 - 12:28pm
Oct 7, 2013 - 12:36pm

World must ready defences over US debt crisis, says South Africa

7 Oct, 2013, 08.53PM IST The global community should fear the worst over the US debt crisis and shore up its economic defences accordingly, South Africa's finance minister said on Monday

LONDON: The global community should fear the worst over the US debt crisis and shore up its economic defences accordingly, South Africa's finance minister said on Monday. Financial markets are getting nervous that the budget deadlock in Congress may not be resolved before Oct 17, the deadline to raise US borrowing limits. That could lead to an unprecedented technical default by the world's largest economy. Pravin Gordhan said there was a "heightened sense of anxiety" among the world's investors and policymakers.

"This is clearly an issue that might go to the brink. All of us need nerves of steel at this point," Gordhan told Reuters and Reuters Insider on the sidelines of a conference in London. "We need to anticipate the worst and hope that we all have sufficient defences in place." Gordhan earlier told the conference economic growth in South Africa would not reach its 2.7 percent target this year but would not fall below 2 percent. He said the US crisis might cast the International Monetary Fund (IMF) into an "extraordinary role". Meanwhile, emerging economies needed to make sure of their fiscal credibility and to take steps to address vulnerabilities such as high current account deficits.


South Africa's reliance on external capital flows to plug its balance of payments deficit has seen it labelled as one of the "fragile five" major emerging economies. Gordhan criticised the description as "regrettable" and demonstrating "the short-sightedness of financial commentary." "We don't feel fragile at all. We have a better growth path than many of the developed economies in the world, and a lot better prospects," he said.

Plugging South Africa's current account deficit, one of the biggest in the world at more than 6 percent of its economy, would be no problem, Gordhan said, citing healthy foreign demand for the country's debt. Gordhan also told Reuters markets looked better prepared now than they were in May or June for a scaling back of the US Federal Reserve's money-printing - the timing of which is likely to have been pushed back by the debt impasse. Emerging economies have benefited hugely from the Fed's $85 billion-a-month money-printing and many policymakers have urged caution and asked the Fed for more clarity on its plans.

"The markets (now) actually have some sense of anticipation... Some kind of pricing has taken place," Gordhan said referring to the emerging markets selloff triggered over the summer by the tapering hints. "There is an understanding that we need a greater level of clarity... in the way in which tapering takes place so we can minimise negative effects."

Analysts now see a cutback as unlikely before January, given data releases have been held up by the US government shutdown.

Mr. Fix
Oct 7, 2013 - 12:50pm

Full steam ahead!........(to distaster)

Obama Reiterates - Will Only Negotiate After Getting Everything He Wants

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/07/2013 - 12:48

It would appear that President Obama's comprehension of the meaning of the word "negotiate" is different from that taught in the new "common core". Speaking at an event at FEMA, he noted:


But given his comments last week on the markets' need to see this as a crisis, perhaps the best word to use to describe this farce is "inconceivable."

Oct 7, 2013 - 12:54pm

What if?

They knew the financial system was coming to an end (mathematically obvious) and they want to replace it with another ponzi scheme for their own ends. Then the LAST thing they want is a return to Gold; way too honest. Maybe if they burn the "Golden bridges" Lease or sell it off, then there is no way back?

The sheeps are encouraged to bleat a different tune, supplied by the caring Shepherd of course.

Edit: Fourteen nights - sounds a bit like fortnight. It is a well used expression in the UK Fix. I did not know it was not used in the US

Spartacus Rex
Oct 7, 2013 - 1:09pm

King Canute! By Bill Holter

The government has been “quasi” shut down since last Monday. Markets have stayed open, banks have stayed open and the sun has risen each day. We have had many such shutdowns over the years and they served the purpose of at least some fiscal restraint. At a minimum at least the problems of creating a working budget and whether to increase the debt limit has come to light each time. This is not new; we have had government shutdowns since the early years of the country as the founding fathers debated the very same issues of increasing or even using debt.

It is different now though because in the early days the debate was whether or not to take on debt to actually build something whereas to today increasing debt is no longer a “luxury.” I say luxury because we have crossed the Rubicon and cannot turn back as we need to continually borrow more to prevent the banking and financial systems from deflating and to pay (roll) old debt and interest. Another difference with the current shutdown is the lengths that government is going to scare and inconvenience the population. Parks are being shutdown, the WWII memorial has been shut down, even our military is no longer receiving video feeds of baseball or football games and unbelievably they are trying to “shut down the ocean.” What’s next?

In many cases, the government is using more manpower to make sure that no one uses the parks, memorials or whatever than it would take to just leave them abandoned. This is foolish to say the least but is just another illustration of the growing nanny state. This course of action may actually backfire as people see for their own eyes how wasteful this is. Another description could be “spiteful.” Why is it important that people are not be allowed to use a park or visit a memorial? One anonymous park ranger has said that their orders were to make it as “difficult and inconvenient” for people as possible. Why?

I don’t want to play political volleyball here but President Obama has said that the shutdown happened because “they (Republicans) just want to mess with me.” This is simply wrong and wrongheaded. This is not about him; it is about the future, the viability of the United States. We are now less than 2 weeks away from the Treasury actually running out of “extraordinary measures” (rabbits) to pull out of their hat. The current shutdown is a joke compared to the coming debt ceiling debate. It is unfathomable to think that the debt ceiling won’t be raised but as I’ve said before, this is an embarrassment and another admission to the world that without the ability to borrow more…we are broke and cannot pay our bills.

This is the reality. In order to keep the doors open we must borrow more. Without the ability for the Treasury to borrow more, everything will stop in its tracks…everywhere. And to think, THIS was considered an “AAA” credit just 2 years ago and is now an “AA+” credit. Think about this. Think about the “stability” or lack of, the entire global financial system is based on a foundation that is no longer viable without the ability to borrow “more” than an already “too much.” The reason your bank account is still accessible, your bonds still pay interest, your debit and credit cards still work…is solely because the U.S. Treasury can still borrow more.

Of course, even with a rise in the debt ceiling to “make it legal,” we are no longer even borrowing from the rest of the world. We are borrowing more ONLY because the Federal Reserve has stepped up to purchase $100′s of billions of Treasuries that the world no longer wants nor is willing to buy. Meanwhile gold has value because it “is.” It has no backing, no laws that “make it” money or wealth other than those of Mother Nature. Gold has only “(un)official obstacles in its way” while fiat has the help of every possible dirty, underhanded and illegal trick in the book to help it levitate. Any “hiccup” from Congress could be enough to turn the whole system upside down. The Democrats will blame the Republicans and vice versa while both sides of the aisle are equally as guilty. President Obama will blame Congress and may even try to pull a “King Canute” and legislate a rise in the debt ceiling from the Executive branch. Just as the King could not legislate the tide, President Obama nor anyone else can legislate the U.S. into a position of fiscal and monetary solvency. No matter the outcome over the next 2 weeks, there is no upside and negative surprises can lead to the “exits” being nailed shut virtually overnight.

Spartacus Rex
Oct 7, 2013 - 1:17pm

Silver – QE4ever, POMO4ever, Nevermore4ever

Michael Noonan | October 6, 2013

The central bankers have no rudder, adrift in a sea of fiat, taking everybody with them. Witness Cyprus and Greece being forced to walk the plank. Those who choose to stay on this Ship of Fools will suffer the same fate, even worse as the growing panic emboldens banker reactions.

Unless one has become anesthetized to the proverbial handwriting on the wall, symptoms are teeming all around. Barack “Yes We Can” [more than double the debt] Obama told everyone, promised everyone that he would cut the deficit in half. What he did not say is cutting it in half would then be the measure by which it would multiply. Issuing fiat does one thing and one thing only: it robs everyone of whatever value they have. It is a hidden transfer of wealth from you to the government, plain and simple.

POMO, [Permanent Open Market Operations], with emphasis on Permanent, designed to maintain the illusion that stocks are in a healthy bull market, so all must be well…at least for the top 1%; for the rest, not so much. Everything the Federal Reserve does is an illusion, including its existence, but it has become the financial bully no one dares to challenge.

One of our favorite lines comes from Leonard Cohen’s Anthem, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” For all those in the Western world mired in the endless debt forced on by central bankers, silver is part of the light that gets in and provides an escape.

Some of the smartest people in the financial world are the Stackers. Bankers have been doing everything possible to squeeze the life out of Precious Metals, but those in the PM community are not in the least bit fooled by fiat money creation. Stackers understand there is no third-party risk owning the physical metal, and eventually price will adjust to reflect the massive distortions created by the Creatures From Jekyll Island.

While there have been projections for silver to reach $100 the oz, $200, even $300, it really does not matter.Whatever the price, it will justly reflect all the mishandling of the economy by the central bankers, and those who own and hold silver, and gold, will reap the benefits of their foresight learned from hindsight.

The day is coming when central bankers will lose total control, and the message to them will be clear as sound money is reestablished: Nevermore! 4ever!

A look at what the charts are saying, in the interim.

The timing for the end of the central banker’s world as we regrettably know it will always be in doubt. Time weighs more against the Masters of Fiat than it has been in their favor for the brief time since the April 2011 highs. The fact that price rallied to $50 is evidence that bankers are on the losing end of this battle, and the correction that has been overly exaggerated to the downside is but a temporary respite, their own illusion of “victory” that is massively failing.

The gap breakout to the upside was seen as important when it happened, as we said at the time, [here, 4th chart]. The lower time frames show more important detail.

What appears to be more positive about how silver has been developing in its current TR, [Trading Range], is the fact that it is developing on top of the last TR. The upside breakout gap in August was just successfully retested in another attempt to push silver lower, yet price is showing some resiliency. The rally of the last 3 TDs has upper range closes shows buyers won the battle, but the decline in volume indicates it was a result more from a lack of sellers.

The failed probe lower, as it occurred further along the RHS, [Right Hand Side], of the TR also adds to the positive aspect of the its development. What we need to see from here is a test of the failed probe. The last 3 TDs may be that retest, and if so, what is also needed is a strong wide range rally on increased volume above resistance.

The 90 minute chart shows a D/S bar, [Demand over Supply], which often acts as support, and price has held the lower level of that bar. There was a smaller S/D bar on 1 October, and it led to the recent failed probe. It is possible it is a probe to see if there were any appetite to take price lower. The fact that the gap held suggests not.

In the long run, silver is going higher, much, much higher. In the short run, anything can happen, but silver’s ability to withstand selling assaults is growing. Getting long a proven retest of last week’s low makes sense.

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