November 7, 2016

Over the past few years there has been a lot of irrational fear-mongering within the gold commentariat regarding the potential for the Comex to default due to having insufficient physical gold in its coffers. I most recently addressed this topic in a post on 6th May.

I’m not going to repeat all the information contained in earlier posts such as the one linked above. However, here’s a very brief recap:

1) The ratio of Comex Open Interest (OI) to “Registered” gold inventory that Zero Hedge et al employed to create the impression of high default risk was not, in any way, shape or form, a valid indicator of such risk.

2) The amount of gold available for delivery at any time is the TOTAL amount of gold in the “Registered” and “Eligible” categories, not just the amount of “Registered” gold, since it is a quick and easy process to convert between “Eligible” and “Registered”.

3) The maximum amount of gold that can be demanded for delivery is the amount of OI in the nearest futures contract, not the total OI across all futures contracts.

In the above-linked post I included a chart showing that the amount of gold delivered to futures ‘longs’ over the preceding two years was much less in both absolute and relative terms than at any other time over the past decade. The chart made it clear that as the gold price fell, the desire of futures traders to ‘stop’ a contract and take delivery of physical gold also fell.

This meant that the unusually-small amount of gold in the “Registered” category was almost certainly related to an unusually-low desire on the part of futures ‘longs’ to take delivery. To put it another way, the unusually-small amount of gold in the “Registered” category was nothing more than a natural consequence of bearish sentiment.

Here was my conclusion at that time:

It’s a good bet that if a multi-year gold rally began last December (I think it did) then the desire to take delivery will increase over the next couple of years, prompting a larger amount of gold to be held in the Registered category.

Finally, here are charts from showing that this year’s strength in the gold price led to 1) an increase in the desire of futures ‘longs’ to take delivery and 2) a related and substantial increase in the amount of “Registered” gold.

Exactly as expected.



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