Wednesday, December 08, 2021
How much gold? At what Price?
September 2021 update

This post is from 2015, but with the advent of WallStreetSilver on Reddit, it warrants an update.

The fiat, debt-based money system is showing signs of collapse. There has been some discussion about this possibility for many years, but events of the past few years, has somewhat increased this topic's coverage in both the alternative media, as well as the MSM.

The banksters of Venice who, via the Bank of England, the US Federal Reserve and most-likely the Chinese Central Bank, have morphed into what is now called 'The Globalist'; and these 'families' have been working for hundreds (or thousands) of years to reach this point in time and events – the eve of a digital one world fiat currency. It appears with this latest gambit of 'pandemic' that they are well on their way to pulling if off. However, it is not a done deal, so there is some, faint hope that 'the people' will rise up and throw off the yokes of monetary slavery.

A few thoughts

  • From the Silver Stealers – a massive, multi-decade effort to demonetize silver and to never allow it to again be used as a common currency
  • 50+ year effort to suppress the price (true value) of silver – to keep it cheap for industry and make it unattractive for investment
  • 50+ year effort to obfuscate the quantity of above ground gold – to keep its price elevated relative to that of silver
  • Stock to flow ratio — an important variable for the price formation of commodities — which for gold is 58
  • Stock to flow ratio for silver is either 3 or 30 depending upon whhether there is 4 billion above-ground silver ounces or 30 billion ounces.
  • Unlike other commodities, gold trading is not restricted to what is annually mined — metal is traded from one inventory to another. The gold price is not set by annual production versus “consumption.” With higher prices, silver could begin to trade as gold is traded.

Enough for now …

Stock to Flow Ratio – A Primer  [LINK]

Gold Bars

The importance of gold’s stock to flow ratio is greatly underestimated. I first came across the concept in 2009 at a lecture by Professor Antal E. Fekete in Szombathely, Hungary. It fascinated me and the more I looked at its implications, the more amazed that I became, not least of which because my search engine couldn’t locate a single piece of writing on the subject anywhere.

The stock to flow ratio of gold and its ramifications are a book in its own right, but as this is a primer I will stick to the basics. It is not possible to fully understand why gold is money without understanding the stock to flow ratio and its significance.


For 6,000 years gold has been used to store wealth. Only a small percentage has ever been used by industry. This means that the vast majority of all the gold ever mined is still available for use. It is generally agreed that 170,000 tonnes of gold has already been mined and is still available for use. This is commonly known as the ‘stock’. This figure is a gross under-representation of the true stock of gold in the world, but it will be used as the working figure to avoid becoming side-tracked.

Each year about 2,400 tonnes of newly mined gold arrives in the market. This is known as the ‘flow’. It is from these two amounts that the ratio is derived. When the stock is divided by the flow we arrive at 71. This means that the stock to flow ratio is 71 to 1. As I said, it is simple. It is the ramifications of this simple ratio, when compared to the stock to flow ratio of other metals, that is so startling.

That amount of flow (2,400 tonnes) is about 1.4 percent of the stock. Even if gold production were to be doubled, then the annual growth in the stock of gold would still be less than three percent. It is almost impossible to imagine how mine supply could be doubled. Enormous new ore bodies would need to be discovered. The stock of gold is far, far greater than the amount of new gold arriving in the market each year. What this leads to is a situation where the value of gold is very stable.

If for some reason the mine supply of gold (the flow) were to completely cease for a couple of years, then again it would have no effect on the value of gold. It is the large amount of easily available stock that gives gold its stability of value. Because there is so much stock it is uninfluenced by the amount of gold that is, or is not, entering the market each year.

Nothing else (except, arguably, silver) has anywhere near this stock to flow ratio. All other metals have a stock considerably less than the flow; as fast as they are mined they are used. Commodity stocks are rarely sufficient to last more than a couple of months. The reason that other metals are mined is entirely different from the reason that gold is mined. Most metals are mined to be used in manufacture; gold is mined because it is money. Whilst readily available gold is equivalent to 71 years worth of supply (stock to flow ratio of 71 to 1), most other commodities have far less than 71 days worth of readily available supply.


Because of its scarcity, platinum has been suggested by some as a new monetary metal. However, in the event that flow was to stop, then stocks of platinum would be exhausted in a matter of weeks. In those circumstances the value of platinum would skyrocket. That makes platinum far too volatile for use as money. Platinum is a precious metal; it can never be a monetary metal. Likewise if the flow of copper were to stop, easily available stock would be exhausted in a matter of weeks and the price of the copper would also skyrocket.

gold stock flow ratio
Gold Stock-to-Flow Ratio

It is ironic that there is a common belief that gold is money because it is precious… because there is so little of it. Gold is money because there is so much of it … relative to flow.

When there is only a small stock of a metal (or any commodity) compared to flow, then the price of that commodity can fluctuate enormously. A new large mine would increase the flow and drop the price of the metal. A sudden closing of a large mine would increase the price dramatically. Such volatility in supply would cause great instability in the perceived value of any metal with a small, above ground stock.

It is the stock to flow ratio that ensures that gold continues to hold a steady value. Because of its high stock to flow ratio, gold holds its value with a stability that is matched by nothing else, and can be matched by nothing else.  Because gold has been successfully used as money for so long, it is now impossible to imagine how anything else could ever succeed as money.

Even if a new commodity appeared that satisfied the many functions and requirements of money, it still would not be able to achieve the high stock to flow ratio necessary for real stability of value over time. It is the high stock to flow ratio of gold, higher than anything else, which ensures that gold holds its stable value over the longest period of time. Gold has been accumulated for over 6,000 years to achieve the stock to flow ratio that it has today. How could anything else ever match this?

Gold has a stock to flow ratio, with the consequent stability of value, sufficient to ensure that it will forever remain the only money. That is the significance of the stock to flow ratio. The stock to flow ratio underpins the whole theory of gold as money; it doesn’t get any more important than that.


Philip Barton
16th July, 2011
© The Gold Standard Institute

The Essence of Gold Supply and Demand Dynamics  [LINK]

gold coins

Gold trades more like a currency than a commodity

To understand the price of gold, first, one needs to understand the true nature of its supply and demand dynamics. Because gold is immutable and has been used as money and a store of value for thousands of years, virtually nothing ever mined has been lost. There are vast above-ground stocks of gold, and mine production only adds 1.6% to these stocks annually. Accordingly, gold has a very high stock to flow ratio, and thus trades more like a currency than a commodity. This is the true nature of gold’s supply and demand dynamics. Many consultancy firms, however, present gold’s supply and demand dynamics like that of a perishable commodity, which is misleading and causes deep misconceptions regarding gold’s trading characteristics and price formation.

In this article, we will analyze consultancy firms their gold supply and demand statistics and how this can be misleading to conclude the market is in deficit or surplus (supposedly leading to higher or lower prices). Then we will drill down into more general supply and demand dynamics — comparing gold to other commodities—and finally we will have a look at how gold trades as a currency.

Gold Supply And Demand Balance Data Is Misleading



Every quarter consultancy firms like Refinitiv — or more specific, their GFMS team — publish a supply and demand balance for gold. All supply categories picked by GFMS are matched to all their demand categories, resulting in a surplus or deficit at the bottom of the line. My main objection to these numbers is the “balance approach.”

Below is the most recent balance published by GFMS on gold supply and demand, stretching from 2009 through 2018. The key takeaways are:

  • Mine production makes up the majority of total supply.

  • Jewelry demand accounts for more than half of total demand (on average).

  • The difference between total supply and total demand, is disclosed as a surplus or deficit (or net balance), suggesting the gold price to go down or up.

world gold supply and demand

The balance presented, however, has nothing do to with price direction, because neither the “physical surplus/deficit,” nor the “net balance” line item are correlated to the gold price. And if there’s no correlation, how can there be causation?

Have a look at the next charts, that display the correlation between the annual market balance by GFMS and US dollar gold price. I have inverted the surplus/deficit axis to make it correspond to price direction (as a deficit should increase the price of gold and a surplus decrease the price of gold). Furthermore, I have colored the surplus/deficit bars: a red bar shows a negative correlation, and a green bar shows a positive correlation to the gold price.

GFMS 1

We predominantly see red bars in the charts. In the “net balance” chart, 64% of the samples are negatively correlated, in the “physical surplus/deficit” chart, it’s even higher at 86 %. Obviously, the gold “balance approach” by GFMS is misleading.

General Supply and Demand Dynamics



For perishable commodities, it does make sense to conceive a supply and demand balance. Let’s take the wheat and corn markets in the US as examples. From the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) I have collected supply and demand statistics for both commodities. Supply over one season is what’s produced plus imports. Demand is what’s consumed plus exported. Supply minus demand results in a surplus or deficit. In the chart below, I have plotted the US wheat market balance versus the wheat price.

wheat

We can observe that most of the time, when the market was in deficit, the price was up compared to the previous season, and when the market was in surplus, the price declined. The market balance is positively correlated with the price 85% of the time. To avoid cherry-picking (pun intended), in the corn market we see the same predominant positive correlations (78%). This data makes sense and is not misleading. (Kindly note, I’m just scratching the surface here. If one is more interested in corn and wheat supply and demand dynamics, please read Price Determination in Agricultural Commodity Markets: A Primer by Randy Schnepf.)

corn

For corn, the supply and demand “balance approach” makes sense, in contrast to gold, because the former has a very low stock to flow ratio. This ratio is calculated by dividing above-ground stocks (inventory) by annual (mine) production. For gold, it’s very high because gold is indestructible. Let’s go through the math for 2018.

Global above-ground gold stocks: 190,000 tonnes

Annual global gold mine production: 3,300 tonnes

190,000 / 3,300 = 58

The stock to flow ratio for gold = 58

Perishable commodities have a much lower stock to flow ratio, simply because they’re used up. In 2018 the stock to flow ratio of corn was 0.14.

US corn inventory: 53,709 (1000 MT)

Annual US corn production: 366,287 (1000 MT)

53,709 / 366,287 = 0.14

Corn is perishable, which is why annual production is higher than stocks. When consumed, corn is fully used up. Hence, the price of corn is set between the forces of production versus consumption.

Gold cannot be compared to perishable commodities, because gold trading is anything but restricted to what is annually mined. (As noted, above-ground stocks dwarf mine output.) So, gold’s supply-side consist mainly of inventory (a high stock to flow ratio). And, because virtually everyone buys gold as a store of value, and gold is hardly ever used up, the demand side consists mainly of inventory as well. (Jewelry is a store of value combined with aesthetics and status.) As a result, what mainly happens in the gold market is that metal is traded from one inventory to another. The gold price is not set by annual production versus “consumption.”

Across the globe, above-ground stocks are changing hands all year through. This is what makes gold trade like a currency.

Empirically, in the short- and medium-term, gold mine production has little impact on the gold price. From Fergal O’Connor, Lecturer In Finance at Cork University Business School (source):

quote big

The [high stock to flow ratio] of gold implies low market power of gold mining firms and thus an inability to significantly influence gold prices. … [Mine] production thus follows gold prices.

Gold miners have low market power and are likely to be price takers rather than price setters …

Fergal’s quote perfectly rhymes with the essence of gold’s supply and demand dynamics.

Institutional Supply and Demand and the Price of Gold



Let us now look closer at what does not drive the price of gold versus what does. As noted earlier, data by GFMS shows that the majority of what they measure as supply is mine production, and the majority of their demand comes from the jewelry sector. In the next chart, I demonstrate that jewelry demand is not positively correlated with the price. Most notable, jewelry demand falls when the price rises and vice versa! It should be said that gold mine production is positively correlated to the gold price, but with a lag of about ten years. This is explained by the fact that when, for example, the gold price rises it takes years for gold mining companies to find new deposits, and additional years to mine the metal once found.

We must conclude jewelry demand does not drive the price of gold, and in short- and medium-term mine production does neither.

GFMS 2

Logically, what does drive the price of gold in the short- and medium-term is supply and demand in above-ground stocks. This is visible in cross-border gold trade in the UK, which houses the heart of the global gold market: the London Bullion Market. The annual net flow through the UK is positively correlated to the gold price 86% of the time.

GFMS 3

Gold mining, jewelry demand, and refinery activity in the UK are neglectable. Therefore, the vast majority of UK imports and exports are institutional supply and demand (and ETF flows). And guess what, this category of wholesale bullion bought and sold, is not included in the data by GFMS. From GFMS (emphasis mine):

quote big

Gold is also widely used as an investment, however, where physical flows to and from the market can be monitored, to a degree. As such we include the highly visible net-ETF inventory build and also published changes at gold held by futures exchanges. This gives a partial indication of the flow of physical gold from above ground stocks and our net balance for the market. It should be noted, however, that ETF and exchange inventory flows account for only a small percentage of the opaque Over the Counter market [institutional supply and demand].

What GFMS is saying, is that aside from supply and demand that can be easily measured (mine supply and jewelry demand), gold is also used as an investment. And investment trades are not easily measured as they involve, for example, bullion changing hands between banks in London or Switzerland. Such logic! However, while exactly quantifying institutional trading is difficult, there should be no justification to deny the parts we can quantify and their correlation to the price of gold.

Where GFMS mentions the “Over the Counter market,” they point to the London Bullion Market. We saw in the above chart that annual net flows through the UK are mostly (86 %) positively correlated to the gold price. Monthly net flows show a positive correlation 67% of the time. According to my analysis, these positive correlations are a reflection of causation, but I will expand on that in forthcoming posts.

GFMS 4

Conclusion



In 2013, 2014, and 2015 China imported thousands of tonnes of gold while the price was declining. Some analysts wrote this wasn’t possible; the market had to be manipulated. Of course, it was perfectly possible. The gold that China imported came predominantly from London.

When thousands of tonnes of gold are being sold and moved from West to East, does that reflect strong demand or strong supply? Because the price went down, it was the latter. The West sold aggressively from 2013 through 2015, and China happily backed up the truck. This is easy to understand when one is aware of the essence of gold’s supply and demand dynamics. What happened in those years was that a lot of above-ground stock was traded and crossed the globe. Very normal for gold.

shanghai

To be clear, in my view, the numbers by GFMS—or the World Gold Council, or Metals Focus, or CPM Group—are not meaningless. Much valuable information can be extracted from it. For example, the fact that jewelry demand doesn’t drive the price of gold. Other data points serve as proper sentiment indicators (ETF flows, retail coin demand, central bank buying, etc.). The point of this article was to set out my critique of the gold market balance concept. This concept holds the false presumption that gold supply and demand is inelastic.

In a forthcoming article, I will explain the interaction between gold supply and demand in the West versus the East. There has been a pattern for numerous decades, that helps us understand history, the present, and the future. In an additional article, I will discuss how the gold futures market in New York, the COMEX, ties into all this.

What is Freegold?  [LINK]

Four years ago, Freegoldtube made a video titled "What is Freegold?" It evolved out of a series of events that began with the stunning collapse in the price of gold, from $1,600 down to $1,380 in first half of April, 2013. That collapse caused Jim Sinclair to email me asking about Freegold, which caused him to then make some confusing posts on his own blog about Freegold, which caused Ein Anderer to suggest that we were in "urgent need" of a short and simple explanation of Freegold.

He persisted, which cause me to respond two days later thusly:

quote big

Hello ea,

What you request is, unfortunately, impossible. It is not possible to explain this quickly and simply. The best that you can hope to do is to ignite the interest in someone so that they will expend the same effort that you have expended. You are kind of new, but in time you will see that I am right. Until then, anyone and everyone is free to do what ANOTHER, FOA and I have apparently failed to do after years of effort. ;D

Sincerely,
FOFOA

Apparently I'd thrown down the gauntlet with that response, because several people immediately began taking up the challenge. Freegoldtube made the challenge official at the original Speakeasy, posting the question here simultaneously. In the end, 36 people contributed their own brief definitions of Freegold to the video. They ranged from a single line, to several paragraphs. I'm not sure if anyone totally nailed it, but taken as a whole, the video is very good!


Solitary Monk is the Speakeasy member who's been on the Gold Trail the longest, having read A/FOA on the USAGOLD website from around the time they first began posting there. He's also the source of AFTER (THOUGHTS!), for those who don't remember. Anyway, I recently asked him a series of questions, culminating with this one: What is Freegold? Here was his answer:


Freegold is when ALL physical gold is:

  1. FREE from official money systems,
  2. owned FREE of all other claims, and
  3. is FREEly traded.

I believe that all three conditions are necessary, and together they are sufficient.

If all three of the above conditions are met, then: There would be no full or partially gold-backed currencies, and no ability to exchange currency at the central bank for gold at a fixed exchange rate. There would be no paper gold or other gold derivatives. Gold would not be loaned. Gold would be easily traded at full value. Currency (official money) would be used as the medium of exchange and for credit. Gold would function as the best store of value. The MOE and SOV would be separate. A mechanism to balance international trade would arise naturally.

I’m led to the above brief description from just a few of Another/FOA’s posts. Their first use of the term “Freegold” was as the heading of a post from Trailguide which included this:

2/14/2000; 18:20:51
In our modern world we must remove gold from the official money system, place it in a free market and people will use it as wealth money, not borrowing money. Then the fiat can come and go as the wind!

And here are two more relevant quotes:

Sat Mar 07 1998 13:25
gold, while allowed to be "freely convertible" into any currency, is not allowed to trade "freely". Its price is managed.

5/3/98
Gold is valued by the number of outstanding claims against it. […] The Euro group is going to force those claims into real bids instead of just claims!

At the time Another/FOA wrote, and still today, gold is effectively free from official money systems except for the management of its price. And it is traded freely, except for the management of its price. And the way the price is managed is by creating multiple claims on the same ounce of gold which forces the price down.

So, all that remains is for all but one of the claims on each ounce of gold to vaporize.

Sun Nov 23 1997 09:18
"When a thousand hungry lions fight over one scrap of food, small dogs should hide with whats in their belly".

In the “What is Freegold?” video, Polly Metallic (at 18:22) and Nickelsaver (at 19:09), both stated, in their own words and at slightly greater length, the same three conditions I listed above (and they also listed some of the consequences). They got there first, so they both deserve gold medals.

-Solitary Monk


Sincerely, FOFOA

Freegold Will Kill the Paper Gold Casino  [LINK]

We are now in the very final stages of the most remarkable era of alchemy in the history of finance. This cycle started in 1913 with the creation of the Fed and had its death knell in 1971 when Nixon took away the gold backing of the dollar. It has been a long and slow 50 year death of the world economy and the patient has only been kept alive due to the creation of fake money, fake assets, fake (paper) gold, fake wealth, fake valuations, fake balance sheets, fake bankers, fake politicians all built on a colossal mountain of fake debt.

What will be the trigger for the coming biggest financial crisis in history? There are so many time bombs around the globe that it really doesn’t matter where and how it starts. Because when it starts, there will be a chain reaction that will lead to the most spectacular economic fireworks in history.

FAKE GROWTH BASED ON FAKE MONEY

Central banks around the world have already set the coming fall in motion. What has kept the world going for so long, in spite of being bankrupt, is the massive liquidity that all central banks have added to the system. The world economy can only grow, albeit artificially, by a constant injection of liquidity. Without that the patient would die quickly. This has created an illusion of growth but all that has grown is debt. In real terms the world economy is hardly growing and how could it just based on fake money.

But central banks are now creating the perfect situation for the coming collapse. They are taking away the punch bowl that has fed all the asset and debt bubbles in recent years. It is not just the US where liquidity growth has reversed abruptly by the quantitative tapering. Also in the Eurozone, Japan, and China liquidity growth is slowing down significantly. This is all that is needed to create the perfect setup for the coming collapse. The bubbles will implode if they are not constantly expanding.

qe punch

MONEY PRINTING WILL RETURN BUT TO NO AVAIL

Yes, there will be a point when stock and bond markets collapse and central banks will start wild money printing again. But since they are always behind the curve, it will all be too late and what the world economy will experience is a hyperinflationary depression that eventually leads to a deflationary implosion of the system.

So what will be the initial specific events that starts the coming fall of the world economy? Will it be Japan’s economy sinking into the pacific, or the Chinese debt dragon catching fire or maybe some little boy who will proclaim that Uncle Sam has no clothes. The Brussels elite is certainly doing a superb job in destroying Europe both economically and socially. They will clearly cause the fall of the Rome Empire. Not that Italy is much of an empire these days. But just like all empires collapse under its own debt, so will Italy.

With Italian debt to GDP the second highest (after Greece) in the Eurozone of 130% with Target 2 loans (Italian loans financed by Bundesbank via ECB) at Euro 500 billion, plus, plus plus, Italy will have no chance to even service its debt. The Eurozone QE has grown to Eur 2.5 trillion since 2015 and the ECB has virtually been the lone buyer of Italian debt. Yield on the debt has surged and many European banks are heavily exposed, especially the French ones.

target2

Germany has long been the milk cow of the Eurozone but even Germany is now coming under pressure. The manufacturing sector has been hit with a weakening of some German export markets like China, Turkey and Italy. The PMI (purchasing managers) survey for Europe has just dropped to a four year low.

NOT THE FIRST TIME ROME WILL BURN

In a bunch of sick economies, it is always difficult to determine who should get the prize for the sickest. Italy certainly has a good chance to win that obscure prize. That they can never repay the debt is a certainty and this will soon lead to Rome burning and the rest of the EU also catching fire.

rome

EUREXIT NEXT

The Brexit saga is a symptom of how desperate Brussels is to hold the EU together. The EU elite has pushed Theresa May to accept an exit deal which is totally unacceptable to the British people as well as to the British parliament. Brussels is extremely frightened that the UK leaving the EU on good terms will not only open the flood gates for other countries to do the same. It will also lead to the failure of the Brussels’s attempt to create a European Superstate, led by an unelected and unaccountable elite. So Eurexit or the breakup of the EU is coming, that is certain. It is not going to happen overnight, but the bursting of market bubbles combined with weakening economies across the board will most likely precipitate the collapse.

History tells us that when you reach the end of a global economic cycle, the whole world is super bullish. Virtually no one can, or wants to see, the coming collapse. We know that from peaks like 1929 or 1973 when all market observers were certain that the golden era they were in will go on forever – “Because it is different today”.

“IT’S DIFFERENT TODAY”

I certainly concur that it is different today. But not from a positive point of view. Sadly the world economy is living a lie and will soon have the most horrendous awakening. The laws of nature always win in the long run. The manipulation of the world economy in the last 100 years is now coming to an end and nature will open the flood gates to flush out all this falsity, dishonesty and hypocrisy. This cleansing process will create a lot of suffering for quite a long time, but is the only way for the world to get back to a sound system with sound real growth that is not based on money printing and debt.

GOLD BACKED ECONOMIES EVENTUALLY FAIL

The basis of a sound system is sound money. Throughout history the monetary system has always functioned better when gold has been backing the currency? So why has every currency system in history then failed and why have all currencies always gone to their intrinsic value of zero?

The explanation is simple. Soundly based economies with budget and trade surpluses carry the seeds of their own destruction. Once the economic cycle has peaked, the country continuous to spend money it doesn’t have and deficits are created. This becomes a vicious circle, more deficits lead to more money printing which in its turn increases the deficits. At that point the country abandons the gold backing of the currency in order to print more money and this eventually leads to the collapse of the country’s economy. This cycle has happened throughout history and we are seeing the perfect example of this cycle since 1971. Both US and global credit have grown exponentially since then and only since the beginning of this century, global debt has tripled to a staggering $250 trillion.

reserve cur

THE US DOESN’T HAVE THE GOLD BUT CHINA DOES

So once the current cycle has run its course and bottomed, are we likely to have a new gold backed reserve currency? Well, it won’t be the dollar, that is certain. Because the dollar will disappear into the Atlantic and Pacific as the US economy collapses. Yes, the US will try to resurrect the dollar like a Phoenix but that would soon fail. Also, the US would then need to prove that they have the 8,000 tonnes of gold that they claim to have. But they are unlikely to have even half of that. The rest has been sold covertly or leased to the market and is now in China or India and will thus never come back. China on the other hand has officially 1,800 tonnes but the real figure could be substantially higher. Some market observers estimate that China has up to 20,000 tonnes but no one really knows what the true figure is. China will only reveal their gold position when they call the US bluff of 8,000 tonnes.

Personally I am not in favour of a gold backed reserve currency. Because eventually, the country will mismanage its economy and live above its means. This will necessitate the abandonment of the gold backing and the start of money printing and currency debasement.

Better to let fiat money be a medium of exchange that finds its own value based on the (mis)-management of the economy and also money used for credit.

Gold should only be a store of value as it has been for 5,000 years. This is what makes physical gold the best instrument for wealth preservation based on the principles that our company has created.

There are a few conditions that need to be fulfilled for gold to be an effective store of value. The principle of Freegold best defines what this means. The website FOFOA (friend of a friend of another) and its predecessors have been pioneers in defining what Freegold is, as follows:

FREEGOLD

These are the basic principles:

ALL PHYSICAL GOLD MUST BE:

  • FREE from official money systems
  • Owned FREE of all other claims
  • FREELY traded

If all the above conditions are met, there would be no gold backed currencies, no ability to exchange currency for gold at central banks for a fixed parity and most importantly THERE WOULD BE NO PAPER GOLD OR OTHER GOLD DERIVATIVES.

Gold would neither be lent nor leveraged.

THE GOLD PRICE IS SET IN A GIANT CASINO

Many of us are familiar with the false gold market today based on paper gold traded in the trillions. According to the World Gold Council, estimated notional gross daily trading of the London LBMA banks is as high as $2 trillion per day. That would mean $43 trillion per month or $500 trillion per year. Total gold ever produced in history is around $7 trillion. This means that the monthly gross trading is up to 6x all the existing gold in the world and annual trading 70x the total gold stock! If we relate the LBMA gold trading to mine production, the daily gross trading of gold is 16x annual production.

No wonder that the paper gold market is a casino that has nothing to do with the real price of gold or FREEGOLD. It certainly does not fulfil any of the criteria of Freegold set above.

So how can we ever get to the point of honest gold or Freegold? Well, what is absolutely certain is that no government, central bank, the LBMA or the BIS (Bank of International Settlement) will make any attempt to create an honest gold market. This can only happen after a partial or total collapse of the current false financial system.

Whether we like it or not, this collapse is likely to take place in the next few years and for the first time, the price of gold will be determined by real supply and demand in the physical market with no link to any paper market.

At that point, the gold price is likely to be multiples of the current price.

Anyone interested in long term wealth preservation should own physical gold today and some silver and not worry about price fluctuations. Precious metals should form the foundation of the wealth pyramid and be left there.

This is what the Chinese are doing

china gold 1

and China bought another 179 tonnes in November taking the total purchases since 2008 to 17,000 tonnes. Thus China is continuously buying a major part of annual mine production.

2019 – A TURBULENT YEAR

Looking at the shorter term, 2019 is going to be the year when most markets will change direction. Stock markets are likely to go down substantially and probably crash. The dollar will continue its long term fall to ZERO and gold and silver will resume their uptrend to new highs.

How much gold vs. how much silver?

Recently Sprott Money featured a video with Craig Hemke interviewing David Jensen. In that interview, David stated that of the 50 billion ounces of silver that have been mined, 30 billion remained in widely dispersed and in the hands of individuals. A few comments to that 30 billion ounce figure claimed it was much too high, and 2.5 to 4 billion tons of above ground silver was more accurate.

Jan Nieuwenhuijs posted an article (Dec. 2019) in which he estimates “1.6 million metric tonnes of physical silver above ground by late 2018. This amount is 20 times higher than what The Silver Institute discloses as “identifiable above-ground stocks,” which is what’s widely assumed to be the total above-ground stock. The huge discrepancy is important to analyze, as it reveals silver’s true stock to flow ratio and supply and demand dynamics. Misunderstanding these dynamics would mean failing to understand the price of silver.”

Steve St. Angelo commented (Dec. 2019) on Jan Nieuwenhuijs' estimate, and counters with his estimate of 357,000 metric tons total above ground silver.

What does the total global gold stock have to do with silver? As Dan Popescu points out:

Because gold is accumulated and not consumed, it is the least rare metal on the planet.
 

The figures below comparing gold and silver seem to confirm that. If total above-ground stocks of gold and silver are approximately the same, then there would seem to be a problem with the current price differential of 60 to 1.

The current estimate for the amount of gold stock in the world is in the region of 170,000 tonnes (5,465,500,000 oz as of 2012). As the very first step, it needs to be acknowledged that an estimate is all that is available. Running a worldwide survey on how much gold people own is rather pointless. Even in good times, people are noticeably reluctant to discuss their true wealth. In troubled times, such as now, that becomes an unwillingness to even be interviewed. Nevertheless, it also needs to be emphatically stated that 170,000 tonnes is far too low an estimate and that it is time for a revision. Every single media outlet repeats this same figure, or similar, as though it is gospel.

...

No claim to precision can be made with regard to the amount of gold in the world. All that can be done is to try to arrive at an educated approximation based on such vague evidence as is available. The evidence overwhelmingly states that 170,000 tonnes is probably around 10% of the gold that actually exists.

Somewhere between 1,200,000 tonnes and 2,500,000 tonnes would seem to be a reasonable and conservative estimate. Obviously it could go way beyond 2,500,000 tonnes. What is beyond doubt is that 170,000 tonnes barely represents the tip of the iceberg of the world’s gold stock. Let us be rid of this figure once and for all. It is a folly to keep repeating an obvious error as though it were fact.

Gold Standard Institute International

-----------

Because gold is accumulated and not consumed, it is the least rare metal on the planet. Even though the new supply is very small, its stock never gets smaller but rather increases, even if very little, every year (1.62% per year or 0.25% per year, using Philip Barton’s lowest estimate of 1,200,000 tonnes).

Another way of measuring the above-ground stock of gold would be to inventory all the gold in public and private possession. No government has been able to do that or has even tried; not even the totalitarian ones. Even in countries where gold possession by individuals was restricted, gold was still circulating underground. I have witnessed it personally behind the Iron Curtain in the 1960s. The gold market is an extremely opaque market. When the government of India recently indicated a desire to inventory gold in temples, it had to back down under extreme public pressure. After 40 year of studying gold, I tend to believe/speculate there is a lot more than 166,606 tonnes. How much? I don’t know. Based on available information, the 166,606-tonne figure seems to be the most accurate. However, the 1,200,000 figure wouldn’t surprise me at all. As Philip Barton says it so well, “No claim to precision can be made with regard to the amount of gold in the world. All that can be done is to try to arrive at an educated approximation, based on such vague evidence as is available.”

Above-ground Gold Stock - How Much Is There and Why Does it Matter?

-----------

For reference, here are the figures in ounces and tons:

Gold

2,500,000 tons
1,200,000 tons
190,000 tons

×
×
×

32,150 oz/ton
32,150 oz/ton
32,150 oz/ton

=
=
=

80,375,000,000 oz
38,580,000,000 oz
6,108,500,000 oz

=
=
=

80 billion oz
38 billion oz
6.1 billion oz

 High estimate
 Low estimate
 Consensus

Silver

1,555,209 tons
933,125 tons
357,000 tons
124,416 tons

×
×
×
×

32,150 oz/ton
32,150 oz/ton
32,150 oz/ton
32,150 oz/ton

=
=
=
=

50,000,000,000 oz
30,000,000,000 oz
11,477,550,000 oz
4,000,000,000 oz

=
=
=
=

50 billion oz
30 billion oz
11.5 billion oz
4 billion oz

 High estimate
 Low estimate
 St. Angelo
 Consensus

 

What is the price of gold?

Depends upon:

  • How much you want to buy.
  • How soon to take physical possession.
  • Circumstances of purchase.
  • Geopolitical events.

There are other factors, but those are certainly important


The fiat, debt-based money system depends upon growth to pay back the interest.

Homeostasis and sustainability does not fit with debt-based money.

The global financial crisis is the end-game for debt-based fiat money.

The value of everything is based upon this false premise of [unconscious] growth.

On 02/13/2015, Zero Hedge had an article titled, "Is Russia Planning A Gold-Based Currency?"

A major problem with this idea is what is it [gold] worth?

Part of the inability to come up with a price is the fact that nobody knows how mch of it [gold] there is.

Then there is the whole issue of silver of which there is a much better / more accurate understanding of how much of it [silver] exists. Silver is certainly underpriced, but by how much? A case can be made for the price of silver to be at, or near to, parity with gold.

That a premium exists to purchase large quantities in not in question. How much that premium is, probably varies greatly, depending upon who is buying, who is selling, and what quantity.

Why would anybody with multi-hundred tons of gold [or more] want to sell any cheap? What, do they need the money? [joke]

List of countries by gold production

In May 2014, Zero Hedge posted "As Russia Dumps A Record Amount Of US Treasurys, Here Is What It Is Buying". At that time, ZH noted:

  • “On average they have been accumulating 0.5 million troy ounces every month. Therefore, the near 1 million ounce purchase [31 tons] in April is a definite increase in demand.”
Rank Country/Region Gold production in 2013 
  World 2,770 (metric tons)
1 China 420
2 Australia 255
3 United States 227
4 Russia 220 (or 18.33/month)
5 Peru 150
6 South Africa 145
7 Canada 120
8 Mexico 100
9 Uzbekistan 93
10 Ghana 85
11 Brazil 75
12 Papua New Guinea  62
13 Indonesia 60
14 Chile 55
18 Philippines 37
  Rest of world 666 (metric tons)

russian gold header 612

So as Russia is selling record amount of US paper, what is it buying? For the answer we go to Goldcore which tells us that...

Russia Buys 900,000 Ounces Of Gold Worth $1.17 Billion In April

The Russian central bank has again increased its gold reserves by another 900,000 ounces worth $1.17 billion in April.

Russia's gold reserves rose to 34.4 million troy ounces in April, from 33.5 million troy ounces in March, the Russian central bank announced on its website yesterday. The value of its gold holdings rose to $44.30 billion as of May 1, compared with $43.36 billion a month earlier, it added.

International reserves and foreign currency liquidity

from the Central Bank of Russia

At right is a summary from Bloomberg of the April data template on international reserves and foreign currency liquidity from the Central Bank of Russia in Moscow:

Russia's gold & foreign exchange reserves remained virtually unchanged at USD 471.1billion in the week ending May 9. Russia’s reserves have fallen since the crisis began but remain very sizable. The reserves include monetary gold, special drawing rights, reserve position at the IMF and foreign exchange.

The 900,000 ounce purchase is a lot of physical gold in ounce or tonnage terms but as a percentage of Russian foreign exchange reserves it is a very small 0.24%.

Gold as a percentage of the overall Russian reserves is now nearly 10%. This remains well below the average gold holding as a percentage of foreign exchange reserves of major central banks such as the Bundesbank, Bank of France and the Federal Reserve which is over 65%.

The Russian central bank has been gradually increasing the Russian reserves since 2006 (see chart above). On average they have been accumulating 0.5 million troy ounces every month. Therefore, the near 1 million ounce purchase in April is a definite increase in demand.

This was to be expected given the very pronounced geopolitical tension with the U.S. and west over Ukraine. Indeed the TIC data shows that Russia has been aggressively divesting themselves of U.S. Treasuries.

Russian holdings of U.S. Treasuries fell very sharp, by nearly $50 billion, between October and March 2014 or nearly a third of Russia’s total holdings. Over half of the plunge came in March, when $26 billion was liquidated as western sanctions were imposed. TIC Data for April won’t be available until June and will make for very interesting reading.

Especially given the mysterious huge U.S. Treasury buying that is being done by little Belgium. This has analysts scratching their heads and has aroused suspicions that the Fed and or the ECB may be behind the huge Belgian purchases.


Russian Gold Reserves (in Million Fine Troy Ounces)
1995-2014 - Monthly Chart (Bloomberg)

Russia has already made their intentions regarding gold very clear. Numerous high ranking officials have affirmed how they view gold as an important monetary asset and Putin himself has had many publicized photos in which he very enthusiastically holds large gold bars.

On May 25th 2012, the deputy chairman of Russia's central bank, Sergey Shvetsov, said that the Bank of Russia plans to keep buying gold in order to diversify their foreign exchange reserves.

"Last year we bought about 100 tonnes. This year it will be less but still a considerable figure," Shvetsov told Reuters at the time.

The World Gold Council reported yesterday that central bank purchases were 70% above their 5-year quarterly average, led by Iraq and Russia. The Eurozone actually became a net buyer thanks to Latvia joining the single currency union, adding its gold to the Eurozone reserves as part of the Euro treaty.

Russia may be planning to give the ruble some form of gold backing in order to protect the ruble from devaluations and protect Russia from an international monetary crisis and the soon to return currency wars.

Russian central bank demand and indeed global central banks demand is set to continue as macroeconomic, monetary and geopolitical uncertainty is unlikely to abate any time soon. Indeed, it may escalate substantially in the coming months as we move into the next phase of the global debt crisis.

link to this post at Zero Hedge

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russian gold sm

Additional Selected Comments

gold supply

How much gold? TLDR

Included here are two articles (from 2012 & 2014) which try to put an estimate on how much gold exists.

The current estimate (as of 2012) for the amount of gold stock in the world is in the region of 170,000 tonnes. The evidence overwhelmingly states that 170,000 tonnes is probably around 10% of the gold that actually exists.

Somewhere between 1,200,000 tonnes and 2,500,000 tonnes would seem to be a reasonable and conservative estimate. Obviously it could go way beyond 2,500,000 tonnes. What is beyond doubt is that 170,000 tonnes barely represents the tip of the iceberg of the world’s gold stock. Let us be rid of this figure once and for all. It is a folly to keep repeating an obvious error as though it were fact.

How Much Gold Stock is There Really?   @ Gold Standard Institute International
Prologue

This was added after the article below was first published. I was accused by a few of being speculative, though I had admitted as such throughout the article. It is possibly best to explain the thought process behind the article…

It goes without saying that the best method for establishing a valid story is the sequential structuring of events – facts – one after the other. A diligent enough assembly of facts will begin to tell its own story without any need for the author to interrupt. In almost all subject areas this is not only desirable, but possible. With reference to the subject of the amount of gold in the world, the known facts are sparse and separated by centuries and sometimes millennia. Author interruption – otherwise known as speculation – becomes wholly necessary, though regrettable. Whilst the speculation cannot uncover with any precision the maximum amount of gold in the world, the facts, threadbare though they are, indicate with a certainty that the previously accepted figure for the total amount of gold in the world under-represents the facts to a remarkable degree. PB

Current Estimate

The current estimate for the amount of gold stock in the world is in the region of 170,000 tonnes. As the very first step, it needs to be acknowledged that an estimate is all that is available. Running a worldwide survey on how much gold people own is rather pointless. Even in good times, people are noticeably reluctant to discuss their true wealth. In troubled times, such as now, that becomes an unwillingness to even be interviewed. Nevertheless, it also needs to be emphatically stated that 170,000 tonnes is far too low an estimate and that it is time for a revision. Every single media outlet repeats this same figure, or similar, as though it is gospel.

Included in this 170,000 tonnes is the 10,000 tonnes estimated as being the total amount of gold mined in the history of the world prior to the Californian gold rush of 1848. This was simply a guess.

quote big

David Guyatt, in his article “The Spoils of War”, commented that prior to the Californian Gold Rush of 1848 the amount of gold believed to be in existence was about 10,000 tonnes, i.e. it was “the sum total of gold mined throughout the world during the preceding 5,850 years, for which mining records exist.” In correspondence with the World Gold Council in 1998, Guyatt says that the WGC admitted that this figure was just an “industry estimate”, although as he says: “Nevertheless, this estimate has been incorporated into current day official mining figures and punched out as actual fact.”
The Thunder Road Report

The “industry estimate” of the amount of gold mined in that 5,850 years works out to be 1.7 tonnes a year. The assumption that underpins the idea that not much gold was mined prior to the Californian gold rush is essentially, that if it takes modern methods a whole year to extract 2,400 tonnes then it would take far, far longer for more primitive cultures to extract the same amount of gold.

The huge, gaping flaw in the modern versus primitive technology theory is that it assumes that all else was equal. It unequivocally was not. The further back into history we travel, the more accessible and plentiful gold was, just as it will be far less plentiful in the future than it is now. Our ancestors mined all the easy to access gold in the world. The Mesoamericans pulled chunks of it out of rivers with their hands it was so plentiful. Today we are mining the residual leftovers – the sparse remnants of what was once plentiful.

Filipino Gold Panners

In 1986, Ernie Maceda the Filipino Minister for Natural Resources, revealed that the country’s gold panners produced more than 18 tonnes of gold a year. All that from the placer mining of just one country*. The usefulness of this Filipino figures is that the law at the time stipulated that all gold had to be sold to the Filipino government. Thus the miners were delivering directly to the central bank allowing for a more precise than usual estimate of gold production.

If primitive panning methods were able to produce a declared total of 18 tonnes a year in 1986, then it makes a mockery of the claim that at an earlier time, when gold was in far greater abundance, the whole world was only able to produce 1.7 tonnes a year. It goes far beyond just implausible, it speaks of an estimate made by people who were completely out of touch with the reality of gold production.

Nor should it be assumed that earlier gold extraction was as primitive as simple panning. The Ancient Egyptians used far more sophisticated mining techniques than the Filipino panners. This included fire techniques to break apart large rocks which were then crushed to dust before the residual gold was washed out. The Mesoamericans were even more sophisticated. Amongst other scientific feats, it is highly likely that they utilized the mercury amalgamation method of gold and silver extraction before the Europeans**. The ancients were not as primitive as 20th and 21st century arrogance would have us assume. To imagine them as knuckle-draggers scratching gold out of rocks with pointy sticks, and only able to glean 1.7 tonnes of gold per annum worldwide, speaks more to our lack of sophistication than theirs.


Amendment

* A figure sent from a contact in the Philippines (see comments at the bottom – ‘Peter’) informs that this figure was probably exaggerated by gold from non-panning sources. According to Peter’s sources (he is a refiner in the Philippines), the true panning figure as of 2008 was about 6 – 7 tonnes a year. Bearing in mind the diminishing nature of production from panning, but coupled with the greater interest in 2008 than in 1986 (year of Maceda’s quote), I guess that the safest presumption is that the figure would be similar.

So, the figure of 18 tonnes a year is reduced to say 6 tonnes a year. Because I built a heck of a lot of fall-back position into this article (knowing how much flack I would receive), this does not alter the hypothesis. I used the stats from one Asian country. I can think of another 8 Asian countries, all high gold, high panning areas, where the production would be similar. If panning production in the Philippines is 6 tonnes a year, then panning just from Asia can be assumed to be a minimum of 50 tonnes a year.

Placer gold is harder and harder to find, and has been so for all the thousands of years of production. The gold that is freed from its ore source is in that situation because of the erosion of rock over hundreds of millions of years. What is being panned out is not being replaced at anywhere near a replenishment rate. That 50 tonnes a year is a much reduced rate from 6,000 years ago.

My honest interpretation of this info is that the case becomes ever stronger that the amounts of gold produced in ancient times were truly enormous, more so that I stated in the article. The importance of placer mining is that, in one variation or another, this is the one method of production that has existed since time immemorial.

Ignoring the fact that we know by the law of diminishing returns that this figure was far greater in ancient times, but just using the same figure, then its application to the two other designated gold regions (Europe and Arabia – there is not enough evidence yet of mining from the Mesoamerican region in this period) produces a figure of 150 tonnes a year. From 4,000 B.C to year dot that is a lot of gold. A very conservative, pre A.D. figure of 600,000 thousand tonnes.

** ‘Pre-Columbian Societies Knew a Thing About Extracting Gold’ – AAAS.ORG

Middle East power brokers

From a meeting with Middle East power brokers in 2011…

quote big

’You guys don’t show up on my radar screen here. I have a feeling there’s a lot more gold around here than anyone is willing to admit.’ They all sort of looked at each other and smiled and so without saying so in so many words, I was led to believe there was a lot more gold out there than what shows up in the official statistics…
Jim Rickards – investment banker and US Intelligence and defence insider.

When the tomb of Tutankhamen was opened in 1922 it contained staggering amounts of gold. The coffin was over six foot long and made from solid gold an eighth to a quarter of an inch thick. The best estimates are that the amount of gold needed to create this coffin alone would have been 1.5 tonnes.

quote big

At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flames to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues and gold – everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment – an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by – I was dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, ‘Can you see anything?’ it was all I could do to get out the words, Yes, wonderful things.
Howard Carter’s description upon opening Tutankhamen’s tomb – 1922

There were full sized, gold chariots in Tutankhamen’s tomb. The famous facemask weighted over 24 kilograms. All this from one of the least important pharaohs who died young and without ever leading an army.

Because of his insignificance, Tutankhamen was buried in one of the smallest and poorest of the pyramids. His only claim to fame is that his tomb was relatively intact. The 100 or so tombs of the other, far more revered pharaohs were discovered only after they had been stripped of all their gold. How much gold existed in those other tombs can only be left to the imagination.

Even if the Ancient Egyptians, with their tens of thousands of slave labourers and more advanced techniques, were so incompetent that they were only able to mine the same amount per year as the Filipino panners of 1986, they did that for 2,000 years. This most conservative of figures would have produced an amount of 36,000 tonnes of gold. Ten times that amount would be the more likely figure.

By the time Roman gold mining records began, Egypt had already mined out its country of the easily available gold. The Egyptians moved south and found enormous quantities of gold in the legendary mines of Nubia. It is reputed that there was more gold mined from Nubia than from all other sources in the known world put together prior to the California gold rush. Whilst the Nubian mines undoubtedly produced huge amounts of gold, that is unlikely. There was also the Midian mine in the far north of what is now Saudi Arabia where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aqaba. This area was famous for its abundance of gold.

quote big

By 325 BC the Greeks had mined for gold from Gibraltar to Asia Minor.
(World Gold Council)

Even after the beginning of official records, only a percentage of the actual mining was recorded. Probably a majority in some countries, but by no means all countries. In many countries where gold mining took place, few records of any sort were even attempted until recent times.

Asian Gold – I

quote big

…contains rich underground veins of many kinds, including many of silver and gold…
Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, 1B.C. – speaking of India

The history of Asian gold is a book all on its own. As with Egypt, by the time Roman records began, India had already mined out its country of the easily available gold. Only in the present day has mining technology advanced to the point where the residual deposits are becoming viable again.

The Indus Civilization is the oldest in existing records, beginning just after the ending of the Ice-Age. The Mehrgarh period of the Indus Civilization has been dated to at least 7,000 B.C.. The Ancient Egyptian Civilization came almost 4,000 years later. There is some evidence to suggest that coinage originated in the Indus Civilization and speculation that the idea arrived in Lydia and the Greek states from there.

Between 2000 and 2010 India imported 7,500 tonnes of gold. In just 2010 alone India imported a World Gold Council estimate of just under 1000 tonnes. In 2011, imports are again expected to be 1,000 tonnes. The Nizam of Hyderabad alone was reputed to own 15,000 tonnes. The significance of gold to the Indians has never waned. It is a major part of the fabric of the culture and far more than just a store of wealth, let alone a medium of exchange. The Hindu creator was born from the cosmic egg of gold. Brahma is known as ‘Hiranyagarbha’ – the one born of gold. Hiranya, the ancient name for gold comes from the root ‘Hri’ meaning ‘imperishable’.

quote big

The Sun is Brahman – this is the teaching. An explanation thereof (is this). In the beginning this (world) was non-existent. It became existent. It grew. It turned into an egg. It lay for the period of a year. It burst open. Then came out of the eggshell, two parts, one of silver, the other of gold.

That which was of silver is this earth; that which was of gold is the sky. What was the outer membrane is the mountains; that which was the inner membrane is the mist with the clouds. What were the veins were the rivers. What was the fluid within is the oceans.
Chandogya Upanishad, III, 19, 1-2

In 1997 the ‘International Center for Peace and Development’ quoted a report showing that India had 29,000 tonnes of gold in private hands. As already mentioned such reports tend to understate the real amount due to people’s natural reluctance to disclose their holdings.

quote big

How much gold jewellery is available in North America for refiners? (I will ignore Europe and Asia, given the higher regard in which gold is held there.) An industry contact tells me the average household owns jewelry containing 0.75 ounces of gold. With 130 million households, that represents approximately 3,000 tons.
Publius – Journal of The Gold Standard Institute Mar. 2011

In the US, there is a very low awareness of gold and the nation has a history of less than 300 years. It is reasonable to assume that in India, where gold has been widely accumulated as the only form of wealth and savings for at least 6,000 years, and where there are 1.2 billion people, there is at least 100 times this amount… 300,000 tons of gold. It cannot be stressed too much that Indians have a huge awareness of, and respect for, gold. It is owned, usually in the form of bars or jewellery, by everyone down to village peasants. The Indians, who have always revered gold to an even greater degree than the ancient Egyptians, have traded for gold from all over the world for at least 5,000 years. India has historically been spoken of as the gold and silver sponge, meaning it enters, but never leaves.

Asian Gold – II

Siam is the old (and beautiful) name for Thailand. It comes from Sanskrit meaning gold. The Chinese still call Thailand ‘Jin Lin’. It means ‘peninsula of gold’.

quote big

Gold is so plentiful that no one who did not see it could believe it.
Marco Polo reporting on gold in Lokak (Siam or Malaya)

in great abundance because it is found there in measureless quantities”… “so much indeed that the ruler of the island has a very large palace entirely roofed with fine gold, just as we roof our churches with lead.
Marco Polo reporting on gold in Japan

Gold dust is found in the rivers, and gold in bigger nuggets in the lakes and mountains.
Marco Polo reporting on gold at Karajang (Chinese province of Yunnan which is still a gold mining area today)

The vast gold treasure of the Kublai Khan in China will have been added to and handed on down from one dynasty to the next. It is reasonable to assume that Mao’s takeover would have seen this hoard increased through confiscation. It is also possible though that this treasure became a part of Yamashita’s gold…

Yamashita’s Gold

Yamashita’s gold, which is amply documented, tells a story of vast amounts of gold. During World War 2, Japanese forces pillaged gold and platinum, along with other valuables, from every territory that they occupied. General Yamashita was charged with hiding this treasure trove. Most of the treasure was shipped directly to Japan. Toward the end of the war US submarines blockaded Japan and it became necessary to hide the gold elsewhere. The chosen location was the Philippines (and Indonesia).

In 1945 the US located some of these stashes and huge tonnages of gold were shipped back to the US. There is much evidence to suggest that Ferdinand Marcos subsequently recovered most of the remaining gold hidden in the Philippines. The following is an extract from a legal document in a case lodged in the Supreme Court of Hawaii in 1998 – ‘Roger Roxas and the Golden Buddha Corporation vs. Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda Marcos’. The case was won which means that the evidence was found to be credible. Roxas was awarded 43 billion US’s – later reduced to 22 billion on appeal.

Fourth paragraph:

quote big

Curtis (Robert Curtis-owner of a mining business in Nevada) also testified that General Ver had brought him to a basement room in the Marcoses’ Miravelles summer palace, where the gold bars were kept. Curtis entered a room “about roughly 40 by 40,” stacked to the ceiling with bars of gold. He estimated the ceiling to be ten feet high. Two or three four-foot wide aisles ran through the stacks of gold. The bars were in a standard seventy-five kilogram size. He noticed that the bars had “oriental markings” on them.

Allowing for three, four-foot wide aisles, the room contained approximately 11,200 cubic foot of gold. That is over 6,700 tonnes. All this gold came from just one site… Luzon; there were a total of 172 sites.

Official gold stock of 170,000 tonnes is best visualised as a cube with sides of 67 feet (20.4 metres), meaning that its sides are 11 foot (3.35 metres) shorter than a tennis court. That is supposed to represent the sum of all gold mined… ever. In light of just that one paragraph above it is not possible to take the ‘industry estimate’ of gold stock seriously.

Fifth paragraph:

quote big

On cross-examination, Curtis testified that his study of the Yamashita treasure had suggested that the treasure contained eighteen buddhas and was distributed among 172 sites. He also testified that Ferdinand had told him that the gold that Curtis had seen had come from a site in the Luzon region. Moreover, in 1975, while Curtis was working with Ferdinand, another site was discovered in the town of Teresa, and more gold was retrieved.

Further testimony from the same case both lends support to the testimony of Curtis and speaks of another gold storage room:

Eighth paragraph:

quote big

… General Ver showed him (Olof Johsson, a clairvoyant called in to help in treasure hunting} a basement room in the guest house outside Malacanang Palace and another room in the summer palace, both filled with gold. He was also shown a golden buddha in the summer palace that was too heavy for him to move. Jonsson described the basement room in the guest cottage as being approximately twenty feet wide, forty feet long, and twelve feet high. He estimated the room in the summer palace as measuring “probably 40 feet by 25 or something” and twelve feet in height. Both rooms were filled with two-foot-long bars of gold stacked to the ceiling. Jonsson testified that it was possible that the bars were four inches wide and four inches thick, but that he could not recall exactly.

Eleventh paragraph:

quote big

(Michael) O’Brien (an Australian in real estate business) also traveled to the Philippines. At one point, when he expressed doubt as to the existence of so much gold, he was blindfolded and taken to a warehouse. Inside the warehouse was a stack of approximately three hundred to four hundred boxes, each the size of a six-pack of beer. O’Brien opened one and observed that it contained three crudely smelted gold bars, which he described as being pitted “like an orange peel.” He tried to lift several other boxes and found them too heavy to move.

Two Australian bullion dealers testified under oath in the same trial that they had sold 1.63 trillion dollars worth of bullion on behalf of Marcos in the 1980′s. As the precise year was not given I have assumed a price of $500 per ounce. That equates to just over 100,000 tonnes of gold. This evidence was accepted by the court as truthful. The full range of possible tonnage based upon 1980′s prices would be from 84,000 tonnes to 169,000 tonnes.


In 1998 a Filipino newspaper called The Enquirer published an article revealing that 96 members of the Filipino military had signed a joint affidavit declaring that they had, between 1973 and 1985, recovered over 60,000 tonnes of gold from 30 out of the 172 Japanese treasure sites. If these 30 sites were typical, then the total amount of gold recovered by Marcos was just under 350,000 tonnes. Far more of the gold reached and as far as is known, remains in Japan. The quantity seized by the US from both Japan and the Philippines is unknown.

Japan, The Philippines, Indonesia, India and China hold vast tonnages of gold that western-centric estimates seem to have entirely ignored in their calculations. There are also very large hoards with non-public documentation in Europe, particularly in Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland and quite possibly other European countries that the author is not aware of. The US holds a large amount of non-publicly documented gold which far surpasses its official holdings of around 8,000 tonnes. Note that there is no claim here that any of these hoards are known about by the relevant government authorities.

Mesoamerica, Vatican and Java

The Mesoamericans were actively mining much of Central and South America. How much gold did they mine? The ransom unsuccessfully paid by the Incans for their Emperor Atahualpa alone was sufficient to fill a whole room with the measurements of 17ft (5.2 metres) by 22ft (6.7 metres) by 8ft (2.4 metres) from wall to wall and from floor to ceiling with gold (Wikipedia). The gold figurines and plates were melted down and turned into uniform ingots on the spot. The room contained over 2,900 cubic foot of gold in ingot form. That one room alone contained over 1,500 tonnes of gold which officially represents 15% of the total of all the gold mined in the whole world for the previous 43,000 years.

That was just one amount of gold in the 300 years of pillage that was South and Central America’s fate. Mesoamerican artefacts were still being melted down in London in the 19th century.


quote big

But if you tap into the Vatican accounts, of the Vatican bank, you come up with a claim of total bullion… the total value of the Vatican bank reserves would claim to be more than the entire value of gold ever mined in the history of the world.
Lord James of Blackheath – speech in The House of Lords 2010

It is unlikely that the Vatican have any reason to exaggerate their gold reserves.


Rumours of a vast Java owned gold hoard, the product of a thousand years or more of trading, that dwarves the rest of the world’s gold combined have circulated for centuries, but there is no information available in the public domain to substantiate this.

Deliberately Understated

Whilst much of the world’s gold is widely distributed, as in India, much of it is almost certainly in large, privately held or sovereign hoards. There is no doubt that these hoards are known about to some beyond the sphere of the actual owners.

It is possible that one of the large hoards of undisclosed gold could re-surface and be used to back one or more of the existing major paper monies. On the positive side this does allow for a measure of optimism in what is otherwise a ‘game over’ situation. If there is a solution to the current monetary meltdown, it will come as a bolt from the blue, and it will involve large amounts of previously undisclosed gold.

Why is it that the amount of gold in the world has been deliberately understated as appears to be the case? The answer most likely lies with the myth, accepted by almost everyone, that gold is valuable because of its shortage. The fear, entirely unfounded, is that if the real amount of gold in the world were publicly acknowledged then gold would be suddenly and massively reduced in value. This would then lead to convulsions in the world’s monetary systems as it is gold that underpins all concepts of money.

The ancient myth that gold’s value is due to its shortage has survived thousands of years right up to the present day. It is far from amusing though as there appears to have been a fair deal of skulduggery committed toward the end of maintaining the charade… all for naught. A minimum of 1,200,000 tonnes of gold gives a stock to flow ratio of 500 to 1. Gold is already the only possible money because of its stock to flow of 70 to 1. Increasing it to 500 to 1 would enhance gold’s monetary property, not diminish it.

It is time to put aside the myth that gold is valuable because there is not much of it. Gold is a store of stable value over time because of its high stock to flow ratio – because there is so much of compared to the flow.

Another reasonable speculation with regard to the persistence of the myth of gold’s rarity is that it obviously an advantage to those who wield power through the issuance of paper money. “There isn’t enough gold to return to the gold standard” is a common refrain from those whose self-interest it serves.

Once it becomes clear that gold will continue to hold its value, no matter how much of it enters the marketplace, then much of it could emerge from hiding. Trust in governments, which is currently plumbing new depths, is also a pre-condition to that though.

There are numerous conspiracy theories which claim that covert agencies control the world’s gold, and therefore its destiny. This is not wholly true, there is far more gold in the world than even these people know about. By no means are all the large hoards of gold owned by those of, to put it politely, questionable intent. There are those who understand, if not intellectually at least viscerally, the morality of gold and are sound custodians of that with which they are charged.

Summary

No claim to precision can be made with regard to the amount of gold in the world. All that can be done is to try to arrive at an educated approximation based on such vague evidence as is available. The evidence overwhelmingly states that 170,000 tonnes is probably around 10% of the gold that actually exists.

Somewhere between 1,200,000 tonnes and 2,500,000 tonnes would seem to be a reasonable and conservative estimate. Obviously it could go way beyond 2,500,000 tonnes. What is beyond doubt is that 170,000 tonnes barely represents the tip of the iceberg of the world’s gold stock. Let us be rid of this figure once and for all. It is a folly to keep repeating an obvious error as though it were fact.

– Office of the President, Philip Barton

Above-ground Gold Stock - How Much Is There and Why Does it Matter?  [LINK]
Global Gold Stock

To understand the price of gold, the relevant supply is the total supply, not the new supply coming to market during the last year, week or month. The supply of gold consists of all of the supply that exists, and the relevant demand is the total demand, not the new demand coming to market during any year. For gold, there is always a large stockpile, and it never gets smaller. The vast majority of all the gold mined throughout human history still exists and is held either in bars, coins, or jewelry. In most cases when a buyer purchases gold, it moves from the seller’s hoard to the buyer’s hold.

Exchange demand is expressed by giving up something in an exchange in order to obtain the thing demanded, and reservation demand is a demand that is expressed by holding onto something that you own. People who hold gold are demanding it by holding it off the market. Gold, unlike commodities, is not consumed, and therefore the traditional models and theories of supply and demand simply do not apply. Deficits or excesses do not, and cannot affect the market price, for the simple reason that nothing is consumed. In a sense, all that is happening in the market is that gold moves from one person’s stockpile (the mining company) to another person’s stockpile (the investor). There is no true consumption of gold in the economic sense; the stock of gold has been increasing throughout history but at a decreasing rate and now remains essentially constant, while ownership shifts from one party to another.

It is for this reason that I believe the stock of gold is very important to understand. If we accept the Thomson Reuters GFMS’ numbers of 176,000 tonnes of gold above ground, then the new gold (mine production) represents only 1.62% of the global gold stock and the gold market represents only 2.53% of the global gold stock (graph #1). More important is the fact that a large part of this stock can be brought to market on very short notice and at very low cost. Most of the gold is stored in its most natural form.

Graph #1: Global Gold Stock

global gold stock

Global Gold Stock

Approximately 20% of all the above-ground gold stock is under official control (graph #2). It is therefore evident why central banks have much more impact on the gold market than mining supply. Just the central bank gold stock is 7 times larger than the entire gold market. If accurate, the US official gold reserves are close to 2 times and the Euro Zone official reserves close to 2.5 times the entire gold market (graph #2).

Graph #2: Global Gold Stock

gold stock

Total Gold Reserves vs Total Gold Production

Let’s look now at the above-ground stock of gold. Do we really know how much there is? There is a number that has been used by the World Gold Council and, because of its excellent reputation, some have taken this figure as a fact. However, if we research a little, we find that this number is an estimate (statistical approximation) and has different margins of error, depending on the period we look at. According to Nick Laird, who has done an excellent research on the subject, 5,300 tonnes have been mined before 1500, 4,700 tonnes from 1500 to 1850, and the rest of 157,466 tonnes between 1850 to 2013 (chart #3).

Graph #3: Total Gold Reserves vs Total Gold Production

The oldest gold treasure in the world

I had the privilege to see some of Nick’s methodology and I was impressed. His meticulous attention to detail and methodology in projecting data is above reproach. As you can see in graph #3, he splits the data in three parts: before 1500, 1500 to 1850, and 1850 to today. In my opinion, they all have different margins of error. The worst is the one before 1500. I would even split this period farther in two: before year 0 and year 0 to 1500. We know very little about mining gold before year 0. However, as the picture below shows, gold was mined and valued already 6,000 years ago.The Varna Necropolis is a burial site in the western industrial zone of Varna, Bulgaria. At this site was discovered the oldest gold treasure in the world, dating from 4600 BC to 4200 BC. This shows how far in history knowledge of gold goes and how long it has been mined. Gold has been accumulated for at least 6,000 years, and all over the world.

Picture #1: The oldest gold treasure in the world, Varna, Bulgaria – 6,000 years old

oldest gold treasure world 413

Remember also what we said above, that gold is not consumed. It is just passed from one owner to another. It doesn’t degrade with time either, so it’s possible that the gold used for my wedding ring was mined 6,000 years ago and who knows where. India’s passion for gold is time immemorial. India’s mines seem to have run out of gold when Europe was just being settled. Roman historian Pliny lamented, some 1,800 years ago, how India, the sink of precious metals, was draining Rome of gold, an appellation that resonates even today.

Above-ground Gold Stock-to-Flow Estimations

I put together some estimations that I consider as of a very good source but without having had access to the methodology. As you can see in graph #3, four of them average to about 166,606 tonnes, while Philip Barton of The Gold Standard Institute speculates this figure to be only 10% of the gold that actually exists above ground. His speculation is of 1,200,000 tonnes to 2,500,000 tonnes. How is it possible? Well, it all comes, in my opinion, to the period before 1500 and I think even more to the period between year 0 and 4000BC, and possibly even beyond that. Certain assumptions have to be made before we do any statistical approximation because we lack not some, but most of the data. If gold were a commodity it would not matter much since it would have been consumed, but gold is not. Not only that, but humans have gone through a lot of trouble to protect and conserve the stock of gold no matter how small, unlike any other possession. However, not just time is a problem but also space. There is very little information about gold mining in Asia and Africa between year 0 and 4,000 to 6,000 years ago. The “industry estimate” of above-ground gold assumes that if it takes modern methods a whole year to extract 2,400 tonnes then it would take far, far longer for more primitive cultures to extract the same amount of gold. Philip Barton challenges this theory, which assumes that all else was equal. He says that the farther back in history we travel, the more accessible and plentiful gold was. Our ancestors, according to him, mined all the easy gold in the world.

Graph #3: Above-ground Gold Stock-to-Flow Estimations

above ground gold stock flow estimations 600

Total Above-ground Gold and Commodities Stocks

Taking the average estimate of 166,606 tonnes, the total above-ground gold stocks could cover approximately 43 years of demand. If we assume Philip Burton’s more conservative estimate of 1,200,000 tonnes, then it would cover approximately 290 years. Looking at graph #4, we can understand why gold is not a commodity.

Graph #4: Total Above-ground Gold and Commodities Stocks

total above ground gold commodities stocks

Gold Stock-to-Flow Ratio

In graph #5, we can see that gold’s stock-to-flow has fluctuated between 45 and 90, with a mean of 66, for the last 100 years. Gold is one of the most liquid of all assets. Some analysts consider that up to 86% of global above-ground inventory could theoretically be mobilized in a relatively short time. However, the extent to which all of this gold can be considered “free float” is debatable. In financial markets, liquidity means the size of trade that can be executed without affecting the price.

Graph #5: Gold Stock-to-Flow Ratio

The Flow of Gold

I also created a flow chart to show, from a different angle, the importance of the above-ground gold stock. Unfortunately, it is not to scale. The above-ground gold stock box should be 41 times bigger than the gold market and 58 times bigger than the mine supply if we use the 176,000 tonnes estimation.

Graph #6: The Flow of Gold

Annual Gold Production vs Annual Population Growth

The 176,000 tonnes comprising the world’s gold money stock is gold’s M3. James Turk from GoldMoney compares the above-ground gold stock to the US paper money supply M3. Gold’s M3 grows approximately at the same rate as world population and new wealth creation (graph #7), which are key components critical to determining the supply and demand for money. When M3 grows faster than gold’s M3, the former is being debased, and the price of gold in that currency will rise, assuming demand for both gold and the currency remain unchanged.

Chart #7: Annual Gold Production vs Annual Population Growth

Combined Balance Sheet Totals vs Gold Price

In graph #8, we can observe that the US money supply, at least since 1959, correlates closely but not perfectly to the price of gold in US dollars. A more appropriate comparison would be to compare global M3 to gold, since gold is universal hard money (graph #9).

Graph #8: US Money Supply M3 vs Gold Price

Graph #9: Combined Balance Sheet Totals vs Gold Price (US, Euro Area, UK, Switzerland, China, Japan)

World Gold Supply vs Money Supply M3 vs Gold Price

Graph #10 shows the trend of gold supply vs US dollar supply and the ratio between the two. As the supply of dollars increases while the supply of gold remains almost constant, the price has adjusted to compensate for the difference in supplies.

Graph #10: World Gold Supply vs Money Supply M3 vs Gold Price

Conclusion

One of the most frequent and common arguments against gold as money has been that there is not much of it. In a recent report, the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) states that “there are also limiting influences, partly reflecting the limited availability of gold” for gold to play a major role in the future multi-currency reserve system. The OMFIF says, “Financial market gold amounts to about 60,100 tonnes. Unless one assumes a major shift from jewelry/industry demand to financial use, gold reserves remain mainly a zero-sum game, with the only increases coming from new mining (approximately 2,500 tonnes per annum) and from recycling (slightly less than 1,600 tonnes per annum). This amounts to an increase in available gold stocks of just above 4,000 tonnes per annum, or 6.7% of financial market gold. Net buying by official institutions of 400 tonnes of gold in 2011 (around one-tenth of the annual increase in gold supply) was the largest volume of net purchases in four decades.” The report also says “The (relative) scarcity of gold means that it could only ever replace a fiat currency on a fractional basis. However, even such a system is unlikely.” (7)

As we have seen above, both by conservative figures and more liberal projections, there is plenty of gold, and mostly above ground. Some argue that it is a store of stable value over time because of its high stock-to-flow ratio. However, high marketability is an important characteristic of gold. The easier a good can be converted, the more pronounced its “moneyness”. Gold and silver did not attain their monetary status due to their alleged scarcity, but rather due to their superior marketability. Fungibility is a crucial advantage of gold as a medium of exchange. Fungibility is the property of a good or a commodity whose individual units are capable of mutual substitution. For example, since one ounce of gold is equivalent to any other ounce of gold, gold is fungible. Because gold is accumulated and not consumed, it is the least rare metal on the planet. (6) Even though the new supply is very small, its stock never gets smaller but rather increases, even if very little, every year (1.62% per year or 0.25% per year, using Philip Barton’s lowest estimate of 1,200,000 tonnes).

Another way of measuring the above-ground stock of gold would be to inventory all the gold in public and private possession. No government has been able to do that or has even tried; not even the totalitarian ones. Even in countries where gold possession by individuals was restricted, gold was still circulating underground. I have witnessed it personally behind the Iron Curtain in the 1960s. The gold market is an extremely opaque market. When the government of India recently indicated a desire to inventory gold in temples, it had to back down under extreme public pressure. After 40 year of studying gold, I tend to believe/speculate there is a lot more than 166,606 tonnes. How much? I don’t know. Based on available information, the 166,606-tonne figure seems to be the most accurate. However, the 1,200,000 figure wouldn’t surprise me at all. As Philip Barton says it so well, “No claim to precision can be made with regard to the amount of gold in the world. All that can be done is to try to arrive at an educated approximation, based on such vague evidence as is available.” (2)

Bibliography:

  1. How much gold is there in the world? - Ed Prior, BBC News

  2. How Much Gold Stock is There Really? - Philip Barton, The Gold Standard Institute

  3. The Aboveground Gold Stock: Its Importance and Its Size – James Turk 

  4. The Myth of the Gold Supply Deficit - Robert Blumen

  5. E-mail Exchange between Nick Laird, Sharelynx.com and Philip Barton, The Gold Standard Institute

  6. A Reminder of How Different Gold Is – Fekete Research

  7. Gold, the renminbi and the multi-currency reserve system, OMFIF 

  8. In Gold We Trust 2014 - Ronald-Peter Stoeferle& Mark Valek, Incrementum AG 


Dan Popescu

From: Goldbroker.com
Gold & Silver Analyst / Member of the Goldbroker.com Editorial Team

Mr. Popescu is an independent investment analyst and studies the gold and silver market and their future role in the international monetary system. He has followed regularly since 1970 the gold, silver and foreign exchange markets. He has a bachelor degree in physics (1993) from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada and has completed the Canadian investment management certificate (1999) of the CSI. He is a member and was the president in 2004 of the CSTA and also was president in 2005 of the Montreal CFA Society. He is a member of the CFA Institute, the MTA, NYSSA, UKSIP, the CSTA and the Gold Standard Institute International.

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