The time is now fast approaching when all debt will be defaulted on…A debtor’s default will impact the creditor (who is usually also a debtor to yet other creditors), causing him to default, and so on. When this begins in earnest, it will wipe out the banking system and thus everyone’s “money.” The paper currencies will not survive this. We are seeing the early edges of it now in the euro, and it’s anyone’s guess when it will happen in Japan, though it seems long overdue already. Last of all, it will come to the USA. The purpose of this article is to present the early-warning signal and explain the actual mechanism to these events. Words: 1386
So says Keith Weiner (www.caseyresearch.com) in edited excerpts from an article* which Lorimer Wilson, editor of www.munKNEE.com (Your Key to Making Money!), has further edited below for length and clarity – see Editor’s Note at the bottom of the page. (This paragraph must be included in any article re-posting to avoid copyright infringement.)
Weiner goes on to say, in part:
Worldwide, an incredible tower of debt has been under construction since President Nixon’s 1971 default on the gold obligations of the U.S. government. His decree severed the redeemability of the dollar for gold and thus eliminated the extinguisher of debt. Debt has been growing exponentially everywhere since then. Debt is backed with debt, based on debt, dependent on debt and leveraged with yet more debt. For example, today it is possible to buy a bond (i.e., lend money) on margin (i.e., with borrowed money).
To understand the terminal stages of the monetary system’s fatal disease, we must understand gold.
Most traders define “backwardation” for a commodity as when the price of a futures contract is lower than the price of the same good in the spot market [or, to express it another way, backwardation is when the bid in the spot market is greater than the ask in the futures market. [Let me expand on that definition.] In every market, there are always two prices for a good: the bid and the ask. To sell a good, one must take the bid and, likewise, to buy the good, one must pay the ask. In backwardation, one can sell a physical good for cash and simultaneously buy a futures contract, and make a profit on the arbitrage. Note that in doing this trade, one’s position does not change in the end. One begins with a certain amount of the good and ends (upon maturity of the contract) with that same amount of the good.
Many commodities, like wheat, are produced seasonally but consumption is much more evenly spread around the year. Immediately prior to the harvest, the spot price of wheat is normally at its highest in relation to wheat futures. This is because wheat inventories in the warehouses are very low. People will have to pay a higher price for immediate delivery. At the same time, everyone in the market knows that the harvest is coming in one month. So the price, if a buyer can wait one month for delivery, is lower. This is a case of backwardation.
Backwardation is typically a signal of a shortage in a commodity. Anyone holding the commodity could make a risk-free profit by delivering it and getting it back later. If others put on this trade, and others, and so on, this would push down the bid in the spot market and lift up the ask in the futures market until the backwardation disappeared. The process of profiting from arbitrage compresses the spread one is arbitraging.
Actionable backwardations typically do not last long enough for the small trader to even see on the screen, much less trade. This is another way of saying that markets do not normally offer risk-free profits. In the case of wheat backwardation, for example, the backwardation may persist for weeks or longer but there is no opportunity to profit for anyone, because no one has any wheat to spare. There is a genuine shortage of wheat before the harvest.
Why Gold Backwardation Is Important
Could backwardation happen with gold? Gold is not in shortage. One just has to measure abundance using the right metric. If you look at the inventories divided by annual mine production, the World Gold Council estimates this number to be around 80 years.
In all other commodities (except silver), inventories represent a few months of production. Other commodities can even have “gluts,” which usually lead to a price collapse. As an aside, this fact makes gold good for money. The price of gold does not decline, no matter how much of the stuff is produced. Production will certainly not lead to a “glut” in the gold market pulling prices downward so what would a lower price on gold for future delivery mean compared to a higher price of gold in the spot market? By definition, it means that gold delivered to the market is in short supply. The meaning of gold backwardation is that trust in future delivery is scarce.
In an ordinary commodity, scarcity of the physical good available for delivery today is resolved by higher prices. At a high enough price, demand for wheat falls until existing stocks are sufficient to meet the reduced demand.
Scarcity of trust has been resolved thus far via higher prices. Higher prices do coax some gold out of various hoards, jewelry, etc….but when backwardation becomes permanent, then trust in the gold futures market will have collapsed. Unlike with wheat, millions of people and many institutions have plenty of gold they can sell in the physical market and buy back via futures contracts. When they choose not to, that is the beginning of the end of the current financial system. Why is that? Think about the similarities between the following three statements:
- “My paper gold future contract will be honored by delivery of gold.”
- “If I trade my gold for paper now, I will be able to get gold back in the future.”
- “I will be able to exchange paper money for gold in the future.”
The reason why there was a significant backwardation (smaller backwardations have occurred intermittently since then) is that people did not believe the first statement. They did not trust that the gold future would be honored in gold and if they don’t believe that paper futures will be honored in gold, then they have no reason to believe that they can get gold in the future at all.
If some gold owners still trust the system at that point, then they can sell their gold (at much higher prices, probably) but sooner or later, there will not be any sellers of gold in the physical market.
Higher Prices Can’t Cure Permanent Gold Backwardation
With an ordinary commodity, there is a limit to what buyers are willing to pay based on the need satisfied by that commodity, the availability of substitutes and the buyers’ other needs that also must be satisfied within the same budget. The higher the price, the more holders and producers are motivated to sell, and the less consumers are motivated (or able) to buy. The cure for high prices is high prices but gold [it] is different. Unlike wheat, gold is not bought for consumption. While some people hold it to speculate on increases in its paper price, these speculators will be replaced by others who hold it because it is money.
Once the gold owners have lost confidence, no amount of price change will bring back trust in paper currencies. Gold will not have a “high enough” price that will discourage buying or encourage selling. Thus gold backwardation will not only recur, but at some point, it will stay in its backwardated state, [Such] permanent gold backwardation can be seen as the withdrawal of bids denominated in gold for irredeemable government debt paper (e.g., dollar bills) which is the inevitable result of the debt collapse…
The erosion of faith in paper money is a one-way process (with some zigs and zags) but, eventually, backwardation will become deeper and deeper (while the dollar price of gold is rising, probably exponentially). The final step is when gold completely withdraws its bid on paper. At that point, paper’s bid on gold will be unlimited, and this is why paper will inevitably collapse without gold…
Editor’s Note: The above article has been has edited ([ ]), abridged, and reformatted (including the title, some sub-titles and bold/italics emphases) for the sake of clarity and brevity to ensure a fast and easy read. The article’s views and conclusions are unaltered and no personal comments have been included to maintain the integrity of the original article.
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