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Howard's End: The Squeeze On Gold

The price of gold and gold stocks is sky-rocketing with Central banks across the world coming in for severe criticism for the way they have sold official gold reserves, although in a disguised form. Maree Howard writes.

One of the biggest financial scandal stories, on the level of Enron, is about to break.

Central banks are said to have lent their gold for about 1% per annum - the cheapest borrowed money on earth. They have not reported these loans as sales meaning their official gold reserves remain constant. But the leased gold is gone.

It has been borrowed by large trading companies called bullion banks. They borrowed at 1%, sold the gold, took the money they earned by selling the gold and invested it at 5% or more.

It was sweet multi-billion dollar deal. But now they are in a squeeze.

They owe billions of dollars of gold bullion to Central banks but to get it back, they must buy gold bullion in the open market, which is now a rising market.

They are losing money, big time.

What has saved them so far is that the Central banks are not demanding repayment. Meanwhile the public doesn't know that the leased gold is gone. The Central banks do no publish these figures.

Then there are the "direct" sales of gold by the Central banks. The most recent sales were made by the Bank of England. It sold off at least half of its gold reserves over a 3-year period ending in March. The man responsible for the decision to sell the gold is Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has now come under fire for having made horrendous investment decisions.

The British Independent newspaper published the story on May 26.

In part that paper says "Gordon Brown has "lost" 400 million pounds by ordering the sale of part of Britain's gold reserves by the Bank of England....."

"Figures obtained by the Independent on Sunday also show that his decision to order the Bank of England to part with some of its gold reserves and switch into Euro and yen was also not a good bet for the taxpayer. The value of gold has soared on world markets as investors have switched to gold."

Of course, major Central bankers have a real problem. When the public learns that the Central bank's gold leasing programme has turned into an unannounced gold sales programme, with the bullion banks in cahoots with the Central banks, and the bullion banks can't repay the central banks, heads are going to roll.

A rising price of gold threatens to bankrupt the bullion banks who dare not go into the market to buy gold for fear if what this will do to increase gold's price.

So it's a waiting game. The bullion banks are hoping the price will go down and so are the Central bankers, But, at some point, the Central bankers will have to demand repayment. At that point the gold leasing game will end.

The bullion banks will go bust, the Central banks won't be repaid and the public will find out - once again - that they might not be able to trust Central banking.

Will gold's price fall back below the bottom of $US256? This now seems highly unlikely given the head of steam under which gold is now rising.

Of course, this all depends on whether Central banks go for one last sell-off to again artificially keep the price down.

With the Federal Reserve system expanding credit money in the U.S. to push down short-term interest rates, and with a recession in capital investing still in force, the question is: Where can I make a better rate of return than in gold?

This year, gold has beaten all other investment categories. Gold investors have to search long and hard to find a better rate of return.

Only if they think the price has peaked would they want to sell. But there is little evidence yet that gold's price has peaked. In fact, the scene looks set for a dramatic price increase.

Even the predictable threat of the Bundesbank in early April to sell gold - no amount specified - in 2004 has had no downward effect on gold's price.

Are investors likely to sell now than in the past? No. Because there are no clear cut alternatives. Not selling, of course, reduces the supply of available gold at any price.

One of the biggest buyers of gold traditionally is the Indian father (Patel not Tonto) who has been in the market for a thousand years buying gold for the daughter’s dowry. Why would he now want to sell traditional gold in order to buy conventional rupee "paper-money” investments in such a war scenario which exists on that sub-continent?

Then there is Japan with its increasing demand for gold. And the Central bank of China has been accumulating more gold in recent months than was believed likely.

So the upward pressure on gold's price seems to be from the supply side - i.e. reduced supplies of ready sellers are leading to higher prices.

Gold mining firms burdened with forward contracts set at a lower price see losses ahead when they have to sell a commodity on the back of rising prices. This is really going to hurt those mines that are loaded up with obligations to sell at a fixed price. They will face a profit squeeze and are less likely to add to their positions of forward sales.

I don't expect a gold-rush on Wall Street. They are too conventional and too closely allied to the highest levels of Central banks and bullion banks. Wall Street is the Establishment. In fact, I expect to see a propaganda campaign to try and take the head of steam out of gold and to prop up their ailing financial system.

There is a long-term re-education process head because gold has been under-attack ever since 1914 when European Central banks ceased to redeem their gold certificates and their Government's authorised this massive confiscation of private wealth. The U.S. joined in but it re-established convertibility after the war ended. Europe didn't, except Britain on 1925, at a pre-war price that could not be maintained without deflation - which the economy got. Britain went off the gold standard in 1931 and the U.S. followed in 1933.

As the truth about the one-way direction of the Central banks' gold leasing programmes becomes clearer to the public and they recognise the statistical fraud - that the gold is gone and won't be coming back - the upward pressure on gold's price will accelerate. The chickens are finally coming home to roost!

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