COMEX

Physical Silver Shortage Rumors

“If investors can’t buy Silver Eagles, they can also buy other coins like Canadian Maple Leaf silver coins, which are minted by the Canadian government and are ‘just as good.’”

-Peter Schiff, President/Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital and CEO of Euro Pacific Precious Metals, in a January 19 article on the ABC News website that noted the U.S. Mint had stopped selling 2013 American Eagle silver bullion coins

First, the U.S. Mint halted the sale of 2013 Silver Eagles.

Now, the Royal Canadian Mint is limiting sales of 2013 Silver Maple Leafs.

Daniela Cambone of Kitco News reported the following on The Globe and Mail (Canada) website last Firday:

Following news last week that the U.S. Mint had run out of its initial production of 2013 Silver Eagles, reports were circulating on industry blogs that the Royal Canadian Mint was next in line after suffering a silver shortage.

Confirming this strain on physical silver supplies, the mint this morning went on allocation, limiting the quantity of sales of the popular Silver Maple Leaf coin.

“Due to very high demand for Silver Maple Leaf bullion coins, the Royal Canadian Mint is carefully managing supply to ensure all our bullion distributors are served and we continue to take orders,” Alex Reeves, senior manager, communications for the Royal Canadian Mint, told Kitco News this morning.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

These latest developments at the U.S. and Royal Canadian Mints- in conjunction with HSBC’s recent large purchase of silver bullion from KGHM Polska Miedź S.A., the world’s largest silver miner- are fanning rumors of a possible physical silver shortage going on. From the Dubai Chronicle (UAE) website Sunday:

News that HSBC has concluded a second large purchase of silver bullion has sparked speculation that there is a physical silver shortage in the markets.

Earlier in the week, a news about the U.S. Mint temporarily running out of Silver Eagle coins added to the momentum. Many of the latest rumors about physical silver shortage talk about the relationship between physical silver-actual silver bullion-and paper silver, which is the silver that exists only on paper in the form of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or futures contracts. Some market observers have speculated that there isn’t enough physical silver currently available to make delivery to all of the owners of silver futures, which would result in a “default” by the Comex where the silver contract is traded.

Whether these issues are actually reflective of high demand, problems with the mints’ supply chains, or games being played in the silver bullion market by outside forces or silver traders, remain in question.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

A follow-up piece by the Dubai Chronicle suggested silver production looked to be more than adequate in 2012. From the January 29 article:

In response to the recent physical silver shortage speculations, we researched data provided by mining companies for their performance in Q4 of 2012 and the past year in general. According to what the companies state, most of them increased silver production between 2% to 15% and aim to rise production further in the course of 2013.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

And a recent Money Morning article noted Kitco Senior Analyst John Nadler claims there are 207 million ounces of surplus silver overhanging the markets.

Still, stories of silver shortages, like this one by Matterhorn Asset Management founder Egon Von Greyerz on on the King World News Blog back on January 18, are making the rounds on the Internet these days.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

Sources:

Cambone, Daniella. “Mint limits sales of Silver Maple Leaf coins on high demand.” Kitco News. 25 Jan. 2013. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/mint-limits-sales-of-silver-maple-leaf-coins-on-high-demand/article7855390/?cmpid=rss1). 25 Jan. 2013.

“News about physical shortage drive silver price higher.” Dubai Chronicle. 27 Jan. 2013. (http://www.dubaichronicle.com/2013/01/27/news-about-physical-shortage-silver-price/print/). 29 Jan. 2013.

“Physical Silver Shortage Rumors Confronted.” Dubai Chronicle. 29 Jan. 2013. (http://www.dubaichronicle.com/2013/01/29/physical-silver-shortage-rumors-confronted/). 29 Jan. 2013.

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Tuesday, January 29th, 2013 Commodities, Investing, Precious Metals No Comments

Will University Of Texas Endowment Fund’s Gold Delivery Cause COMEX To Default?

A University of Texas endowment fund has opted to take delivery of close to $1 billion in gold bars, raising concerns this might push the Commodity Exchange, Inc (COMEX), a division of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), one step closer to a possible default. From Bloomberg’s David Mildenberg and Pham-Duy Nguyen yesterday:

Dallas hedge-fund manager J. Kyle Bass helped advise the University of Texas Investment Management Co. on taking delivery of 6,643 gold bars, worth $991.7 million yesterday, that are stored in a bank warehouse in New York.

Bass, who made $500 million with 2006 bets on a U.S. subprime-mortgage market collapse, said managers of the endowment, known as UTIMCO, sought board approval to convert its gold investments into bullion this year. A boardmember, Bass, 41, said he was asked to help with that process…

Open interest in gold futures and options traded on the Comex typically exceeds supplies held in its warehouses. If the holders of just 5 percent of those contracts opted to take delivery of the metal, there wouldn’t be enough to cover the demand, Bass said.

“If you own a paper contract where they can only deliver you 10 cents on the dollar or less, you should probably convert it to physical,” said Bass.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

While this act in and of itself might not cause a COMEX default, some suspect it could be the start of something larger. From the British financial website The Market Oracle yesterday:

Gold is increasingly being seen as the superior currency in a world of trillion dollar and euro deficits and bailouts. Indeed, the printing and electronic creation of billions and trillions of the major paper currencies is increasingly making gold and silver the currencies of last resort.

Governments and central banks are debasing currencies through bailouts, deficit spending and quantitative easing that is leading to a massive increase in the supply of fiat currencies. Precious metals are rare and finite and this is why major currencies are falling in value versus gold and silver.

One of the largest pension funds in the world, the University of Texas Investment Management Co (which manages the endowment for the Texas teachers pension fund), has realised this and has put 5% of the pension fund into gold bullion.

Unusually, but likely to be seen more frequently in the coming weeks and months, the pension fund has opted to own physical bars worth nearly $1 billion dollars in allocated accounts.

The fund has previously expressed concerns about the counterparty risk in ETFs. However, the reason given for opting for taking delivery of 100 oz gold bars in a warehouse was that if the holders of just 5 percent of COMEX futures contracts opted to take delivery of the metal, there wouldn’t be enough to cover the demand leading to a COMEX default.

The risk of a COMEX default increases by the day and appears to be moving from the realms of a “conspiracy theory” to that of “of course we knew it would happen, it stands to reason and was inevitable”.

A COMEX default would have serious ramifications for the dollar and all fiat currencies as it would further erode trust in central banks, fiat currencies and today’s monetary system.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Stay tuned, folks.

Sources:

Nguyen, Pham-Duy and Mildenberg, David. “Gold-Shortage Threat Drives Texas Schools Hoarding 664,000 Ounces at HSBC.” Bloomberg. 18 Apr. 2011. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-15/texas-university-endowment-holds-almost-1-billion-in-gold-bars.html). 19 Apr. 2011.

GoldCore. “COMEX Gold Default Risk Triggers Pension Fund to Take Delivery of $1 Billion of Bullion.” The Market Oracle (UK). 18 Apr. 2011. (http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article27616.html). 19 Apr. 2011.

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