Update to the Update: The Attack on Gold — Paul Craig Roberts


Tuesday, April 16. The orchestrated attack on bullion in the paper gold market took the spot prices of gold and silver down on Friday and Monday, but actual physical purchases rose during this period. The sales were of paper claims, not of real metal.

The demand for physical possession of bullion rose so strongly that large wholesalers such as http://www.tulving.com and large retailers such as Gainesville Coins reported sold out items. Also, dealers raised the premiums above the spot price that is charged for coins. From Friday to Monday the premium on Silver Eagles at the large online retailer, Gainesville Coins, rose from $3.75 to $5.99 above the spot price of silver. The percentage increase in premium was larger than the percentage decline in the silver price. Thus, the price of a silver one Troy ounce coin did not drop despite the drop in the spot price. Today (April 16) the price of a silver eagle purchased with a credit card from retailer Gainesville Coins is $30.36. You would never know that the market had fallen out.

Today (Tuesday, April 16) Tulving reported 29% of its bar and coin bullion categories sold out and had almost no silver coin stock. The premium over spot on new gold eagles was $63.95. At large online retailers the premium was $71. Gainesville Coins has no silver Buffalos and lists shipment of orders to commence when coins are available, estimated to be May 10.

What I am reporting are facts, not a theory. We have just had two days of massive sales of paper claims on bullion, but during these days when the price of gold and silver collapsed under short sales, it was difficult to get your hands on the metal itself. On telephone orders you wait in long queues to place an order and are told that delivery awaits availability.

Listening to the media and to academic economists such as Paul Krugman, you would think no one any longer wants gold and silver. But try getting your hands on some.

The physical bullion market, gold especially, is dominated by Asians. Americans are a minor player. Most Americans still believe in the almighty dollar, but few Asians do. The Chinese tomorrow would dump their two trillion of US dollar-denominated assets and purchase gold, except that the action would drive down the dollar and drive up the gold price. So, unlike the orchestrated attack on gold, China plays a slow hand, using the orchestrated attack on gold to acquire the metal at lower prices.

As I understand it, the open interest or future contracts on COMEX greatly exceed the bullion available for delivery. This is a paper market mainly settled in cash, not by taking delivery. If the contracts had to be settled in bullion instead of cash, the COMEX would fail.

One advantage of growing old is that one gains perspective. I remember when gold was $35 an ounce and silver $1 an ounce. If memory serves, until sometimes in the 1960s, a person could still take a paper dollar to a bank and be given a silver dollar. There were $1 dollar and $5 dollar silver certificates (paper money) that circulated along with Federal Reserve currency. At that time banks did not differentiate. A dollar was a dollar. Silver certificates today have collectors’s value, but the Federal Reserve currency does not.

If memory serves, sometimes after 1966 if a person presented a silver certificate to a Federal Reserve Bank, he received one or five ounces or raw silver in return depending on the denomination of the certificate, which looked like a Federal Reserve note except it said Silver Certificate. I have some of these envelopes of little pieces of silver…



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