April 26, 2016

The usual suspects made a big deal out of evidence that the banks involved in the London “gold fix” had used the ‘fixing’ process to clip unwarranted profits. As I explained last week, this evidence did not in any way support the claims that a grand price suppression scheme had been successfully conducted over a great many years, but unsurprisingly that’s exactly how it was presented in some quarters. Anyhow, the purpose of this post isn’t to rehash the reasons that manipulation related to the London “gold fix” could only have resulted in brief price distortions and definitely could not have been used to shift the directions of multi-month trends. Rather, the purpose is to marvel at the inconsistency of those who loudly and relentlessly complain that the gold market is dominated by the manipulative actions of a banking cartel.

The latest example of the inconsistency is the collective cheering by the aforementioned complainers of last week’s introduction of a twice-daily ‘gold fixing’ process in China. The “Yuan gold fix” will be implemented by a group of 18 banks (16 Chinese banks and 2 international banks) and will be subject to exactly the same conflicts of interest and abilities to clip unwarranted profits as the traditional London ‘gold fix’.

So, are we supposed to believe that manipulation of the gold price by Chinese banks would be perfectly fine, or are we supposed to believe that the average Chinese bank, which, by the way, has non-performing loans (NPLs) of greater than 20% but claims to have NPLs of less than 2%, is a paragon of virtue? It would be impossible for a rational and knowledgeable person to hold either of these beliefs, but those who regularly complain about gold-market manipulation by banks and also cheered the implementation of the “Yuan gold fix” must hold one of them.

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