Every day when I think I am going to get a day off from this story, some revelation seems to be come out, each as compelling, shocking, and suspicious as the others, but all fitting together in what looks like a nasty picture of reckless behaviour gone wrong developing.
Apparently some banks and brokers had been selling gold and silver which they do not have. We know it happens because Morgan Stanley was caught doing it, and was even charging storage fees from unsuspecting investors.
Do these banks not have auditors? Are the regulators sweeping this under the rug? Are the insiders and their spokespeople correct in just dismissing this as a problem, as was done with the subprime market even by Ben Bernanke himself before it collapsed into a bank run that shocked the financial system?
Now, we have to carefully distinguish between allocated metal, in which one holds a certificate and are assured of a firm ownership of actual metal, and an unallocated holding in which you hold basically a paper claim on metal, for which you may be an unsecured creditor, even if you are paying regular storage fees. But in the cases I am hearing about it is a firmly stated ownership of something that does not exist, and cannot be obtained at current prices.
This is important because although there is always shorting, and some fractional reserve aspect to all banking , even in the case of bullion banking, in this case the proportion or leverage of the selling of the assets starts to look more like a Ponzi scheme than a rational and efficient market. There is a point at which ‘speculation’ becomes fraud, and the fraud becomes large enough to start risking the health of the bank.
And in our under-regulated and excessively leveraged financial system, that becomes a problem because it all looks to be a pyramid scheme of sorts. JPM alone is holding derivatives with notional values approaching a very large portion of World GDP.
The banks seem to be pointing to bullion supplies elsewhere, such as the LBMA in London, or in this case Hong Kong, and saying, “See if certificate holders demand their bullion, we can easily fulfill their requests.” The problem with this is that it appears that they are ALL doing this, overleveraging their supplies, becoming counterparties and potential sources of supply to each other, with few having a full supply of what they say they have.
Make what you will of this. I don’t understand what they are saying about the Bank of Nova Scotia as the only bullion storage facility. There are several. CEF and Central Gold Trust store their bullion at CIBC as I recall. And Sprott stores their gold at the Royal Canadian Mint. This may seem like a small point, but its important. It is also important to understand what is stated by the bank on the certificate that you hold. As outlined above, you might just be an unsecured creditor to an unallocated account. There is no fraud in that, only a risk of actual delivery should you ever ask for it.
I am sure more will be coming out, eventually. But for now this information is barely penetrating the radar of the mainstream media. These fellows may be wrong, but so far no one is denying specifically what they are saying with any persuasive proof. They just seem to be hiding behind secrecy and opaque transactions, saying ‘Prove it, prove it.’
As I have stated before, the problem I have with this is the lack of transparency and auditing in these markets, which makes them absolutely ripe for fraud and excessive leverage by the usual suspects in the TBTF banks.
This seems to be exactly what caused the subprime crisis and the bank run in 2008: a lack of liquidity and the mispricing of risk. How can one not be suspicious? We have just seen it happening, even though the herd behaviour is to simply ignore it because it is too alarming, too inconvenient.
Let the truth come out. Let justice be done.
Have we learned nothing? What time is the next bailout?