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Chris Powell: The questions financial journalism won't ask and central banks won't answer

Section: Daily Dispatches

Remarks by Chris Powell, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
New Orleans Investment Conference
Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel
New Orleans, Louisiana
Thursday, October 23, 2014

For many years this conference has bravely invited GATA Chairman Bill Murphy and me to speak here about the evidence of manipulation of the gold market, particularly manipulation undertaken directly or indirectly by central banks, and every year there has been new documentation to report. This documentation has been compiled at GATA's Internet site,, whose home page you can see here --

-- with the "Documentation" section noted at the top left, along with a section called "The Basics," which summarizes the documentation as well as the purposes and history of central bank policy of suppressing the price of gold, gold being a currency that competes with government currencies.

The last two months have brought confirmation that, as we long have suspected, GATA has outlined only a small part of the surreptitious market manipulation being undertaken by central banks -- that this manipulation is actually comprehensive, that it covers nearly every major market in the world.

This confirmation is largely the work of Eric Scott Hunsader, founder of the market data and research company Nanex in Winnetka, Illinois, who publicized, through the Zero Hedge Internet site, documents recently filed with the U.S. government, two of them with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and one with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

... Dispatch continues below ...


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The first document is a letter to the CFTC, dated January 29 this year, from CME Group, the operator of the major futures exchanges in the United States, and signed by CME Group's managing director and chief regulatory counsel, Christopher Bowen:

The letter notifies the CFTC of changes to CME Group's discount trading program for central banks. That is, the letter reveals that central banks are getting discounts for trading all futures on CME Group's exchanges, including the New York Commodity Exchange, the major mechanism for "price discovery" in the monetary metals.

The CME Group letter argues that letting central banks trade in futures is beneficial because it adds "liquidity" to the markets. But of course "liquidity" here might as well mean the ocean. Anyone trading against the ocean will drown.

The second document is another letter from CME Group's Bowen to the CFTC, dated August 28 this year, disclosing that CME Group is enacting rules against certain trading practices that are considered abusive and unfair, specifically "spoofing" and "quote stuffing," the abrupt placing and withdrawal of huge volumes of phony orders to mislead traders about prices:

The letter's implication is that such manipulative trading practices have been common on CME Group exchanges.

The third document is the CME Group's annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, its 10-k report:

CME Group's 10-k report reveals on Page 9: "Our customer base includes professional traders, financial institutions, institutional and individual investors, major corporations, manufacturers, producers, governments, and central banks."

That central banks and governments are trading both surreptitiously and comprehensively in U.S. futures markets is a transformative development. Since central banks can create and deploy infinite money, this trading means that there are probably no markets anymore in anything, mainly just government interventions. It means that democratic capitalism has been quietly overthrown by a totalitarian coup and that the world has lost the great engine of its economic and democratic progress, free markets -- without even being aware of the loss.

And yet what has been disclosed by these documents filed by the CME Group is only what was asserted 14 years ago in an essay written by the British economist Peter Warburton, an essay he titled "The Debasement of World Currency: It Is Inflation But Not As We Know It":

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"What we see at present," Warburton wrote, "is a battle between the central banks and the collapse of the financial system fought on two fronts.

"On one front, the central banks preside over the creation of additional liquidity for the financial system in order to hold back the tide of debt defaults that would otherwise occur.

"On the other, they incite investment banks and other willing parties to bet against a rise in the prices of gold, oil, base metals, soft commodities, or anything else that might be deemed an indicator of inherent value. Their objective is to deprive the independent observer of any reliable benchmark against which to measure the eroding value not only of the U.S. dollar but of all fiat currencies.

"Equally, they seek to deny the investor the opportunity to hedge against the fragility of the financial system by switching into a freely traded market for non-financial assets.

"The central banks have found the battle on the second front much easier to fight than the first. Last November [November 2000] I estimated the size of the gross stock of global debt instruments at $90 trillion as of mid-2000. How much capital would it take to control the combined gold, oil, and commodity markets? Probably no more than $200 billion, using derivatives.

"Moreover, it is not necessary for the central banks to fight the battle themselves, although central bank gold sales and gold leasing have certainly contributed to the cause. Most of the world's large investment banks have overtraded their capital so flagrantly that if the central banks were to lose the fight on the first front, the stock of the investment banks would be worthless.

"Because their fate is intertwined with that of the central banks, investment banks are willing participants in the battle against rising gold, oil, and commodity prices."

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That is, as the saying goes, the futures markets are not manipulated; the futures markets are the manipulation.

As Warburton noted, if a commodity has a futures market, the price of that commodity likely is being manipulated, and probably suppressed, by surreptitious trading by central banks and their agents. As a result most market prices now are probably mere illusions, holograms created in large part in the trading rooms of central banks, like the trading room at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

But overwhelming as the power to create and deploy infinite money surreptitiously through central banks is, it is not the decisive power of governments. No, the decisive power of governments is the power to stifle or intimidate news organizations. For if people are ever informed that a market is rigged, they won't participate in it and the rigging will lose its usefulness.

For 15 years GATA has done a fair job documenting the manipulation of markets by central banks and their agents. But publicizing that manipulation has been part of GATA's work as well, and in that respect we have not succeeded much. We can get on television in Asia and Russia but we strain for the occasional citation by Western news organizations.

We have sent the recent CME Group documents to most major financial news organizations and to many financial letter writers, and as far as we can determine, not one has posed any question about them to the authorities or written or broadcast anything about them.

As with GATA's other documentation, no one disputes these documents either. They simply cannot be acknowledged. They give the game away.

Maybe that will change on Saturday, when this conference will have the remarkable opportunity of questioning Alan Greenspan, who was chairman of the Federal Reserve for more than 17 years, from August 1987 to January 2006. If Greenspan is in a mood to be candid, we may learn a lot without having to interrogate him as a prosecutor would. If Greenspan is not in a mood to be candid, extracting anything useful from him will be tedious, requiring his interrogators to be very specific and to brandish documentation.

Of course I suspect that Greenspan may not care to be candid. So let me suggest a few very specific and detailed questions for him.

Question 1: Mr. Greenspan, in your testimony to Congress in July 1998, in which you urged Congress not to legislate regulation of derivatives --

-- you said: "Nor can private counterparties restrict supplies of gold, another commodity whose derivatives are often traded over-the-counter, where central banks stand ready to lease gold in increasing quantities should the price rise."

Did you mean that gold lending by central banks was intended to suppress or control gold's price -- that Congress didn't have to worry about someone cornering the gold market because central banks already had it cornered? With their many years of selling, lending, and swapping of gold, have central banks been underwriting the bullion banking business because it is a mechanism by which governments control the gold price?

Question 2: Mr. Greenspan, in recent years right down to the present, have central banks or governments been trading in the gold market and related markets? Are they trading in the gold and related markets now? If so, what has been and is the objective of that trading? Is it to make money, to obtain more gold, or to control gold's price?

Question 3: Mr. Greenspan, did central banks and governments trade in the gold market and related markets when you were chairman of the Federal Reserve? How about any agency of the U.S. government -- not just the Fed but the Treasury Department or any other agency? If there was such trading, what was its objective? Was it to control the gold price because gold is a currency competing or potentially competing with government currencies?

Question 4: Mr. Greenspan, when you were chairman of the Fed you were also, by virtue of that office, a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank for International Settlements. The annual report of the BIS --

-- says the BIS "transacts foreign exchange and gold on behalf of its customers, thereby providing access to a large liquidity base in the context of, for example, regular rebalancing of reserve portfolios or major changes in reserve currency allocations. The foreign exchange services of the bank encompass spot transactions in major currencies and Special Drawing Rights as well as swaps, outright forwards, options, and dual currency deposits. In addition, the bank provides gold services such as buying and selling, sight accounts, fixed-term deposits, earmarked accounts, upgrading and refining, and location exchanges."

Additionally, in a presentation to potential central bank members at BIS headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, in June 2008, the BIS advertised, as being among its services to its members, secret interventions in the gold and currency markets:

Further, in a speech to a BIS conference in Basel in June 2005, the head of the bank's monetary and economic department, William R. White, said that a primary purpose of international central bank cooperation is "the provision of international credits and joint efforts to influence asset prices -- especially gold and foreign exchange -- in circumstances where this might be thought useful":

So: While you were chairman of the Federal Reserve and a member of the BIS board, did the BIS operate in the gold market on behalf of any of its members to influence the gold price, and, if so, exactly how and for what purposes? Were such operations in the gold market public and announced or were they kept secret? If they were kept secret, why?

Question 5: Mr. Greenspan, by virtue of your chairmanship of the Fed, you were also a member of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund. In March 1999, while you were a member of the IMF board, the IMF staff presented the IMF board with a secret report that has been posted on the Internet site of the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee:

The secret IMF staff report said central banks objected to the staff's proposal to require them to make a forthright public accounting of their gold swaps and lending. Such a public accounting would have required central banks to distinguish gold in central bank vaults from gold that had been swapped or loaned by central banks. The secret IMF staff report said central banks objected to such a forthright accounting of their gold reserves out of "a desire to preserve the confidentiality of foreign exchange market intervention for a period, in order to enhance its effectiveness."

While you were Fed chairman and a member of the IMF board, did the IMF intervene secretly in the gold and foreign exchange markets, and, if so, on whose behalf and for what purposes? Did the Fed, U.S. Treasury Department, U.S. State Department, or any other U.S. government agency advocate or concur with any such intervention? Why was such intervention kept secret?

Question 6: Mr. Greenspan, in a letter to the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee in September 2009 --

-- Fed Governor Kevin M. Warsh wrote that the Fed has secret gold swap arrangements with foreign banks. Did the Fed have such arrangements during your chairmanship? If so, with whom were these arrangements undertaken and what were their purposes? And why must these arrangements be kept secret?

Question 7: Mr. Greenspan, during your tenure as Fed chairman, how many markets were the Fed and other U.S. government agencies trading in, directly or through intermediaries? Was such trading by U.S. government agencies for their own accounts or for the accounts of other governments and central banks, or both? And which markets were involved and what was the objective of such trading?

Question 8: Mr. Greenspan, do the Fed or other U.S. government agencies have any connection to the huge interest rate derivative positions that, according to the U.S. comptroller of the currency, are held by JPMorganChase, a primary dealer in U.S. government securities? Are these positions really U.S. government positions or the positions of other governments or central banks, undertaken to defeat market forces on interest rates?

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Of course these questions might be useful for interviewing not just Alan Greenspan but any current or former central banker -- if the world ever gets any financial news organizations willing to put critical questions to central banks.

Instead, of course, while surreptitious central bank intervention in the markets is setting the value of all capital, labor, goods, and services in the world, the first rule of financial journalism is that central banks are never to be questioned about anything important.

In any case GATA aims to continue its work on behalf of free and transparent markets and limited and accountable government. We're a nonprofit educational and civil rights organization recognized as federally tax-exempt by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, so financial contributions to GATA are federally tax-deductible. We're also close to broke, so we would be especially grateful for any support from you now. Donations can be made through our Internet site,

Thanks for your kind attention.

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