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Gold's Regular Morning Mugging

By: Chris Martenson | Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Not everyone is a morning person. And few people like Mondays.

But if you're a precious metals investor, mornings - especially Mondays - are brutal.

The Evidence

The precious metals are routinely sold off at or soon after the 8:20am EST morning open of the New York NYMEX exchange.

Below are the daily gold price charts (source: Kitco) for each Monday (or Tuesday, if Monday was a holiday) since early this year. The current day's gold price is noted by the bright green line. The morning takedown is highlighted by the orange oval.

Monday, January 7

Gold is taken down $10 immediately after the 8am NYMEX open

24 Hour Spot Gold (Bid)

Monday, January 14

A late breaking rally begun on the London exchange is quickly contained at the NYMEX open, and then beaten down nearly $10. Notice that the previous Friday's gold price action (the bright blue line) also showed the same behavior at the same time, but with an even more severe response once the NYMEX opened.

24 Hour Spot Gold (Bid)

Monday, January 21

The 8am sell-off is smaller here (only a few $), but still noticeable.

24 Hour Spot Gold (Bid)

Monday, January 28

Again, a sell-off happens after the 8am open. Note again how the previous Friday's action was similar, but even more severe.

24 Hour Spot Gold (Bid)

Monday, February 4

Finally, an outlier. While there was an initial dip in the first hour of the NYMEX, the price took off soon after. So let's not count this one.

24 Hour Spot Gold (Bid)

Monday, February 11

An immediate $14 drop at the 8am open. The downward momentum started in London, but the vertical downdraft once the NYMEX opened is unmistakable.

24 Hour Spot Gold (Bid)

Tuesday, February 19

While less sharp, the steady selling clearly begins at 8am, beating gold down $12 to the technically significant $1,600 threshold.

24 Hour Spot Gold (Bid)

Volume & Timing

Running the above data by Chris, he noted two additional observations.

The first is that the price suppression is commencing increasingly in advance of the start of the NYMEX's open outcry process at 8:20am EST (i.e., how trading happens at the NYMEX). This suggests that it's being done on behalf of powerful players granted permission to circumvent the rules.

Gold (Comex) APR 2013 Future

The second is that the volume levels in this pre-open trading is similar to that seen during active hours. That is very unusual in markets, and exceptionally high.

As much volume premarket as during market


For those wondering, the daily price charts for silver indicate measurably similar action during these gold takedowns. Not in exact lockstep, but directionally similar both in degree and timing.

[Update: after initially writing this, I noticed Zero Hedge posted a related analysis today of the takedowns in silver for the month of February so far. Like gold, the selling is concentrated in the first few hours of the day on the NYMEX]

...they appear to be strangely collected in a brief four hour window at the start of the day... the black line is the average of the day's performance in February across the dates selected.

Larger Image

Charts: Bloomberg

The Conundrum

It's hard to swallow that these charts are evidence of a free and efficient market. Otherwise, a pattern this predictable would be quickly removed as traders and HFT algos piled in to a "sure" bet.

Instead, this is behavior one would expect to see if powerful interests wanted to suppress the price of gold: hit the price hard and early at the start of the trading week to prevent the price from building upward momentum, as well as to make capital think twice before entering the gold market.

Who is doing this selling at the market open? Is it TBTF ("too big to fail") banks making profit on large short positions? Is it the Fed, through proxies, keeping the gold price contained so as not to signal how badly QE is devaluing the dollar? Allegations swarm across the Internet that it's one of these - or both. But we don't know for certain. The exchanges don't make that information available to the public.

But while these charts above are not enough evidence to prove that the gold price is being manipulated, they sure exhibit the symptoms one would expect to see if it is.

So, the big question is: if the precious metals market is being manipulated, is it wise to be in it?

History is littered with the bodies of investors whose investment thesis was right, but whose timing was wrong. Even though precious metals investors may be correct in their fundamental rationale for buying gold, can the precious metals markets remain held in check (or driven further down) for long enough that it's not worth the risk of owning the metals at all right now?

The Decision

As I laid out in Time To Choose, investors are facing a junction where they need to make a decision. Since rising markets and fiscal policy have divorced themselves from fundamentals, the gap between "what is" and "what should be" is widening. The weighting of your capital allocation needs to be based on which side you see winning out here.

From our perspective here at Peak Prosperity, for all of the reasons explored in the Crash Course and discussed here daily, we firmly believe that fundamentals will ultimately matter most. And when they fully express themselves, there will be a tremendous re-pricing of assets - largely higher for tangible assets that require energy to obtain, and markedly lower for paper claims on wealth (stocks, bonds, and their derivatives).

But as we've often said, the corrective process may very well take much longer than we ever expected to arrive. Frankly, we're amazed that the system has held together so well over the past 5 years with all of the thin-air money printing, trillion-dollar deficits, and $100 oil. If you are playing to the fundamentals, as we are, you need to be eyes-wide-open that you may be frustrated for far longer than you'd like to be.

So, if you decide to bet on the continued success of the status quo, your choices are easy: Get in the paper markets and go long. The Fed will be adding $85 billion of liquidity rocket fuel each month for the rest of the year to push the prices of your paper investments even higher.

But if you choose the fundamentals, here are a few important guidelines to keep in mind:

A Time to 'Hold Fast'

It's only human to have your confidence shaken when the market acts so completely differently than you think it should for so prolonged a time. Chris and I feel the same pain, both constitutionally as well as in our wallets, as much of our net worth is invested in the PMs.

But every time we go through the exercise of challenging our assumptions, we walk away feeling certain that our charted course is the correct one - and that at some point, fundamentals will prevail.

As for what those fundamentals are, there's a seminal piece Chris wrote back in 2011 called The Screaming Fundamentals for Owning Gold and Silver that is even more true today. I highly recommend revisiting it.

Chris has mentioned many times that this market feels an awful lot like 2007, when asset prices powered ever higher month after month, even though the underlying data was deteriorating fast. As then, he sees a high and rising potential for a violent correction that will take the market by surprise and vaporize a lot of wealth before players are able to react.

It's times like these when you need to have the courage of your convictions and hold fast to whatever course of action you have decided upon after careful, considered analysis. During these trying periods, it's helpful to converse with a community of like-minded thinkers who can help remind you of the facts underlying your rationale - which is why I recommend joining's Gold & Silver Group if you own PMs. It's a great source of both informational and emotional support.

Chris and I will continue to closely track the developments in the precious metals markets and report back on any material changes to our outlook as they develop. In the meantime, we'll be holding fast. We hope you'll be doing the same, too.

Image from Master and Commander
(click on image if in need of dramatic inspiration)


Author: Chris Martenson

Chris Martenson
Peak Prosperity

Chris Martenson

Executive summary: Father of three young children; author; obsessive financial observer; trained as a scientist; experienced in business; has made profound changes in his lifestyle because of what he sees coming.

I think it's important that you understand who I am, how I have arrived at my conclusions and opinions, and why I've dedicated my life to communicating them to you.

First of all, I am not an economist. I am trained as a scientist, having completed both a PhD and a post-doctoral program at Duke University, where I specialized in neurotoxicology. I tell you this because my extensive training as a scientist informs and guides how I think. I gather data, I develop hypotheses, and I continually seek to accept or reject my hypotheses based on the evidence at hand. I let the data tell me the story.

It is also important for you to know that I entered the profession of science with the intention of teaching at the college level. I love teaching, and I especially enjoy the challenge of explaining difficult or complicated subjects to people with limited or no background in those subjects. Over the years I've gotten pretty good at it.

Once I figured out that most of the (so-called) better colleges place "effective teacher" pretty much near the bottom of their list of characteristics that factor into tenure review, I switched gears, obtained an MBA from Cornell (in Finance), and spent the next ten years working my way through positions in both corporate finance and strategic consulting. From these experiences I gather my comfort with numbers and finance.

So much for the credentials.

The most important thing for you to know is the impact that the information that I've now placed on this site had on me. Let's do this as a Before and After.

Before: I am a 40-year-old professional who has worked his way up to Vice President of a large, international Fortune 300 company and is living in a waterfront, 5 bathroom house in Mystic, CT, which is mostly paid off. My three young children are either in or about to enter public school, and my portfolio of investments is being managed by a broker at a large institution. I do not really know any of my neighbors, and many of my local connections are superficial at best.

After: I am a 45-year-old who has willingly terminated his former high-paying, high-status position because it seemed like an unnecessary diversion from the real tasks at hand. My children are now homeschooled, and the big house in Mystic was sold in July of 2003 in preference for a 1.5 bathroom rental in rural western Massachusetts. In 2002, I discovered that my broker was unable to navigate a bear market, and I've been managing our investments ever since. Since that time, my portfolio has gained 166%, which works out to a compounded yearly gain of 27.8% for five years running (whereas my broker, by keeping me in the usual assortment of stocks, would have scored me a 38% return, or 8.39%/yr). I grow a garden every year; preserve food, know how to brew beer & wine, and raise chickens. I've carefully examined each support system (food, energy, security, etc), and for each of them I've figured out either a means of being more self-sufficient or a way to do without. But, most importantly, I now know that the most important descriptor of wealth is not my dollar holdings, but the depth and richness of my community.

I hope you find what I have to offer here useful.

Copyright © 2013 Chris Martenson