Alasdair Macleod – 09 December 2013 In the jigsaw that is the Great Game of Asia pieces which heretofore made little sense on their own are beginning to slot in to give us an idea of the final picture. These disparate pieces are as varied as China’s claim of territorial rights over Japan’s Senkaku Islands,
Alasdair Macleod – 10 December 2012 I thought I had a good idea what disasters we might face in 2013, and then I saw the most recent US Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Bank Participation Report for gold and silver. On the basis of recent BPRs these markets are heading for a crisis, which is generally
Alasdair Macleod – 10th January 2014 In reviewing this excellent book I should first declare and deal with vested interests. James Turk with his son founded GoldMoney, and as GoldMoney’s Head of Research he and I are co-writers with similar views. Those who think we have a vested interest in promoting gold would be right,
22 August 2014
Being interviewed on the FinancialSurvivorNetwork website, Alasdair MacLeod discussed the new and improved Silver Fix. It seems the new fix is no more transparent than the old one. Administered by the CME Group and Reuters, Alasdair is finding it quite unhelpful. He states that the precious metals business is expanding throughout the globe and that London will lose its once cherished position as the center of the trade to China.
Listen to the full interview at FinancialSurvivorNetwork.com
21 August 2014
Besides what the Fed is doing by printing money, there is another big threat to the dollar, said Alasdair. Countries in Asia are banding together in order to rid themselves of using the dollar in international trade.
Read the full interview at Sprott Global
Alasdair Macleod – 22 August 2014
There will be a defining geopolitical event next month when India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia become full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). This will increase the population of SCO members to an estimated 3.05 billion. We should care about this because it is the intention of the SCO to do away with the US dollar for trade settlement.
The nations joining in September are currently designated as Observer States and the only one left will be Afghanistan, which will presumably join when it can untie itself from NATO. Dialog Partners, defined as states which share the goals and principals of the SCO and wish to develop mutually beneficial relations, include Belarus Sri Lanka and Turkey. Turkey is of special interest because it has been a long-standing NATO member. It had hoped to join the EU but it became clear that this was never going to happen. Instead under the leadership of Recep Erdoğan Turkey is moving towards the SCO.
Erdoğan was re-elected earlier this month by a comfortable majority and it will be interesting to see how quickly Turkey’s new alignment evolves. Erdoğan must be aware that Asia is on the up while the EU declines, in which case Turkey as a front-line state is better off joining the SCO.
The SCO’s influence extends beyond its boundaries, with China and India’s diasporas populating much of the rest of south-east Asia. SCO members, particularly China and India, are also the largest consumers of Middle Eastern energy. And because they write the biggest cheques they have primacy over the west; so the swing away from the petro-dollar towards Asia is in the making. China also has sub-Saharan Africa sewn up, securing vital minerals such as copper from Zambia.
We must also consider why Russia is aggressively driving the pace of the SCO’s development, and it’s not just to escape the west’s economic sanctions as many observers think. Fundamentally the SCO is about resources and the production of goods: Russia controls Asia’s resources and China turns them into goods.
One of the first persons to identify the geopolitical importance of Russia’s resources was Halford Mackinder in a paper for the Royal Geographical Society in 1904. He later developed it into his Heartland Theory. Mackinder argued that control of the Heartland, which stretched from the Volga to the Yangtze, would control the “World-Island”, which was his term for Europe, Asia and Africa. Over a century later, Mackinder’s theory resonates with the SCO.
The underlying point is that North and South America, Britain, Japan and Australasia in the final analysis are less important than Mackinder’s World-Island. There was a time when British and then American primacy outweighed its importance, but this is no longer true. If Mackinder’s theory is right about the overriding importance of undeveloped resources, Russia with the backing of the SCO’s members is positioned to become the most powerful nation on earth.
The SCO is the greatest challenge yet mounted to American economic power, and Russia and China are clearly determined to ditch the dollar. We don’t yet know what will replace it. However, the fact that the Central Bank of Russia and nearly all the other central banks and governments in the SCO have been increasing their gold reserves could be an important clue as to how the representatives of 3 billion Euro-Asians see the future of trans-Asian money.
Alasdair Macleod – 15 August 2014
All commodities and near-commodities are priced internationally in dollars, and the dollar is used for over 80% of cross-border trade settlements. Consequently the dollar is the base currency for all countries’ foreign reserves, giving it its reserve status. However, there are now challenges to the dollar’s hegemony, with Russia, China as well as the other members, dialog-partners and associates of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), taking deliberate steps towards doing away with the dollar entirely for pan-Asian trade. Recent developments setting up a rival to the IMF by the BRICS nations is part of this challenge.
If you follow the geopolitics, you might reasonably conclude that the dollar’s dominance has peaked and is now declining. The SCO appears to believe there can be a transition away from the dollar, an idea that could turn out to be dangerously wrong at a time of great but generally unrecognised currency fragility. At the heart of the issue there is a worrying lack of distinction between the dollar’s reserve function and its function as the monetary standard from when it replaced gold in 1971. To fully appreciate the importance of the dollar as the standard for all other currencies, we must review the monetary history behind how and why the dollar replaced gold, and the implications for today.
The US dollar progressively broke its relationship with the gold standard from 1933 onwards, when gold ownership by US citizens was unexpectedly banned. The Bretton Woods Agreement after 1944 then defined the gold-based monetary order until the Nixon Shock in 1971. President Nixon ended Bretton Woods and all rights to dollar conversion into gold. By default, all other national currencies went on a US dollar standard, albeit a floating one. Crucially, the confidence in the purchasing power of all fiat currencies became vested in an underlying confidence in the purchasing power of the US dollar. This is a separate monetary function from the dollar’s reserve status, though the two functions are intertwined and may be difficult to separate in practice.
There are obviously differences in the way the gold standard operated compared with the dollar standard of today, but the function is the same. Before the Nixon Shock, the relationship between the gold standard and the US dollar was illustrated famously by John Exter, who showed gold at the apex of an inverse pyramid, supporting ever-increasing categories and quantities of dollars and dollar liabilities. Between 1932 and 1971 the quantity of money and bank credit expanded, and this is shown in the graphic below, based on Exter’s illustration, but with a pure monetary emphasis.
In 1932 when gold officially exchanged at $20.67 per ounce the relationship with the monetary base was by today’s standards very conservative. However, the fractional-reserve credit expansion at an additional 9.3 times (note that M3 includes the monetary base) was a threat to the entire US banking system when the banks were facing escalating bad debts because of the economic depression. And since the dollar was technically a money-substitute (with gold being the freely-exchangable underlying money), the dollar risked being exposed as over-issued and therefore valueless. For this reason, President Roosevelt’s Executive Order forcing American residents to surrender their gold and rescinding all rights to exchange their dollars for gold, was the only feasible option open to his government, the alternative being the collapse of the banking system. In January 1934 he revalued gold to $35 per ounce, making the Exter pyramid relationships more sustainable.
In 1944, the Bretton Woods Agreement formalised arrangements for central banks to fix their currencies to the dollar and for them to continue to have the right to exchange dollars at the Fed for gold at $35 per ounce. So central banks while originating their own currencies were still on a gold standard, through the US dollar. By 1971, when President Nixon ended this limited gold convertibility, the Fed’s monetary base and broad M3 money had become exceedingly stretched at nearly seven times and 72 times respectively.
The alternative would have been to revalue gold from $35 to a level where the US would suffer no more outflows, taking a leaf out of President Roosevelt’s book. Revaluation of gold was ruled out and rigorous attempts were made to discredit gold instead. The dollar therefore replaced gold as the de facto standard for all currencies. Freed from the discipline of gold, the Fed was able to continue to expand its monetary base and US banks their bank credit, while growing foreign demand for dollars to purchase energy, other commodities and for trade-finance, underwrote its purchasing power. And because the demise of Bretton Woods led to the end of fixed exchange rates, the expansion of US dollar quantities was mirrored by the expansion of cash and credit in other currencies as well, as non-US central banks managed their currency rates vis-à-vis the dollar base.
The next pyramid shows the relationship not only between US dollar quantities but also includes an estimate of the dollar equivalent of global broad money supply, and a new feature that did not noticeably exist in 1971: shadow banking. This quantifies the relationship between dollar money and the quantity of money in other currencies, with the dollar as the new currency standard.
In 2013 the relationship of US bank deposits relative to the Fed’s monetary base was only 2.4 times. This was due to the rapid expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet since mid-2008, having increased to 4.7 times the Pre-Lehman Monetary Base. The world’s broad money at $168.5 trillion is geared nearly 40 times, including the Financial Stability Board’s estimate of off-balance sheet shadow banking. To put it mildly, even after the rapid expansion of the Fed’s Monetary Base, which dramatically lowered the broader money ratios from what they would otherwise have been, the international monetary situation is still dangerously geared.
The risk of a new currency crisis has been dramatically increased by the major central banks acting to maintain financial asset values, particularly in bond and stock markets. This transfers risk from investment assets into the currencies themselves, something that is certain to become evident in the event of a rise in interest rates. For example a 10% fall in over-valued sovereign bond prices could easily threaten the survival of some systemically important banks, triggering a new financial crisis. Obviously, this cannot be allowed to occur and there can be little doubt that the central bank response will be to flood the financial system with yet more money.
Alternatively, the global banking system is too highly geared to survive an economic slump, which is an increasing risk in both the Eurozone and Japan and may well spread elsewhere. Remember that the dollar M3-to-gold ratio of 11 times in 1933 was enough to force a system reset; today the global ratio is nearly 40 times, on an admittedly flexible dollar. Again, the solution will be to flood the financial system with yet more money.
So either way, recovery or slump, price inflation or deflation, the current currency equilibrium with its dangerously high monetary gearing is unlikely to continue for long. And as if this is not enough the major emerging and Asian economies are proposing a monetary schism, breaking half the world’s population away from the dollar. The yuan, rouble, rupee and all the other Asian and emerging-economy currencies involved may be able to trade between themselves without the dollar, but they will be unable to ditch it as a back-up monetary standard. They will still remain on a dollar standard.
This is why despite determined efforts to do without the dollar nobody in Asia has come close to proposing a realistic alternative. Let us hope the powers-that-be in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation understand the important difference between a reserve currency used for trade settlement and a currency standard; otherwise by bringing into the open the fundamental question about the dollar’s suitability as a monetary standard, they could end up undermining the dollar and with it an extremely fragile global monetary system.
Alasdair Macleod – 04 August 2014
Watch the interview here.
Alasdair Macleod – 08 August 2014
At the end of July global equity bull markets had a moment of doubt, falling three or four per cent. In the seven trading days up to 1st August the S&P500 fell 3.8%, and we are not out of the woods yet. At the same time the Russell 2000, an index of small-cap US companies fell an exceptional 9%, and more worryingly it looks like it has lost bullish momentum as shown in the chart below. This indicates a possible double-top formation in the making.
Meanwhile yield-spreads on junk bonds widened significantly, sending a signal that markets were reconsidering appropriate yields on risky bonds.
This is conventional analysis and the common backbone of most brokers’ reports. Put simply, investment is now all about the trend and little else. You never have to value anything properly any more: just measure confidence. This approach to investing resonates with post-Keynesian economics and government planning. The expectations of the crowd, or its animal spirits, are now there to be managed. No longer is there the seemingly irrational behaviour of unfettered markets dominated by independent thinkers. Forward guidance is just the latest manifestation of this policy. It represents the triumph of economic management over the markets.
Central banks have for a long time subscribed to management of expectations. Initially it was setting interest rates to accelerate the growth of money and credit. Investors and market traders soon learned that interest rate policy is the most important factor in pricing everything. Out of credit cycles technical analysis evolved, which sought to identify trends and turning points for investment purposes.
Today this control goes much further because of two precedents: in 2001-02 the Fed under Alan Greenspan’s chairmanship cut interest rates specifically to rescue the stock market out of its slump, and secondly the Fed’s rescue of the banking system in the wake of the Lehman crisis extended direct intervention into all financial markets.
Both of these actions succeeded in their objectives. Ubiquitous intervention continues to this day, and is copied elsewhere. It is no accident that Spanish bond yields for example are priced as if Spain’s sovereign debt is amongst the safest on the planet; and as if France’s bond yields reflect a credible plan to repay its debt.
We have known for years that through intervention central banks have managed to control the prices of currencies, precious metals and government bonds; but there is increasing evidence of direct buying of other financial assets, including equities. The means for continual price management are there: there are central banks, exchange stabilisation funds, sovereign wealth funds and government-controlled pension funds, which between them have limitless buying-power.
Doubtless there is a growing band of central bankers who believe that with this control they have finally discovered Keynes’s Holy Grail: the euthanasia of the rentier and his replacement by the state as the primary source of business capital. This being the case, last month’s dip in the markets will turn out to be just that, because intervention will simply continue and if necessary be ramped up.
But in the process, all market risk is being transferred from bonds, equities and all other financial assets into currencies themselves; and it is the outcome of their purchasing power that will prove to be the final judgement in the debate of markets versus economic planning.
June’s FMQ components have now been released by the St Louis Fed, and it stands at a record $13.132 trillion. As can be seen in the chart above, it is $5.48 trillion more than an extension of the pre-Lehman crisis exponential growth trend. At this point readers not familiar with the construction of FMQ and its purpose may wish to refer to the original paper, here.
It should be borne in mind that there may be seasonal factors at play, with dips in the growth rate discernable at this time of year in the past. So the slower growth rate of FMQ, up $44bn between April and June when it might have risen $150-200bn, is not necessarily due to tapering of QE3. If tapering was responsible for slowing growth in FMQ, we could expect to see some tightening in short-term interest rates. But as the chart of 3-month T-bill rates shows they have been in a declining trend since last November.
The chart confirms that tapering seems to be having little or no effect on money markets and therefore the growth rate of fiat currency.
Weakness in interest rates is also consistent with poor economic demand. This week the first estimate of Q2 GDP was released which came in at an annualised 4%, substantially above market estimates of 3.1%. This outturn conflicts sharply with the lack of any meaningful demand for money, until one looks at the underlying estimates.
Of this 4% increase, the change in real private inventories added 1.66%. In other words GDP based on goods and services actually sold was only 2.34%. That changes in unsold goods, which is what inventories represent, should be part of final consumption is a dubious proposition, but need not concern us here. According to the technical note accompanying the release, figures for inventories and durable goods (which showed an incredible rise of 14%) are estimated and not hard data, so are subject to future revision. On this basis, the surprise GDP figure is little more than a government econometrician’s guess until the real data is available. Suspicions that these guesses err on the optimistic side are confirmed by the experience of the Q1 GDP figure, which was revised sharply downwards from first estimates when hard data eventually became available.
Whichever way we look at FMQ, it continues to expand at a frightening pace irrespective of the GDP outturn and its flaws. Furthermore, a look at the most recent Fed balance sheet confirms this view, showing that the 1st August figure will be considerably higher, unless there is an offsetting contraction of bank credit.
There is little sign of any such contraction. We can conclude from short-term market interest rates that the US economy is going nowhere fast, contrary to this week’s GDP estimate, and that demand for credit continues to come from essentially financial activities. But given that GDP estimates turn out to be far too optimistic, what if the US economy stalls or even slumps? Won’t that lead to a reversal of FMQ’s growth trend?
This is essentially the argument of the deflationists. In a slump they expect a dash from credit into cash as asset prices tumble. The counterpart of credit is deposits, the major components of FMQ. And without Fed intervention FMQ would rapidly contract. But in the event of a slump the Fed cannot be expected to stand idly by without taking extraordinary measures: in the words of Mario Draghi at the ECB, whatever it takes.
Alasdair Macleod – 25 July 2014
Governments and central banks have made little or no progress in recovering from the Lehman crisis six years ago. The problem is not helped by dependence on statistics which are downright misleading. This is particularly true of real GDP, comprised of nominal GDP deflated by an estimate of price inflation. First, we must discuss the inflation adjustment.
The idea that there is such a thing as a valid measure of price inflation is only true in an econometrician’s imagination. An index which might be theoretically valid at a single point in time is only subsequently valid in the wholly artificial construction of an unchanging, or “evenly rotating economy”: in other words an economy where everyone who is employed remains in the same employment producing at the same rate, retains the same proportion of cash liquidity, and buys exactly the same things in the same quantities. Furthermore business inventory quantities must also be static.
All human choice must be excluded for this condition. Only then can any differences in prices be identified as due to changes in the quantity of money and credit. Besides this fiction, an accurate index cannot then be constructed, because not every economic transaction is reported. Furthermore biases are built into the index, for example to overweight consumer spending relative to capital investment, and to incorporate government activity which is provided to users free of cost or subsidised. Buying art, stockmarket investments or a house are as much economic transactions as buying a loaf of bread, but these activities and many like them are specifically excluded. Worse still, adjustments are often made to conceal price increases in index constituents under one pretext or another.
Economic activities are also only selectively included in GDP, which is supposed to be the total of a country’s transactions over a period of time expressed as a money total. A perfect GDP number would include all economic transactions, and in this case would capture the changes in consumer preferences excluded from a static price index. But there is no way of identifying them to tell the difference between changes due to economic progress and changes due to monetary inflation.
To illustrate this point further, let’s assume that in a nation’s economy there is no change in the quantity of money earned, held in cash, borrowed or repaid between two dates. This being the case, what will be the change in GDP? The answer is obviously zero. People can make and buy different products and offer and pay for different services at different prices, but if the total amount of money spent is unchanged there can be no change in GDP. Instead of measuring economic growth, a meaningless term, it only measures the quantity of money spent.
To summarise so far, governments are using a price index, for which there is no sound theoretical basis, to deflate a money quantity mistakenly believed to represent economic progress. In our haste to dispense with the reality of markets we have substituted half-baked ideas utilising dodgy numbers. The error goes wholly unrecognised by the majority of economists, market commentators and of course the political classes.
It also explains some of the disconnection between monetary and price inflation. Price inflation in this context refers to the increase in prices due to demand enabled by extra money and credit. As already stated, newly issued money today is spent on assets and financial speculation, excluded from both GDP and its deflator.
It stands to reason that actions based on wrong assumptions will not achieve the intended result. The assumption is that money-printing and credit expansion are not having an inflationary effect, because the statistics say so. But as we have seen, the statistics are selective, focusing on current consumption. Objective enquiry about wider consequences is deterred, and nowhere is this truer than when seeking an understanding of the wider effects of monetary inflation. This leads us to the second error: we ignore the fact that monetary inflation is a transfer of wealth from the public to the creators of new money and credit.
The transfer of wealth through monetary inflation is initially selective, before being distributed more generally. The issuers of new currency and credit are governments and the banks, both of which reap the maximum benefit of utilising them before any prices rise. But the ultimate losers are the majority of the population: by the time new money ends up in wider circulation prices have already risen to reflect its existence.
Everywhere, monetary inflation transfers real wealth from ordinary people on fixed salaries or with savings. In the US for example, since the Lehman crisis money on deposit has increased from $5.4 trillion to $12.9 trillion. This gives us an idea of how much the original deposits are being devalued through monetary inflation, a continuing effect gradually revealed through those original deposits’ diminishing purchasing-power. The scale of wealth transfer from the public to both the government and the commercial banks, which is in addition to visible taxes, is strangling economic activity.
The supposed stimulation of an economy by monetary means relies on sloppy analysis and the ignorance of the losers. Unfortunately, it is process once embarked on that is difficult to stop without exposing the true weakness of government finances and the fragility of the banking system. Governments with the burden of public welfare costs are in a debt trap from which they lack the resolve to escape. The transformation of an economy from no monetary discipline into one based on sound-money principals is widely thought by central bankers to risk creating a major banking crisis.
The crisis will indeed come, but it will probably have its origins in the inability of individuals, robbed of the purchasing power of their fixed salaries and savings, to pay the prices demanded from them by businesses. This is called a slump, an old-fashioned term for the simultaneous contraction of production and demand. Not even zero or negative interest rates will save the banks from this increasingly certain event, for a very simple reason: by continuing the transfer of wealth from individuals through monetary inflation, the cure will finally kill the patient.
There is a growing certainty in the global economic outlook that is deeply alarming. The welfare-driven nations continue to impoverish their people by debauching their currencies. As Japan’s desperate monetary expansion now shows, far from improving her economic outlook, she is moving into a deepening slump, for which this article provides the explanation. Unfortunately we are all on the path to the same destructive process.
Alasdair Macleod – 18th July 2014
Last Monday’s Daily Telegraph carried an interview with Jaime Caruana, the General Manager of the Bank for International Settlements (the BIS). As General Manger, Caruana is CEO of the central banks’ central bank. In international monetary affairs the heads of all central banks, with the possible exception of Janet Yellen at the Fed, defer to him. And if any one central bank feels the need to obtain the support of all the others, Caruana is the link-man.
His opinion matters and it differs sharply from the line being pushed by the Fed, ECB, BoJ and BoE. But then he is not in the firing line, with an expectant public wanting to live beyond its means and a government addicted to monetary inflation. However, he points out that debt has continued to increase in the developed nations since the Lehman crisis as well as in most emerging economies. Meanwhile the growing sensitivity of all this debt to rises in interest rates is ignored by financial markets, where risk premiums should be rising, but are falling instead.
From someone in his position this is a stark warning. That he would prefer a return to sound money is revealed in his remark about the IMF’s hint that a few years of inflation would reduce the debt burden: “It must be clearly resisted.”
There is no Plan B offered, only recognition that Plan A has failed and that it should be scrapped. Some think this is already being done in the US, with tapering of QE3. But tapering is having little monetary effect, being replaced by the expansion of the Fed’s reverse repo programme. In a reverse repo the Fed gives the banks short-term US Government debt, paid for by drawing down their excess reserves. The USG paper is used as collateral to back credit creation, while the excess reserves are not in public circulation anyway. Therefore money is created out of thin air by the banks, replacing money created out of thin air by the Fed.
Interestingly Caruana dismisses deflation scares by saying that gently falling prices are benign, which places him firmly in the sound money camp. But he doesn’t actually “come out” and admit to being Austrian in his economics, more an acolyte of Knut Wicksell, the Swedish economist, upon whose work on interest rates much of Austrian business cycle theory is based. This is why Caruana’s approach towards credit booms is being increasingly referred to in some circles as the Mises-Hayek-BIS view.
With the knowledge that the BIS is not in thrall to Keynes and the monetarists, we can logically expect that Caruana and his colleagues at the BIS will be placing a greater emphasis on the future role of gold in the monetary system. Given the other as yet unstated conclusion of the Mises-Hayek-BIS view, that paper currencies are in a doom-loop that ends with their own destruction, the BIS is on a course to break from the long-standing policy of preserving the dollar’s credibility by supressing gold.
Caruana is not alone in these thoughts. Even though central bankers in the political firing line only know expansionary monetary policies, it is clear that influential opinion in many quarters is building against them. It is too early to talk of a new monetary regime, but not too early to talk of the current one’s demise.
Alasdair Macleod – 11th July 2014
The debate in precious metal markets today is whether or not the three-year bear market is over and a new uptrend is establishing itself. But assuming for a moment that the gold price has turned the corner, will the bullion banks be able to keep a lid on it? Given the recent jump in their short positions as recorded in the Bank Participation Report on Comex, they presumably think so, and unallocated accounts in London will play an important role.
With an unallocated account the customer doesn’t have an entitlement to any specific bullion bars, and is a creditor of the bullion bank. So long as the customer is happy with the counterparty risk, this is the cheapest way for him to have exposure to gold. From the bank’s point of view, there is no need to hold more gold than required to meet customer withdrawals. Furthermore, even this gold doesn’t have to be bought, merely leased from a central bank, remaining in the Bank of England’s vault unless needed. There can be little doubt that the increase in the quantity of gold held in the Bank’s vaults between 2006 and 2013 reflected, among other factors, physical backing for increasing unallocated accounts during the 2000-2012 bull market.
In the past a bullion bank’s risk to a rising gold price either went unhedged, or was managed through derivatives, using forwards futures and options. Therefore, so long as systemic risk is not regarded as a material factor, the bullion banking community can absorb significant gold demand from investors by expanding unallocated accounts without any physical buying required. However, the investing public’s greater awareness of risk to bank deposits from bail-ins could change this in future. And it was only this week that wealthy German citizens were reminded of deposit risk when its government approved the introduction of bail-in procedures for bank insolvencies.
Increasing awareness of systemic risk by the rich and ultra-rich is likely to lead to a preference for allocated accounts or for vaulted gold held outside the banking system, over unallocated accounts. This being the case, the gold price is likely to rise more quickly for a given degree of increasing demand than it has in the past. For tangible confirmation of this conclusion we need look no further than the action of gold this week, which rose strongly at the same time as European bank shares fell sharply.
There is little evidence that dealers fully appreciate these developing dynamics. The sharp increase in the banks’ net short position on Comex reflected in the current Bank Participation Report suggests not.
Of course, it is possible the gold market is only rallying in an ongoing downtrend, in which case this analysis should be put on ice, but not forgotten. But anyone who believes that gold is still in a bear market should bear in mind that the only time gold has been cheaper relative to the total quantity of fiat dollars in circulation was in the late 1960s when the gold pool failed, and in 1999/2000, when the Bank of England sold half the UK’s gold reserves at the behest of Gordon Brown.