COMEX Warehouses in Trouble?

Since I started tracking COMEX gold and silver warehouse levels last November I’ve grown to be very suspicious of the numbers COMEX reports each day. In spite of increased physical deliveries in both metals, “registered” inventory levels remain more or less stable. This is why I gave up daily updates in favor of weekly ones; I just don’t have all that much faith in COMEX reporting.

Jim SinclairHero and venerable gold guru Jim Sinclair has experience in all things gold going back to the 1970s. Things happening NOW at COMEX gold warehouses are reminding him of severe delivery problems that bankrupted brokers BACK THEN.

Will Increased Delivery Demand Break The Gold Warehouses?

Dear Friends,

I have been speaking with many people this evening who have taken gold delivery.

What I am hearing is not impressive.

For decades warehouses have held, but rarely delivered as compared to store.

When examined closely it is a paper system that may have fallen badly behind as gold moved ahead since 2001.

There is a possibility the system is antiquated and more FUBAR than anyone, even the warehouses themselves, realize.

I have been told that bars delivered do not correspond with the receipts from exchanges.

I have been told that bars of slightly different weight (higher) have been received.

COMEX floor tradingThis may well be a system that has never been asked to handle volumes as are now taking place. This may well be like the old hand clearing equity systems that broke down as volume of trading increased in the early 70s.

F.I. Dupont went out of business because their back office could not meet the growing clearing and trading at that firm.

Pershing, and Vilas & Hickey were the two largest equity clearing firms.

Vilas & Hickey, a NYSE firm of which I was a general partner (at 27 years old) recognized the growing problem and transferred our clearing business to Pershing and merged our activities into another firm, Muller & Company, in order to avoid the impending problem.

I was the sole general partner of the merged NYSE firm so I know what I talk about. We preserved our capital and side stepped a problem that busted many firms.

I smell exactly the same thing in the precious metals warehouse business. How pervasive it is we all will soon find out.

Regards,
Jim

And Jim’s friend J.B. Slear, who helps people out with getting physical delivery from COMEX, is reporting:

1) “We’re finding out that some brokerages will not help with the delivery process or refuse to help even after the commissions are paid.”

2) “Calls today are reflecting concerns about accounting practices in Canada and other G7 countries.”

3) “…We have witnessed cost increases in just about everything “Comex”, from Prudential’s verification process (which is matching buyers monies and sellers bars) all the way down the line to the delivery itself.”

Read more at Assistance Getting Delivery from COMEX Warehouses.

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Reader Asks, “What’s So Hard About Busting COMEX?”

Scott's Soapbox

Here’s a good question from a reader, “Mike“:

Scott,
I have been following your website for some time along with Sinclair and enumerable others. I think you do a great job and I find your musings incredibly infromative. I’ve never traded futures on the comex but this whole comex cracking/failure to deliver thing puzzles me a great deal.

As best I can tell, if someone wanted to bust the comex couldn’t they just go long an unlimited amount of futures and then just ask for delivery?

The total dollar amount of all registered comex inventory is only about $3B which for many wealthy oligarchs, sovereign wealth funds, or potentially hostile countries is but a drop in the bucket. Is there something I’m missing here?

People seem to get excited about the comex potentially failing and it very well could but it seems that it wouldn’t be very difficult if anyone really wanted to. Again, perhaps I’m oversimplifying but I think getting a clear understanding is very important so people aren’t mislead in their understanding of the process and in any investment decisions regarding the precious metals skyrocketing if and when the comex collapses.

By the way, I am incredibly bullish on both monetary metals and am a firm believer in abolishing the fed, a return to sound money, etc., etc. etc. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue when you have a moment as it would probably be educational for me and many other of your readers.

Thanks so much and keep up the great work,
Mike

watermelons smashed 120x84Mike, here’s my take on it FWIW:

I agree, theoretically it shouldn’t be all that hard to crack COMEX open like a ripe melon. Like you say, it’s a relatively small market.

How small? As of yesterday, June 3, 2009, COMEX reported a total silver inventory of 120,879,235 oz. So, 121 million ounces at $15.92/oz works out to $1.9 billion.

[/begin conspiracy rant]
Chump change when the “govmint” is throwing around trillions. Geez, remember how the “govmint” gave JPMorgan $30 billion for taking over failing Bear Stearns? Monday, March 17, 2008 was the FIRST business day JPMorgan assumed and expanded Bear Stearns’ COMEX silver manipulation. [link] JP Morgan is almost solely responsible for the COMEX silver manipulation, and they’re funding it with money given to them by your “govmint”.

Oh, BTW, do you remember when silver hit its recent 28+ year high?

Monday, March 17, 2008,  you say, the EXACT SAME DAY JPMorgan took over the COMEX silver manipulation from Bear Stearns? What a coincidence…the price has been beaten down visciously ever since.
[/end conspiracy rant]

So, yes, if you know someone who’s pro-freedom and anti-bankster with a spare $2 billion* they’d have a shot at getting it done.

But normally there’s a problem with doing something like this. You can’t just go out and BUY long futures contracts: there has to be someone else willing to take the other side and SELL short. The COT report (Commitment of Traders) tells us how much JP Morgan’s willing to bet on shorts: right now it sits at 235 million oz.

prince-charming-v2smYes, you read right. JPMorgan is short DOUBLE the entire COMEX silver stockpile. Guess it won’t be hard to find someone to take the other side of your long bet!

BUT WAIT! YES! Now you’re catching on! The very fact that there’s 235 million ounces SHORTED out there right now means SOMEONE(S) ALREADY MADE THE LONG BET as well.

Are you getting this? While you (and any normal, rational human who can fog a mirror) would think all you’d have to do to bust COMEX is make a long bet for the ENTIRE COMEX inventory, you’d be wrong. It’s been tried before AND IT’S BEING TRIED RIGHT NOW. But JPMorgan just keeps making a bigger SHORT bet.

How can they do that?

Ever play poker? Say you’ve got more chips than everyone else at the table. What the hey, let’s make that more than everyone else COMBINED at the table. Let’s also pretend you’re arrogant and cocky ‘cuz your rich uncle is standing behind you, ready to replenish your supply of chips. And, boy oh boy, is he loaded. (We’ll call him your good ol’ Uncle Sam.)

What happens when you’re dealt a crappy hand? Fold?

HAH!

Bluff your way to a winning hand, up the ante, RAISE, RAISE, RAISE. As long as you can outspend ’em all you got a shot at the pot.

bad poker handYou see, Mike, JPMorgan knows silver is going north like Santa on Dec 26th. Their silver hand absolutely sucks. But, our “govmint” gave ’em a $30 billion grubstake to keep a lid on silver. As long as silver is down, the dollar looks solid and the sheeple won’t panic. [See: JPMorgan Is Fed’s Fair-Haired Golden Boy]

And, so far, JPMorgan knows everyone holding a long position is NOT paid up; they’re LEVERAGED. If JPM can knock silver down a buck the longs’ll get whacked with a big margin call. If they can’t cover, they lose. When the whacked longs lose, their emergency exit pushes the silver price down some more. That causes more margin calls for the longs, pushing the price further down, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum.

So far the longs (“us” not “U.S.”) have lost each time. But let me ask you this: can a guy win a poker championship with nothin’ but bad hands and solid bluffing?

Would you bet your retirement, your country, your currency, your very physical safety on the guy NEVER having his bluff called and winning EVERY time?

I, for one, want a place at the table when his luck runs out. That’s why I don’t trade my silver, why I have only bought silver since 2005, and why I never sell. I have all the silver I ever bought, except for that which I’ve given away to help people [If You Have No Silver I’ll Give You Some of Mine].

* So, can a guy step in and bust COMEX for $2 billion? Hmmm, sure, futures are leveraged so maybe you could do it for less. In an honest market (#snicker#) 1/10th of $2 billion oughta do it. BUT JPMorgan’s used those nasty margin calls to flush out the longs before. Guess you’d better have the full $2 billion to do it.

But wait! It ain’t enough to bet the entire COMEX stockpile long. Remember, JPMorgan’s betting DOUBLE the entire stockpile. If you wanna call ’em I guess you better pony up about $4 billion.

But wait, again! Who says JPMorgan won’t short even more? How MUCH could they short? $8 billion? $16 billion? Gee, wouldn’t the CFTC step in at some point and declare a manipulative short position and stop the madness?

NO.

[/begin conspiracy rant]
You see, the chairman of the CFTC sits on the president’s Plunge Protection Team [link]. He’s automatically in on the manipulation. If it makes him squeemish heading up a dishonest, deceptive “watchdog” organization he can just quit. Oh wait a minute. It does look like turnover’s been a problem at the CFTC Chairman position:
2005: Sharon Brown-Hruska
2006: Reuben Jeffery III
2007: Walt Lukken
2009: Michael V. Dunn
2009: Gary Gensler

Hmmm, maybe they do have a conscience. At least a small, easy-to-kick-around, Jiminy Cricket one.
[/end conspiracy rant]

So, NO, the crooked CFTC won’t stop JPMorgan’s silver manipulation, you see, because they’re backing it. So, if you’re going to bust COMEX you’d better have enough multi-billions on hand to call JPMorgan’s bluff. And, you’re not just going up against JPMorgan, but the guy who’s bankrolling them: dear ol’ Uncle Sam.

Maybe it’d be easier to replace CFTC leadership with an honest guy. Maybe you’d also have to replace at least 51 Senators. Maybe throw in 222 Congressman (you can keep Ron Paul, maybe Dennis Kucinich.)

Or, maybe you just wait for the US dollar to finally collapse. Once there’s no dollar to protect, there may be no reason to keep a lid on gold and silver. Actually, now that I think about it, since the Shadow Powers want a dollar collapse anyways (to cripple the U.S. and make way for greater global gov’t) maybe they already plan to trigger it by abruptly stopping the manipulation.

USDX 2009-06-04

Hmmm… maybe the dollar dive has already started…

Have you noticed how nervous the Chinese have gotten in the past few weeks? How Brazil no longer uses the dollar for trade. How Russia now prices oil in rubles not dollars? How the Chinese laughed at Treasury Secretary Geithner last week when he said “the dollar’s strong.” [ Read Why The Chinese Laughed At Geithner by former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Roberts.]

And, finally, the last time COMEX had manipulated the silver price below its cost of production a couple brothers from Texas tried their hand at busting COMEX by going long on silver and preparing to TAKE PHYSICAL DELIVERY of 192 million ounces. What happened? The CFTC crooks villified them.

The Hunts shook the lying bankers to their boots – to the point where intervention by the Fed, Treasury, and the Defense Department were warranted – merely by asking for delivery of the 192 million ounces of silver they’d been promised. This was not a “cornering” of a market; it was the attempt to enforce a contract, same as you’ve got with your landlord or bank.

Read “The Hunts Tried to Corner the Silver Market” Myth.

Please protect yourself and your family. Don’t cash in your (gold and silver) insurance!

Scott

More:
COMEX Crimes: Your Tax $ at Work
JPMorgan Is Fed’s Fair-Haired Golden Boy

Gold/Silver Manipulation Over in 30 Days?

If you’ve been a precious metals investor for more than six months you’ve heard about the rampant price manipulation on COMEX. (COMEX sets the cash price for gold and silver through its daily futures and options trading activity.)

Many of us have been waiting for the illegal manipulation (run primarily by Bear Stearns until March 2008, then JPMorgan Chase since then) to end for over two years.

Adrian Douglas thinks it may be over in as little as 30 days.

At lemetropolecafe.com he writes (edited for length, link):

BIG MONEY MOVING INTO COMEX GOLD & SILVER CALL OPTIONS

In November 2005 when gold was trading about $450 I predicted the mega-move in gold up to $720/oz by noticing a very large build-up of call options in the HUI component shares. [link]

In August 2007 I identified a massive Gold call option build-up in the COMEX DEC 2007 contract and predicted a big gold move. [link] Gold was trading at $660/oz at the time and ran up to over $1000/oz by March 2008.

It just recently came to my attention from two different confidential sources that JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs have been buying large amounts of Calls in gold and silver. This made me put on my gumshoes and take a serious poke around the COMEX option open interest once again.

Figure 1 shows the cumulative Open Interest across all strike prices for the COMEX Gold Call positions and the Put positions for the JUN 09 options.

comex-au-oi-june-2009
Figure 1

The ratio of Calls to Puts is 1.81 so Bulls outnumber Bears dramatically. What is also remarkable is the amount of open interest. For example, 100,000 contracts would be in-the-money if the gold price runs to $1,250/oz in the next 30 days. This is an astounding amount of option OI considering the open interest in all the futures contracts stands at only 345,000 contracts!

Let’s take a look at Figure 2 which is for DEC 2009.

comex-au-oi-dec-2009
Figure 2

The bets by bulls outnumber those by the bears by a 2.3 to 1 ratio which is even more bullish than for JUN 2009. The Total Call option interest is 113,663 contracts which is very similar to JUN 09. Furthermore if gold is trading at around $1600 by DEC then 100,000 contracts will be in the money!

I consider option players highly sophisticated speculators.
Such large bets are likely being made by some large money interests who are buying out of the money options BEFORE going into the futures market. Buying long futures in large volumes will rapidly drive up the gold price but the massive open interest in the Call Options then allow access to much more futures contracts at the same price by exercising the options and then perhaps taking delivery of the gold. This is bolstered by sources revealing that JPM and GS are buying in quantity. So on the part of JPM this is likely a ploy to try to cover a chunk of their massive short position.

Let’s now look at silver.
Figure 3 shows the cumulative Open Interest across all strike prices for the COMEX Silver Call positions and the Put positions for the JUL 09 options. The ratio of Calls to Puts is 1.80 so Bulls outnumber Bears by 80%. What is also remarkable is the amount of open interest. For example, 18,800 contracts would be in-the-money if the silver price runs to $25/oz in the next 60 days. This is an extraordinary amount of option OI considering the open interest in all the futures contracts stands at only 94,000 contracts!

comex-ag-oi-june-2009
Figure 3

Figure 4 shows the cumulative Open Interest across all strike prices for the COMEX Silver Call positions and the Put positions for the DEC 09 options. The ratio of Calls to Puts is 1.68 so Bulls outnumber Bears by 68%. Again the total Open Interest in Calls is high at almost 25,000 contracts when the Open Interest in all futures currently stands at 94,000 contracts.

 comex-ag-oi-dec-2009
Figure 4

I conclude that smart money is being placed for a massive rise in the gold price in the next 30 days and silver in the next 60 days (which probably means within 30 days for both metals) and again by December.

Only sophisticated traders tend to be in the precious metals option market so when there is a huge build up betting on a particular direction that is typically a directional indicator as I have shown was the case for the last two big moves in the precious metal bull.

The flat contango in gold and silver suggests there is a shortage developing of precious metals for delivery. We know that two large banks hold almost 100% of the commercial net short position. They need desperately to cover their exposure if the market is about to make a big move.

It looks as if that is precisely what is happening.

Adrian Douglas
April 29, 2009

Charts: COMEX Gold & Silver

Here are the latest COMEX gold and silver inventory charts. Inventory levels are expressed in millions of ounces: gold at 2,926,697  oz; silver at 70,068,085 oz.

comexgold_2009-03-20 

comexsilver_2009-03-20

 

See also:
COMEX Crimes: Your Tax $ at Work

Is COMEX Cracking? Finally?

Many of us, myself included, thought COMEX silver might go bust last December. It inspired me to start tracking COMEX silver deliveries, thinking shortages may show up there first. [Vaporize COMEX countDOWN]

COMEX fooled me. [Gunther Asks If I’m an Idiot]

Most “deliveries” were not physical deliveries depleting COMEX’s metal reserves. They were really just moving a pile of metal from one bank’s hoard to another. So, I changed to just charting weekly changes in COMEX gold and silver inventory. [Charts: COMEX Gold & Silver] Gold inventory dipped through December, then recovered nicely. Silver, on the other hand, dipped and stayed, mostly, down.

Hmmm.

Now, no less an expert than Ted Butler [hero] is saying today:

tedbutler_sm“What’s somewhat ironic is that there was a tremendous amount of discussion over the past few months about backwardation and potential delivery troubles in the past December contract. None of those threats came to fruition.

“Now, with very little public discussion or warning, delivery tightness and backwardation seem to have arrived.

What’s this “backwardation” Ted’s talking about? 

“The main micro sign that we may be entering into a wholesale silver shortage is the appearance of an inversion or backwardation on the COMEX. For the past week, the nearby current delivery month of March has closed at a premium to the next major delivery month, May.

“What this means is that buyers are willing to pay more to get immediate delivery of wholesale quantities of silver. It means wholesale silver is “tight.”

It sounds like things may be heating up in silver…

See also:
COMEX Crimes: Your Tax $ at Work

COMEX Crimes: Your Tax $ at Work

tedbutler_smCheck out Ted Butler’s (one of my heroes) latest column. He asks some great questions… (I’ve edited together some excerpts below.)

BTW: Notice how you can never buy silver or gold at the spot price anymore? It’s always at least 15% above spot price IF you can find it?

Remember this: before March 2008 (when the events described below happened) silver was easy to get and you paid just 18 cents or so over spot. Now the US Mint is rationing gold and silver Eagles, they’ve halted production of fractional Gold Eagles, and silver & gold carry delivery lead-times measured in weeks or months. You can thank the government’s PPT (Plunge Protection Team) for this mess.

Q: How did we get to the point where a big U.S. bank, most likely JP Morgan Chase, has come to manipulate the silver (and gold) market?

Q: Why are U.S. banks allowed to speculate in commodity markets at all, when they have caused such havoc already with their failed trading in just about everything they touched?

Q: Didn’t they do enough damage with subprime mortgages and credit default swaps?

Q: Why should taxpayers subsidize bank commodity speculation and manipulation?

Q: When did the regulators stop enforcing the law and switch over to defending the criminal element?

Dead Bodies
As bad as the lack of justice for past misdeeds is to the public psyche, there is something even worse: regulators ignoring an obvious crime in progress, especially when the evidence of that crime is readily available and published by the regulator [CFTC] itself.

The CFTC is on their third silver investigation within five years, while at the same time reporting that the short concentration has grown to the highest level in that time. This is akin to tripping over and not seeing the dead body in a murder investigation.

The Crime: In Progress Now
market-riggingAs I write this article, the big short(s) is attempting to rig the silver and gold markets lower to trip off technical fund selling below the 50 day moving averages. Will that attempt succeed? I don’t know. What I do know is that this is market rigging of the highest order. I also know that the big short is becoming increasingly isolated and more learn of the manipulation daily. That’s good for us, bad for them.

In the case of silver, while the manipulation has been ongoing for many years, the criminality kicked into high gear when JP Morgan took over Bear Stearns, at the government’s request, last March [2008].

Who Started the Crime?
Bear Stearns was the holder of the large concentrated short silver position and it was inherited by Morgan. In JP Morgan’s defense, it does not appear they initiated the concentrated silver short position. It was excess baggage from the forced takeover of Bear.

The Treasury Department and Federal Reserve backstopped Morgan and agreed to hold them harmless for financial losses and for criminal involvement in the silver manipulation. The financial system was weak enough at the time of Bear Stearns’ failure, that a blowup in silver had to be avoided. JP Morgan was given the go-ahead to “manage” and control Bear Stearns’ silver short position directly by the Treasury.

JP Morgan: Above the Law
prince-charming-v2smWhile it is understandable that JP Morgan would accept the Treasury Department’s request, and that the avoidance of a potential financial panic is always a good thing, panics are short-term events. A year has now passed, and the manipulation is still in force, stronger than ever.

What started as a temporary remedy for a short-term emergency, has evolved into a continuance of the long-term silver manipulation. This is wrong on every level. The U.S. is a nation governed by the rule of law. No one is above the law. Not the Treasury Department, not JP Morgan, not the CFTC. If my findings are accurate, then the passage of time indicates that there is potential real criminality here.

Why Does the CFTC Look the Other Way?
As far as the CFTC, it is a weak agency, incapable of over-ruling a directive from the Treasury Department. They had no choice but to allow the silver market to continue to be manipulated by allowing the transfer of the concentrated short position from Bear Stearns to JP Morgan.

Besides, the CFTC already dropped the ball by allowing the concentrated short position to come into existence at Bear Stearns in the first place and denying for years that the silver manipulation existed. They had no choice but to go along. They couldn’t stand up to Treasury if they wanted to. [Editor’s note: the CFTC is actually a member of the Plunge Protection Team (created by Executive Order # 12631) whose stated purpose is to manipulate markets. [link] See also Bailout Charade: The Hidden Reason Why]

Will It Ever End?
So how does this end, or can JP Morgan, Treasury and the CFTC allow this crime to continue indefinitely? No one has a lock on the future, but there is no easy way out for them. This cannot be resolved quietly or orderly, but it must and will be resolved.

Even if the manipulators don’t blink first, the growing shortages in the wholesale physical market will bring this scam to a head. That’s why you must own silver. [more]

Related:
JPMorgan Is Fed’s Fair-Haired Golden Boy
“Federal Reserve”: NO On Both Claims
CFTC to Investigate Silver Manipulation

“The Hunts Tried to Corner the Silver Market” Myth
Bailout Charade: The Hidden Reason Why

Chart: COMEX Silver Inventory

button-vaporize-comex-white-backNOTE: Latest COMEX Silver Inventory chart is to the right, in the sidebar.

For what it’s worth, here’s a chart showing COMEX Silver Inventories since the end on November, 2008. (If you can’t see it click the title of the post above.)

comex-silver-inventory-2009-01-07

Notice the severity of depletion is nothing close to what I thought had been occurring in my earlier “Vaporize COMEX” charts, even though it is significantly better than the chart I published for gold yesterday.

On Nov 28, first notce day for Dec silver deliveries, COMEX reported 80,749,083 “registered” ounces. On Dec 31, the day after final notice day, COMEX reported 66,998,734 “registered” ounces. This is an inventory depletion of 17.0%, not the 46.5% I had shown in my “final” December chart.

All the other frustrating comments I made about the gold chart apply to the silver one as well. (Please read them on Chart: COMEX Gold Inventory before calling me an idiot.)

Please note the reversal of the “Eligible” and “Registered” areas vs the gold chart. Seem silver has a smaller (though growing) pool of “eligible” inventory.

Could this be a sign some of the metal is being set aside for possible delivery outside of COMEX? I honestly don’t know.