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The Coin Analyst: China’s Gold Policy and Alleged U.S. Government Suppression of Gold Prices

by Louis Golino for Coin Week

On September 3 the financial web site, ZeroHedge , ran an important story on a U.S. government memo recently made available by WikiLeaks that is from the U.S. Embassy in China and which deals with China’s gold policy (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/wikileaks-discloses-reasons-behind-chinas-shadow-gold-buying-spree).

This document is eliciting interest among gold analysts, who feel it is very bullish for the outlook for gold, though it has not been covered in the mainstream press as far as I know.

wikileaks gold The Coin Analyst: China’s Gold Policy and Alleged U.S. Government Suppression of Gold PricesIt shows that China’s goal is to keep increasing its gold reserves and acquiring as much gold as it can to help drive the price higher and higher with the ultimate purpose of ending the U.S. dollar’s reserve currency status.

China is the largest gold producer and buyer in the world. It has long sought to have the dollar replaced by a new international currency centered on the Chinese Renminbi.

Ending the dollar’s reserve currency status would be a severe blow to the U.S. economy, which may help explain why U.S. officials get worried when gold hits new highs.

Particularly when combined with the recent downgrading of our debt by S&P, this action would cost the taxpayer dearly because it would end up sharply increasing the cost of financing our growing national debt.

At the moment investors still have an appetite for U.S. treasuries despite the recent downgrade, but an eventual loss of the dollar’s reserve position, if it happened, combined with interest rates that simply have to increase at some point, does not bode well.

According to Chinese sources, as quoted in the leaked U.S. government memo, “The U.S. and Europe have always suppressed the rising price of gold. They intend to weaken gold’s function as an international reserve currency. They don’t want to see other countries turning to gold reserves instead of the U.S. dollar or Euro. Therefore, suppressing the price of gold is very beneficial for the U.S. in maintaining the U.S. dollar’s role as the international reserve currency. China’s increased gold reserves will thus act as a model and lead other countries towards reserving more gold.”

This key passage from the memo adds a new twist to old allegations of U.S. government suppression of gold prices.

About a year ago I first became familiar with the argument that the U.S. government regularly acts in conjunction with large banks involved in the gold trade to suppress the price of gold.

Many precious metals analysts including Patrick Heller, who also owns the largest coin and bullion dealership in Michigan, have been making this case for several years.

Their basic argument is that the price of gold is a kind of report card on the U.S. government’s handling of the economy, and that rising gold prices are viewed as a negative development by U.S. government officials.

According to this perspective, when gold begins to rise in price very sharply, the U.S. government works with large American banks such as J.P. Morgan to suppress the increase in prices by having those financial institutions increase their gold shorts.

I was initially suspicious of this argument because I felt that fluctuations in the price of gold were more likely explained by demand and supply fundamentals, profit taking when prices peak, reactions to margin requirement increases, etc.

But over time, I have learned that there may be something to the suppression argument. There are times when price developments in precious metals, including the gold and silver markets in particular, seem hard to explain by the fundamentals.

In addition, Mr. Heller and others have explained that frequent margin increases, as occurred in the spring to bring silver back down to the low $30 range after briefly surpassing the $50 level in late April, are a favorite suppression tactic.

Last year some evidence did come to light on silver price suppression as a result of an investigation by the CFTC (Commodities Futures Trading Commission). Comments from CFTC member Bart Chilton, and some e-mails from a former British metals trader turned whistleblower named Andrew Maguire, supported the notion that silver prices are suppressed. Although I have not heard of similar evidence about gold price suppression, that does not mean it does not exist.

So with this background in mind, the leaked memo is especially interesting.

If it is true that China’s mania for gold is partly driven by a desire to end the dollar’s reserve status as well as the need to diversify from dollar-denominated debt, which seems likely, and if it is also true that the U.S. government has worked for years to suppress the price of gold, then the chances of gold surpassing $2,000 and more are much higher.

As the author of the ZeroHedge piece, Tyler Durden, suggests, gold could surpass $5,000 an ounce once this information about China is more widely known, and provided it leads pension fund managers to make substantial investments in gold. At the moment, only one-third of one percent of pension funds are invested in gold, according to Shayne McGuire author of a 2010 book called “Hard Money: Taking Gold to a Higher Investment Level.”

Barry Stuppler’s prediction in a Wall Street Journal piece a couple years ago that gold would hit $2011 by 2011 is looking like a distinct possibility despite the bearish predictions of the anti-gold crowd, who continue to say it is in a bubble and headed for a major fall.

The signs do seem to point towards an ongoing rally in gold. It could be due for another correction, but I suspect it would be short-lived like the one a couple weeks ago since the fundamentals supporting gold continue to look very strong.

The more mainstream analysts and publications keep pushing the view that gold is a bubble despite all the evidence that shows how under-invested most individuals and pension funds are in gold, the more I am inclined to side with the bulls.

golino portrait thumb The Coin Analyst: China’s Gold Policy and Alleged U.S. Government Suppression of Gold PricesLouis Golino is a coin collector and numismatic writer, whose articles on coins have appeared in Coin World, Numismatic News, and a number of different coin web sites. His column for Coin Week, “The Coin Analyst,” covers U.S. and world coins and precious metals. He collects U.S. and European coins and is a member of the ANA, PCGS, NGC, and CAC. He has also worked for the U.S. Library of Congress and has been a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international affairs for a wide variety of newspapers and web sites.

About the Author:

Louis Golino is a numismatic journalist and writer specializing in modern coin issues. He has been writing a weekly column for Coin Week since May 2011 called "The Coin Analyst," which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints, and is also a contributor to two magazines, American Hard Assets and the Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association's monthly publication. His work has also appeared in Coin World, Numismatic News, and various coin web sites. He collects classic and modern U.S. coins and modern world coins from a number of different countries. He first joined the ANA in the 1970's. He has also worked for the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and has been a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international affairs for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980's.

4 Comments on "The Coin Analyst: China’s Gold Policy and Alleged U.S. Government Suppression of Gold Prices"

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  1. Louis says:

    The developments of the past couple days in gold prices are extremely interesting. There have been several bullish developments esp. the Swiss deciding to devalue their currency to help their exporters, which basically eliminates the Swiss franc as a safe haven, leaving only gold, Treasuries and maybe the Swedish and Norwegian currencies. Yet gold has sold off about $100.
    What do others think of this? Could it be an example of price manipulation? Or just profit taking?

  2. joe says:

    Good article, Louis!

    A great reference on what has happened over the past decade are the articles posted by Adrian Douglas. In fact, Patrick Heller frequently references Mr. Douglas. The link to Douglas’s website is:

    https://marketforceanalysis.com/published_articles.html

    Some really well thought-out information and articles over the past several years which shows you how we got to where we are now.

  3. joe says:

    The Fed has a vested interest in keeping gold prices down. Over the past 2-3 years, they have started losing control. Toss in QE1, QE2, etc., holding interest rates at zero, obama/congress spending spree, and I actually find these obviousness of these sell-offs kind of humorous. The fact that the MSM is ignoring the entire thing should be screaming to people that we are really up a serious proverbial creek without a paddle.

    The illusion/facade of the dollar as a “quality” reserve currency is becoming grander and grander every day. The Chinese, Russia, Brazil, India, Saudia Arabia and even the reserve banks are all buying gold now. Venezuela is repatriating their gold from across the globe, and I imagine many other countries will soon be doing the same. The Chinese have successfully used our greed (should I say our politician’s greed) against us, and the bill is going to come due very soon. My only question is how much gold is there in Ft. Knox and how much of it do we (the USA) own?

  4. Ascot says:

    The wealth of any country is not how much gold or silver it has, but rather what its manufacturing capabilities are.

    In 1960, the much adored, womanizing JFK opened the import door to six percent of all manufactured goods sold in the United States.
    First it was Japan with its binoculars, radios, cameras, watches, televisions, and other nick knacks.

    Then the so-called Auto Union leaders said, “If you sell here, build here”. That is exactly what the Japanese did, they built here, but they did not manufacture here. There is not ONE Japanese vehicle made in the United States, they are all made in Japan; some are shipped in, showroom ready, while the rest arrive in kit form ready to be assembled by farmers and little old ladies.

    There is not a single Japanese steel rolling mill, foundry, casting plant, tool and die shop, engine or transmission plant, model shop, or metal stamping plant in the United States, those ‘real jobs’ are all in Japan.

    With each succeeding U.S. President, the import door was opened just a little more until it was removed from its hinges and thrown away to accommodate so-called U.S. manufactures who exported the U.S. jobs and imported items from overseas, all made at slave level wages.
    In less than a single generation, the greatest transfer of wealth in all of human history took place.

    During the 1950s, the United States was the World’s biggest lender, today it is standing with a beggar’s bowl mooching China’s spare change.
    Many new millionaires and billionaires were created in Japan, China, AND the United States, all in payment for destroying the once mighty American Manufacturing Base.

    Today,there is virtually nothing made here. When was the last time anyone has seen a Made in the U.S.A. label on anything?
    Then we have the “geniuses” in Washington puzzled over the high unemployment figures…. The answer is obvious you effing morons, THE JOBS HAVE ALL BEEN EXPORTED!

    To paraphrase a couple of lines from an old Jacobite song written at the time when the “nobility” of Scotland were given money to close the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and unite it with England, even though the people of Scotland was against such a move to the point where there were riots in the streets that had to be put down by armed troops.

    “Their country was sold for foreign gold,
    Oh, what a parcel of rogues in a nation”.

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