Mark McHugh

Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Is The SLV Wired To Blow?

In Conspiracy, Government, Humor, Leveraged ETF, Mary Schapiro, Open Thread, SEC, Silver, stocks finance on Friday, April 29, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I’m not real big on suspense, so I’ll tell you upfront, I think so.  Once again, we may be about to find out what happens when regulators are asleep at the switch.

As of this writing there are 364 million shares of SLV outstanding.  In the past five trading days (April 25 – 29) more than 755 million shares have been traded, and get this, more than 10 million ounces of silver were taken from the trust between the 26th and the 28th, taking available shares with them.  From Stockhouse.com :

Note: Stockhouse.com is the only free website that I know of that accurately tracks the number of ETF shares outstanding and changes (wish I could say the same of my broker).  Enter the ETF ticker with the suffix “.SO”

At what point does trading volume relative to existing shares become unbelievable?

Information on institutional holdings of ETF shares is also hard to find. but according to nasdaq.com, 86 million shares of SLV are held by institutions, but that does not include any holdings reported since April 1, 2011.  And speaking of missing data, does anybody know where China Investment Corp’s 13F‘s  are?  The sovereign wealth giant filed its initial holdings with the SEC on February 5, 2010,   but no additional data has been released.  The SEC requires the form to be filed within 45 days of the quarter’s end. 

The point is that the SLV has become one of the most heavily traded instruments on our exchanges and there is an all too finite number of shares.  There’s at least some evidence that the SECs institutional holdings data is outdated and/or incomplete.   What happens when all the shares are spoken for?  If it hasn’t happened already (I suspect it has), it should soon…..

Then what?

Will the SEC suspend sales of the SLV?  Will the SLV start trading at huge premiums to NAV?  Will the SEC even notice?

I don’t know about you, but I’m going with “SEC will never notice,”  because they have no mechanism in place to ensure “shares owned” doesn’t exceed shares outstanding (remember Mary Schapiro’s only qualification to Chair the SEC is her inability to recognize a Ponzi).

Obviously if SLV starts trading at huge premiums, it isn’t tracking the price of silver anymore.  It will have a market dynamic unto itself.  Suspending sales until more silver is deposited with the trust  will immediately cause a run on physical silver the likes of which has never been seen before.  The silver exchange on the COMEX will blow up in a matter of minutes, followed shortly thereafter by JP Morgan and the class structure of western civilization.  If you don’t know how tight the silver supply is getting, take a peak at this chart from 24HOURGOLD:

Kudos to 24hourgold.com for doing a better job tracking the rapidly vanishing supply of registered silver than the COMEX!!!!  (Hope it’s OK I stole a screenshot).

To make matters even worse, SLV trades options.  Lots and lots and lots of options.  So when the shares outstanding are all sold, there will be people with call options, who have bought the right to buy shares of SLV at a given price.  Forcing cash settlement means the SLV no longer can claim to track the price of physical silver, because the purchase of silver by an authorized participant to create the shares to cover the options would have surely moved the price of the metal.

So once again America, ignoring the grim reality of the situation is the only logical course of action.  The SEC knows all too well that that’s what porn sites are for.  So unless somebody posts this on Pornhub……

I’m sure that Tyler Durden’s instincts will be proven correct again, when he stated that Blackrock’s Kevin Feldman’s defense of the SLV was a red flag in and of itself.  Blackrock is the sponsor of the SLV, and Kevin urged everyone to read the prospectus.  That was probably not such a good idea.  Be extra careful when you try to download the prospectus, I got the following warning:

Comedy ensued after using Firefox (safe mode) to view the prospectus:

“The sponsor does not exercise day-to-day oversight over the trustee or the custodian” 

Which seems to conflict with Kevin’s letter:

“At BlackRock, we take the responsibility of protecting shareholder interests very seriously and spend a lot of time constructing our iShares products to help ensure they meet investor expectations.”

So in reality Blackrock takes protecting shareholders about as seriously as the US Department of Justice takes perjury.  To his credit, Kevin did link to a list of bars the SLV holds in some vaults over in England.  The list was prepared by JP Morgan, because if you can’t trust them regarding silver, who can you trust?  Rather than spoil all the potential ways the SLV might not meet “investor expectations”, I thought it would be fun to make a contest of it (see comments).

The SLV pimps out the price action of the silver it holds to shareholders.  It can terminate the trust for a long list of reasons, not the least insignificant of which is if  the Authorized Participants (who actually own the silver) feel like it.

Suddenly everybody has an opinion of what the price of silver should be, but as JPM is now finding out, if you don’t have silver to sell your opinion doesn’t count.

I don’t wish any ill on SLV shareholders, but make no mistake, you don’t own silver.  History has not been kind to people who made similar mistakes,  and recent history should tell you no one is looking out for you. 

 Miscellaneous Fun Facts:

  • In February, 2007 the author contacted the SEC via email regarding Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo’s insider trading.
  • In March 2007 the author applied for an SEC bounty regarding Angelo Mozilo’s insider trading (up to 10% of recovered amount) .  Countrywide’s stock was trading at about $37 at the time.  It would trade over $40 in May and implode to less than $5 by late 2007.
  • On June 4, 2009 (27 months later) the SEC charged Mozilo with insider trading and securities fraud.
  • In October 2010 Mozilo agreed to pay $67.5 million in fines to the SEC to settle the charges against him.
  • At its peak, Countrywide had a Market Cap of more than $26B.  Angelo Mozilo has an estimated net worth of $600 million.
  • The SLV currently has a Market Cap of approximately $17B.
  • The author never received a bounty from the SEC, because the Dodd-Frank “Financial Reform” legislation repealed the previous SEC bounty program.  Bounties can no longer be paid based on an outsider’s analysis of publicly available information.
  • In 2010, the author applied for a job as an “abusive trading practices specialist” with the SEC.  He received no reply.
  • In February 2011, the US dropped its criminal investigation against Mozilo.
  • Paybacks are a bitch.

Common sense (and a little math) tells me that the SLV is already a fraud.  When that becomes obvious to all is anyone’s guess, but based on my past experience, neither the SEC nor the CFTC will recognize it until about two years after it implodes.

***

Update:  Thanks a million to Steve Quayle!!!  He is the only major blogger who has linked to this story thusfar (kind of makes you wonder how much some of these other guys value truth).  This story needs to be discussed.  If you’ve got a blog, take this story and run with it!

****Max Keiser has now added the story too, Thanks Max!

****Jesse’s Crossroads cafe brought it big time!! Thank You, Jesse!

***

 I have to recognize all the people who helped this post see the light of day.  It had been getting easier for me to get things I’ve written promoted….then BAM!  The doors really got slammed in my face with “…Wired to Blow.”  I was confused and angry.  Then I realized something….

One way or another, most of the financial blogoshere is still pretty tight with Wall Street, and every financial pro who has recommended the SLV to clients dropped the proverbial due diligence ball.  I believe that’s why so many didn’t want this story told.  They’re probably going to have some explaining to do soon.   Luckily, a couple of big bloggers (Steve Quayle, Max Keiser and Jesse ) came to help, and I’m very grateful.  But they weren’t the only ones.

I get way more than my fair share of support from relatively small bloggers, just like me, and I have been remiss in recognizing their support.  I spend too much time feeling threatened and jealous of their talent.  But I must say, they really came through for me.  Just look at all the places I got hits from here.  All kidding aside, I am touched.  If you’re new here, feel free to take any of my original content (pictures and/or words).  If it is not credited to anyone else, it’s mine and therefore yours to share.  I’ll be adding a bunch of you guys to the blogroll very soon.

Thanks again,

Mark

Why Silver Is Still The Best Revenge

In Government, Open Thread, Silver, stocks finance on Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Author’s note:  Some of the info contained in this piece was published rather hastily earlier this week.  Please excuse the redundancies. 

Face it, former Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson, who served as US Treasury Secretary just long enough to loot taxpayers is never going to jail. Neither are Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Angelo Mozilo, Phil Graham, Franklin Raines, Barney Frank…(I could do this all day).  Justice (much like truth) is a luxury Americans can no longer afford.

Silver is something most Americans can still afford, but aren’t smart enough to buy.  Maybe it’s because the concept that the supply of anything could be less-than-infinite is rejected here.  Or maybe they’re afraid someone might laugh and call them a conspiracy theorist.   Too bad, because they’ve already missed out on some really good laughs, with more to come.   The latest round of  jokes came from the CME group’s year to date metals delivery notices report.   Since December 2010, only 11 firms have been foolish enough to be net sellers of physical silver at the COMEX.   Here they are:

Net, JP Morgan delivered 12.2 million ounces of the shiny metal from December 2010 until last week; more than four times as much physical silver as all other market participants combined.  So the idea that JPM is the entity holding down the price of silver is an incontrovertible fact, not a conspiracy theory. It’s not even worth discussing. 

What is worth discussing is how much longer JPM can continue delivering silver at this blistering pace.  JPMs 4-month total would be more than 90% of US mining production for the period.  So how JPM acquires its silver should be of interest, and that requires some speculation.   The largest silver stockpile in World history is a good place to start.  On June 1, 1955 The Wall Street Journal reported that the US government had a “useless” stockpile of about 3 billion ounces of silver, and blasted the Treasury for paying the outrageous price of 90.41 cents for an ounce of silver (click here for excerpt, or here  if you are inclined to pay $4.95 for proof the WSJ was a worthless rag 56 years ago too).

***

 Fun with Math: If you had 3 billion ounces of something on June 1, 1955 and began selling 1 million ounces per week, you’d run out 57.49 years later, on Tuesday November 27, 2012.

 ***

The point is that in 1955, the US government was in possession of more than 10 percent of all silver ever discovered up to that point in human history. Fifty years later, it was all gone according to the 2005 US Geological Survey.   The price of silver has now risen more than 4,000% despite the complete liquidation of the largest stockpile of the stuff ever known.   That’s better than stocks, houses, oil and just about everything else you can imagine, with the exception of gold, which was illegal for US citizens to own in 1955.  One can only wonder what the price might be without that liquidation.  Well, that and who the US government sold all that silver to, and under what terms exactly.  That’s probably a good question to ask your congressman the next time he tells you Social Security is broke.  Anyway, the US government says it doesn’t have any silver left and apparently JPM and the customer(s) they represent have lots and lots. Nothing odd about that, right?

I say “apparently” JPM has lots and lots of silver because they delivered more than 12 million ounces in four months.   I have to wonder how many more times they can pull a rabbit that big out of their hat. In March 2011 folks at the COMEX decided to make JPM’S vault a certified COMEX vault.   As of April 11, that vault contained 30,844 ounces of silver. JPM has averaged about 150,000 ounces in physical settlement per trading day during the past four months. Which means that stash should last about two hours….

Maybe JPM still has lots and lots of silver elsewhere, right?  Certainly they should.  In November 2010, Jason Hommel estimated that JPM has silver obligations totaling 3.3 Billion ounces.   So if Jamie Dimon is in fact the man on the silver mountain (and maybe that explains the picture), why is he sending customers to the COMEX floor?  From the CME group’s YTD metals report:

JPMs customer(s) were by far the biggest net sellers of silver in March 2011, selling 374 contracts (5,000 t oz each), while buying none. So far in April, 119 silver contracts have been issued and JPMs customer have taken 94 of them (79%). Sentiment shifts don’t get any less subtle, even if you ignore the fact that they sold low and bought higher. So either they’re:  

  • suddenly expecting much higher prices 
  •  the most misguided investors on planet Earth, or
  • desperately in need of silver (after all, the stuff is very useful).

(This is the part where you need to think for yourself)

I’ll tell you right now, JPMs apologists are going to scream, “Obviously they’re not the same people!”  and you are free to accept that explanation.  The question remains however that if this party wanted physical silver why wouldn’t they just purchase it directly from JPM?   Wouldn’t JPM be happy to sell some of its hoard, now at 30-year highs directly to a customer?   They should have lots and lots, remember?   And who (besides the US government) would sell everything they have, only to buy it back for more in a month? 
 

Fun Fact:  JP Morgan’s London Branch is the custodian of the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) and neither the SEC nor the CFTC seem the slightest bit concerned. 

The SLV is the largest silver ETF, holding more than 360 million ounces of the element with the best electrical conductivity. As the prospectus says, “The custodian is responsible for safekeeping the silver owned by the trust….and is responsible for any loss of silver to the trustee only…Because the holders of ishares are not party to the custodian agreement, their claims against the custodian may be limited.”

I expect we will be seeing more silver showing up at JPMs COMEX vault shortly, if only for appearance’s sake.  Remember this:  The supply of a natural resources is finite, the ability to make promises you can’t keep is not.  Few questioned AIGs ability to honor its obligations until it was far too late.  The same kind of ignorance is in play in the silver market today. 

Silver has now embarrassed every pie-charting, asset allocating, Fibonacci retracing, Elliot waving, reversion-to-the-meaning dimwit trying to pass himself off as a “financial professional.”  Most have never recommended silver, and they know tough questions will be coming shortly from their future ex-clients.  So right now they’re praying, to whatever deity people who have based their World view on ignoring the difference constants and variables pray to, that silver is a bubble.  Fat chance.

***

More Fun Facts (and a bizzare comparison):  As of this writing, the US Treasury has sold 13,803,000 ounces of silver YTD.  At $40 each, that’s about $552mm, or  0.012% of GDP.  Meanwhile, Treasury’s net issuance of new paper has totaled $239B or5.13% of GDP.  If you charted that difference in height, it would be like comparing Dubai’s Burj Khalifa  to a Port-a-Potty (I’m not going to do that).  The Port-a-Potty may not get much respect (and I’ve seen a few woefully disrespected) but is absolutely necessary.  I’m not sure how necessary a giant needle (requiring the cooling equivalent of melting 22 million pounds of ice per day)  in a barren wasteland is. 

***

Draw your own conclusions regarding  bubbliciousness.  Still I can’t help but getting a little misty when I see the paperbug’s concern for the silverbugs.  Thanks guys, but your sentiments are about as insane as people on the Titanic  screaming to those already in life boats, “Come back!!! This ship is unsinkable and we’ve got technical analysis to PROVE it!”  Sure you do, but methinks you’re just after our lifeboat.

In case you haven’t noticed, the same people who call record numbers of Americans on food stamps a “recovery”, while piling up unpayable debts on others to stay large and in charge, call silverbugs crazy.  They act like trading infinitely printable paper for an irreplaceable vanishing resource, that has also served quite nicely as money throughout human history, is a silly idea.  Last time I checked, scientists haven’t yet found a way to turn bullshit into silver.

In April 2010, Jason Hommel filed an antitrust complaint against JP Morgan with the US Department of Justice, who still haven’t managed to send a single bankster to prison (Madoff turned himself in), so don’t hold your breath.  Taking silver at the artificially low prices still being offered is as close to revenge as the common man is ever going to get.

I leave you with lists of the top five contributors to the campaigns of financial reform “champions”  Chris Dodd and Barney Frank from Opensecrets.org.
 

 

 

Previously:
If you don’t know why you should own silver, please read:
http://acrossthestreetnet.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/what-the-silver-vigilantes-understand-that-you-probably-dont-arithmetic-human-nature-and/
 

CME group metals data links:
Daily
Month to Date
Year to Date
Silver Stocks (XLS)
 

Disclosure: Author is an unapologetic conspiracy theorist.

UpdateThis has now been the busiest day ever on the blog (and there’s three more hours to go) .  Thanks to everyone who made it possible, especially Coinflation.com, Max Keiser , and Steve Quayle

Another Update: If you are a silverbug (in case you haven’t noticed, I’m proud to be called that), I highly recommend About.Ag.  The site is 100% dedicated to providing accurate information on silver (chemical symbol Ag).  The page explaining the COMEX futures market is a must read.

Guess Who’s Buying Silver NOW?

In Open Thread on Monday, April 11, 2011 at 10:21 am

OK, so the JPM vault that contains a whopping 30,844 ounces of silver (about two hours worth, given the torrid pace at which JPM delivers) was just approved by the COMEX in March.  JPM’s probably got lots of silver stashed all over the place, right?  Maybe, maybe not.  One thing is for sure, JPMs customer(s) are some of  the worst investors the world has ever seen.  After selling almost 5 million ounces in the first three months of 2011, they’re buying now.  That’s right, in March alone they delivered 374 contracts (@ 5000 ounces each) and bought…..zero.  So far in April, they’ve bought 92 contracts and sold, you guessed it….the goose egg.  And yes, they are indeed buying at new highs (See here and here).  How bad would it suck if we learned that this clueless market participant was in fact the US government?

If you’d like to track the hilarity yourself, here’s links for the daily, MTD and YTD action on the COMEX.  Daily updates on COMEX silver stocks can be found here (xls format).

Apparently there are still quite a few out there who believe this is all part of some Jamie Dimon mindfreak.  Good luck with that.

Guess Who’s Almost Out of Silver?

In Open Thread on Friday, April 8, 2011 at 10:42 am

According to Jamie Dimon, he did America a favor when he agreed to take bailout money from taxpayers (and we didn’t even have the decency to thank him).  Last week ,we learned that the JP Morgan CEO likes his catastrophe’s predictable,  but as Mick Jagger once observed, “You can’t always get what you want.”   

So in case you’re wondering who might be stupid enough to buy silver at $40, chances are extremely high it’s going to be  the guys who sold at $15, $20, $25, 30, 31, 32, 33…..because as Mish once astutely observed, “for every long, there’s a short.”  On April 6, Bloomberg reported Comex Silver Stockpiles as of April 5, and if you scroll down through the report, you’ll notice that JP Morgan has enough silver to fill, wait for it, 6 contractsYep 30,844 troy ounces, that’s all. 

Now consider this:  Since December, JP Morgan and their customers (whoever they may be) have sold more than  12.2 Million Ounces of physical silver (net).   Here’s JP’s activity year-to-date from the Comex report:

I will not insult your intelligence by explaining this any further.

Shine on you crazy Dimon!

(No shit, that’s really him)

The Dirty Secret of the Debt Ceiling Debate: Nobody Wants Treasuries

In Open Thread on Friday, April 1, 2011 at 11:43 pm

On this side of the rainbow, “How much money should an uncreditworthy entity be allowed to borrow?”  is a rhetorical question.  In Washington DC, it’s a topic of much rhetoric.  In fiscal year 2009 Congress borrowed 53.5 cents of every dollar they spent.  In FY2010 they borrowed 48 cents of every dollar (*check your numbers, Santelli).   So they’ve borrowed and spent 3.5 Trillion to produce 255 Billion in GDP growth (7% efficiency!),  never even bothered to pass a budget  for FY2011, and still haven’t managed to get a single bankster put in jail.  Now these whores  are lecturing us about “moral obligations.”   They also swear they’re gonna straighten up and fly right this time.

There is one little detail they forgot to mention – no one actually wants to lend them money.  Welcome to the last resort.

Everybody knows that the Federal Reserve has the unique ability to create money out of nothing.  What most don’t know  is the Fed, not the Treasury, provides most of the explanations as to who is buying Treasuries (read the footnotes).  So to those who said, “I told you so!” when the Treasury revised China’s holdings by $268B in February, welcome to the pee-pee in your coke moment.  That revision brought China’s purchases to $577B in the two year period ending June 2010.  That was:

  • More than 5.5% of China’s GDP.
  • 116% of China’s trade surplus with the US.
  • More than 4 times China’s defense budget.

And you swallowed it.  Of course had you done even a little research you’d have understood that the data is about as helpful as an eight month old snapshot of the Universe:

“The collection of accurate country-level data on cross-border financial activity ranges from straightforward to virtually impossible, depending on the type of data to be collected and the method of collection”

~From “Why Treasury’s Data is Crap

by The Federal Reserve

I can hear you still clinging to your Scooby-Doo thesis, but anyone who speaks of “demand” in the US Treasury market at all displays their ignorance.  Like this is some giant game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.  Take a peak at this report and you’ll see that ownership is an antiquated concept when discussing  US debt.  Transactions of long-term Treasuries with foreigners during the last two fiscal years totaled more than $50 TRILLION, ($160,000 per US citizen) .  So if you insist on having a six year-old understanding of things, I suggest  Gnip-Gnop

 

Speaking of six year-olds, I blame the tooth fairy for all of this.  Most American children’s first brush with economics is the notion that somebody or something out there is actually willing to pay money for their crummy, little teeth.  It is a convenient lie that distracts children from the pain and anxiety of losing body parts.  Most of us evolve beyond this delusion, the rest become US congressmen and TV pundits.  Face it America, no one wants your debt.  The tooth fairy is all you’ve got left, and it’s been that way for a while.

When I fill up at the local gas station using my debit card, the money is gone from my account before I can drive home and log on to my bank’s website (less than 5 minutes).  Details about Treasury purchases are trickled out at an agonizingly slow pace that literally takes years to complete.  That’s right, years.  This time delay, combined with explanations that are vague at best make intelligent discussion about purchasers of US Treasuries impossible.   The more you dig into the data, the less sense it makes.   With the recent release of the Fed’s discount window activity, I’d like to know how many believe demand for the last 3.5 Trillion of US debt wasn’t fueled entirely by the Fed.  Now they’re playing Got your nose  with us.

So the next time Maria Bartiroma asks Lady Gaga, or whatever sock-puppet she happens to have on her show, “Who will buys US Treasuries when the Fed steps away?” An enlightened response might be, “I have no idea who was buying US Treasuries before the Fed stepped in. Do you Maria?” To which she will most likely reply, “So what sectors do you like going forward?”

 ***

 



*Generally I shy away from correcting hot-headed Italian-Americans, but I believe Rick Santelli values truth and accuracy.  I’m not sure how Rick calculated his recent claim that the government borrows 43 cents of every dollar they spend, but here’s how I calculated my numbers:

In FY2009 & 2010 government spending was $3.5177T and $3.4558T respectively.

Source: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12039/HistoricalTables%5B1%5D.pdf (page 1)

Total borrowing was $1.8851T for FY 2009; $1.6518T for FY 2010

Source: http://www.fms.treas.gov/bulletin/b2011_1.pdf (Table OFS-2)

US GDP 2008: $14.369T (World Bank – 2010 data not available)

Source: http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=ny_gdp_mktp_cd&idim=country:USA&dl=en&hl=en&q=gdp

US GDP 2010:  $14.624T (IMF)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)