August 2009

For those not familiar with the thought and work of Martin Armstrong suffice to say that he’s a remarkable personality, a brilliant futurist and renegade economist whose theories and forecasts have earned him the title of “a modern day Livermore” and “the only true genius in finance“.
Having said that, the man is now serving a 5 year term in prison for charges of fraud against Japanese investors!
Armstrong was a frequent contributor to academic journals and was often sought for comment on financial topics.
As an investor, he claims that his market timing approach predicted both the high-water mark of the Nikkei in 1989, months ahead of time, and also the July 20, 1998, high in the U.S. equities market.
In 1981 Armstrong formed Princeton Economics and, in 1998, he established a hedge fund in partnership with Magnum Global Investments
Armstrong published in May 2009 a piece entitled “Is Democracy Dying? Leviathan, The Power Cleverly Hidden Behind Politicians” in which he uses the history to explain the delusion of Democracy.
The paper “Looking Behind the Curtain”, Published by Armstrong on April 9 2009, details purported events connecting Goldman Sachs to U.S. government manipulation of financial markets.
Attached here is his -mind boggling- latest missive (don’t forget to toggle full screen view for comfortable read):
Some readers might feel that we are prophets of doom and that there is only gloomy news coming out of Matterhorn Asset Management. For people who want only good news we suggest that you listen to politicians or read the newspapers or your average stockbroker’s forecast. This is where you find the good news. But if you do listen to these people, remember that virtually nobody warned you about the events in the last couple of years, and that today most of these people are saying that the worst is over. And this is also what stock markets are telling us, isn’t it? These “optimists” whether they are politicians, bankers or from the media all make their living based on good news and this is why they will continually tell you lies and never warn you about the risks.

Investments are all about managing risk and our responsibility is to understand risk and warn investors when risk is unacceptably high. We have done this for many years and we will continue to do it. Sadly most investors base their investment decisions on hope. When government, private and corporate debt explodes the risk to the economy becomes very high. And when bank credit is growing exponentially and bank leverage is 50 times or more, this is very high risk. When derivatives reach $ 1 quadrillion with virtually no reserves against this astronomical exposure then investors should run for cover….

….With world debt probably increasing by as much as $7.5 trillion in 2009, there will be at least 100 times more paper money created than new gold produced. It can’t be difficult to forecast which money is likely to appreciate the most in the next few years – paper money with an unlimited supply or real money, GOLD, with very limited supply.

Short term gold is being suppressed by governments with the help of their bullion bank friends. Also, we would not be surprised if central bank gold has been lent to the market via the bullion banks. There has been no independent full audit of the gold in Fort Knox for decades. But we are convinced that gold cannot be held down for much longer. In the next few weeks gold will pass the $1,000 mark. Once firmly above $1,000 gold will move swiftly to probably $1,400-$1,600 in 2009. Even without the effects of hyperinflation gold will go up several times from current levels in the next couple of years…..

….It is not possible for two major economies like the US and the UK to function with 1/3 of the total population being affected by unemployment. This will lead to major economic, financial and social disasters as we outlined in our last report “The Dark Years Are Here“.

Consumers will be hit by increased costs and falling income. There will be energy and commodity inflation pushing fuel and food prices up. Interest will go up substantially, making mortgage payments rise. Government deficits will mean higher taxes.

“Government expenditure is surging and revenue collapsing. This is a recipe for bankruptcy“ …

…House prices will decline in real terms making consumers poorer and many will lose their homes. A Deutsche Bank analyst estimates that 25% of US mortgages are under water currently and that 48% of US mortgages will be in negative equity by 2011. With almost 50% of US consumers insolvent and with real unemployment probably reaching 30% by 2011, the US will a bankrupt nation by then. Add to this a government which is already bankrupt today and it is easy to see that the US is facing total disaster in the next few years.

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by Antal E. Fekete

The Gold Standard Institute
Canberra, Australia
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I have received a deluge of mail from readers of my latest article on the gold basis and the threat of the coming permanent backwardation in gold. I truly appreciate the interest of my readers in learning my thoughts on the subject. I regret that it is not possible for me to answer these letters individually; I make an attempt here to answer one or two, where the questions are general enough so that my answers may benefit all readers.
. . .
Hello, Antal:
I have questions about your “Dress Rehearsal for the Last Contango.”
1) Will not gold at +$1,000 per ounce restore gold holdings registered at Comex warehouses? If not, why not?
2) When the gold basis goes negative, could it not subsequently go back to positive, assuming the price rises to over $1,000? If not, why not?
3) Why must gold backwardation, once established, become permanent?
I should like to hear your reply to these questions. I am really very interested in understanding fully the implications of the vanishing basis for gold, and I hope you can provide me with your answers to my questions.
With warm regards,
. . .
Dear Victor:
For a full discussion on the gold basis and the permanent backwardation in gold you must come to Canberra, Australia, where the Gold Standard Institute will have a seminar in November. This seminar is second devoted exactly to these topics. Last year’s seminar was a great success; this year’s will be an even greater one.
I am confident to say that Canberra is the only place in the world where you may get scientific information on gold contango, gold basis, gold warehousing, bimetallic arbitrage, and the prospects of permanent gold backwardation as well as answer to a host of tantalizing questions that arise from these.
We shall have an expert on hand from the Perth Mint. And as an absolute first, we shall have the manager of Masters Fund, a unique gold fund just coming on stream, to answer questions. I am proud to say that I have been associated with this fund from inception throughout the incubation period. The Masters Fund is offering exclusive features not available from any other fund, such as:
1) The guiding star of the fund is not the dollar price of gold, but the gold basis which is much less open to manipulation, and much more relevant to an accumulation plan.
2) The gold in the fund bears a return in gold, so profits are measured not in terms of the U.S. dollar but in terms of gold itself.
3) Any appreciation of the fund’s value in U.S. dollar terms is additional, but the maximization of dollar value is not a prime objective.
4) The gold in the fund is never put out on lease or on loan, nor can it be pledged as collateral, but stays on the premises at all times under the full control of the fund. It has never happened before that you could collect the return on capital unless you were willing to relinquish temporary control over it and thereby assume the risk of losing it. This could be important at a time when wholesale defaults on paper gold contracts may engulf the world.
5) The principle on which the fund operates is valid whether the monetary metals are in a bull market or a bear market.
6) The fund is especially recommended to those individuals who are in the habit of measuring the value of their assets and their own net worth in gold units rather than irredeemable paper units such as the US dollar.
7) The fund is structured in such a way as to take full advantage of the coming permanent gold backwardation, when all other gold funds will be grounded.
Of course false alarms can and do occur, and it is possible that gold goes into backwardation and then promptly comes out of it. It has happened before. But we are looking at a 35-year trend, embracing the entire history of gold futures trading. The trend has been that, as a percentage of the prevailing rate of interest, the basis has been falling from practically 100 percent to practically 0 percent.
You and I know the reason for this. It has to do with the vanishing of all newly mined gold into private hoards at an accelerating pace, the insatiable appetite in the world to snap up all available gold by well-heeled governments and individuals who no longer believe in the tooth fairy residing in the Federal Reserve.
You have to remember that the basis is widely used as a guide in the huge arbitrage operations between gold holdings and dollar balances and in the gold carry trade. To participate in this arbitrage you must have gold on deposit in Comex warehouses. But with the vanishing of the gold basis the profitability of this arbitrage as well as that of the gold carry trade has been drying up, which explains the dwindling of warehouse stocks.
Another consequence of the vanishing of the gold basis is that it makes the risks involved in the gold/paper arbitrage rather lopsided, as far greater risks are assigned to short positions on gold and long positions on the dollar than on long positions on gold and short positions on the dollar. The arbitrageurs are very much alive to this lack of symmetry and are increasingly unwilling to put their gold in harm’s way. They are fully aware that we are approaching an historic milestone, one that has never been passed before: the milestone marking the last contango.
As a consequence of this lopsidedness the gold futures markets can no longer coax gold out of hiding. In vain do futures markets promise risk-free profits for taking over the carry from the individual.
Here is the deal they offer you: Give us your cash gold in exchange for gold futures that we’ll let you have at a deep discount so that you can pocket risk-free profits. The offer is increasingly declined. There was a time when a drop in the basis would pull in gold from the moon, figuratively speaking. No more. Arbitrageurs no longer believe that gold futures are fully exchangeable for cash gold.
Gold backwardation is virtually inevitable, and when it comes, it will be irreversible. Why? Because it signifies a crisis of the first magnitude: the general disappearance of gold from trade for reasons of lack of confidence. No one will give up gold, because one is no longer confident that he can get it back on the same terms.
Vanishing confidence is like a runaway train The only thing that might turn this runaway train around is a steep rise in US interest rates. However, this is not in the cards. It would ruin what is left of the US economy. It would also cause the bond market to collapse, sending the dollar down the drain.
I do not see the collapse of the bond market happening any time soon. The US Treasury and the Federal Reserve can muddle through this crisis, and possibly beyond, by making bond speculation risk-free in order to maintain demand for Treasury paper.
Having said that, I don’t think the guys at the US Treasury and Federal Reserve understand the gold basis and the seriousness of the threat of permanent gold backwardation. They are just trying to hold the line at $1,000 for whatever psychological value it may have, for as long as they can. It’s the same old tug of war, they think.
It is not. Once the $1,000 level is breached, there may be some “profit taking,” to be sure. But because of the zero basis, those who take profits will look rather foolish. Last contango — last profit taking.
Be prepared for a great wave of defaults on paper gold obligations. Certainly, the lessees of central bank gold will default. Comex will close its gold pit for good, and outstanding contracts will be settled on a cash basis.
I will be surprised if any gold ETF shareholders will see a grain of gold coming their way out of the rubble left by the default. Comex gold certificate holders will be lucky if they can get a fraction of their gold back from the warehouses — after a lengthy wrangle. Too many claims have been issued on the same lump of gold.
Under these circumstances it is difficult to see how anyone could wish to deposit gold in a Comex warehouse to restart gold futures trading. The market for slaves disappeared after emancipation never to come back again. The gold futures markets will disappear, utterly (and deservedly) discredited. Like the slave markets, they will never come back.
Antal E. Fekete is an economist and retired professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is proprietor of the Internet site and can be reached at
* * *
By Antal E. Fekete

The Gold Standard Institute

Canberra, Australia
Monday, August 24, 2009

I have written about “the last contango in Washington” before. The phrase covers the gold crisis that has been brewing under the surface in the world for 60 years due to the insane gold policies of the U.S. Treasury. As a result all newly mined gold, surpassing the quantity of all gold ever mined prior to 1947, has gone into private hoards, from which it will be next to impossible to coax out. The measure of this act of disappearance of gold is the vanishing of the basis, or the last contango.
In the technical jargon of the futures markets, the basis is the spread between the nearest futures price and the cash price in the same location. The gold market has always been a carrying-charge market — a contango market — due to the monetary metal status of gold. This means that the gold spread has always reflected the carrying charge, the opportunity cost, of carrying gold, most of which is foregone interest.
But a strange phenomenon has been manifesting itself for 35 years, since the inception of gold futures trading. Rather than remaining constant, the basis as a percentage of the rate of interest has been vanishing and now has dropped to zero. At the same time gold holdings registered at the Comex-approved warehouses have been dwindling. Both indicators point toward a shortage of monetary gold that appears irreversible.
The support of the paper gold markets is at stake. Without cash gold backing it up, paper gold trading is not viable.
When the gold basis goes negative, that’s the end not only to contango but also to gold futures trading as we know it. Permanent backwardation in gold has never ever been experienced — unless we imagine that there is a gold futures market in Harare. Gold is not available at any price quoted in Zimbabwe dollars. In that sense the last contango has first occurred in Zimbabwe.
Whatever paper trading of gold is still going on in the United States, it is at best a dress rehearsal for the Last Contango in Washington, which will be followed by the regime of permanent backwardation.
The meaning of this is that physical gold cannot be purchased at any price quoted — this time, yes, in U.S. dollars.
The U.S. dollar rubbing shoulders with the Zimbabwe dollar?
Mainstream economists and financial journalists shrug: “So what? We are not watching the basis of frozen pork bellies trading either when we make monetary policy.” These gentlemen betray a lack of comprehension of the nature of the present financial and credit crisis. Whatever else it may be, this crisis, first and foremost, is a gold crisis with an incubation period measured in scores of years. It is about to reach its climax.
The world appears to be totally unprepared for it — witness the silence surrounding the gold nexus.
Even the so-called sound-money Internet sites misread the situation. They are talking about an imminent breakout of the dollar price of gold from its holding pattern below $1,000 per ounce. Such breakouts have occurred from time to time since 2001, when gold broke through the “resistance levels” of $300, $400, etc. The coming breakout is not distinguished by the fact that $1,000 is an even rounder figure than the previous round figures that have been surpassed. It is distinguished by the fact that we are confronting a world event the like of which has never happened.
It has never happened that gold was unobtainable at any price. It has never happened that all governments have defaulted on their debt obligations simultaneously.
Still, we have to explain the relevance of this to the credit crisis. It is no secret that the bonds, notes, bills, and other obligations of the U.S. government, or any other government, for that matter, are irredeemable. That is, they are redeemable in nothing but more of the same. For example, the bonds of the U.S. Treasury are redeemable in Federal Reserve credit, which is itself irredeemable and is “backed by” the self-same bonds of the U.S. Treasury. Why is it, then, that these Treasury obligations are in demand where one might think that redeemability is a sine-qua-non of issuing them? What makes people participate in this shell game? How can such a crude check-kiting scheme mesmerize the entire population?
Come to think of it, the sight of this Ponzi scheme would shudder the Founding Fathers of our great Republic.
This is not an easy question to answer. But going through all the alternative explanations one by one, we come to the conclusion that the debt of the U.S. government is still redeemable in a sense, however limited or restrictive it may be. The debt of the U.S. government has a liquid market in which it can be exchanged for Federal Reserve credit. In turn, Federal Reserve credit can still be exchanged in liquid markets for physical gold, the ultimate extinguisher of debt, albeit at a variable price.
But if you break that final link, when gold is no longer for sale at any price quoted in U.S. dollars, then the rug will have been pulled from underneath this house of cards, and the international monetary system will collapse like the twin towers of the World Trade Center. And this is the situation that we are confronted with.
Look at it this way. There is a casino where the lucky gamblers can gamble risk-free. Their bets are “on the house.” This casino is the U.S. bond market. There is only one catch. The pile of the winning chips in front of each gambler may become irredeemable at the exit when the hairy godfather waves his magic wand.
As the gold markets enter their phase of permanent backwardation, all rational basis for holding U.S. Treasury debt — or any debt, for that matter — will disappear. There will be a mad rush to the exits, and holders of debt will trample one another to death in trying to cash in on their winnings.
In July I attended the Santa Colomba Conference 2009 at the Palazzo Mundell near Siena, Italy. There were 50 people in attendance by invitation of Robert Mundell of Columbia University, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics 10 years ago. They were mostly officials of various treasuries and central banks, ambassadors, bankers, professors of monetary economics, authors of monographs, and editors of financial journals. Paul Volcker, a former U.S. Treasury official and chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, was present.
Prior to the conferernce I circulated several papers among the participants. I was trying to show that the cataclysmic nature of the present credit crisis could not be understood without trying to understand gold, the ultimate extinguisher of debt. We are all passengers on a runaway train on a down-sloping track, the brakes of which (gold) have been dismantled at the top of the hill. The train is picking up speed beyond any safe limit, and a crash appears inevitable.
Our gracious host and the chairman, Professor Mundell, made two references to gold during the two days of the conference, asserting that, apart from wartime, the gold standard has been the most crisis-free monetary system in history. (Of course, all monetary system have a habit of breaking down during wars.) Yet not one participant picked up the ball dropped by Mundell. They kept talking about “green shoots,” the recovery of the stock markets, and coming bailouts and stimulation packages. As to my papers stating that this crisis is a gold crisis, I got just one bit of feedback, in private. Apparently the rest of the participants have been turned off by the four-letter word “gold.” It was not worth their while to read the ramblings of this loner on the problem of “putting spent toothpaste back into the tube.”
One of my papers was an open letter addressed to Volcker. In it I asked whether there were contingency plans in the Treasury or Federal Reserve to meet the coming crisis of permanent gold backwardation.
Volcker declined to answer my question, in public or in private. I am inclined to think that there are no such contingency plans other than “muddling through,” as they have in all previous monetary crises. None of the policy-makers sees the uniqueness of the coming and predictable crisis, or the need to confront it with a comprehensive plan. There is an overwhelming unwillingness to admit that the international monetary system as now constituted has been built on quicksand. It is a mere makeshift that took its origin in the last gold crisis of 1971. Cracks have been papered over as they appeared after every subsequent crisis. Every opportunity to sit down and work out a permanent solution was passed up. This seems to have worked well enough in the past. Policy makers see no reason why it would not work in the future.
Yet the Last Contango in Washington will be different from all previous crises. It will be elemental, devastating, and apocalyptic. It will destroy virtually all paper wealth and render virtually all physical capital idle. It will involve hordes of unemployed people roaming the streets, caring for no law and order, pillaging homes and institutions. It will destroy our freedoms. It may destroy our civilization unless we take protective action.
On the positive side, it will sweep away the complacency of the managers of the regime of irredeemable currency and fundamentally weaken the sway of Keynesian and Friedmanite economics as it has a stranglehold on the teaching of economic science.
The Last Contango in Washington will eclipse the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Be prepared.
Antal E. Fekete is an economist and retired professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He can be reached at This essay first appeared in the Gold Standard Institute newsletter.
* * *
A friend, writes:
I am confused regarding the average production cost of an ounce of gold. I have read a number of articles stating that the average production cost is at or near the current price, while other articles say the average production cost is about half the current price. Do you have any figures on the costs to produce gold exclusive of sales, marketing, administration, and so forth?
There don’t seem to be any official figures on this. It is largely a matter of informed opinion. The opinion of the people GATA most respects is that, if resource replacement costs are counted, the current price of gold does not allow for much profit on the whole for the gold mining industry.
One thing is pretty sure: For years now gold mining production has been falling substantially even as the gold price has been rising substantially and gold demand has been increasing. The gap between production and demand has been covered by central bank dishoarding and by the diversion of gold demand into more and more mere paper promises of the metal — derivatives — a growing system of what might be called fractional reserve gold banking.
This suggests that the gold price has not yet reached the point where it is encouraging production; that, on average, if replacement costs are counted, gold mining remains uneconomic even as the price nears $1,000 per ounce; and that a much higher price will be needed to match supply with demand, the more so as central banks reduce their dishoarding.
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

By Adrian Douglas
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

“Global consumption fell 8.6 percent to 719.5 metric tons from a year earlier, the London-based industry group said in a report today. That’s the lowest level since the first quarter of 2003. Jewelry demand declined 22 percent and electronics, the biggest industrial use for gold, slid 26 percent.”

This sounds pretty dire, doesn’t it? This means that global demand for gold fell67.7 tonnes.

But wait a minute! There is this little gem. …

“Central banks bought 14 tonnes of gold more than they sold, the first quarterly net purchases since at least 2000, according to the council, based on figures from London-based research company GFMS Ltd. The so-called official sector had net sales of 69 tonnes in the second quarter last year, the report said. Wozniak said GFMS wouldn’t identify any of the buyers. Central bank purchases aren’t counted in the 719.5 tonnes of total demand because they are considered a traditional source of supply, she said.”

You have got to be kidding me! Net buyers aren’t counted as demand because traditionally they are sellers!

That is just the most contrived reporting to come up with the negative gold news GFMS always wants to produce. This means that the change in demand from the central banks, going from selling a net 69 tonnes to buying 14 tonnes, is a positive difference of 83 tonnes. This means that global demand for goldincreased by 2 percent, instead of declining 8.6 percent.

Now why would an industry group that is supposedly meant to be a pro-gold advocate want to turn a 2 percent growth in demand to an 8.6 percent decline?

We can rule out an honest mistake because this is the ultimate in dishonesty: ignoring central bank demand. It is not the first time either. GATA has long criticized GFMS for its reporting of gold market statistics, particularly with respect to its ridiculously low gold loan numbers. GFMS failed to report the 450 tonnes of gold accumulated by China over the last five years, while GATA had sources that revealed not only the buying but the quantity as well.

But this is not the only nonsense in GFMS statistics. There also is this:

“Other such sources showed gains, including a 6 percent rise in mine production from the second quarter of 2008, and a 21 percent jump in recycled metal, the report said.”

A 6 percent increase in mine supply? Here is the news from the third-biggest gold producer in the world, South Africa:

“In June 2009 the country’s gold output fell 12.2 percent compared with the same month last year. South Africa is the world’s third-largest gold producer, behind China and the United States.”

China’s production did increase by 13 percent. However, although South Africa is the third-biggest producer at 220 tonnes, it is not far behind China, which produces 280 tonnes. So this means that gains in China’s gold production are roughly offset by declines in South Africa’s. So where did 6 percent total worldwide gold mine output growth come from?

Newmont Mining, the world’s biggest gold mining company, increased production by a meager 1.2 percent, while Anglogold Ashanti saw a 10 percentand reduced hedges by 1.4 million ounces in the quarter, which further reduced supply to the gold market.

A 6 percent growth in gold mine output is a fabrication.

The gold price has been suppressed by the gold cartel such that the price is at or below the cost of production. This is not an incentive to grow; it is the exact opposite.

GFMS has a hidden agenda and deliberately misreports gold market information. Could the firm’s motivation possibly be aligned with the gold cartel? It would be interesting to know who funds GFMS’ research.

* Adrian Douglas is publisher of the Market Force Analysis letter ( and a member of GATA’s Board of Directors.

Financial market letter writer Adam Hamilton‘s latest essay, “Central Bank Gold Agreement,” which can be found at Gold-Eagle here —

— and at GoldSeek here —

is a fairy tale.

Hamilton writes that central banks are just investors in gold like everyone else.

What Hamilton and most people overlook in analyzing central bank gold sales is that they are a farce that beats the best Monty Python sketches. The central banks have printing presses and now computers that can generate loads of fiat money. It is beyond side-splittingly funny that we should take central banks seriously that they need to sell gold in exchange for the stuff they manufacture for free.

Can you imagine the Saudis selling oil in exchange for sand, or Eskimos selling fish in exchange for ice, or Paul McCartney selling an apartment in London in exchange for a Beatles poster autographed by himself? Yes, you think those examples are funny, don’t you? So why not have a big fat laugh at a central bank selling its gold for the funny paper it produces in infinite quantities?

Central banks run the world’s biggest Ponzi scheme, issuing bits of paper that people will accept in return for real goods and services. If you enjoyed this privilege to the tune of a few trillion dollars that finance an empire, expending a few tonnes of gold to keep it going would be a no-brainer.

Central banks do not sell gold to get a few billion of their own fiat money in return, money they probably would throw on top of the stack of half a trillion freshly printed notes that rolled off their presses just that morning. No, central banks sell gold to make it appear that the paper stuff is more desirable than its true supply and demand fundamentals would allow. And when the game looks like it’s coming to an end, the central banks can always buy back the gold.

It is not a problem to buy back the gold at even $50,000 per ounce when any amount of paper currency can be printed.

What is a big problem is if the currency loses its value so fast that no one will sell the central banks any gold for any amount of paper. (Try buying gold with Zimbabwean dollars.)

If that happens, the central banks lose and the people win, because when the music stops the people have the gold and the central banks are stuck with the depreciating paper.

Central banks have to use their gold to support their Ponzi paper creation, but they have to control the destruction of their currency’s purchasing power so they can still buy their gold back with their own paper before the game ends and they have to start a new one.

When the paper currency has little purchasing power left but the central banks have bought back their gold, they can introduce a new currency and start the cycle all over again.

In this way they leverage their gold instead of having something honest like one-for-one backing in a classical gold standard. They have even found ways of having more leverage by selling paper promises for gold to make it look as if they have 10 or 20 times as much gold as they really have.

There is another problem. What if someone else with a large amount of worthless paper currency gets the idea to buy back your gold before you do?

Do you ever wonder why China kept so quiet about the 450-tonne increase in its gold reserve over the last five years? Clearly China would not want to tip off the Western central banks that it was going to beat them at their own game. If China has admitted to acquiring 450 tonnes of gold, it probably has a lot more than that.

This is all about world dominance. Whoever has the most gold is king.

Is it any surprise that GATA has been denied its Freedom of Information Act requests to the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department about the U.S. gold reserve? We asked to see how the magician does his tricks. We have been told that this is a “trade secret.” You betcha it’s a “trade secret”!

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