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Precious Metals News - February 2010

27 February 2010 - Mail Online - Man who broke the Bank of England, George Soros, 'at centre of hedge funds plot to cash in on fall of the euro'
A secretive group of Wall Street hedge fund bosses are said to be behind a plot to cash in on the decline of the euro. Representatives of George Soros's investment business were among an all-star line up of Wall Street investors at an 'ideas dinner' at a private townhouse in Manhattan, according to reports.

26 February 2010 - FT - Investment worry forces pound to slide
Sterling dropped to a nine-month low against the US dollar and lost ground against the bedraggled euro as concerns grew about the economy

26 February 2010 - Free Gold Money Report - What Are Banks Doing with Their Depositors' Money?
There have been numerous reports about the sharp decline in bank lending since the beginning of the financial crisis. The Wall Street Journal, for example, on Wednesday reported in an article entitled “Lending Falls at Epic Pace” that last year’s decline in lending is the biggest since 1942.

25 February 2010 - Mineweb - Gold: A picture tells a thousand words
The net long dollar position on Inter continental exchange is 150 times the six-year average; CME Euro is heavily oversold

25 February 2010 - FT - Bernanke signals US rates to be kept low
US interest rates would remain at exceptionally low levels for an “extended period” in spite of the “nascent” economic recovery, Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, told Congress

25 February 2010 - FT - Freddie Mac likely to need more cash support
Freddie Mac said on Wednesday it would probably have to take more taxpayer cash this year to offset continued losses in a fragile housing market. The warning by the government-run mortgage financier came as it revealed it lost $7.8bn in the last three months of 2009, compared with a loss of $23.9bn a year earlier. The deficit in the fourth quarter of last year was inflated by a $1.3bn dividend payment to the US Treasury but is still up on the loss of $5.4bn in the previous quarter.

25 February 2010 - FT - Silver and gold critics win CFTC hearing
Activist investors have got the ear of US commodities watchdog over price manipulation fears.

25 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Bond ETF buyers, beware
Investors seeking safety have been pouring cash into bond funds -- but when it comes to exchange-traded funds they run the risk of limiting gains or magnifying losses.

24 February 2010 - Wall Street Journal - Four Biggest Greek Banks Downgraded
Greece's financial instability is spreading to its private-sector banks, the latest indication that the country's credit woes are worsening. Fitch Ratings, citing concerns about Greek banks' funding costs and profitability, downgraded the country's four major banks to triple-B, or two notches above "junk" status. Fitch characterized its outlook for Greek banks as "negative."

24 February 2010 - FT - Commerzbank hit by €4.5bn loss
Germany's second-largest bank lost €4.5bn in 2009 as the cost of overhauling the acquired Dresdner Bank and a steep rise in loan-loss provisions took their toll

24 February 2010 - Free Gold Money Report - Hyperinflation Watch
The US Treasury has taken another step on the road leading to hyperinflation. It announced that it will borrow $200 billion and leave this money on deposit with the Federal Reserve. The announcement was made with bald disinformation aimed at camouflaging the true impact of this step.

23 February 2010 - Chicago Tribune - Illinois stuck in a ‘historic, epic’ budget crisis
Talk of major tax increases coupled with draconian spending cuts is building in Springfield

23 February 2010 - ZeroHedge - Greeks Scramble To Pull Out €8 Billion From Local Banks As Greece Responds With Money Control Measures
We previously wrote about the possibility of a bank run in Greece following unsubstantiated reports that Greek citizens don't trust the Greek financial system all that much anymore, courtesy of the whole bailout and GDP reporting fraud

23 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Bond Bubble? What You Can Do About It?
This is a key question for millions of investors -- especially after the Federal Reserve's surprise move last week to raise one of its interest rates. That's often considered a signal the Fed is about to raise rates more broadly, a move that would be ominous for bonds.

23 February 2010 - Bloomberg - Deathbed of Keynesian Economics Will Be in U.K.
The U.K. has produced notable economists over the years, but John Maynard Keynes, the guru of government intervention, was one of truly global significance. So it may be fitting that the U.K. will also become the deathbed of Keynesian economics.

23 February 2010 - Bank of England - Treasury Committee Hearing on the February 2010 Inflation Report
Since members of the MPC last came before this Committee, there have been some signs of a recovery in demand around the world, and also at home. But this nascent recovery is fragile. The tensions that underlay the build up of large world imbalances have not been resolved. And, at home, bank lending to the non-financial sector continues to fall. So the risks to the Committee’s central view of a gradual recovery of output remain to the downside.

23 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Almost 10% of FDIC-insured banks on 'troubled' list
Driven by expanding problems with commercial real estate loans, the number of distressed banks in the U.S. rose to 702 in the fourth quarter, marking the highest level in 16 years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

23 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Inflation is moving faster than it looks
Later this week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will present his semi-annual report on monetary policy to the Congress. In it he will probably go to great lengths to reassure policymakers that the Fed intends to keep flooding the economy with liquidity for a while longer. But instead of keeping the pedal to the metal, Bernanke should be talking about hitting the brakes. Even though unemployment is high and business has lots of spare capacity, inflation has returned -- although you wouldn't know it from a glance at the behavior of the consumer price index.

23 February 2010 - FT - Talk of quantitative easing dents pound
Sterling fell on Tuesday after Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, said he could not rule out the possibility of further quantitative easing. Mr King, testifying before the UK’s Treasury select committee, said he was concerned that there was little evidence of a pick-up in the country’s trade in spite of the weakness of the pound.

22 February 2010 - FT - Inflation must not become a moving target
Price stability is a critical component of the social contract we call money. We accept money as a means of payment, a unit of account and a store of value and trust that the central bank does not debase it, writes Wolfgang Münchau.

22 February 2010 - FT - Debt threat to Kuwait investment houses
Most of Kuwait's multibillion dollar investment company industry could be wiped out by debt repayments on the finance houses' leveraged investments made before the recession, senior bankers have warned.

22 February 2010 - Bloomberg - The search for the next Greece is finding its way to Japan
Few here gave much weight to warnings by analysts like Makoto Noji of Mizuho Securities Co. about the second-biggest economy facing “next-Greece” speculation. That was until Japan’s central bank chief hinted at a similar risk.

22 February 2010 - FT - Investors drawn to farmland
Individuals move to take advantage of expected rises in rural prices and favourable tax benefits

21 February 2010 - Marketwatch - ETFs that bet against Treasurys profit on higher yields
Leveraged exchange-traded funds geared to profit from falling prices on long-term Treasury bonds have performed well in February from rising yields, as markets worry about U.S. spending, deficits and inflation.

21 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Bull market for bonds is ending
Bond investors enjoyed stellar gains for several years but that's about to end, says Kurt Brouwer, chairman of Brouwer & Janachowski and editor of MarketWatch's Fundmastery blog. He talks with Money & Investing Editor Jonathan Burton.

19 February 2010 - Pollitt & Co - Farewell to all the Emperors
The world's policy makers lack the courage to accept the discipline necessary to shore up the world's finances. The articles states: "Our best guess is that markets, not policy makers, will determine the next monetary system. And, as much for lack of alternatives as the traditional reasons, gold will be somehow involved. Meanwhile markets will be characterized by volatility, defaults, lots of uncertainty, and a rush for the hard stuff. Before they get around to a monetary system, governments will wake up to the need for wealth creation and, since the quick fix for wealth creation is competitive devaluation, we expect governments to get at it with vigour. Shades of the 1930s."

19 February 2010 - Times - Shock deficit threatens UK recovery
A shock January deficit from a record slump in tax receipts fuelled fears that Britain could slip back into recession.

19 February 2010 - FT - Public finance woes weigh on sterling
The pound lurched towards a nine-month low against the dollar after the UK posted its first deficit for January since records began

18 February 2010 - BBC - UK finances deteriorate further
The government borrowed another £4.3bn last month to plug the growing hole in the UK's finances, figures show.

18 February 2010 - Easy Bourse - Soros doubled gold ETF investment
Billionaire investor George Soros' hedge fund more than doubled its bet on the price of gold during the fourth quarter, a portion of the firm's total U.S.-listed equity holdings of $8.8 billion at the end of 2009.

18 February 2010 - Free Gold Money Report - US Government Debt is Not a Safe Haven
As the debt crisis in Greece continued to unfold last week, the US dollar and US government debt instruments were being touted as a “safe haven” alternative to the euro as well as European sovereign debt. These calls were made even though Moody’s sounded the alarm the week before by warning that the US government could lose its triple-A rating if economic growth remains slow.

18 February 2010 - Free Gold Money Report - Higher Yields on US Government Debt Are Overdue
“Proposed belt-tightening steps by President Barack Obama, including a freeze on some nondefense, nonentitlement spending, would make only a small dent in the mountain of debt”, and that the “US debt will keep growing even with recovery.” In other words, the US government plans to go even deeper in debt.

18 January 2010 - Marketwatch - State pension plans face $1 trillion shortfall
A train wreck waiting to happen. That's the only way to describe the mess that state pension systems are in right now, according to a report published today by the Pew Center on the States. According to Pew, there's a $1 trillion gap between the $3.35 trillion in pension, health care and other retirement benefits states promised their current and retired workers as of fiscal year 2008 and the $2.35 trillion they have on hand to pay them.

18 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Fed ramps up discount rate to 0.75%
The Federal Reserve surprised financial markets Thursday by lifting the lending rate it charges banks. Moved called return to 'normal' operations, not sign of tighter monetary policy.

18 February 2010 - FT - Yen to suffer from retail investor exodus
Pressure on the currency is likely mount as yield-hungry Japanese retail investors pour funds into emerging markets in search of higher returns

17 February 2010 - CBS News - South Carolina Lawmaker Seeks to Ban Federal Currency - Use Gold & Silver
South Carolina Rep. Mike Pitts has introduced legislation that would mandate that gold and silver coins replace federal currency as legal tender in his state.

17 February 2010 - Marketwatch - International Monetary Fund to sell another 191 tons of gold
The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday that it plans to sell 191.3 tons of gold, likely on the open market, pushing spot prices and gold-miner shares lower.

17 February 2010 - Reuters - China seen allowing stronger yuan in 2010
Beijing is likely to let its currency begin rising in value again this year in response to growing pressures at home and abroad, two U.S. private sector specialists on China said on Wednesday.

17 February 2010 - Telegraph - US bank lending falls at fastest rate in history
Bank lending in the US has contracted so far this year at the fastest rate in recorded history, raising concerns that the Federal Reserve may have jumped the gun by withdrawing emergency stimulus.

16 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Net foreign purchases of U.S. assets slow in Dec.
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Net foreign purchases of U.S. long-term securities grew at a slower pace in December, while China lost the spot of top foreign holder of U.S. debt, the Treasury Department said Tuesday.

16 February 2010 - Times - Millions of credit card holders feel the crunch as interest soars
Millions of credit card holders are being squeezed by the highest interest rates in more than a decade, according to new research. Despite the Bank of England’s base rate being at 0.5 per cent, average credit card interest rates have risen to 18.8 per cent.

15 February 2010 - Telegraph - Inflation expected to rise above Bank of England target
Britain's benchmark inflation rate may be catapulted to 4pc, perhaps as soon as Tuesday's release of January's data, economists have predicted.

15 February 2010 - Telegraph - The markets are about to pounce on Britain. All they are waiting for is a trigger.
As of today, the British government must pay a higher interest rate to borrow money for ten years than either the Italian or the Spanish governments, despite the extraordinary ructions going on within the eurozone.

15 February 2010 - FT - Why we should not fear the spectre of deflation
Deflation promotes saving. Once savings rates are restored, prudent consumption and income-producing investment will follow, writes Edward Gottesman

15 February 2010 - FT - Investors abandon junk bonds
Investors are selling out of “junk” bonds at the fastest rate since September 2005, in the latest indication that concerns over sovereign debt are spreading to other credit markets

13 February 2010 - The Gold Report - Sooner or Later, You'll Invest Abroad
Many conventional U.S. brokers are relatively clueless when it comes to gold stocks. If you asked them to name one, chances are it would be a domestic producer, one with assets located primarily in North America. But that's not where the big money will be made over the next decade.

12 February 2010 - Seeking Alpha - The U.S.: Land of the Free and Home of a Nearly Failed Treasury Auction of Its Own
On Wednesday, the US offered $16 billion worth of 30-year Treasuries (US debt that will mature in 30 years) in a disasterous auction.

12 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Protecting Yourself from the Giant New Deficit
For every dollar in debt that Americans have paid off since they started cleansing their balance sheets in mid-2008, the U.S. government has borrowed more than $7. All the hard work by consumers to replenish their piggy banks may be for naught if big government budget deficits play havoc with the economy.

11 February 2010 - Matterhorn Asset Management - SOVEREIGN ALCHEMY WILL FAIL
When we look at the world economy today, wherever we turn we see a wall of risk. And sadly this is an insurmountable wall with risks that are totally unprecedented in history. There has never before been a potentially catastrophic combination of so many virtually bankrupt major sovereign states (US, UK, Spain, Italy Greece, Japan and many more) and a financial system which is bankrupt but is temporarily kept alive with phoney valuations and unlimited money printing. But governments will soon realise that they are not alchemists who can turn printed paper into gold. The consequences of the global financial crisis are potentially catastrophic.

11 February 2010 - Zero Hedge - CME Increases Gold, Silver, Palladium Margins
The CME group announced that margins for metals futures contracts on the NYMEX and COMEX will rise beginning February 12 by approximately 25% across various classes. The initial margin for 100-ounce COMEX gold futures will increase to $6,747 from $5,403, while the maintenance margin will rise to $4,998 from $4,002. For 5000-ounce COMEX silver futures, initial margins will increase slightly less: from $6,075 to $6,750 while the maintenance margin increases by $500 from $4,500 to $5,000. Margin increases will be largest for palladium, where initial margins will rise from $2,363 to $3,713, coupled with a maintenance margin increase of $1,000 from $1,750 to $2,750. Additionally, as the full advisory indicates, the CME increase margins by various percentage for virtually all of its product groups.

11 February 2010 - Times - Bank’s line on Quantitative Easing is looking peculiar
The decision by the Bank of England to suspend its quantitative easing policy looked slightly odd last week. Yesterday it looked downright peculiar.

11 February 2010 - FT - Bernanke reveals strategy to rein in stimulus measures
Ben Bernanke laid out the Federal Reserve’s vision for withdrawing liquidity from the US financial system, including increases in the interest rates it pays on reserves and market operations that could over time include the sale of mortgage-backed securities

10 February 2010 - Times - UK trade deficit leap sparks fear over credit rating
Britain’s trade deficit soared unexpectedly in December, official figures showed yesterday, as new fears emerged about the country’s credit rating.

10 February 2010 - Times - The five worst ways to buy gold
The tripling of the gold price since 2004 has predictably led to something of a stampede for the metal among private investors. But in their hurry to gain a slice of the precious metal, they do not always take the most sensible route, says Adrian Ash, of BullionVault, the gold bullion exchange.

10 February 2010 - GATA - Midas touch lost? Paulson hits hurdles in gold fund
It took John Paulson months to convince investors that housing would crumble. Now it's taking him a while to get them excited about gold, his latest passion. When Mr. Paulson's Paulson & Co. late last year announced it was starting a hedge fund to make a big gold bet, many on Wall Street expected investors to line up. Paulson & Co. scored about $20 billion in profits in 2007 and 2008 wagering against subprime mortgages and financial companies. It then bought financial shares last year to add more gains.

10 February 2010 - - Vietnam devalues dong again, this time by over 3 pct
Vietnam's central bank announced its second currency devaluation since November on Wednesday, slashing the dong by more than 3 percent to help balance the foreign exchange market and control the trade deficit.

10 February 2010 - Telegraph - China orders retreat from risky dollar assets
China has ordered managers of its vast currency reserves to withdraw from risky dollar assets and retreat to core debt guaranteed by the US government, a clear sign that Beijing is battening down the hatches for fresh trouble on global markets.

10 February 2010 - FT - A Greek crisis is coming to America
It began in Athens. It is spreading to Lisbon and Madrid. But it would be a grave mistake to assume that the sovereign debt crisis that is currently unfolding will remain confined to the weaker eurozone economies. For this is more than just a Mediterranean problem with a farmyard acronym. It is a fiscal crisis of the western world. Its ramifications are far more profound than most investors currently appreciate

10 February 2010 - CNBC - US, Europe Will All Default On Their Debt: Marc Faber
The governments of every developed economy will eventually default on their sovereign debts, including the US, the UK and Western Europe, Marc Faber, editor of the Gloom, Boom & Doom report, told CNBC.

10 February 2010 - Drschoon.comDAVOS: The Bomb Shelter
Historian David Hackett Fisher describes this passing era as the period of Victorian Equilibrium. England’s Victorian Equilibrium, however, was built on banker’s credit, a foundation of sand; and like the story of Cinderella where the carriage turns into a pumpkin at midnight, the banker’s credit has now turned into defaulting debt and the fairy-tale world it built is collapsing.

09 February 2010 - Times - Sterling weakens as eurozone’s problems unsettle the markets
The pound has plummeted by nearly ten cents since mid-January amid fears over how countries will meet debt obligations.

08 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Hong Kong trades its way to budget surplus
As many countries face up to some of the biggest debt burdens in recent history, Hong Kong later this month should unveil a budget surplus.

08 February 2010 - GATA - New ETF will claim to have gold, silver, platinum, and palladium
Another exchange-traded fund for precious metals was announced today, this time by ETF Securities USA for a fund that will claim to hold gold, silver, platinum, and palladium all together.

06 February 2010 - - Secret summit of top bankers
The world's top central bankers began arriving in Australia yesterday as renewed fears about the strength of the global economic recovery gripped world share markets. Representatives from 24 central banks and monetary authorities including the US Federal Reserve and European Central Bank landed in Sydney to meet tomorrow at a secret location, the Herald Sun reports.

06 February 2010 - Times - Commodities: more than just pork bellies
Commodities have traditionally been regarded as something of a “niche” investment. They were seen as rather too exotic for run-of-the-mill investors and mention of the word “commodity” tended to conjure up images of large men in stripey jackets trading pork belly futures. But the picture has now completely changed

05 February 2010 - Marketwatch - WORLD FOREX: Swiss Franc Sinks; Central Bank Spotted Selling
The Swiss franc fell to multi-month lows against the euro and dollar in Asia Friday as market participants said Switzerland's central bank made a rare and aggressive intervention to curb its currency.

05 February 2010 - FT - Gilt markets unruffled as QE suspended
The Bank of England has held interest rates at record lows but says it will not extend its £200bn-plus asset buying programme

04 February 2010 - Telegraph - Greece crisis: There but for the grace of God goes Britain
Should markets pass the same verdict on Britain as on Greece, the results would be almost identical - and just as disastrous, says Edmund Conway.

04 February 2010 - FT - Portugal near political crisis over debt
Portugal, along with Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain are all in serious financial and economic difficulty. For the last couple of weeks, it's been all about Greece. Now the vultures are circling around Portugal.

04 February 2010 - Telegraph - Fears of 'Lehman-style' tsunami as crisis hits Spain and Portugal
The Greek debt crisis has spread to Spain and Portugal in a dangerous escalation as global markets test whether Europe is willing to shore up monetary union with muscle rather than mere words.

04 February 2010 - Bloomberg - Taleb Says ‘Every Human’ Should Short U.S. Treasuries
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” said “every single human being” should bet U.S. Treasury bonds will decline, citing the policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and the Obama administration.

04 February 2010 - Bloomberg - Gold to Reach $1,500 as Haven Status Restored, Nichols Says
Gold will climb to $1,500 an ounce and silver will top $25 this year as the dollar loses its haven status, according to Jeffrey Nichols, managing director of American Precious Metals Advisors.

04 February 2010 - Free Gold Money Report - Gold is Testing “Floor” Theory
There is a popular point of view that the Reserve Bank of India put a ‘floor’ under the gold market around $1050, which approximates the price at which it bought 200 tonnes of gold from the IMF. The thinking is that other central banks, and perhaps the Reserve Bank of India itself, will purchase gold at that price. This theory that $1,050 represents a ‘floor’ is now being put to the test.

04 February 2010 - Free Gold Money Report - Precious Metals at ‘Bargain Basement’ Prices
Every once in a great while, the market offers a unique opportunity to buy precious metals ‘on the cheap’. I believe today is one of those moments.

03 February 2010 - Mineweb - Gold to hit $1,350 - $1,400 by late Spring - John Embry
Speaking on the Mineweb Gold Weekly Podcast, Sprott Asset Management's chief investment strategist says while the yellow metal is likely to continue to consolidate over the next few weeks, the next major move will be up.

02 February 2010 - FT - Eurozone issues record €110bn in bonds
Eurozone governments have borrowed a record €110bn from the markets so far this year, forcing up borrowing costs for those countries with the weakest public finances as they pay a heavy price for their ballooning debt levels

02 February 2010 - Zero Hedge - Moody's Sees US Rating Under Pressure After $3.8 Trillion Budget
The ratios of general government debt to GDP and to revenue are deteriorating sharply, and after the crisis they are likely to be higher than the ratios of other Aaa-rated countries.

02 February 2010 - Marketwatch - 20 reasons Global Debt Time Bomb explodes soon
Any one can destroy your retirement because all 20 are inexorably linked, a house-of-cards, a circular firing squad destined to self-destruct, triggering the third great Wall Street meltdown of the 21st century, igniting the Great Depression II that George W. Bush, Ben Bernanke, Henry Paulson and now President Obama have simply delayed with their endless knee-jerk, debt-laden wars, stimulus bonanzas and bailouts.

02 February 2010 - Bloomberg - U.K.’s Royal Mint Doubles Production of Gold Coins
he U.K.’s Royal Mint, established in the 13th century, more than doubled gold-coin production last year as investors sought to diversify their assets and hedge against a weaker dollar and accelerating inflation.

02 February 2010 - CNBC - Volcker on Volcker's Rule
Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker talks about his proposal to limit the high-risk activity in which banks and bank holding companies can participate.

02 February 2010 - FT - Aussie dollar dives on surprise hold in rates
The Australian dollar plunged after the country’s central bank surprised markets on Tuesday by keeping interest rates on hold, breaking a run of three consecutive rate rises since October.

01 February 2010 - New York Times - Deficits May Alter U.S. Politics and Global Power
Projections suggest there is virtually no room over the next decade for new domestic initiatives for President Obama or his successors.

01 February 2010 - FOFOA - Living in a Powder Keg and Giving Off Sparks
An account of the London Gold Pool of the 1960s, showing how gold dishoarding by central banks used to be acknowledged as currency market manipulation. It also shows how those holding a short position in a rising market can still make vast amounts when they know in advance the moments of government intervention.

01 February 2010 - Sprott Asset Management - Beware Counterfeiters
Gold’s recent appreciation in US dollars has led some market commentators to question its fair value. This is nothing new for gold – it has been criticized and downplayed as an asset ever since it came off its previous peak in 1980 of US$850 per ounce. However, it is not gold’s value that is in question; it is the value of paper money.

01 February 2010 - Business Insider - So, How Do You Think This Movie Will End?
The two charts included in this article tell you pretty much all you need to know about the state of the US economy. They also, unfortunately, provide some clues as to how this movie will end.

01 February 2010 - Fairfield Weekly - We're Screwed! founder John Williams explains the risk of hyperinflation. Worst-case scenario? Rioting in the streets and devolution to a bartering system.

01 February 2010 - Reuters - Obama's 2010 budget: deficit soars amid job spending
President Barack Obama pledged on Monday to halve a record 2010 budget deficit by the end of his first term in office, but made tackling double-digit unemployment his immediate priority with a spending plan that risked public ire and a rough battle in Congress.