Gold Lending and Arbitrage

There was no rise in the purchasing power of gold this week. The price of gold fell $22, and that of silver $0.19. One question that comes up is why is the fundamental price so far above the market price? Starting in January, the fundamental price began to move up sharply, and the move sustained through the end of April.

 

1-month LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate – the rate at which banks lend euro-dollars to each other). LIBOR and GOFO determine the gold lease rate, which is indirectly reflected in gold futures prices along the curve as well.

 

The market price moved up $52 through January 25, but it did not move further. After the market price peaked, the fundamental price moved up an additional $168. Why?

It would be facile to say the co-basis moved up. Yes, the near contract co-basis rose from -1.87% to -1.61% (though the gold basis continuous did not). So what’s going on?

Consider the gold lease rate. We calculate this in the traditional way, except we use the futures market which is transparent, as opposed to the forward market. The gold lease rate GLR = LIBOR – GOFO. This is how dollar-based financial institutions such as bullion banks look at it (not to be confused with the rate on Monetary Metals direct leasing of metal).

This calculation determines the hypothetical “zero arbitrage” point, where the marginal arbitrageur is willing to earn nothing to borrow dollars at LIBOR, buy gold, selling it forward, and lease it for the duration. The absolute level of the lease rate is not important to this discussion. What matters is the change.

From Jan 25 to April 26, the 6-month gold lease rate more than doubled, from 0.25% to 0.56%. A rising lease rate indicates a rising scarcity of the metal. It should intuitively make sense. But let’s drill down into the specifics of what is called “gold leasing”.

It is an unnatural process, an artifact of declaring money (gold) to be a commodity, while forcing non-money (the dollar) to be used as if it were money. In a free market, there would be no leasing market in money. It would be an interest rate market, aka the gold bond market.

But there isn’t a free market in money and credit. There is an imposed regime of the dollar. So to lease gold, a bank begins by borrowing dollars to buy gold to lease out. However, this creates a risk. What happens if the price of gold drops? So the bank must hedge. It sells a futures contract.

We note that the would-be gold lessor has an expense, namely LIBOR (and likely a spread above this benchmark). And it has a variable, which may be either revenue or expense, depending on market conditions. That is, the spread between future and spot. GOFO is a close cousin of the basis.

Leasing is a gold carry trade plus a credit transaction. The carry trade makes more as the spread between spot and futures rises. It makes less, as the cost of borrowing goes up. The lease rate is calculated to so these net to zero (LIBOR – GOFO – GLR = 0).

So why does a rising lease rate indicate rising scarcity? We first note something that is true in all markets. A high price discourages utilization. Without knowing why, we know if the price is rising then the good is less available and a smaller quantity will be purchased.

In the case of gold, the elephant in the room is rising LIBOR. 6-month LIBOR began the year at 1.84%. However, by April 26, it had jumped up to 2.52%. However, there was no corresponding leap in GOFO.

The cost of carry increased, but the revenue of carry did not. This is a picture of robust demand for the physical metal, relative to demand for futures. And you can see it in the open interest in gold futures, which peaked in late January and hit a low on May 9.

 

Fundamental Developments

Here is the chart of the prices of gold and silver.

 

Gold and silver priced in USD

 

Next, this is a graph of the gold price measured in silver, otherwise known as the gold to silver ratio (see here for an explanation of bid and offer prices for the ratio). It fell a bit this week.

 

Gold-silver ratio, bid and offer

 

Here is the gold graph showing gold basis, co-basis and the price of the dollar in terms of gold price.

 

Gold basis, co-basis and the USD priced in milligrams of gold

 

The August co-basis rose a bit this week, though not commensurately with the falling price. The gold continuous co-basis did not. The Monetary Metals Gold Fundamental Price fell $71 this week to $1,422.

Now let’s look at silver.

 

Silver basis, co-basis and the USD priced in grams of silver

 

The price of silver fell less in proportion. And the near silver co-basis rose more (and silver continuous basis rose too).

So contrary to gold, the Monetary Metals Silver Fundamental Price rose 32 cents to $17.92. This brings the Monetary Metals Gold:Silver Ratio Fundamental down from around 84 to 79.

 

© 2018 Monetary Metals

 

Charts by: StockCharts, 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.

 

 

 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 


 

 
 

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: 12vB2LeWQNjWh59tyfWw23ySqJ9kTfJifA

   
 

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • America Goes Full Imbecile
      Credit has a wicked way of magnifying a person’s defects.  Even the most cautious man, with unlimited credit, can make mistakes that in retrospect seem absurd.  But an average man, with unlimited credit, is preeminently disposed to going full imbecile.   Let us not forget about this important skill...  [PT]   Several weeks ago we came across a woeful tale of Mike Meru.  Somehow, this special fellow, while of apparent sound mine and worthy intent, racked up...
  • Retail Capitulation – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Small Crowds, Shrinking Premiums The prices of gold and silver rose five bucks and 37 cents respectively last week. Is this the blast off to da moon for the silver rocket of halcyon days, in other words 2010-2011?   Various gold bars. Coin and bar premiums have been shrinking steadily (as have coin sales of the US Mint by the way), a sign that retail investors have lost interest in gold. There are even more signs of this actually, and this loss of interest stands in stark...
  • Credit Spreads: Polly is Twitching Again - in Europe
      Junk Bond Spread Breakout The famous dead parrot is coming back to life... in an unexpected place. With its QE operations, which included inter alia corporate bonds, the ECB has managed to suppress credit spreads in Europe to truly ludicrous levels. From there, the effect propagated through arbitrage to other developed markets. And yes, this does “support the economy” - mainly by triggering an avalanche of capital malinvestment and creating the associated boom conditions, while...
  • Gold Divergences Emerge
      Bad Hair Day Produces Positive Divergences On Friday the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China was apparently escalated by a notch to the next level, at least verbally. The Trump administration announced a list of tariffs that are supposed to come into force in three week's time and China clicked back by announcing retaliatory action. In effect, the US government said: take that China, we will now really hurt our own consumers!  - and China's mandarins replied: just you wait, we...
  • Industrial Commodities vs. Gold - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Oil is Different Last week, we showed a graph of rising open interest in crude oil futures. From this, we inferred — incorrectly as it turns out — that the basis must be rising. Why else, we asked, would market makers carry more and more oil?   Crude oil acts differently from gold – and so do all other industrial commodities. What makes them different is that the supply of industrial commodities held in storage as a rule suffices to satisfy industrial demand only for a...
  • Chasing the Wind
      Futility with Purpose Plebeians generally ignore the tact of their economic central planners.  They care more that their meatloaf is hot and their suds are cold, than about any plans being hatched in the capital city.  Nonetheless, the central planners know an angry mob, with torches and pitchforks, are only a few empty bellies away.  Hence, they must always stay on point.   Watch for those pitchfork bearers – they can get real nasty and then heads often roll quite literally....
  • Lift-Off Not (Yet) - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Wrong-Way Event Last week we said something that turned out to be prescient:   This is not an environment for a Lift Off Event.   An unfortunate technical mishap interrupted the latest moon-flight of the gold rocket. Fear not true believers, a few positive tracks were left behind. [PT]   The price of gold didn’t move much Mon-Thu last week, though the price of silver did seem to be blasting off. Then on Friday, it reversed hard. We will provide a forensic...
  • Merger Mania and the Kings of Debt
      Another Early Warning Siren Goes Off Our friend Jonathan Tepper of research house Variant Perception (check out their blog to see some of their excellent work) recently pointed out to us that the volume of mergers and acquisitions has increased rather noticeably lately. Some color on this was provided in an article published by Reuters in late May, “Global M&A hits record $2 trillion in the year to date”, which inter alia contained the following chart illustrating the...
  • Cryptocurrency Technicals – Navigating the Bear Market
      A Purely Technical Market Long time readers may recall that we regard Bitcoin and other liquid big cap cryptocurrencies as secondary media of exchange from a monetary theory perspective for the time being. The wave of speculative demand that has propelled them to astonishing heights was triggered by market participants realizing that they have the potential to become money. The process of achieving more widespread adoption of these currencies as a means of payment and establishing...
  • The Fed's “Inflation Target” is Impoverishing American Workers
      Redefined Terms and Absurd Targets At one time, the Federal Reserve's sole mandate was to maintain stable prices and to “fight inflation.”  To the Fed, the financial press, and most everyone else “inflation” means rising prices instead of its original and true definition as an increase in the money supply.  Rising prices are a consequence – a very painful consequence – of money printing.   Fed Chair Jerome Powell apparently does not see the pernicious effects...
  • A Walk on the Wild Side
      A Walk on the Wild Side   “Never play cards with a man called Doc.  Never eat at a place called Mom’s.  Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own.” – Nelson Algren, A Walk on the Wild Side   Fresh Fruit or Rotting Vegetables? A subtle gas seems to always be vented into the atmosphere at the sunset of an extended bull market.  As the light fades, an odor that’s indiscernible from that of fresh fruit or rotting vegetables wafts down...

Support Acting Man

Item Guides

j9TJzzN

The Review Insider

Dog Blow

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]

 

Mish Talk

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com