The Socialist Politician-Bureaucrat with the Worst Timing Ever

As most in the gold community know, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown announced on 7 May, 1999 that HM Treasury planned to sell gold. The dollar began to rise, from about 110mg gold to 120mg on 6 July, the day of the first sale. This translates into dollarish as: gold went down, from $282 to $258. It makes sense, as the UK was selling a lot of gold… or does it?

 

Former UK chancellor of the exchequer and later prime minister Gordon Brown, about to make a splash. He had a sense of market timing that is not exactly uncommon in political circles. In the UK market timing with respect to gold is a particularly sore point.  Before Brown sold 400 tons right at the 1999 bear market low, the UK government had already performed a large sale once – it sold 800 tons at $42/oz. shortly before Nixon defaulted on the US gold exchange obligation; over the next decade the dollar price of gold soared by nearly 2,500%. As a result, Brown’s decision to sell was like a giant bell ringing at a distance of about five feet –  even the deaf must have heard it. [PT]

Cartoon by Steve Bell

 

We won’t get into the theories of his motivation. However, we note that if he wanted to — pardon the dollarish — push down gold, he was not particularly effective. He squandered half of Britain’s gold to get the price to drop 8.5%. That lasted but a few months.

By the end of September, the price was not only back up to $282 but rising rapidly on its way past $320. Then it came down with volatility, rose, slowly fell to just under $260 about two years later. The price bottom just about coincides with the end of his selling.

This is history, and it’s been discussed and analyzed many times. What has not been seen until now is a look at the gold basis and co-basis during this time. Was gold becoming abundant due to selling? Or did something else happen?

 

An Excellent Trading Opportunity

Here is a graph showing the continuous gold basis and co-basis, overlaid with the price of the dollar.

 

Gold basis and co-basis and the dollar price in 1999 – click to enlarge.

 

Several features are noteworthy:

 

  1. The basis begins to fall on the announcement, but not a lot yet. The co-basis may be arguably said to begin to rise. Both appear to change character.
  2. The dollar begins rising immediately (i.e. the price of gold falls), but nothing alarming happens in the basis yet. Almost the entire initial price move occurs, with little move in the basis.

 

We believe this confirms our view that there is a lot of gold out there. This was as clear a case of short selling as can be. Brown wasn’t even selling yet, and the market price was driven down 8.5%. Actually, the market price began falling before the announcement, which suggests that privileged information may have leaked. Yet the market makers handled this with aplomb. The basis moved, but not that much.

 

  1. Once he began the actual selling, the price did not move much further. Notably, the basis and co-basis begin much larger moves. Gold became significantly scarcer.
  2. Three months later, we see a wicked backwardation. That is no small number, like the many little temporary backwardations of today. That was a co-basis of +1.95%. And not a near-month contract co-basis, but the continuous co-basis. This is big, albeit only one day.

 

Wait… Brown is selling large quantities of gold and yet gold is become less abundant and scarcer, peaking at significant scarcity indeed? Selling physical metal should — all else being equal — cause it to become more abundant. But it didn’t.

It’s appropriate to quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle here (doubly so, as Keith is in London at the moment):

 

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

 

Those fool speculators thought they could short gold with impunity. After all, the price dropped. A major country was selling in quantity. We assume the charts painted a bearish picture. Even some gold bugs may have thought that with major governments against them, the price could be driven down even further. This was the end of a long period of a falling gold price. Sentiment must have been in the pits.

 

  1. Gold could become scarcer for a while, and to a point.
  2. But when the shorts push it past the breaking point, the price of gold snaps violently to the upside.

 

If you were watching the basis, you would have seen this move coming. Here is a graph of our fundamental price, zoomed in to show just a small window around the price explosion.

 

Gold in 1999: fundamental vs. market price – click to enlarge.

 

The difference between the fundamental and market prices gives us the premium or discount. Here is a graph of that for the same time period.

 

1999: Fundamental vs. market price, premium/discount – click to enlarge.

 

You might have traded before the fundamental price moved decisively based on the basis graph. In any case, by 27 September the fundamental price was up sharply and the market price was still only $281.

You might have closed the trade when the price hit $325 by 5 Oct. A week later, and you had a 16% gain. The fundamental price by itself would still have gotten you out of the trade. By 14 Oct, it had overshot and come back down and was clearly falling. The exit price was only $4 lower that day, $321.

Daily updated charts of the basis, both near contract and continuous, fundamental, and premium/discount are available on our website.

 

No Linear Relationship

There is one other thing worth mentioning. Linear thinking may be tempting and convenient. However, we see here that Brown set something in motion. A linear view would ask how much price drop to expect for a given quantity of gold. Like draining a tank of liquid, how much will the level drop for a gallon pumped out?

That is not what happened. This is more like a resonant system. Brown jerked on a spring. He set it in motion, reverberating for quite some time. And the price ended up moving higher, both in the short term (4 ½ months later) and long term (a bull market that went for a decade, and took the price up more than 6 ½ times).

Obviously, many buyers increased their purchases of gold perhaps in response to the drop in price. New buyers came into the market. Perversely, in a world where central banks are selling their gold—literally debasing their currencies—there is more reason to own gold.

A linear model like supply and demand curves cannot explain what happened (or predict what will happen). Virtually all of the gold mined over thousands of years is potential supply, at the right price and under the right conditions. Everyone is potential demand, at the right price and under the right conditions. Brown had a modest effect on price, but he perturbed the market and that changed the conditions.

The other sellers of gold (metal, not futures contracts) decided they might rather not sell and/or buyers stepped up their purchases. Ironically, it could even have been the British, who had been happy to own pounds knowing that each pound represented a certain amount of gold backing. Brown’s move convinced them to buy the gold, and he ended up simply shifting gold to the people. This is just conjecture, but it would fit.

 

Fundamental Developments

Last week, the prices of the metals fell. However, with all the previous discussion, we are sure you want to see the fundamentals of supply and demand.

 

Gold and silver prices – click to enlarge.

 

Next, this is a graph of the gold price measured in silver, otherwise known as the gold to silver ratio. It moved up a bit.

 

In this graph, we show both bid and offer prices. If you were to sell gold on the bid and buy silver at the ask, that is the lower bid price. Conversely, if you sold silver on the bid and bought gold at the offer, that is the higher offer price.

 

Gold-silver ratio – click to enlarge.

 

For each metal, we will look at a graph of the basis and co-basis overlaid with the price of the dollar in terms of the respective metal. It will make it easier to provide brief commentary. The dollar will be represented in green, the basis in blue and co-basis in red.

 

Here is the gold graph.

 

Gold basis and co-basis and the dollar price – click to enlarge.

 

We had a rising price of the dollar (the mirror image of the dropping price of gold), and a slightly falling abundance (the basis) and slightly rising scarcity (the co-basis).

Our gold fundamental price shows a decrease of $10 (to $1,324).

Now let’s look at silver.

 

Silver basis and co-basis and the dollar price – click to enlarge.

 

In silver terms, the dollar rose more (i.e., the price of silver fell more). The metal became less abundant and scarcer.

Our silver fundamental price shows a decrease of 11 cents (to $17.52).

Keith will be in London the week of June 19, and in New York the week of June 26. If you’re interested in attending a Monetary Metals seminar on GOFO and transparency in the gold market in either city, or to meet with Keith to discuss gold investment, please click here.

 

© 2017 Monetary Metals

 

Chart and image captions by PT

 

Dr. Keith Weiner is the president of the Gold Standard Institute USA, and CEO of Monetary Metals. Keith is a leading authority in the areas of gold, money, and credit and has made important contributions to the development of trading techniques founded upon the analysis of bid-ask spreads. Keith is a sought after speaker and regularly writes on economics. He is an Objectivist, and has his PhD from the New Austrian School of Economics. He lives with his wife near Phoenix, Arizona.

 

 
 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke

   
 

2 Responses to “The Anatomy of Brown’s Gold Bottom – Precious Metals Supply and Demand”

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • The Biggest Stock Market Crashes Tend to Happen in October
      October is the Most Dangerous Month The prospect of steep market declines worries investors – and the month of October has a particularly bad reputation in this respect.   Bad juju month: Statistically, October is actually not the worst month on average – but it is home to several of history's most memorable crashes, including the largest ever one-day decline on Wall Street. A few things worth noting about 1987: 1. the crash did not presage a recession. 2. its...
  • Canada: Risks of a Parliamentary Democracy
      A Vulnerable System Parliamentary democracy is vulnerable to the extremely dangerous possibility that someone with very little voter support can rise to the top layer of government. All one apparently has to do is to be enough of a populist to get elected by ghetto dwellers.   Economist and philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe dissects democracy in his book Democracy, the God that Failed, which shines a light on the system's grave deficiencies with respect to guarding liberty. As...
  • Federal Reserve President Kashkari’s Masterful Distractions
      The True Believer How is it that seemingly intelligent people, of apparent sound mind and rational thought, can stray so far off the beam?  How come there are certain professions that reward their practitioners for their failures? The central banking and monetary policy vocation rings the bell on both accounts.  Today we offer a brief case study in this regard.   Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari attacking a block of wood with great zeal. [PT] Photo credit: Linda Davidson...
  • Thoughtful Disagreement with Ted Butler
      Too Big to Fail?   Dear Mr. Butler, in your article of 2 October, entitled Thoughtful Disagreement, you say:   “Someone will come up with the thoughtful disagreement that makes the body of my premise invalid or the price of silver will validate the premise by exploding.”   Ted Butler – we first became aware of Mr. Butler in 1998, and as far as we know, he has been making the bullish case for silver ever since. Back in the late 90s this was actually a...
  • Donald Trump: Warmonger-in-Chief
      Cryptic Pronouncements If a world conflagration, God forbid, should break out during the Trump Administration, its genesis will not be too hard to discover: the thin-skinned, immature, shallow, doofus who currently resides in the Oval Office!   The commander-in-chief - a potential source of radiation?   This past week, the Donald has continued his bellicose talk with both veiled and explicit threats against purported American adversaries throughout the world.  In...
  • Precious Metals Supply and Demand Report
      Fat-Boy Waves The prices of the metals dropped $17 and $0.35, and the gold-silver ratio rose to 77.  A look at the chart of either metal shows that a downtrend in prices (i.e. uptrend in the dollar) that began in mid-April reversed in mid-July. Then the prices began rising (i.e. dollar began falling). But that move ended September 8.   Stars of the most popular global market sitcoms, widely suspected of being “gold wave-makers”. From left to right: Auntie Janet...
  • The Donald Can’t Stop It
      Divine Powers The Dow’s march onward and upward toward 30,000 continues without a pause.  New all-time highs are notched practically every day.  Despite Thursday’s 31-point pullback, the Dow is up over 15.5 percent year-to-date.  What a remarkable time to be alive.   The DJIA keeps surging... but it is running on fumes (US money supply growth is disappearing rapidly). The president loves this and has decided to “own” the market by gushing about its record run. During...
  • 1987, 1997, 2007... Just How Crash-Prone are Years Ending in 7?
      Bad Reputation Years ending in 7, such as the current year 2017, have a bad reputation among stock market participants. Large price declines tend to occur quite frequently in these years.   Sliding down the steep slope of the cursed year. [PT]   Just think of 1987, the year in which the largest one-day decline in the US stock market in history took place:  the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by 22.61 percent in a single trading day. Or recall the year 2007,...
  • Stocks Up and Yields Down – Precious Metals Supply & Demand
      Where the Good Things Go Many gold bugs make an implicit assumption. Gold is good, therefore it will go up. This is tempting but wrong (ignoring that gold does not go anywhere, it’s the dollar that goes down). One error is in thinking that now you have discovered a truth, everyone else will see it quickly. And there is a subtler error. The error is to think good things must go up. Sometimes they do, but why?   Since putting in a secular low at the turn of the millennium,...
  • The 2017 Incrementum Gold Chart Book
      A Big Reference Chart Collection Our friends at Incrementum have created a special treat for gold aficionados, based on the 2017 “In Gold We Trust Report”. Not everybody has the time to read a 160 page report, even if it would be quite worthwhile to do so. As we always mention when it is published, it is a highly useful reference work, even if one doesn't get around to reading all of it (and selective reading is always possible, aided by the table of contents at the...
  • The Falling Productivity of Debt
      Discounting the Present Value of Future Income Last week, we discussed the ongoing fall of dividend, and especially earnings, yields. This Report is not a stock letter, and we make no stock market predictions. We talk about this phenomenon to make a different point. The discount rate has fallen to a very low level indeed.   We add this chart to provide a slightly different perspective to the discussion that follows below (and the question raised at the end of the article)....
  • Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Fundamental Developments The prices of the metals shot up last week, by $28 and $0.57.   Heavy metals became pricier last week, but we should point out that the stocks of gold and silver miners barely responded to this rally in the metals, which very often (not always, but a very large percentage of the time) is a sign that the rally is unlikely to continue or hold in the short term. [PT]   Last week, we said:   “One way to think of these moves is...

Support Acting Man

Top10BestPro
j9TJzzN

Austrian Theory and Investment

Archive

350x200

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com