Gold Caught With Its Backwardation Showing

By: Keith Weiner | Tue, Mar 5, 2013
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With all the discussion on the Internet, some of it confusing, we thought a picture would be worth a thousand words.

Backwardation is when there is a profit to decarry the metal. This is the simultaneous sale of metal in the spot market and purchase of metal in the futures market. Selling is on the bid and buying is at the ask. So the spread one could earn is the decarry: Spot(bid) - Future(ask).

We normally quote this as an annualized percentage (the basis), but we thought we would show the raw numbers. This graph was made about 10:15am ET on March 4.

Gold Backwardation

Sure enough, there is a 76-cent per ounce profit to be made decarrying gold. This is a small number compared to the price around $1600, and it could be easily missed. It is the actual profit one would make in the real market by this arbitrage (not including commissions and fees, which a bullion bank would not be paying).

It is fascinating that it persists. It's been there for weeks! Does no one have gold to put towards this trade? Is there no attraction to a 0.3% annualized return on a risk-free trade maturing in less than 60 days?


Monetary Metals publishes the basis and cobasis with commentary every week (free registration required).



Keith Weiner

Author: Keith Weiner

Keith Weiner

Keith Weiner

Keith Weiner is CEO of Monetary Metals, a precious metals fund company in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a leading authority in the areas of gold, money, and credit and has made important contributions to the development of trading techniques founded upon the analysis of bid-ask spreads. He is founder of DiamondWare, a software company sold to Nortel in 2008, and he currently serves as president of the Gold Standard Institute USA.

Weiner attended university at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and earned his PhD at the New Austrian School of Economics. He blogs about gold and the dollar, and his articles appear on Zero Hedge, Kitco, and other leading sites. As a leading authority and advocate for rational monetary policy, he has appeared on financial television, The Peter Schiff Show and as a speaker at FreedomFest. He lives with his wife near Phoenix, Arizona.

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