M.W. and other readers of this site spotted this one, and it's a stunner when one fully thinks about the implications, for there's been a movement - in reality, a sudden and sharp spike - in the movement of about 12 billion pounds' worth of British gold:
Now, firstly, that gold movements are counted as imports and exports, and thus, the sudden movement of all this gold caused Britain to record a trade surplus for the first time since 1998:
It has serious consequences. Since comparable records began in 1998, there hasn't been a single month where the UK was a net goods exporter. We've always had a deficit. In December, thanks to the £12bn gold exports, Britain recorded its first monthly trade surplus on record...
After considering other reasons for this sudden and massive movement, Zero Hedge comes up with the following scenario:
As far as I can divine here's the answer.
A US bank with London gold vaults shifted some of that gold from being "unallocated" to being "allocated".
Effectively it moved it on its balance sheet.
The gold stayed in the same vault but technically it shifted from UK ownership to US.
In other words, a couple of clicks in a bank's spreadsheet caused the biggest fluctuation in Britain's trade figures in modern history. At least that's the most plausible explanation.
Though it raises further questions: Why? Is the bank in trouble? And who owns the gold anyway? And is it just a coincidence that all of this occurred as The Fed was forced to unleash unprecedented liquidity to support the repo market...
Short answer: we may never know. No other sector is as cloak-and-dagger as gold. What we do know is that crazy stuff is happening beneath Britain's national statistics and it's time we started paying attention to it.
"No other sector is as cloak-and-dagger as gold."
You can say that again. In fact, say it several times.
Needless to say, I can't help but indulge in some high octane speculation, and it's going to be of a very different nature than Zero Hedge's which, to be honest, is far more likely than my own. But I cannot help but think of this in the context of all those bearer bond scandals a few years ago, and think of it in the wider context of the financial problems in various countries and banks. Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, for example, just posted record losses (see HSBC misses expectations on 2019 pre-tax profit, will cut 35,000 jobs) , and given the uncertain situation there, especially with the corona virus story playing in the background, there may be some reason to believe that it was not a US bank that was the sudden beneficiary of an "allocation" of so much gold. It's that suddenness - plus the fact that we don't know who really was the beneficiary, i.e., who owns all that gold - that also suggests yet another scenario: one not of propping up a bank or several banks, but rather, the "calling in of a marker," of something done under duress. But again, duress from whom, and on whom? Propping up Hong Kong while the rest of China's economy slows under the weight of the corona virus story makes some sort of grizzly sense.
But if those scenarios were true, one might - one should - expect to see some sort of similar spike in the trade figures of whatever country's institutions received that transfer. To my knowledge, we've seen none; the only "connector" here is Zero Hedge's speculation about the Fed and the repo market. And that raises the question, if it was a US institution or institutions receiving it, was it a loan? If so, from whom to whom? It's that secrecy that bothers me, because without any correlative activity, it's as if that gold has simply disappeared... all we're left with is speculation. If Zero Hedge's speculation be true, then one might expect a sudden spike in trade deficits to show up somewhere... if not, then we must look for deeper explanations, for 12 billion at the power end in gold does not seem to be popping out in 12 billion at the load end of the circuit, which would imply there's more to the circuitry than meets the eye...
See you on the flip side...