Despite each issuing notices to investors that the market for gold is looking bearish, both Goldman Sachs and HSBC took delivery of over 3 tons each of physical gold this month. According to Seeking Alpha, “On August 6, 2015, Goldman Sach took delivery of a 3.2-ton purchase of physical gold.” On the same day, HSBC also took possession of 3.9 tons of the yellow metal.
The report claims that these purchases were “registered as being for the benefit of the bank’s own house account, rather than the accounts of customers.” So do the banks know something that we don’t? Why tell investors one thing and then do another?
In an interview about the gold market, Jeffrey Currie, from Goldman Sachs, told MarketWatch, “In longer term, we definitely like playing this market on the short side. We think we are in a structural bear market, not only in gold, but across the commodity complex, as the individual commodity stories are reinforcing to one another, creating a negative feedback loop.”
While this outlook may be true for the paper-gold market, which can function more like a standard stock, the physical gold market is showing some major signs of life. Seeking Alpha reports that physical gold demand “will exceed known supplies by at least 1,350 tons in 2015. More in 2016.”
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So why would the banks advise their investors to the contrary? Seeking Alpha believes that they may be “setting up the paper market in order to buy from the physical market very cheaply.” Sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory, but the report offers some evidence.
HSBC strategists have been reported as saying there is a “drift towards Fed tightening and the associated USD strength, low global inflationary pressure, weak gold demand from India and China and market positioning and momentum.”
According to the article, this statement was made only a few days before a report was issued showing India had a 61% increase in gold imports between April and May. How could HSBC not know about this at the time of their strategy statement? HSBC is one of the largest participants in the Indian import market. Then they went and made this 3.9-ton purchase.
The biggest question raised by these actions is: what do the banks know that your average investor does not? Seeking Alpha believes that the banks are setting up a “Big Long,” similar to the now famous “Big Short” that Goldman Sachs is known to have taken before the 2008 market crash. Going long on physical gold would set the banks up for huge profits if the world does see a collapse of the worldwide bond bubble, which many analysts have been predicting. Since physical gold is known to increase in value as markets drop, the banks could make a killing by purchasing physical gold now on the lower side.
Even if this is just a conspiracy theory, the fact remains that these banks are saying one thing and doing another. Banks that spend millions and millions of dollars to know what everyone else does not in order to stay ahead of the market. These banks are stocking up on physical gold now, which means they must believe they are getting a good deal on a long-term investment.