Welcome to this week’s Market Wrap Podcast, I’m Mike Gleason.
Coming up you’ll hear a tremendous interview with Craig Hemke of the TF Metals Report. Craig pulls no punches in calling out the foolish speculators who inadvertently perpetuated the silver price manipulating schemes by continuing to make bad bet after bad bet in the futures market. He’ll explain what’s been happening and what it will take to bring the whole flawed price discovery mechanism down. You simply will not want to miss a truly fantastic interview with Craig Hemke, coming up after this week’s market update.
Despite a rough several weeks in metals, the mining stocks may be pointing the way forward for gold and silver markets.
The GDXJ junior gold stocks ETF had been the source of some of the selling that hit the sector over the past few weeks. After acquiring outsized positions in small cap stocks, the fund become too large of a shareholder in some thinly traded names. GDXJ moved to re-allocate its portfolio, and in the process it adversely moved the market.
But this week the mining stocks rallied. Through Thursday’s close the GDXJ was up more than 6% for the week.
The rally in the mining sector may be signaling that the recent slump in gold and silver prices is coming to end. The silver market got hit especially hard, dropping 15% from its April high. It finally ended a 16-day losing streak earlier this week.
As of this Friday recording, silver prices trade at $16.47 per ounce and are putting in a weekly gain now of 0.3%. Gold checks in at $1,230 an ounce, unchanged now for the week. Turning to the platinum group metals, platinum is up 0.5% since last Friday’s close to trade at $922. Palladium is down 1.5% to trade at $805 an ounce.
The technical picture for the yellow metal still looks strong -- believe it or not -- with prices holding above their March lows during the recent decline. So far gold is making a higher low in a classic stair step rally.
Silver’s chart doesn’t look so good, with prices sitting well below the March and February lows. Yet despite the damage done, silver is still trading slightly above where it started the year. Perhaps the market will find ample buying support at these levels.
Some analysts are looking for a major bottom to come next month. Others think the selling has already run its course. The near-term outlook for precious metals is always difficult to gauge because it is more dependent on the behavior of large institutional traders in the futures market than it is on fundamentals.
Ultimately, the fundamentals do matter. But they may take some time to be fully reflected in prices. For long-term precious metals bulls, the good news is that supply and demand fundamentals are turning in their favor.
Even though bullion demand in the United States has softened since the election last year, demand is ramping up in Asia. Chinese gold imports surged in the first quarter of 2017. Gold imports to India jumped 342% this April compared to last year. Gold jewelry buying in the world’s second most populous nation is coming back strongly after currency controls and import restrictions crimped demand last year.
Meanwhile, major central banks including those of Russia and China continue to steadily add gold to their monetary reserves.
On the supply front, gold and silver mining production is likely to go into decline. For silver, the decline began last year. The Silver Institute’s World Silver Survey 2017 was released on Thursday and it paints a bullish long-term picture based on silver’s supply and demand fundamentals.
Here’s some of what Silver Institute president Mitchell Krebs told Bloomberg radio:
The good news, for sure, is that silver supply, for the first time in 14 years, actually declined last year. So, that's a big deal. Not by a lot, but it's now declining and it's expected to continue to decline, which basic supply and demand fundamentals suggest that that's a positive tailwind for silver going forward. It's the fourth year in a row now where we've been in a structural deficit, where demand has outstripped supply. That's another positive. I'd say on the demand side, solar panel demand hit an all-time high, it was up 34% last year. And that's a market that we think will continue to grow.
There’s certainly going to be a lot of growth in the years ahead in solar panels and other energy technologies that require silver. The wild card is investment demand. If it returns to the highs seen during the Obama years, we can expect wider deficits in the physical market and possible shortages in the retail market for coins, rounds, and bars.
Given the potential for demand to vastly outstrip supply in the silver market going forward, don’t count on the current low prices being sustained for much longer. The recent price dip orchestrated in the futures market represents a fantastic buying opportunity in the physical market.
Well now for more on what’s been driving the recent decline in silver, the shenanigans at play in the paper derivatives market and what’s ahead for the white metal, let’s get right to this week’s exclusive interview.
Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to welcome in Craig Hemke of the TF Metals Report. Craig runs one of the most highly respected and well-known blogs in the industry, and has been covering the precious metals for close to a decade now. And he puts out some of the best analysis on banking schemes, the flaws of Keynesian Economics, and the evidence of manipulation in the gold and silver markets.
Craig, it's great to have you back with us and thanks for joining us again today.
Craig Hemke: Hey Mike, it's always a pleasure. I appreciate the invite.
Mike Gleason: Well, here we are with metal sliding backwards once again. We got off to a great start in 2017 but most of those gains evaporated in the past couple of weeks, especially for silver. The pattern is all too familiar, Craig. Open interest in the silver, and silver made new record highs. The bullion banks sold fresh paper contracts to anyone who wanted one, unconstrained by having to back all the paper with actual metal.
Now prices are falling with a healthy push from these banks. And they're covering their shorts with a tidy profit. All of this just underscores and highlights how the price discovery in precious metals is completely broken and corrupt; a topic you have been focused on for years. Tell listeners who may not be familiar with how the bullion banks rig this game. And do you think they will ever run out of people who are willing to play in their crooked casino?
Craig Hemke: Mike, you described it perfectly. You nailed it all in 45 seconds... I usually go on and on for what seems like hours talking about it, and you were able to condense it into 45 seconds. It was perfect. I tell you, it was very frustrating to watch happen, because all through really the back half of March and into early April, we knew what was coming, right? As you mentioned, the banks, or I guess essentially de facto market makers on the COMEX at this point, simply create and issue new short contracts, put them on the offer side of the market. The speculators looking for silver exposure chasing the momentum to the upside or on the bid.
And rather than deal with a finite amount of paper contracts as you said, the banks are not limited at all, by any stretch of the imagination, by how many paper contracts they can supply to the specs. And then they just simply wait them out. They drove open interest to an all-time high of 235,000 contracts. That's something like 1.15 billion ounces of paper silver trading on the COMEX. The world only produces about not even 900 million a year. Again, none of this seems to bother anyone besides maybe you and I and everybody else in this space. When you get to the regulators, the CFTC, SEC, Department of Justice, nobody gives a damn. And so you correctly then surmised why they do it, particularly in silver, it’s a profit center. I mean if you can sit there and issue however many shorts you need to, between $18 and $18.65 over a course of three weeks. And then just wait for the specs to head to the exit then you can buy all your shorts back and cover them on the way down.
And if you just simply made, I don't know, a dollar (an ounce) on 20,000 contracts ... That's a lot of money my friend, at 5,000 ounces per contract. And so that's why it's done. The banks play this game. They know they're in complete control.
I think you were sort of referencing the last article I wrote. I wrote a series of public articles through the month of April describing what was going on, predicting how it was going to end, unfortunately again. And the last one I wrote I summarized by saying, "Look, man, if you're still foolish enough to be trading against these banks. If you're in there thinking, 'Well, you know I can count my waves and I'm smarter than the average bear. And so, I'm going to go in there and I'm going to trade against these banks and I'm going to show them who's boss.'" Man, you deserve to get your ass kicked.
If you don't understand the forces that you're up against, you deserve every single loss that you get. By trading futures, in the COMEX. Everybody else that's been victimized by this over the years, that's a whole other story and we should all be angry if not even slightly bitter that nothing has changed in the time that I've been following these markets. But gosh, anybody that's still foolish enough to think they can actually trade against the banks and win. Man, they deserve to lose money no doubt about it.
Mike Gleason: Yeah, certainly would be nice if we could see fewer speculators in that market playing the other side and just letting them have their way. Totally agree.
Craig Hemke: See that's just it, Mike. I mean the people that still trade it in and accept the food that's fed them from CNBC about, "That's the price and that's how price is determined." Well they're perpetuating the problem because they're legitimizing the scheme.
These contracts are created from thin air. They're swapped back and forth at light speed between computers. You're trading digital silver, if you want to call it that. But it's no more related to silver than trading baseball cards. But yet this price that's determined by the unlimited creation of digital silver is somehow pushed down and accepted as the physical price. And there's no physical component to it! It's not a function of supply and demand, and global mine supply, and retail silver demand, and all these other reasons that people give as to why the price is going down. No, man.
Price was held in check by these banks as it went up. And then they just flush out the specs and wring the register. Happens time and again. They're probably done now. Price has come all the way down to $16. That's been pretty good support in the past. We're probably ready to start bouncing back a little bit. But I can assure you that as we go up again later this year, banks will be in there just attempting to run the same scheme. And that's why I said, if anybody that's in there trading futures contracts or trading options. And is somehow unaware of how the deck is stacked against them. You're just as dumb as somebody playing Three-Card Monte on the streets of New York. This is not a fair game and you should not be playing in it.
Mike Gleason: You have your finger on the pulse of the precious metals community as well as anyone, as your site is a forum for gold and silver investors to come and talk about all of this. So what are you seeing there in terms of the patience level for this among the metals buying public? Are people throwing in the towel here? Or are they still holding on to their principled beliefs that in the end we'll all be vindicated for owning this stuff as protection against the paper markets. What are your thoughts there and what's the mood been?
Craig Hemke: Mike, that's a great question because we do have a large community. I don't think it's ever been any bigger in terms of subscribers, at least we since we started the subscription component back in 2013. And so it's a broad, diverse community and it's really interesting to gauge that sentiment. Because as you ... It's predictable as you might imagine. You know, when we're getting the crap kicked out of us for 16 days- 16 days in a row my friend! You can't help but be kind of psychologically damaged by that. Makes it a lot less fun to be me, I can tell you that, right? Because you kind of got to hang in there with everybody and deal with people being frustrated, angry, and everything else that goes with it.
But in a big picture, I like to think that we've educated folks enough about the how's and the why's of this pricing scheme and the extraordinary amounts of leverage behind it. You know that in gold and silver too, there could be as many as 100 beneficial owners for each physical ounce in the world. The banks have created this system where instead of supplying physical metal into the market to try to peg price as they did in the 50s and through the 60s with the London Gold Pool. They now have alchemized, legally alchemized, gold and silver through the creation of paper. And they've convinced people that a futures contract, shares in the GLD, an unallocated account in Switzerland, that these are all just as good as the real thing. And so, they've multiplied the real thing like I said, I don’t know, anywhere from 50 to 100 times. Well, what we're all waiting for and recognizing that the day will eventually come. The world will figure out that there's not nearly as much gold and silver on hand as the price would indicate.
I've said before I think the price makes you think that gold and silver are abundant. And that somehow that's what the price indicates. No, no, no. The price is indicating that the gold and paper derivative is what's abundant. These forms of gold are what's abundant, not the physical thing itself. And when there's finally a crisis of confidence where people demand their metal. You show up at the bank and they tell you, "Well, no, you can come back in 90 days." “Wait, what! No, I'm not waiting 90 days. Says here I can come get it any time.” When that fire finally spreads. That's when this paper derivative pricing scheme will finally fail. And I think people realize that and so we're willing just to kind of wait them out.
Mike Gleason: Yeah, and until then, just look at it as buying opportunity. If they want to make it cheap for us, then what the heck. Let's just keep stacking at this low price.
Craig Hemke: Right, and it gets to something I would imagine a lot of folks on your site consider. And that's that gold silver ratio. There's all these people scratching their heads (and saying) “How could the gold silver ratio be 75? It historically should be 15.” Well for God's sake if anything tells you how messed up this pricing scheme is, it's that. Maybe the reason why the gold silver ratio is five times higher than it should be is because there's five times the amount of paper silver derivatives and silver exposure than there is gold. Maybe that's how you need to look at it. Either way, you can tell just simply by that gold silver ratio that the prices are not being economically determined in the same manner that they have been for millennia. And one day that will correct itself.
Mike Gleason: Now if we are going to get a floor under prices and get them headed back up higher again, speculators are going to need a reason to buy gold and silver again. You and I could put together a long list of reasons for people to own metals… central banks keep working to devalue paper money around the world; borrowing and spending remain hopelessly out of control; the financial system is more rickety than ever. But lots of people, including pretty much everyone on Wall Street, aren't paying much attention to those fundamentals. Few people have been interested in safe-haven assets of late, especially since the November election. Investors instead have been busy chasing stock prices higher and looking for more risk. So what do you see as some potential catalyst for drawing the specs back into the gold and silver markets in the months ahead?
Craig Hemke: Mike, you've touched on it right there, my friend. If you're going to get price to rise, you've got to have demand for the derivative because price is based on the derivative trading, right? So, you've got to get some of these hedge funds, trading funds, momentum funds, whatever, to want to buy the derivative on the COMEX and get it moving higher. If there's more selling, there's less demand than there is supply, price goes down. If there's more demand than there is supply, price goes up. The key to managing that though is sentiment and momentum, like you said. And in large part why JP Morgan and the other market making banks do what they do.
Let's go back to the first of the year, late December when price was really not a whole lot lower than where it is now. Open interest, total open interest on the COMEX is about 160,000 contracts… 800 million ounces of silver. As I said earlier, that thing peaked out at 235,000 thousand contracts with the price up at $18.50, I don’t know, what, three weeks ago? So price went from $16 to $18-plus while the banks increased the supply, the available supply of those derivatives, by 50%. Now, if they did not have the ability and the regulators weren't looking the other way and couldn’t care less. The banks did not have the ability to just by willy-nilly just increase the supply by 50%, how high would price have risen. If open interest had to stay at 160,000, right? Probably wouldn't have gone just to $18, right? Because all that, call it 80,000 contracts of buying would have had to come from people willing to sell. The existing contracts. Do you follow me, Mike?
So, they blunt the momentum and blunt the rise, and make people think, "Uh, you know, this silver stinks, never going anywhere. Blah, blah, blah, blah." Well if they'd had to keep open interest stable. Or if was somehow pegged at the amount of silver on hand in the COMEX. Well maybe instead over the first three and a half months of the year, silver goes from $16 to $28 instead of $18. Well heck, we'd have a whole different conversation at this point, wouldn't we?
And we'd be looking a little bit more like maybe Bitcoin, right? I mean there's no Bitcoin futures, there's no Bitcoin banks that are in there just creating Bitcoin futures contracts and saying, "Hey, this is, uh, synthetic Bitcoin. Uh, yeah, yeah, this will work just fine. Yeah, this is Bitcoin, trust us." Instead there's just Bitcoin. And for every seller there's got to be a buyer in it. Sellers aren't appearing at a certain price level then price has to move up until they do. But again, that's not how it works in the futures markets. Instead of having to find sellers of existing contracts the banks just create new contracts and sell them. So again, getting back to your point. How do you get price to go up? Well, you're going to need a break out of momentum and sentiment. And that's why the banks load up all of this, these new contracts and feed them into the specs. One, to make money. But two? To keep sentiment down, keep price under control, then keep playing the same game.
Mike Gleason: Oil and copper prices are taking a beating and that is contributing to price woes in metals particularly silver, which can trade more like a commodity at times. Economic growth is lousy and it looks like real problems are developing in China. If the commodity selloff persists and starts dragging on the equity markets, we would expect gold and silver to start trading more like safe havens than commodities. What do you make of the action in oil and copper and do you see that impacting the metals?
Craig Hemke: Yeah, there's kind of a fine line there, isn't it? Because on one hand, you look at something, let's talk about just silver specifically because it's both a monetary metal and an investment and then a very important industrial metal. And so, as you see economic growth slowing, as you see almost a deleveraging, in a sense, in China because so much of what they put up as collateral is commodities based. You would think, yeah, you could really see some pressure in silver. And maybe that's part of what we've seen in the 16-day run is some overseas liquidation. It's impossible to say for certain.
But at some point, then the market begins to look forward, if you want to call it a market. And you think, "Well geez, if the economy's slowing, and maybe what we're looking at instead of additional rate hikes all through the next three or four years, all the sudden we're looking at a recession and more QE and maybe that's good for gold and then maybe that drags silver along for the ride." So it's a multi-layered question where you try to figure out which part of that is in working at present.
I don’t know, Mike, it's going to be interesting to see. What's particularly galling is all of this, you know, first we treat these Fed goons, the Fed governors, as if they're rock stars, right? Oh, everybody hangs on every word just like teenagers hang on every move by Kim Kardashian. It's appalling and galling to watch. But then to see these goons… I mean there’s one today, Rosengren, out of, I don’t know where the hell's he's from, it doesn't matter. Anyway, Fed goon Rosengren's out there talking about how, "Oh, you know, the economy may be growing too fast." What?!? What about one half of one percent in the first quarter is too fast? 2016 was the lowest year for economic growth since 2011. But yet now, all the sudden, we're going to start hiking rates all the time.
Again, we had terrible job growth. Whatever inflation seemed to show up is no longer there, here in March and April. First quarter GDP comes in at just one half of one percent. Trump with all of his issues. I mean it's pretty clear at this point there's not going to be any tax reform this year. There's not going to be big infrastructure plans put into place. All that garbage that was thrown at us from the first couple months of the year about how all these things are going to… None of it's happening.
But yet the Fed is still saying, “Oh, we're going to keep hiking rates.” “Uhh, why?” “Well because it's good for our banks, and so. Oh, did I say that out loud? I'm sorry.” But that's obviously what they're doing. And they're going to hike rates whether it's bad for the regular person or not. And that seems to be the course that they're on. We'll just see how this eventually plays out. As you know, gold and silver have both rallied sharply out of the three previous rate hikes in December of ‘15, December ‘16, and then back in March. God if can we just survive until June it'll probably happen again. In fact, I would imagine the market might even begin to anticipate that since it's been so predictable now after three times. Instead trading all the way down into that June FOMC where apparently they're going to hike again. Heck, we might start front-running that by Memorial Day. So we'll see.
Mike Gleason: Yeah, it's an interesting point because a lot of people do think that as rates increase you're going to see metals fall with maybe everything else but that's a very good observation there. We have seen metals rally off of those last three rate increases. So if we do continue to see rate increases throughout the rest of the year, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing for metals.
Craig Hemke: Right, Mike. Go back to 2003 through 2007, the Fed hiked the Fed Funds Rates 17 times. Basically every quarter. For four and a half years. And during that time period the price of gold went from $300 to $1,000. So maybe those Fed goons are doing us a favor, my friend. Maybe that's what we should be pulling for. We've just gotten so numb to thinking that it has to be QE and a declining dollar and all that stuff that makes gold go up. Maybe we should be pulling for rate hikes instead because our most recent experiences is a triple in five years during a period where the Fed was inverting the yield curve by raising the short rates so high.
Mike Gleason: Well as we begin to close here, Craig, what advice do you have for metals investors here after a pretty bloody couple of weeks… couple of years actually? And then what do you expect the rest of the year when you look at the geo-political front, and what may drive things, including Trump getting his policies pushed through Congress? Because it appears to us that the market is pricing in him getting everything he's asking for and you have to wonder if that's going to happen. You commented on that a moment ago, not much has happened on that front but yet the market's still pricing everything in as if he is going to get all of his initiatives through. So talk about that, the market reaction there, if it becomes clear he's not going to get that, and then give us any other thoughts as we begin wrap-up here.
Craig Hemke: Okay, I'm going to go backwards. I'm going to take you to the second part of that question first. And you're exactly right. I think the first time I formally wrote about it and released it publicly was back in about the middle of January in a post called "Questioning the Generally Accepted Narrative." And yeah, it's almost as soon as Trump as elected. Remember, because Trump was supposed to be bad for the stock market, right?
And then all the sudden, as soon as he was elected, we started getting this mantra just shoved down our throats from all the sell-side analysts and the financial media that, "Ah, this is going to be great. It's going to be easy. He's going to spend all this money. It's going to have this infrastructure plan. That's going to make the Fed have to hike rates. And that's going to make the dollar go up. And, oh, this is just a lay-up." And I thought, "You know, I don’t if it's going to be that easy." And so, we've been calling it a rejection of that generally accepted narrative. All year long. And I haven't seen anything that would change it. And as we said politically, Trump may be wounded enough now that anything he wants to do, aggressive in terms of tax reform, or infrastructure spending, or whatever. I just can't see it happening at all this year.
So, with that in mind, I have told my subscribers all year long that I did not expect this year to play out like last year with the big spike end of the summer and then a selloff into the end of the year that leaves us up in single-digit percentage-wise. I still think that over time, the market if you will, the global financial market begins to figure this out. The failure of this narrative. And it doesn't happen overnight. And again, once in a while the markets fight back. Trying to reinforce it, a little bit of what we've seen here recently. But I think in, over time, as we're getting to the summer, into the fall, people go, "Wait a second, this didn't work out anywhere near…" And the economy's slowing down because the Fed hiked rates three times and all this stuff.
And so, I've always said since the beginning of the year that I thought that the highs for this year will come in the fourth quarter, not the second quarter. And then that will carry us over into what I think will probably be a pretty good 2018. In terms of what do I say to the people out there that are just sick of this crap. And ... Look man, I'm sick of it too, geez Louise, at least everybody else that's stacking physical metal like I am has a life. I mean they can shut off their computer and walk away and not pay attention and all that stuff if they want. Not me man. So I mean, what do I say to everybody? Look, it's not any fun. And I'm not going to sit here and say, and try to blow sunshine up anybody's skirt.
But I'll just continue to say what I've always said. Look, if you think that this system can't go on continued, forever. If 20 trillion dollars in debt is going to double to 40 trillion to 80 trillion... I mean, at some point it's a mathematical certainty the whole thing collapses upon itself. And if you understand your history then all fiat currency schemes, going back to the Roman Empire basically, turn into what we've become. And then they collapse and then the world reverts back to sound money and the whole process starts over again. If you think all of that stuff, economically and historically, then it makes sense to have physical gold and physical silver. Again, not the derivative, not the make-believe stuff, because everybody that thinks they have physical gold and silver that has that stuff, they're going to be left holding the bag.
What people need to be doing is contacting your company and every month, maybe every two weeks, just buy a little bit more. Be dollar-cost averaging like the financial advisors tell their clients to do with their mutual funds. Or like your 401k, every two weeks, a little bit of money comes out of your check and it goes into mutual funds in your 401k. Well what if every two weeks you bought yourself a couple more Silver Eagles. You'd be an idiot to put all of your money into an S&P Fund and you'd be an idiot to put all your money into gold or silver. But you'd be foolish not to at least have some. And if you believe in the economics and if you believe in history. All you do is just wait. You try to ignore this noise. Let me, let you, Mike, deal with all the garbage of what the banks do and the Fed goons, and the lies and the nonsense and the B.S. In the meantime everybody else should just be patient, dollar-cost average. Know that you're doing the right thing for solid rationale. And just wait.
Mike Gleason: Well extremely well put. That's a great synopsis of where we're at, couldn't agree more. Great comments as usual, Craig. It's always fantastic to have you on. Now before we sign off here, please tell everyone more about the TF Metals Report and what they'll find when they visit your site.
Craig Hemke: First thing they're going to find is the fantastic, vibrant community. People that are either inhabiting the forum section which are free, or they inhabit the threads where I write a post every morning and record a podcast every afternoon. That's subscriber content but to be a subscriber it's going to cost you a whopping $12 a month. You know, $3 a week.
What is that, 60 cents a day.. while the markets are open. We don't want to price anybody out. But we're not trying to be some kind of timing or trading service either.
But I think people will find that the site is valuable. Okay, what I do maybe helps for people that are trying to figure whether they should have been buying more silver three weeks ago at $18 or if maybe you can wait and price comes back to $16 and you save yourself a couple bucks an ounce. I think a lot of folks think that the subscription cost pays for itself that way. But whether you're a trader or stacker or just trying to learn more, I think the community is what really has value. And again, that's what we're most proud of at TFMetalsReport.com.
Mike Gleason: Well outstanding. Thanks very much, Craig. Hope you have a great weekend. Look forward to catching up with you again real soon, always appreciate your time.
Craig Hemke: Mike, thanks for calling. It's great to visit with you and please tell all my friends there hello.
Mike Gleason: Well that will do it for this week. Thanks again to Craig Hemke. The site is TFMetalsReport.com, definitely a fantastic source for all things precious metals and a whole lot more. We urge everyone to check that out and you'll want to check it out regularly for some of the best commentary on the metals markets that you will find anywhere.
And be sure to check back here next Friday for our next Weekly Market Wrap Podcast. Until then, this has been Mike Gleason with Money Metals Exchange. Thanks for listening and have a great weekend, everybody.
About the Author:
Mike Gleason is a Director with Money Metals Exchange, a precious metals dealer recently named "Best in the USA" by an independent global ratings group. Gleason is a hard money advocate and a strong proponent of personal liberty, limited government and the Austrian School of Economics. A graduate of the University of Florida, Gleason has extensive experience in management, sales and logistics as well as precious metals investing. He also puts his longtime broadcasting background to good use, hosting a weekly precious metals podcast since 2011, a program listened to by tens of thousands each week.