Another Thought Experiment

Wed, Dec 18, 2013 - 3:35pm

About a month ago, I was maligned and pilloried by some detractors for having the audacity to suggest that the reported Comex vault stock numbers were obviously dubious. Other bloggers suggested that the deposits in question were easily explained by the deposit of 99.99% pure, Asian kilobars. OK, maybe. For fun today, I thought we'd take these folks at their word and see where it leads us.

First, some histoire....

Back in the middle of October, some very odd and very precise deposits were made into the eligible vault of JPMorgan. Over three days, the total amount of gold booked in was exactly and precisely ten metric tonnes. It looked like this:

These oddly precise eligible deposits prompted me to write this:

The chagrin and malignment came about when it was suggested that, instead of being "bullshit", these deposits are simply the reflection of Kilobars of gold being deposited at The Comex. Of course, given that dealings on the Comex are so deliberately opaque that the CME Group itself "disclaims all liability whatsoever with regard to the accuracy or completeness" of these reports, there's no point in continuing to debate whether or not these are simple paper shenanigans or Kilobar deposits. We can't know for certain so, in the end, we are just arguing for arguments sake and getting nowhere.

So, today, I thought it'd be more fun to just simply take as fact and accurate the CME Group reports. Let's go ahead and presume that the deposits of late October really were perfect, one kilogram bars....and then let's see where that takes us. And, again, a disclaimer: I'm not claiming to have all of the answers here. This is just a thought experiment and I'm simply trying to lay out the information that I see every day and asking you for your opinion. What do you think?


Some have suggested a simple explanation for the 10 metric ton delivery in October. This addition was the gold that JPM stopped during the October Comex gold delivery process. Hmmm. OK. But here's the problem. JPM only stopped 1,054 contracts that month between their House and Customer accounts. That works out to be about 3 1/3 metric tonnes, yet JPM booked in 10 metric tonnes over the three days in question. Again, hmmm.

JPM also stopped 3,414 contracts in August and that's a little more than 10 tonnes. Could the October bookings simply be the delivery to their vaults of the August metal? That seems plausible, I guess, but more likely just leads us to...


Here's how the Comex math works. According to the CME Rulebook (, this is how deposits and deliveries are accounted:

The contract for delivery on futures contracts shall be one hundred (100) troy ounces of gold with a weight tolerance of 5% either higher or lower. Gold delivered under this contract shall assay to a minimum of 995 fineness and must be an Approved Brand.

Gold meeting all of the following specifications shall be deliverable in satisfaction of futures contract delivery obligations under this rule:

  1. Either one (1) 100 troy ounce bar, or three (3) one (1) kilo bars.

  2. Gold must consist of one or more of the Exchange’s approved brand marks, as provided in Chapter 7, current at the date of the delivery of contract.

  3. Each bar of Eligible gold must have the weight, fineness, bar number, and brand mark clearly incised on the bar. The weight may be in troy ounces or grams. If the weight is in grams, it must be converted to troy ounces for documentation purposes by dividing the weight in grams by 31.1035 and rounding to the nearest one hundredth of a troy ounce. All documentation must illustrate the weight in troy ounces.

  4. Each Warrant issued by a Licensed Depository shall reference the serial number and name of the Approved Producer of each bar.

  5. Each assay certificate issued by an Approved Assayer shall certify that each bar of gold in the lot assays no less than 995 fineness and weight of each bar and the name of the Approved Producer that produced each bar.

  6. Upon receipt of the gold bar by the Licensed Depository who must also qualify and be designated a Licensed Weighmaster for gold, each gold bar shall be weighed in the lot measured to 1/100 of a troy ounce (two decimal points). In accomplishing such measurement, each bar shall be weighed to the nearest 1/1000 of a troy ounce (three decimal points); weights of 4/1000 of a troy ounce or less shall be rounded down to the nearest 1/100 of a troy ounce and weights of 5/1000 of a troy ounce or more shall be rounded up to the nearest 1/100 of a troy ounce.

OK, now this is getting interesting. There are several things to note here.

  • Comex good delivery bars are 995 fineness. This is important because the "Asian Standard" that so many folks are discussing these days is 999 fineness. A difference that is not insignificant. Because of this variance in quality, it would seem quite foolish for an owner of a 999 bar to "register" and sell it on The Comex.
  • Time for a little math. Point #3 from the rulebook states: If the weight is in grams, it must be converted to troy ounces for documentation purposes by dividing the weight in grams by 31.1035 and rounding to the nearest one hundredth of a troy ounce. Hmmm. The actual math then looks like this: One Kilogram = 1000 grams. Divide 1000 grams by 31.1035 and you get 32.1507226 troy ounces. The CME ten says you can "round to the nearest hundredth". This give us 32.15. Multiply that by 1000 and you get...VOILA...32,150.000 troy ounces for every 1000 Kilobars deposited.
  • Problem solved.
  • Not quite.
  • Where I take issue with this is in the accounting. Remember, we're dealing with bankers and bean counters here. They often do not take kindly to "rounding errors". What if we don't "round to the nearest hundredth"? The math changes slightly. Not much to begin with but, with increasing size, it becomes significant.
  • 32.1507226 X 1000 ounces = 32,150.7226. Note that this is NOT 32,150.000. There's 0.7226 troy ounces of gold "lost" in each of these one metric ton bookings. For just one metric ton, that's about $1000. Maybe not much to you and I but, to a soulless, greedy banker, a $1000 rounding error should raise some eyebrows.
  • Then, when you book in ten metric tonnes this way, the error becomes 7.226 troy onces. At current prices this is about $9000. Now we're talking some more serious cheese.
  • POINT #3

    Let's get back to the "fineness" issue. If we're dealing in Kilobars, it is very likely, given all of the reports of Asian demand and refinery backlogs, and given the method through which they were booked in, that the Kilobars allegedly deposited into JPM's eligible vault are of the 999 fineness variety. IF THAT'S THE CASE, these bars are not, and will not, ever be switched to registered. Why? Because the owner would be crazy to do so. If the minimum Comex standard is 995 then, as stated in Point #2 above, wouldn't it seem foolish to sell your 999 bars in New York? Therefore, the only likely way that a 999 bar would ever be registered and sold is if The Comex changes their purity rules. (Hold onto that thought. We'll get back to that in a minute.)

    Perhaps here we have actually stumbled upon our answer to this entire riddle:

  • These really are Kilobars, temporarily held for safekeeping in the NY vault of JPM, before being shipped overseas.
  • They are the product of American refiners. They are perfect, brand new 1KG bars destines for China etc. The JPM bankers don't necessarily care about the rounding errors because the very same bars will soon be shipped back out of the vaults, to destinations East.
  • If this is the case, we should eventually see equivalent, ten metric ton withdrawals take place. So far though, in the 2 months since, this hasn't happened. In fact, quite the opposite, which leads us to...
  • POINT #4

    Last Wednesday, JPM booked in another perfect and precise, two metric tonnes of eligible gold. But that wasn't the only day...the four days since have all seen identical deposits. This makes five, consecutive days of exact and precise, two metric ton deposits. It looks like this:

    (As rounding errors go, now we're really getting somewhere. 20 metric tonnes X 0.7726 troy ounces/ton = 14.452 troy ounces. Misplacing/disregarding 14.452 troy ounces equals almost $18,000 at current prices.)

    Again, some might suggest that this is simply the gold that JPM has stopped during the December delivery month. As we've painstakingly noted each day, JPM has now stopped exactly 5,000 of the total 5,207 December deliveries or 96%. Five thousand contracts is 500,000 ounces and, as shown above, over the past five days JPM has taken delivery of about 643,000 ounces.

    But now what do you make of this? Below is the CME Gold Stocks report for November 29, right before the December delivery period began. Note the inventory levels of HSBC and Scotia. Why? Since this report was generated, the House account of HSBC has issued/delivered 2,939 contracts (293,900 ounces) and the House account of Scotia has delivered another 1,225 (122,500 ounces). Here's the 11/29 report:

    And here's another look at the report from yesterday:

    Note the changes. The amount of gold in the vaults of each have gone UP, not down. In fact, if you go back to the report of 12/9, you'll see that HSBC even got in on the 32,150.000 act:

    POINT #5

    And I guess this is the main point...These "markets" are broken. The futures markets were set up as a place where producers could hedge and manage risk. Speculators were free to take the other side of these trades if they felt they could profit. Underlying these exchanges was the promise to actually deliver the physical commodity. Without this promise and process, you have an empty shell...a "market" comprised of nothing but paper derivatives and deliveries made with book-entries and the shuffling of warrants and warehouse receipts. The Comex was not designed to "discover price" but that's exactly what it does, and it does so at the whim of HFT speculators and bullion banks. And this has real world consequences.

    Look at the past two weeks of market activity. There has been tremendous volatility with price swings from day-to-day of 2-4%. The CFTC-generated CoT reports demonstrably show that all of this price action was due to the squeezing of Spec shorts one day, only to have them and replaced and put back on the next. Nowhere in this price action were the real world, supply and demand fundamentals of the producers ever in play. You tell me, did the fundamentals for silver mining production suddenly improve on December 10th, when price surged 62¢ or 3%? If so, then the fundamentals must have immediately turned back around two days later when price fell by 90¢ on December 12th.

    The global pricing mechanism for precious metal is now almost entirely the domain of speculating hedge funds and bullion banks. They do this through The Comex where rarely, if ever, anyone has to deliver against a paper short obligation. By rigging and momo-chasing prices lower, the banks and hedgies are forcing mining companies out of business and real jobs are being lost, often in places where there is no alternative employment. Lives and families are ruined, all to prop up confidence in The Great Ponzi and enrich and fatten some banker bonus pools.

    The good news is...Like all fraudulent schemes that distort the laws of supply and demand, this pricing structure will eventually come to and end. For me, it can't happen soon enough.

    POINT #6

    Just for fun, let's explore one other option....and this is pure speculation and conjecture.

    • What if the twenty metric tonnes of gold deposited into JPM's eligible vault over the past two months really is 20,000 Kilobars, of the 999 fineness variety?
    • Why would JPM be holding, at a minimum, 20 metric tonnes of Asian Kilobars in their NY vault?
    • Could these have been acquired for a big Asian client (China)? If so, does this give credence to the idea that JPM's client is China and, by extension, China is the big NET LONG on the Comex, converted from NET SHORT after successfully driving price down by over 30% in the past year? Lots of folks think this is possible and why not? Our buddy Koos Jansen pegs Chinese imports this year alone at 2,500 metric tonnes.( If you were buying that much gold and had easy access to smash the price first, wouldn't you do it that way?
    • I've often stated that JPM's verifiable NET LONG Comex gold futures position is a market corner and it gives them the ability to break and take control of The Comex at a time of their choosing. If this position is actually China's...well, that certainly changes the dynamic a bit, doesn't it?
    • And now JPM (China) is stashing away 2 metric tonnes per day of Asian-standard Kilobars?
    • And a Chinese company just purchased One Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York City? (
    • And One Chase Manhattan Plaza is the building which has, at it's sub-9 grade level, the largest precious metals vault in the world (, directly across the street from the NY Fed vault?
    • And, just last year, the London Metal Exchange (LME), the world's largest market for industrial metal futures, was purchased by....wait for it...Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing Limited. (

    So the question (thought experiment) becomes...Is China planning a takeover/buyout of The Comex? It would seem that The Chinese are readying themselves to dominate metals trading in the 21st Century...They own the LME already and Shanghai is supplanting London as the world's largest volume precious metal delivery hub. Why not take global control of precious metal futures, too?

    IF that were to happen, what would this mean for price? With "control" of precious metals futures pricing and trading, would The Chinese perpetuate the manipulation or would they eliminate it? If The Chinese are moving toward the eventual backing of the yuan/renminbi with gold and/or silver, would it benefit them to have higher prices or lower, once they have physically taken control of the majority of the world's gold?

    Whoa. That's some heavy stuff. I've been mentally compiling this post for about a week and then physically typing it for the past three hours. Can you now see why it has taken so long? Anyway, welcome to my world! Please roll this information and these ideas around in your head for a while. Let me know what you think. Once again, maybe old William of Ockham provides the best answer....Newly-minted, American-made Kilobars, temporarily stored in JPM's New York vault, on their way to wherever. Then again, maybe not...


    About the Author

    turd [at] tfmetalsreport [dot] com ()


    Dec 18, 2013 - 9:11pm

    Mainly that it's a

    Mainly that it's a fractional-reserve system based upon leverage. This can work, I suppose, as long as there is ample supply of the underlying commodity.

    With gold, there are multiple beneficial owners to each unallocated ounce and Creditor Nations such as China are rapidly removing available stock from the system. A point will be reached (soon??) where the system simply collapses, in a way reminiscent I suppose of a Depression-era bank run.

    Dec 18, 2013 - 9:13pm


    A regular feature for Vaulters is what we call A2A. These are online webinars where members get to ask questions directly of the guests I bring on.

    This week, to "celebrate" the 100th birthday of The Fed, the guest is G. Edward Griffin, author of the book "The Creature from Jekyll Island". If you'd like to listen in and/or participate, you should subscribe.

    Dec 18, 2013 - 9:34pm


    I think both 100 ounce and 1 kilogram mean the weight of the pure gold in the bar. So it doesn't matter it's 995 or 999. So I don't see why they don't want to move 999 bars to registered and sell them.

    Dec 18, 2013 - 9:46pm

    Dr. Jerome

    You asked for a rationale for 1100 gold (or lower)....

    I posted some of this back in April based on my father's investment broker's sources:

    1. The inflation adjusted price of gold since 1975 has averaged well below 1100 per oz. Inflation in the USA would have to be over 8% per year for at least a decade in order for gold to be fairly valued at even $1400. 2. Gold valuation should be thought of as a mix of standard financial assets; including an inflation indexed, infinite maturity bond.....and a portfolio of assets that are liquid, portable, internationally exchanged, devoid of credit/counter party risk, and held in reserve by monitory authorities. 3. Applying a timeline spanning the last decade, there is indication that the latest gold bull, which has accelerated since the collapse of Lehman, has been based on the portfolio components of gold's valuation profile, versus the bond component. As things continue to stabilize politically and economically, and as dollar and inflation volatility further stabilize, some investors are finding out that they have paid a very high price to insure their portfolios from severe dollar and inflation scenarios. Gold doesn't lie and it is telling us that we are in a highly deflationary period, featuring a worldwide labor recession in most sectors. Even with flat wages, there are enough people/consumers available to keep an ever more varied and adaptable economy going. 4. There are several scenarios that could give gold another upshot or sideways trend, namely, investor fears of inflation and loss of dollar hegemony; which is unlikely to be even remotely challenged within the foreseeable future relative to China or any other currency, given all of America's ratio of assets compared to liabilities relative to other parts of the world. Short-term upshots in the gold price and sideways trading periods during a stock market bull will only be temporary and behavioral in nature as investors realize the temporary nature of the Fed overshooting inflation targets. 5. In the event of an ongoing dollar and/or stock market bull, gold will eventually revert to it's long term average "real" price which is in the historical range well below 1200, and likely below 1100 per oz . 6. I would add that the old adage that "money goes where it is treated best" still rings true. Despite our problems, compared to the rest of the world, the US has varied and ample natural resources, the best corporations and companies, the best military, the rule of law, engineer and innovation, and freedom. We will survive short term shocks to the economy and incompetent presidential administrations. The decades long bond bull is ending and money will continue to rotate into stocks, along with a lot of money from other countries. He said that we could hit 2014 S&P in 2013, and 20,000 dow within a few years, and he believes that we are likely just halfway through the current cycle. Someone here asked if they should invest in this market right now. Based on the possibilities, I would think one would have a pretty good chance to sustain double digit gains for at least 2-3 years, maybe longer. Almost all of the money for savings made by the producers in this economy will be going into the stock market, not cash, PMs, bonds or interest bearing vehicles. Since abandoning the poor DCA strategy and throwing money away each month, I am still waiting for the right time to buy PMs in bulk during the time that absolutely everyone unequivocally hates them, the prices seem ridiculously low and the "we buy gold" guys are no longer ubiquitous. The time until it is time to buy PMs in volume is likely years, to maybe well over a decade away. I want to be ready and in the meantime, like all of you I am still learning.
    AlienEyesDagney Taggart
    Dec 18, 2013 - 9:47pm

    @ Dagney

    Welcome back. I hope you didn't have a close encounter with the Mounties and a taser.

    I know the odds are heavily in your favor but I hope it is neither "the terrorists' fault" nor overt stupidity (the US version of gullibility) when the game "tilts". It's going to be a mucking fess whatever it is but I am still hoping the politicians, the banksters and the NWO people all get what they deserve and get it where they deserve it. Failing that, there are so many telephone poles going to waste that could be used to "support" these people as they remain above the rest of us, more or less.

    Dec 18, 2013 - 9:52pm


    I doubt the money men behind the Fed are just going to give up their power to the Chinese. Behind the scenes I imagine there is a power sharing plan that will be reflected in a commensurate gold allocation plan. When allocations are reached suppression will end, global currencies will reset and the new paradigm will begin. Of course distrust and dishonesty will dominate so it will be a rough ride.

    Economic authority equals moral authority so we can expect duplicity and lies - pretty much like we are seeing in the CME reports. We can safely expect that trend to continue...

    Dec 18, 2013 - 9:59pm

    it doesn't matter who owns Comex

    because the ruling elites around the world are colluding together.

    it's a paper game no matter whether it's USD or RMB backed by gold or not.

    as long as they operate a central banking system, the world is fucked.

    in china, the government turn blind eyes to dozens of precious metal black exchanges, set up to cheat innocent investors/gamblers. why do they want to muddy the waters if they really want to encourage citizens to purchase physical gold? they are half-hearted.

    don't ever think china's commies are gold-friendly.

    if you think obama is bad, you do have a very short memory, already forgot what the commies are capable of.

    if you think obamacare is bad, let me tell you how ludicrous the commies are. just recently, the world-renowned chinese movie director Zhang Yimo was told by authorities that he could face fines up to 100 million yuan just because he has 3-5 kids beyond the 1-child limit. Zhang is rich enough to purchase a citizenship anywhere in the world but he hasn't done so or hasn't announced so because he doesn't want to lose domestic audience. so now you understand why rich chinese are flocking to get USA greencard or citizenship. US government is still more friendly than the chinese government, believe it or not.

    Dec 18, 2013 - 10:02pm

    Harvey's Up! (TFMR)

    Peter Cooper: Total exports of US gold hit 573 tonnes in the first nine months of 2013, if you include the 157 tonnes listed in other categories as well as bullion, and that means around 750 tonnes will be the total for US gold exports this year. Harvey: And now my question: if the USA produces only 240 tonnes from where are they getting the other 510 tonnes of gold? Certainly not from the GLD as that is a British export and that export lands into the insatiable appetite of China. It can only come from official reserves from the USA. DS: Or from Asian gold stolen in WWII.

    Harvey: First let us see how London set its GOFO rates this morning: Oh OH!! GOFO rates are still slightly positive, except for the negative one month rate which means backwardation for this month and heading for backwardation in the other months. GLD: Gold lost 4.2 tonnes to Shanghai and closed at 812.62 tonnes. SLV: Silver was unchanged and closed at 10,139.78 tonnes.

    Peter Cooper: How much gold China has bought in total in 2013 is a matter of considerable speculation in the gold industry. Lower estimates say 1,500 tonnes, upper estimates 4,000 tonnes, with the truth doubtless somewhere in the middle. Why is China buying all this gold while the price is falling on global markets? Well some insiders say they are fixing the market to buy at a low price. More likely China is experiencing a hyperinflation in local currency terms – with wage rises surging out of control and property prices on a tear – and gold is the obvious hedge against such inflation.

    Paul Burkhardt: South Africa, home to one of the world’s richest reserves, has been hit hard. Gold’s decline this year is the biggest drop since 1981. The gold mining industry eliminated 14,461 positions in the first nine months of the year, bringing the total remaining jobs to 126,587 in September. After more than a century as the world’s biggest gold producer, South Africa has slumped to sixth position. The Blyvoor mine, for example, was partly crippled in 2009, when a seismic shift knocked out access to some of the gold. It recovered, and since 2011 its financial stress resulted mostly from the declining gold prices and an increase in local electricity costs.

    Paul Mylchreest: With the Fed Funds already at zero, the Fed wishes to commit to maintain rates at zero well after traditional policy rules (e.g. the “Taylor rule”) would dictate a rise in rates as the recovery gathers pace. Not exactly rocket science and more confirmation of the Fed’s overwhelming bias towards inflation. But...When we get another growth slowdown in this final phase of the current long wave, the deflationary forces are so powerful that the Fed might have to resort to “shock and awe” tactics on monetary stimulus to generate inflation.

    Peter Grant: The Volker Rule may force banks to mark derivatives to market and if it does, the resulting loss of equity among the banks could precipitate the next financial crisis. Derivatives risks can quickly roll from one institution to the next as margin calls are made and securities dumped to meet them. That is why Warren Buffett once called derivatives ‘financial weapons of mass destruction.” The effect is like a nuclear chain reaction that could get out of control. There are trillions of dollars worth of assets sloshing around the U.S. and global financial systems that are marked-to-fiction. If there is a mad dash to dump these assets, the beating the balance sheet of Zions is taking will look like child’s play.

    Reuters: Barrick Gold Corp said in a surprise announcement on Tuesday that two long-time directors, Donald Carty and Robert Franklin, have resigned from the company's board with immediate effect.

    Bill Holter (Miles Franklin): I want to remind you that for all intents and purposes the Comex has ALL registered Gold already spoken for. Will they have Gold delivered in to make full deliveries? Where exactly will it come from? Paper! I will leave you with this quote from Harvey Organ, "I don't know how much Gold is left or where future Gold will come from but I do know one thing, China will get their Gold before anyone else does". This quote is spot on and you can bet your financial life that when the day comes that "they don't get their Gold", you will know it within 24 hours!

    All this and more on...

    The Harvey Report!


    Dec 18, 2013 - 10:04pm


    How is it sensible to give an inflation adjusted nominal price for Gold?

    Do you assume that the current inflation figures are real?

    Supply and demand... there was no China and India demand back then.

    Will the west win the inflation deflation war? Yes the markets want to deflate as too much debt is reducing the supply of currency and folk aint creating new currency via fractional lending. I suspect they will have their inflation at any cost. And probably lots if it as money velocity might take off at this time.

    Dec 18, 2013 - 10:09pm

    So, wil the bear mkt in pm prices end when

    GLD closes down which will likely trigger comex closing down?

    If so we have a little more than a year to go at this pace of disgorging gold from GLD assuming GLD has the 800 tons it says it has.

    there comes a time and point where when one runs out it drags everything with it. IE--multiple paper claims on same pot of gold.

    Wake mw up just before that happens so I can reload.

    a short covering rally to say 1400 would accomplish a lot.

    Oh, you have to buy insurance before the calamity except of course for Obamacare.

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