In an interview by Chris Martenson, Paul Tustain from Bullion Vault reveals that he is “not really strongly in the manipulation camp but I do agree that market manipulation tends to happen in futures contracts. This is not anything to do with gold or silver specifically, it is to do with the way futures contracts work.”
The manipulation he refers to is around futures expiry, a form of “short term manipulation that runs in the last week of the future, in the first week of the following future, when there is a tendency for the banks to hold the old one low and to offer the new contract at a higher price.” In a bull market, where speculators tend to go long, bullion banks will take the short side of the trade and hedge themselves with a long position in the over-the-counter (OTC) market. When it comes to expiry, the banks know that the speculators do not have the full cash to pay for the physical metal or any interesting in taking delivery. Speculators therefore become price takers, forced into accepting a low price to sell their futures contract.
Paul has observed that the banks tend to offer to buy back futures contracts “somewhere around 50 or 60 cents an ounce below the forward curve”, by which he means that the price banks are offering to buy futures is 50-60 cents lower than what they can sell their long gold position they originally took in the OTC market. I think it is an open question whether this is manipulation or simply arbitrage, but the interesting observation Paul makes is that “you cannot manipulate a market for more than about a week or so by holding, for example, a short position on a futures contract.” This conflicts with those who claim that bullion banks have manipulated prices down by holding a continuous, ongoing short position over a number of years
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AM-PM FIX MANIPULATION
Paul also weighs in on the observation that the London AM Fix tends to be big higher than the PM Fix and whether this is proof of market manipulation.
ALGORITHMS GOLD WILD
Continuing our manipulation theme, Dan Norcini worries that “hedge fund computers and their damnable algorithms have destroyed the integrity of the US futures markets."