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Posts tagged ‘Futures’

The Derivatives bubble

 

 


 

Derivatives have grew into a massive bubble, some USD
1,144 Trillion
by 2007. The new derivatives bubble was fuelled by five key economic and political trends:

  1. Sarbanes-Oxley increased corporate disclosures and government oversight
  2. Federal Reserve’s cheap money policies created the subprime-housing boom
  3. War budgets burdened the U.S. Treasury and future entitlements programs
  4. Trade deficits with China and others destroyed the value of the U.S. dollar
  5. Oil and commodity rich nations demanding equity payments rather than debt

In short, despite Buffett’s clear warnings,”
in my view, however, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.”

That warning was in Buffett’s 2002 letter to Berkshire shareholders. He saw a future that many others chose to ignore. On Buffett’s mind also was His acquisition of General Re four years earlier, about the time the Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund almost killed the global monetary system. How? This is crucial: LTCM nearly killed the system with a relatively small $5 billion trading loss. Peanuts compared with the hundreds of billions of dollars of subprime-credit write-offs now making Wall Street’s big shots look like amateurs. Buffett tried to sell off Gen Re’s derivatives group. No buyers. Unwinding it was costly, but led to his warning that derivatives are a “financial weapon of mass destruction.”


A massive new derivatives bubble is driving the domestic and global economies, a bubble that continues growing today parallel with the subprime-credit meltdown triggering a bear-recession. In five years comes from the most recent survey by the Bank of International Settlements, the world’s clearinghouse for central banks in Basel, Switzerland. The BIS is like the cashier’s window at a racetrack or casino, where you’d place a bet or cash in chips, except on a massive scale: BIS is where the U.S. settles trade imbalances with Saudi Arabia for all that oil we guzzle and gives China IOUs for the tainted drugs and lead-based toys we buy.

To grasp how significant this bubble is let’s look at these numbers

U.S. annual gross domestic product is about $15 trillion

  • U.S. money supply is also about $15 trillion
  • Current proposed U.S. federal budget is $3 trillion
    • U.S. government’s maximum legal debt is $9 trillion
    • U.S. mutual fund companies manage about $12 trillion
    • World’s GDPs for all nations is approximately $50 trillion
    • Unfunded Social Security and Medicare benefits $50 trillion to $65 trillion
    • Total value of the world’s real estate is estimated at about $75 trillion
    • Total value of world’s stock and bond markets is more than $100 trillion
    • BIS valuation of world’s derivatives back in 2002 was about $100 trillion
    • BIS 2007 valuation of the world’s derivatives is now a whopping $516 trillion

Moreover, the folks at http://www.bis.org/statistics/derstats.htm
BIS tell me their estimate of $516 trillion only includes “transactions in which a major private dealer (bank) is involved on at least one side of the transaction,” but doesn’t include private deals between two “non-reporting entities.” They did, however, add that their reporting central banks estimate that the coverage of the survey is around 95% on average.

Also, keep in mind that while the $516Trillion “notional” value (maximum in case of a meltdown) of the deals is a good measure of the market’s size, the 2007 BIS study notes that the $11 trillion “gross market values provides a more accurate measure of the scale of financial risk transfer taking place in derivatives markets.”


The fact is, derivatives have become the world’s biggest “black market,” exceeding the illicit traffic in stuff like arms, drugs, alcohol, gambling, cigarettes, stolen art and pirated movies. Why? Because like all black markets, derivatives are a perfect way of getting rich while avoiding taxes and government regulations. And in today’s slowdown, plus a volatile global market, Wall Street knows derivatives remain a lucrative business.

Recently Pimco’s bond fund king Bill Gross said “What we are witnessing is essentially the breakdown of our modern-day banking system, a complex of leveraged lending so hard to understand that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke required a face-to-face refresher course from hedge fund managers in mid-August.” In short, not only Warren Buffett, but Bond King Bill Gross, our Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, the Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the rest of America’s leaders can’t “figure out” the world’s USD .1,144 Trillion $ derivatives.(see below)

BIS is primarily a records-keeper, a toothless tiger that merely collects data giving a legitimacy and false sense of security to this chaotic “shadow banking system” that has become the world’s biggest “black market?”

Here are some of the types of derivatives that are out there.

Have you ever heard of them?

Chances are your local bank manager hasn’t either!

But I bet his Head office has a few slick traders that are trading these on a Daly bases and I’m

Pretty sure that they must be in it up to their necks!

  • Foreign exchange contracts
  • Listed credit derivatives
  • OTC ( over the counter)
  • Forwards and forex swaps
  •  Currency swaps
  • Options on Interest rate contracts
  • Forward rate agreements
  • Interest rate swaps
  • Options on
    Equity-linked contracts
  • Forwards and swaps
  • Options on Gold & Other commodities
  • Credit default swaps
  • Single-name instruments
  • Multi-name instruments
  • Unallocated instruments
  • CDS (credit default swaps)
    CDSs are derivatives whose cost is determined using financial models and by arbitrage relationships with other credit market instruments such as loans and bonds from the same ‘Reference Entity’ to which the CDS contract refers

     

  • ABS (asset-backed securities)
  • MBS (mortgage-backed securities)
  • OTC derivatives
  • Futures

    To name but a few!

  •  According to various distinguished sources including the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland — the central bankers’ bank — the amount of outstanding derivatives worldwide as of December 2007 crossed USD 1.144 Quadrillion, ie, USD 1,144 Trillion. The main categories of the USD 1.144 Quadrillion derivatives market were the following:

  • 1. Listed credit derivatives stood at USD 548 trillion;

    2. The Over-The-Counter (OTC) derivatives stood in notional or face value at USD 596 trillion and included:

    a. Interest Rate Derivatives at about USD 393+ trillion;

    b. Credit Default Swaps at about USD 58+ trillion;

    c. Foreign Exchange Derivatives at about USD 56+ trillion;

    d. Commodity Derivatives at about USD 9 trillion;

    e. Equity Linked Derivatives at about USD 8.5 trillion; and

    f. Unallocated Derivatives at about USD 71+ trillion.

 

For a more indebt information on the latest actual derivative figures please follow this link

It makes very interesting reading

Link  http://www.bis.org/statistics/derstats.htm

Source http://www.elliottwavetechnology.com

Tom Foremski at http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2008/10/the_size_of_der.php

Russian-Roulette

 

Let’s consider a well publicized recent sale of Russian gold bullion to itself:

I noticed this article to-day by Rob Kirby

And it is a very worrying development indeed!


Russia sells gold to itself

December 14, 2009 3:47pm by Emma Saunders

The Russian central bank data table appended below is the World Gold Council. It states that Russia possesses 607 [actually, now officially 640 tonnes with the addition of the recent 30-ish tonne purchase from itself] metric tonnes of gold bullion.
will spend $1bn next week, buying 30 metric tons of gold from Gokhran, the state repository. Gokhran had planned to sell 20-50 MT on the open market, but cancelled after news of the sale leaked. The sale would have helped plug Russia’s budget deficit, and, apparently, purchase some diamonds from state-run miner Alrosa….

Does this not strike you as being odd?

In case you missed it, Russia announced that they are selling gold to THEMSELVES!?!?

The source of the gold

The revelation that Russia is “selling gold to itself” and lack of acknowledgment that Gokhran exists – is a MAJOR omission by the World Gold Council in their aggregate gold bullion data.


++Additionally, the World Gold Council also reports that as of October 2009, gold exchange-traded funds held 1,750 tonnes of gold for private and institutional investors.

The World Gold Council’s data keeper is GFMS Ltd. The GFMS web site makes the following claim:

GFMS is the world’s foremost precious metals consultancy, specializing in research into the global gold, silver, platinum and palladium markets.

GFMS is based in London, UK, but has representation in Australia, India, China, Germany, France, Spain and Russia, and a vast range of contacts and associates across the world.

Our research team of fifteen full-time analysts comprises qualified and experienced economists and geologists; while two consultants contribute insights on important regional markets.

Executive Chairman Philip Klapwijk and CEO Paul Walker appear regularly at international conferences and seminars, and their articles have been widely published. All analysts travel regularly and extensively to stay in touch with GFMS’ unrivalled network of contacts and sources of information around the world.

With 15 full-time analysts, two consultants and “representation” in Russia – how is that GFMS [and by extension the World Gold Council] can omit such a large hoard as stored at Gokhran and materially misreport the nature of Russian gold reserves? They didn’t even mention the existence of Gokhran in a footnote.

Gold professionals who have been inside Gokhran [Russian] State bullion depositories have provided me with personal accounts of this bullion depository. They report scenes reminiscent of the movie Gold Finger – on steroids – literally countless metric tonnes of neatly stacked gold bullion.

So, a better question might be, what else – regarding GOLD – has GFMS and the World Gold Council not reported or omitted?

Getting A Beat On Where the World’s Physical Gold Is Stored

It is generally accepted that for the entirety of mankind’s existence on this planet – the earth’s crust has yielded roughly 160 thousand metric tonnes of gold. The World Gold Council / GFMS identifies where roughly 32 thousand tonnes of that total are located.

We might add to what’s listed above, the following:

“No one knows exactly how much gold has been passed from generation to generation and is now stashed in safe deposit boxes across India. But bullion analysts estimate Indian families are sitting on about 15,000 tonnes of gold worth more than $US550 billion ($A600 billion).”

Then, if we conservatively assume that the rest of the world has as much as India stored away in safe deposit boxes – that’s another 15,000 metric tonnes.

Therefore by using reported World Gold Council / GFMS data plus some very conservative assumptions, we can approximately account for 62,000 metric tonnes of the world’s roughly 160,000 metric tonnes ever mined.

By the process of elimination and adjusting for the 62 thousand metric tonnes referenced above, there is a residual 98 thousand metric tonnes of physical gold bullion; the location of which cannot be readily identified.

The very nature of World Gold Council / GFMS data may be characterized as being static and don’t tend to change much year-over-year. This demonstrates that the owners of gold bullion DO NOT GENERALLY
TRADE THEIR PHYSICAL STASHES
– they sit on them!

The Conundrum That “IS” the London Bullion Market Association [LBMA]

The LBMA is considered to be the world’s foremost physical gold market. Here is their data on the number of ounces of gold “transferred” DAILY – by month, year-over-year – from Nov. 08 – Nov. 09:

Month Millions of Ounces Transferred / Day
Dec 08 17.5
Jan 09 18.8
Feb 09 23.8
Mar 09 22.2
Apr 09 20.5
May 09 21.9
Jun 09 20.5
Jul 09 17.7
Aug 09 16.4
Sep 09 20.6
Oct 09 20.8
Nov 09 21.5
Total 242.2

There are 22 business days per month, so the LBMA claims to have traded 151,046 metric tonnes of gold in the most recent 12 month period.

242.2
x
22 = 5,328 million physical ozs or 151,046 metric tonnes

The LBMA reports that they have “transferred” or traded 151,046 metric tonnes of gold – a commodity that when folks possess it, they are demonstrably inclined NOT TO trade it. Using another bench mark, annual global mine production is in the neighborhood of 2,500 metric tonnes. The LBMA claims to have sold last year’s global mine supply over 60 times in 12 months.

The LBMA claims to do this year-in, year-out.

This implies that ANY LBMA physical gold stocks are HIGHLY LEVERAGED through trade in paper gold

London is but one exchange where gold trades. Others include N.Y., Tokyo, Dubai, Bombay and different points in China. Don’t forget, physical ounces traded on ANY of these exchanges are additional ounces that London cannot be trading.

The reality is that every physical ounce of gold reported to be in the vaults of the LBMA and exchanges in general, is sold tens and perhaps more than a hundred times over in paper form. This paper selling suppresses what would otherwise be the freemarket gold price.

The Russians are known to be very shrewd and calculating. It makes one wonder whether the Russian announcement of a sale of gold bullion – TO THEMSELVES – might not have been a “tell” signaling their intention to not only withhold physical metal from the market and ensure that paper promises of delivery of real metal are honored.

Could it be that the Russians are really signaling that the assignment of false, arbitrary values [using futures / derivatives] to finite resources will no longer be tolerated?

If so, the real leverage is in owning physical gold bullion – not the paper promises.

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