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Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets

By       Message Paul Craig Roberts       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)

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Reprinted from Paul Craig Roberts Website

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Co-written by *Dave Kranzler


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This article establishes that the price of gold and silver in the futures markets in which cash is the predominant means of settlement is inconsistent with the conditions of supply and demand in the actual physical or current market where physical bullion is bought and sold as opposed to transactions in uncovered paper claims to bullion in the futures markets. The supply of bullion in the futures markets is increased by printing uncovered contracts representing claims to gold. This artificial, indeed fraudulent, increase in the supply of paper bullion contracts drives down the price in the futures market despite high demand for bullion in the physical market and constrained supply. We will demonstrate with economic analysis and empirical evidence that the bear market in bullion is an artificial creation.

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The law of supply and demand is the basis of economics. Yet the price of gold and silver in the Comex futures market, where paper contracts representing 100 troy ounces of gold or 5,000 ounces of silver are traded, is inconsistent with the actual supply and demand conditions in the physical market for bullion. For four years the price of bullion has been falling in the futures market despite rising demand for possession of the physical metal and supply constraints.

We begin with a review of basics. The vertical axis measures price. The horizontal axis measures quantity. Demand curves slope down to the right, the quantity demanded increasing as price falls. Supply curves slope upward to the right, the quantity supplied rising with price. The intersection of supply with demand determines price. (Graph 1)


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A change in quantity demanded or in the quantity supplied refers to a movement along a given curve. A change in demand or a change in supply refers to a shift in the curves. For example, an increase in demand (a shift to the right of the demand curve) causes a movement along the supply curve (an increase in the quantity supplied).

Changes in income and changes in tastes or preferences toward an item can cause the demand curve to shift. For example, if people expect that their fiat currency is going to lose value, the demand for gold and silver would increase (a shift to the right).

Changes in technology and resources can cause the supply curve to shift. New gold discoveries and improvements in gold mining technology would cause the supply curve to shift to the right. Exhaustion of existing mines would cause a reduction in supply (a shift to the left).

What can cause the price of gold to fall? Two things: The demand for gold can fall, that is, the demand curve could shift to the left, intersecting the supply curve at a lower price. The fall in demand results in a reduction in the quantity supplied. A fall in demand means that people want less gold at every price. (Graph 2)


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Alternatively, supply could increase, that is, the supply curve could shift to the right, intersecting the demand curve at a lower price. The increase in supply results in an increase in the quantity demanded. An increase in supply means that more gold is available at every price. (Graph 3)


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To summarize: a decline in the price of gold can be caused by a decline in the demand for gold or by an increase in the supply of gold.

A decline in demand or an increase in supply is not what we are observing in the gold and silver physical markets. The price of bullion in the futures market has been falling as demand for physical bullion increases and supply experiences constraints What we are seeing in the physical market indicates a rising price. Yet in the futures market in which almost all contracts are settled in cash and not with bullion deliveries, the price is falling.

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Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente's Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His books, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available (more...)
 

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