Published on Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (http://www.gata.org)

Monetary policy snarls gold-leasing machinery

By cpowell
Created 2009-04-21 12:02

Gold Price Could Hit $1,500

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The Telegraph, London
Monday, April 20, 2009

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/5184036/... [1]

The aggressive monetary policy of central banks around the world is playing havoc with the structure of the bullion market, creating a chronic shortage of gold that may soon push the metal to fresh records above $1,500 an ounce.

Charles Gibson, a gold expert at Edison Investment Research, argues in a new report that negative real interest rates (below inflation) in the US and beyond has upset the "leasing" machinery in the gold industry and led to a sustained market squeeze.

This is what occurred in the late 1970s, driving gold prices to $850 and ounce -- roughly $1,560 in today's terms. Gold finished last week at $870.

Mr Gibson said the powerful dynamic could lead to a second leg of this gold bull market, even though the metal has already enjoyed a torrid run over the last eight years.

In normal times, gold mining companies sell -- or "hedge" -- a chunk of their output in advance through bullion banks. These banks cover their positions by leasing gold from central banks. This bread-and-butter trade created excess supply of 500 tonnes each year until the start of this decade.

Low real interest rates have caused the process to reverse, creating a shortfall of about 500 tonnes. The process accelerates as rates turn negative, leading to a scramble by market players to find physical gold.

There are already reports that gold bars are becoming scarce, partly due to fears that futures contracts and other forms of paper gold may not prove reliable if there is a serious breakdown in the global financial system. Pure metal -- whether Krugerrands, Maple Leaf coins, or the "five tael biscuit" favoured by the Chinese -- entail no counterparty risk.

Mr Gibson says the Fed's monetary blitz will end in another burst of inflation akin to the late 1970s. That is a disputed claim as deflationary forces tighten on the global economy. Some of the big global banks are already calling the start of a bear market. Rarely has the gold fraternity been so schizophrenic.

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