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David Hargreaves on Precious Metals week 13 2012

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Another subdued week saw gold nudge down but reassert its premium to platinum, momentarily. Warren B and the Week in Mining have not reached the smug stage – long way to go – but the entry of Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Fed adds an interesting dimension. In a lecture last week at George Washington University he rubbished the gold standard and counselled strongly against any notion of returning to one. His reasons were sound enough on the surface.

  • The strength of the gold standard is also its weakness. Because the money supply is determined by the supply of gold, it cannot be adjusted to response to changing economic conditions.
  • He also waxed about fixed exchange rates, speculative attacks and swapping paper for gold.
  • But let’s give it a try, shall we?
  • Our starting point is 130,000t of gold on the surface, which is about 4 billion ounces.
  • World GDP is c. $80,000bn. So for gold to be the official currency again, we should have to call it at 80 ÷ 4 = $20,000 per ounce.
  • Yet GDP means trade. For every buyer there is a seller. So $10,000 per ounce would suffice.
  • Now would GDP is rising annually (says Wikipedia) at c. 6% per year, so an extra $5800bn in 2012. Well, at $10,000/oz that is 16,000t. But divided by 2 again for two way trade and we get 8000t new supply needed. If gold hit $10,000/g our money would be on newly mined supply doing likewise.
  • This assumes a full gold standard. Partial backing is not out of the equation. They call it the fiscal ratio.

So we remain short term bears of the gold price, it will take only one more Greek haircut to put remonetisation back in the frame. What Ben B. Appears to infer is that printing paper is the only recourse. That’s fine as long as it leans back on some collateral.

India and gold are inseparable. India’s Central Bank, the RBI, holds only 558t, less than 2% of world central holdings, valued at only 8% of its total reserves, but its private citizens probably have more than the rest of the planet’s combined.

Much is held in jewellery form and they like to use it as collateral. A roaring trade has built up via non-banking finance companies using the mechanism. It worries the RBI to the extent that it demands they apply a loan-to-value ratio not exceeding 60% on jewellery and not to lend at all against bullion and coins. Bit of an oddity, the latter.

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Platinum Resurfaces. If a single company stands out in the PGM manufacturing sector it is UK based Johnson Matthey, the world’s largest producer of auto catalysts and much more besides. In an interview with Mining Weekly, JM’s publications manager gave his view on the market for the metal which summarises as:

  • The strong price performance this year, up from $1407/oz to almost $2000/oz before a pullback to a recent $1634/oz owed much to supply disruptions in RSA, the major miner, but also apprehension about the Zimbabwe situation.
  • Demand is now reasserting itself, particularly in North America and with a least a partial resolution to the Greek debt crisis.
  • The climate is not good for attracting investment in either RSA or Zimbabwe, so limited scope for increased output in 2012 at least.
  • The demand outlook is improved in North America (14% of Pt and 20% Pd demand) and at last in Japan, post – Fukushima.
  • The Gold Bulls are not chewing grass.
  • BMO: The next time gold really starts a run, its got nothing to stop it.
  • Aurizon Gold: (gold has): nothing to stop it.
  • GFMS: Gold to average $1800/oz this year despite big supply surplus. (How can something nobody uses be in surplus?)

India’s gold imports are now subject to a possible hike in tax which is making sections of commerce howl. They speak of moving up from 2% to 4%. Imports could reach $100bn by 2015-16. At today’s price that is over 1800t, against newly mined world output of c. 2600t.

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About David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves is a mining engineer with over forty years of senior experience in the industry. After qualifying in coal mining he worked in the iron ore mines of Quebec and Northwest Ontario before diversifying into other bulk minerals including bauxite. He was Head of Research for stockbrokers James Capel in London from 1974 to 1977 and voted Mining Analyst of the year on three successive occasions.

Since forming his own metals broking and research company in 1977, he has successfully promoted and been a director of several public companies. He currently writes “The Week in Mining”, an incisive review of world mining events, for stockbrokers WH Ireland. David’s research pays particular attention to steel via the iron ore and coal supply industries. He is a Chartered Mining Engineer, Fellow of the Geological Society and the Institute of Mining, Minerals and Materials, and a Member of the Royal Institution. His textbook, “The World Index of Resources and Population” accurately predicted the exponential rise in demand for steel industry products.

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Vetepriset kommer att gå upp – hur man än vrider och vänder på det

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Vete i närbild

Priset på vete har halverats på två, samtidigt sjunker vetelagren. Torbjörn Iwarson på Centaur Commodity Fund säger i DiTV att priset måste upp för att motivera bönder att odla mer. Han konstaterar att hur man än vrider och vänder på det så måste priset gå upp för världen kan inte vara utan vete.

Torbjörn Iwarson kommenterar vete och apelsinjuice.
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Bra start för Centaur Commodity Fund

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Tre olika råvaror

Centaur Commodity Fund är den nya råvarufonden i Sverige som förvaltas av den erfarna råvaruprofilen Torbjörn Iwarson. Fonden har en bred exponering mot råvarumarknaden och mäter sig mot det etablerade indexet Bloomberg Commodity Ex Energy Total Return Index.

Fonden har fått en bra start och presterade bäst jämfört med sina närmaste konkurrenter. Förvaltaren skriver på LinkedIn med glimten i ögat ”Nybörjartur med råvarufonden.” En fond ska självklart utvärderas över längre tid, inte en enskild månad, men det måste ändå vara trevligt att börja med att vara bäst.

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Vinregionen Champagne drabbad av hagelstorm

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Hagelskadad vinodling i Champagne

Den 12 maj bröt våldsamma hagelstormar ut i vid Champagnes vingårdar i Frankrike. Särskilt drabbat är området Vitry-le François där odlare har fått mellan 50-100 procent av sina odlingar förstörda.

Vingårdarna i södra Aisne hade 70-100 mm regn och stora översvämningar.  Svåra hagelskador drabbade regionerna Courcelles, Barzy-sur-Marne, Passy-sur-Marne och Trélou-sur-Marne som hade hagelstormar som varade i hela 45 minuter.

– Det är väldigt ovanligt att en enda storm drabbar ett sådant stort område. Detta är givetvis en stor katastrof för odlarnas ekonomi, deras familjer och anställda.  För odlare som säljer sin skörd är detta ofta den enda inkomstkällan. Medan odlare och producenter som skapar sin egen champagne oftast kan fylla ut med reserv-vin som man sparar tillbaka från bättre skördeår, säger Fredrik Schelin, vinexpert i Sverige.

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– Vi har inget hagel just nu men vi har det besvärligt med vädret just nu. Massor av regn, och möglet har redan satt sina spår. Det är svårt för oss att arbeta med jorden, men förhoppningsvis blir det bättre till sommaren, säger Jean-Paul Hébrart, Champagne Marc Hébrart – Mareuil sur AŸ.

Det är svårt att bedöma de övergripande skadorna av stormen. Mellan 450-500 hektar vinstockar, det vill säga ca 1,4 procent av hela Champagnes vinodlingar har drabbats i varierande grad, från 50 till 100%. Fram till skörden är Champagne-regionen fortsatt utsatt för risk för hagel och storm.

Isabelle Diebolt från Champagne Diebolt-Vallois – Cramant rapporterar:
– Vi har inget hagel, men oändligt mycket regn, så det är svårt att odla och jobba med vin just nu.

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