December 30, 2012

Eric Sprott: People are Losing Faith in the Financial System



Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

December 15, 2012

Eric Sprott: Silver to Outshine Gold as the Investment of this Decade



Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

December 07, 2012

Eric Sprott on Gold as a Solution to the Banking Crisis

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision is an exclusive and somewhat mysterious entity that issues banking guidelines for the world’s largest financial institutions. It is part of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) and is often referred to as the Central Banks’ central bank. Ever since the financial meltdown four years ago, the Basel Committee has been hard at work devising new international regulatory rules designed to minimize the potential for another large-scale financial meltdown. The Committee’s latest ‘framework’, as they call it, is referred to as “Basel III”, and involves tougher capital rules that will force all banks to more than triple the amount of core capital they hold from 2% to 7% in order to avoid future taxpayer bailouts. It doesn’t sound like much of an increase, and according to the Basel group’s own survey, the 100 largest global banks will only require approximately €370 billion in additional reserves to comply with the new regulations by 2019.1 Given that the Spanish banks alone are believed to need well over €100 billion today simply to keep their capital ratios in check, it is hard to believe €370 billion will be enough protect the world’s “too-big-to-fail” banks from future crises, but it is indeed a step in the right direction.

Read the full article on: http://www.sprottasset.com/markets-at-a-glance/gold-solution-to-the-banking-crisis/

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

November 28, 2012

Ellis Martin Report with Sprott Money’s CEO Eric Sprott



Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

November 23, 2012

Eric Sprott Video: There is a Shortage of Gold



Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

November 14, 2012

Eric Sprott views on gold's recent upward move

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

November 06, 2012

Eric Sprott: A Huge Tailwind for Gold

"I never would've imagined when I got involved in gold that I would have the benefit of kind of irresponsible money printing, bank runs that are ongoing as we witnessed in the various countries in Europe, and those two ingredients along with the QE3 which has been announced I think will be a huge tailwind for gold and other precious metals to go higher." - Eric Sprott via a recent CNBC interview

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

October 31, 2012

Eric Sprott: Silver is the Investment of this Decade

Buy Gold


Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

October 26, 2012

Eric Sprott: Austerity and Monetary Easing



Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

October 06, 2012

Eric Sprott Video: "Who Is Not Getting The Silver?"

Buy Gold

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager Sand founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

October 03, 2012

Eric Sprott & David Baker - Do Western Central Banks Have Any Gold Left?

From Eric Sprott and David Baker of Sprott Asset Management:

"Do Western Central Banks Have Any Gold Left???

Somewhere deep in the bowels of the world’s Western central banks lie vaults holding gargantuan piles of physical gold bars… or at least that’s what they all claim. The gold bars are part of their respective foreign currency reserves, which include all the usual fiat currencies like the dollar, the pound, the yen and the euro.

Collectively, the governments/central banks of the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Switzerland, Eurozone and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are believed to hold an impressive 23,349 tonnes of gold in their respective reserves, representing more than $1.3 trillion at today’s gold price. Beyond the suggested tonnage, however, very little is actually known about the gold that makes up this massive stockpile. Western central banks disclose next to nothing about where it’s stored, in what form, or how much of the gold reserves are utilized for other purposes. We are assured that it’s all there, of course, but little effort has ever been made by the central banks to provide any details beyond the arbitrary references in their various financial reserve reports.

Twelve years ago, few would have cared what central banks did with their gold. Gold had suffered a twenty year bear cycle and didn’t engender much excitement at $255 per ounce. It made perfect sense for Western governments to lend out (or in the case of Canada – outright sell) their gold reserves in order to generate some interest income from their holdings. And that’s exactly what many central banks did from the late 1980’s through to the late 2000’s. The times have changed however, and today it absolutely does matter what they’re doing with their reserves, and where the reserves are actually held. Why? Because the countries in question are now all grossly over-indebted and printing their respective currencies with reckless abandon. It would be reassuring to know that they still have some of the ‘barbarous relic’ kicking around, collecting dust, just in case their experiment with collusive monetary accommodation doesn’t work out as planned.

You may be interested to know that central bank gold sales were actually the crux of the original investment thesis that first got us interested in the gold space back in 2000. We were introduced to it through the work of Frank Veneroso, who published an outstanding report on the gold market in 1998 aptly titled, “The 1998 Gold Book Annual”. In it, Mr. Veneroso inferred that central bank gold sales had artificially suppressed the full extent of gold demand to the tune of approximately 1,600 tonnes per year (in an approximately 4,000 tonne market of annual supply). Of the 35,000 tonnes that the central banks were officially stated to own at the time, Mr. Veneroso estimated that they were already down to 18,000 tonnes of actual physical. Once the central banks ran out of gold to sell, he surmised, the gold market would be poised for a powerful bull market… and he turned out to be completely right – although central banks did continue to be net sellers of gold for many years to come.

As the gold bull market developed throughout the 2000’s, central banks didn’t become net buyers of physical gold until 2009, which coincided with gold’s final break-out above US$1,000 per ounce. The entirety of this buying was performed by central banks in the non-Western world, however, by countries like Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the Philippines… and they have continued buying gold ever since. According to Thomson Reuters GFMS, a precious metals research agency, non-Western central banks purchased 457 tonnes of gold in 2011, and are expected to purchase another 493 tonnes of gold this year as they expand their reserves.1 Our estimates suggest they will likely purchase even more than that.2 The Western central banks, meanwhile, have essentially remained silent on the topic of gold, and have not publicly disclosed any sales or purchases of gold at all over the past three years. Although there is a “Central Bank Gold Agreement” currently in place that covers the gold sales of the Eurosystem central banks, Sweden and Switzerland, there has been no mention of gold sales by the very entities that are purported to own the largest stockpiles of the precious metal.3 The silence is telling.

Over the past several years, we’ve collected data on physical demand for gold as it has developed over time. The consistent annual growth in demand for physical gold bullion has increasingly puzzled us with regard to supply. Global annual gold mine supply ex Russia and China (who do not export domestic production) is actually lower than it was in year 2000, and ever since the IMF announced the completion of its sale of 403 tonnes of gold in December 2010, there hasn’t been any large, publicly-disclosed seller of physical gold in the market for almost two years.4Given the significant increase in physical demand that we’ve seen over the past decade, particularly from buyers in Asia, it suffices to say that we cannot identify where all the gold is coming from to supply it… but it has to be coming from somewhere.

To give you a sense of how much the demand for physical gold has increased over the past decade, we’ve listed a select number of physical gold buyers and calculated their net change in annual demand in tonnes from 2000 to 2012 (see Chart A)."

CHART A

Numbers quoted in metric tonnes.
† Source: CBGA1, CBGA2, CBGA3, International Monetary Fund Statistics, Sprott Estimates.
†† Source: Royal Canadian Mint and United States Mint.
††† Includes closed-end funds such as Sprott Physical Gold Trust and Central Fund of Canada.
^ Source: World Gold Council, Sprott Estimates.
^^ Source: World Gold Council, Sprott Estimates.
^^^ Refers to annualized increase over the past eight years.

"As can be seen, the mere combination of only five separate sources of demand results in a 2,268 tonne net change in physical demand for gold over the past twelve years – meaning that there is roughly 2,268 tonnes of new annual demand today that didn’t exist 12 years ago. According to the CPM Group, one of the main purveyors of gold statistics, the total annual gold supply is estimated to be roughly 3,700 tonnes of gold this year. Of that, the World Gold Council estimates that only 2,687 tonnes are expected to come from actual mine production, while the rest is attributed to recycled scrap gold, mainly from old jewelry.5 (See footnote 5). The reporting agencies have a tendency to insist that total physical demand perfectly matches physical supply every year, and use the “Net Private Investment” as a plug to shore up the difference between the demand they attribute to industry, jewelry and ‘official transactions’ by central banks versus their annual supply estimate (which is relatively verifiable). Their “Net Private Investment” figures are implied, however, and do not measure the actual investment demand purchases that take place every year. If more accurate data was ever incorporated into their market summary for demand, it would reveal a huge discrepancy, with the demand side vastly exceeding their estimation of annual supply. In fact, we know it would exceed it based purely on China’s Hong Kong gold imports, which are now up to 458 tonnes year-to-date as of July, representing a 367% increase over its purchases during the same period last year. If the imports continue at their current rate, China will reach 785 tonnes of gold imports by year-end. That’s 785 tonnes in a market that’s only expected to produce roughly 2,700 tonnes of mine supply, and that’s just one buyer.

Then there are all the private buyers whose purchases go unreported and unacknowledged, like that of Greenlight Capital, the hedge fund managed by David Einhorn, that is reported to have purchased $500 million worth of physical gold starting in 2009. Or the $1 billion of physical gold purchased by the University of Texas Investment Management Co. in April 2011… or the myriad of other private investors (like Saudi Sheiks, Russian billionaires, this writer, probably many of our readers, etc.) who have purchased physical gold for their accounts over the past decade. None of these private purchases are ever considered in the research agencies’ summaries for investment demand, and yet these are real purchases of physical gold, not ETF’s or gold ‘certificates’. They require real, physical gold bars to be delivered to the buyer. So once we acknowledge how big the discrepancy is between the actual true level of physical gold demand versus the annual “supply”, the obvious questions present themselves: who are the sellers delivering the gold to match the enormous increase in physical demand? What entities are releasing physical gold onto the market without reporting it? Where is all the gold coming from?

There is only one possible candidate: the Western central banks. It may very well be that a large portion of physical gold currently flowing to new buyers is actually coming from the Western central banks themselves. They are the only holders of physical gold who are capable of supplying gold in a quantity and manner that cannot be readily tracked. They are also the very entities whose actions have driven investors back into gold in the first place. Gold is, after all, a hedge against their collective irresponsibility – and they have showcased their capacity in that regard quite enthusiastically over the past decade, especially since 2008.

If the Western central banks are indeed leasing out their physical reserves, they would not actually have to disclose the specific amounts of gold that leave their respective vaults. According to a document on the European Central Bank’s (ECB) website regarding the statistical treatment of the Eurosystem’s International Reserves, current reporting guidelines do not require central banks to differentiate between gold owned outright versus gold lent out or swapped with another party. The document states that, “reversible transactions in gold do not have any effect on the level of monetary gold regardless of the type of transaction (i.e. gold swaps, repos, deposits or loans), in line with the recommendations contained in the IMF guidelines.”6 (Emphasis theirs). Under current reporting guidelines, therefore, central banks are permitted to continue carrying the entry of physical gold on their balance sheet even if they’ve swapped it or lent it out entirely. You can see this in the way Western central banks refer to their gold reserves. The UK Government, for example, refers to its gold allocation as, “Gold (incl. gold swapped or on loan)”. That’s the verbatim phrase they use in their official statement. Same goes for the US Treasury and the ECB, which report their gold holdings as “Gold (including gold deposits and, if appropriate, gold swapped)” and “Gold (including gold deposits and gold swapped)”, respectively (see Chart B). Unfortunately, that’s as far as their description goes, as each institution does not break down what percentage of their stated gold reserves are held in physical, versus what percentage has been loaned out or swapped for something else. The fact that they do not differentiate between the two is astounding, (Ed. As is the “including gold deposits” verbiage that they use – what else is “gold” supposed to refer to?) but at the same time not at all surprising. It would not lend much credence to central bank credibility if they admitted they were leasing their gold reserves to ‘bullion bank’ intermediaries who were then turning around and selling their gold to China, for example. But the numbers strongly suggest that that is exactly what has happened. The central banks’ gold is likely gone, and the bullion banks that sold it have no realistic chance of getting it back."

CHART B











Sources:
1) http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/statistics/Documents/reserves/2012/Aug/tempoutput.pdf
2) http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/IR-Position/Pages/08312012.aspx
3) http://www.ecb.int/stats/external/reserves/html/assets_8.812.E.en.html
4) http://www.boj.or.jp/en/about/account/zai1205a.pdf
5) http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/gold.htm
6) http://www.snb.ch/en/mmr/reference/annrep_2011_komplett/source

Notes:
ECB Data as of July 2012. Bank of Japan data as of March 31, 2012.

* European Central Bank reserves is composed of reserves held by the ECB, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland.
** Bank of Japan only lists its gold reserves in Yen at book value.

"Our analysis of the physical gold market shows that central banks have most likely been a massive unreported supplier of physical gold, and strongly implies that their gold reserves are negligible today. If Frank Veneroso’s conclusions were even close to accurate back in 1998 (and we believe they were), when coupled with the 2,300 tonne net change in annual demand we can easily identify above, it can only lead to the conclusion that a large portion of the Western central banks’ stated 23,000 tonnes of gold reserves are merely a paper entry on their balance sheets – completely un-backed by anything tangible other than an IOU from whatever counterparty leased it from them in years past. At this stage of the game, we don’t believe these central banks will be able to get their gold back without extreme difficulty, especially if it turns out the gold has left their countries entirely. We can also only wonder how much gold within the central bank system has been ‘rehypothecated’ in the process, since the central banks in question seem so reluctant to divulge any meaningful details on their reserves in a way that would shed light on the various “swaps” and “loans” they imply to be participating in. We might also suggest that if a proper audit of Western central bank gold reserves was ever launched, as per Ron Paul’s recent proposal to audit the US Federal Reserve, the proverbial cat would be let out of the bag – with explosive implications for the gold price.

Notwithstanding the recent conversions of PIMCO’s Bill Gross, Bridegwater’s Ray Dalio and Ned Davis Research to gold, we realize that many mainstream institutional investors still continue to struggle with the topic. We also realize that some readers may scoff at any analysis of the gold market that hints at “conspiracy”. We’re not talking about conspiracy here however, we’re talking about stupidity. After all, Western central banks are probably under the impression that the gold they’ve swapped and/or lent out is still legally theirs, which technically it may be. But if what we are proposing turns out to be true, and those reserves are not physically theirs; not physically in their possession… then all bets are off regarding the future of our monetary system. As a general rule of common sense, when one embarks on an unlimited quantitative easing program targeted at the employment rate (see QE3), one had better make sure to have something in the vault as backup in case the ‘unlimited’ part actually ends up really meaning unlimited. We hope that it does not, for the sake of our monetary system, but given our analysis of the physical gold market, we’ll stick with our gold bars and take comfort as they collect more dust in our vaults, untouched."

1 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-04/central-bank-gold-buying-seen-reaching-493-tons-in-2012-by-gfms.html
2 See notes in Chart A.
3 http://www.gold.org/government_affairs/reserve_asset_management/central_bank_gold_agreements/
4 http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/faq/goldfaqs.htm
5 Mine supply estimate supplied by World Gold Council; YTD gold mine production data suggests that total 2012 gold mine supply will come in lower around 2,300 tonnes, ex Russia and China production. In addition, Frank Veneroso has recently published a new report that warns that the supply of recycled scrap gold could drop significantly going forward due to the depletion ofthe inventories of industrial scrap and long held jewelry over the past decade.
6 http://www.ecb.int/pub/pdf/other/statintreservesen.pdf

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

September 28, 2012

Eric Sprott Video: CNBC - September 2012



Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

September 19, 2012

Eric Sprott Interview - The Gold and Silver Outlook

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

September 04, 2012

Eric Sprott: The World Depression is Coming


Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

August 09, 2012

Eric Sprott Video Interview


Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

June 15, 2012

Eric Sprott on the Recent Volatility in Gold

As we know gold has been performing weak in the last months and as you know many hedge funds still hold it. That is why we believe it is good to update you and provide the views of one of the most outspoken silver and gold promoters and advocate: Eric Sprott, the man behind Sprott Asset Management.

Lets not forget that gold is a top position in the holdings of Dan Loeb, the manager of Third Point. Not only him but also David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital also owns a lot physical gold. John Burbank has also been buying gold in April and probably continues.

 SO if you wonder what investors are doing now regarding gold? Eric Sprott and Shree Kargutkar shared and interesting comments on gold on June 8th 2012:

Eric Sprott on Gold

"There have been key devel­op­ments in the phys­i­cal gold mar­ket over the last few weeks which we feel are worth highlighting:

1) The Chi­nese gold imports from Hong Kong in April, 2012 surged almost 1300% on a Y-o-Y basis. Total gross imports for the month of April were 103.6 tons and the net imports were 66.3 tonnes1. It is not the data for April alone which has caught our eye. There has been a stun­ning increase of gold imports through Hong Kong for export into China over the past 2 years. Between May 2010 and April 2011, China imported a net 66 tons of phys­i­cal gold through Hong Kong. Between May 2011 and April 2012, that num­ber jumped to 489 tons. This rep­re­sents an increase of 640%.

2) Cen­tral banks from around the world bought over 70 tons of gold in April, 2012. Data from the IMF showed devel­op­ing coun­tries such as the Philip­pines, Turkey, Mex­ico and Sri Lanka were sig­nif­i­cant buy­ers of gold as prices dipped.

3) Iran pur­chased $1.2B worth of gold in April, 2012 through Turkey. As the devel­oped nations con­tinue devalu­ing their cur­rency at the expense of devel­op­ing nations, coun­tries such as Iran, China and Mex­ico are forced to look at alter­na­tive stores of value.

4) After twenty years of lack­lus­ter returns and stag­nant bond yields, Japan­ese pen­sion funds have finally dis­cov­ered the value of invest­ing in gold. The $500M Okayama Metal and Machin­ery pen­sion fund placed 1.5% of its assets into gold bullion-backed ETFs in April in order to "escape sov­er­eign risk"4.

5) Bill Gross writes, "Soar­ing debt/GDP ratios in pre­vi­ously sacro­sanct AAA coun­tries have made low cost fund­ing increas­ingly a func­tion of cen­tral banks as opposed to pri­vate mar­ket investors. Both the lower qual­ity and lower yields of pre­vi­ously sacro­sanct debt there­fore rep­re­sent a poten­tial break­ing point in our now 40-year-old global mon­e­tary sys­tem. […] As they (investors) ques­tion the value of much of the $200 tril­lion which com­prises our cur­rent sys­tem, they move mar­gin­ally else­where — to real assets such as land, gold and tan­gi­ble things, or to cash and a fig­u­ra­tive mat­tress where at least their money is read­ily acces­si­ble". Is the bond king rec­om­mend­ing gold? YES, YES YES!

6) The Gold Min­ing ETF, GDX, has seen strong inflows in the past 3 months. The num­ber of units out­stand­ing has increased from 162.5M to roughly 187M between March 1, 2012 and May 31, 2012. This rep­re­sents an increase in assets of almost $1.2B in a span of 3 months. It is worth point­ing out that for a major­ity of this three months period, GDX, and by exten­sion the gold min­ing com­pa­nies were expe­ri­enc­ing sig­nif­i­cant declines in their mar­ket values.

We believe there has been a mate­r­ial change in the gold invest­ing land­scape. The HUI, which is the Gold Bugs Index, is now up over 20% from its lows since May 16th, 2012. The slide in gold equi­ties seems to be sub­sid­ing as a foun­da­tion for a strong move upwards is set. New buy­ers, rep­re­sented by the Chi­nese, cen­tral banks, Japan­ese pen­sion funds and the Ira­ni­ans, bought almost 140 tons of gold in April alone. To put this into per­spec­tive, the annual gold pro­duc­tion is approx­i­mately 2600 tons. China and Rus­sia pro­duce around 500 tons of gold annu­ally, which never makes it to the open mar­ket. This leaves about 2100 tons of gold pro­duc­tion annu­ally for the rest of the world.

When buy­ers rep­re­sent­ing 140 tons of new demand enter a mar­ket which only has 175 tons of monthly sup­ply, we are left won­der­ing about two things:

1) In a bal­anced mar­ket, where is the source of sup­ply to the new buy­ers going to come from?

2) How can a new buyer of size get into the gold mar­ket, which is already bal­anced, with­out sig­nif­i­cantly impact­ing the price of gold? The answer is fairly obvi­ous. When demand out­strips sup­ply, prices move higher. These sig­nif­i­cant macro changes in the supply demand dynamic of the gold mar­ket should pro­pel the price of gold to new highs."

It seems that Eric Sprott continues to like gold and believes that now is even a better buy as the market is strangely situated and points to a higher prices.

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

June 01, 2012

ERIC SPROTT: THE REAL BANKING CRISIS, PART II

The Real Banking Crisis, Part II

Here we go again. Back in July 2011 we wrote an article entitled "The Real Banking Crisis" where we discussed the increasing instability of the Eurozone banks suffering from depositor bank runs. Since that time (and two LTRO infusions and numerous bailouts later), Eurozone banks, as represented by the Euro Stoxx Banks Index, have fallen more than 50% from their July 2011 levels and are now in the midst of yet another breakdown led by the abysmal situation currently unfolding in Greece and Spain.

EURO STOXX BANKS INDEX


Source: Bloomberg 

On Wednesday, May 16th, it was reported that Greek depositors withdrew as much as €1.2 billion from their local Greek banks on the preceding Monday and Tuesday alone, representing 0.75% of total deposits.1 Reports suggest that as much as €700 million was withdrawn the week before. Greek depositors have now withdrawn €3 billion from their banking system since the country's elections on May 6th, seemingly emptying what was left of the liquidity remaining within the Greek banking system.2 According to Reuters, the Greek banks had already collectively borrowed €73.4 billion from the ECB and €54 billion from the Bank of Greece as of the end of January 2012 - which is equivalent to approximately 77% of the Greek banking system's €165 billion in household and business deposits held at the end of March.3The recent escalation in withdrawals has forced the Greek banks to draw on an €18 billion emergency fund (released on May 28th), which if depleted, will leave the country with a cushion of a mere €3 billion.4 It's now down to the wire. Greece is essentially €21 billion away from a complete banking collapse, or alternatively, another large-scale bailout from the European Central Bank (ECB).

The way this is unfolding probably doesn't surprise anyone, but the time it has taken for the remaining Greek depositors to withdraw their money is certainly perplexing to us. Official records suggest that the Greek banks only lost a third of their deposits between January 2010 and March 2012, which begs the question of why the Greek banks have had to borrow so much capital from the ECB in the meantime.5Nonetheless, we are finally past the tipping point where Greek depositors have had enough, and the past two weeks have perfectly illustrated how quickly a determined bank run can propel a country back into crisis mode. The numbers above suggest there really isn't much of a banking system left in Greece at all, and at this point no sane person or corporation would willingly continue to hold deposits within a Greek bank unless they had no other choice.

The fact remains that here we are, in May 2012, and Greece is right back in the exact same predicament it was in before its March 2012 bailout. Before the bailout, Greece had approximately €368 billion of debt outstanding, and its government bond yields were trading above 35%.6 On March 9th, the authorities arranged for private investors to forgive more than €100 billion of that debt, and launched a €130 billion rescue package that prompted Nicolas Sarkozy to exclaim that the Greek debt crisis had finally been solved.7 Today, a mere two months later, Greece is back up to almost €400 billion in total debt outstanding (more than it had pre-bailout), and its sovereign bond yields are back above 29%. It's as if the March bailout never happened… and if you remember, that lauded Greek bailout back in March represented the largest sovereign restructuring in history. It is now safe to assume that that record will be surpassed in short order. It's either that, or Greece is out of the Eurozone and back on the drachma - hence the renewed bank run among Greek depositors.

Meanwhile, in Spain, bank depositors have been pulling money out of the recently nationalized Bankia bank, which is the fourth largest bank in the country. Depositors reportedly withdrew €1 billion during the week of May 7th alone, prompting shares of Bankia to fall 29% in one day.8 The Bankia run coincided with Moody's issuance of a sweeping downgrade of 16 Spanish banks, a move that was prompted over concerns related to the Spanish banks' €300+ billion exposure to domestic real estate loans, half of which are believed to be delinquent.9The Spanish authorities were quick to deny the Bankia run, with Fernando JimĂ©nez Latorre, secretary of state for the economy stating, "It is not true that there has been an exit of deposits at this time from Bankia… there is no concern about a possible flight of deposits, as there is no reason for it."10 Funny then that the Spanish government had to promptly launch a €9 billion bailout for Bankia the following Wednesday, May 24th, an amount which has since increased to a total of €19 billion to fund the ailing bank.11 Deny, deny some more… panic, inject capital - this is the typical government approach to bank runs, but the bailouts are happening faster now, and the numbers are getting larger.

The recent bank runs in Greece and Spain are part of a broader trend that has been building for months now. Foreign depositors in the peripheral EU countries are understandably nervous and have been steadily lowering their exposure to Eurozone sovereign debt. According to JPMorgan analysts, approximately €200 billion of Italian government bonds and €80 billion of Spanish bonds have been sold by foreign investors over the past nine months, representing more than 10% of each market.12 The same can be said for foreign deposits in those countries. Citi's credit strategist Matt King recently reported that, "in Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, foreign deposits have fallen by an average of 52%, and foreign government bond holdings by an average of 33%, from their peaks."13 Spain and Italy are not immune either, with Spain having suffered €100 billion in outflows since the middle of last year (certainly more now), and Italy having lost €230 billion, representing roughly 15% of its GDP.14

As we've stated before, no matter what happens in the Eurozone, the absolute worst case scenario for the authorities is a bank run. It terrifies all involved, because they can spiral out of control faster than governments can react to stop them, save for the most Draconian measures. They also prompt banks to liquidate whatever assets they can, revealing the truth about what their "assets" are actually worth. In this environment, no one wants to find out what the market will really pay for them. We're seeing this now in Spain, where according to Bloomberg, "Many Spanish banks are avoiding property sales so they don't have to "mark to market" valuations. Instead, they're giving developers new loans to pay debt coming due to prevent defaults."15 Sound familiar? We're now at the point where a bank run in one Eurozone country could quickly seize up the entire system - not just in Greece or Spain, but throughout the entire Eurozone and beyond. Greek and Spanish banks are just like all the others; they operate with leverage ratios averaging 25x their equity capital. They are all so overleveraged that it takes very little in deposit withdrawals to cause instantaneous liquidity issues. This is why we'll likely see another ECB-induced printing program announced (with a new abbreviation, hopefully) before a broader bank run can take root. The Eurozone authorities simply cannot risk the consequences of bank runs in countries like Spain, Portugal or Italy, which are far too big to bailout for the over-stretched ECB. It's not about Greece staying or leaving the European Union anymore, it's about the bailout ability of European banking system to survive the impact of massive money transfers.

Nothing is really being solved here, and everyone knows it. We're essentially in the same place we were when the crisis erupted back in 2010, only now there's more total debt outstanding. Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney remarked in a December 2011 speech that "the global Minsky moment has arrived", and it's now plain for all to see.16 The "Minsky moment" refers to the work of Hyman Minsky, a deceased American economist who developed theories on how debt accumulation eventually leads to financial crises. You don't have to be an economist to understand the crux of Minsky's theories. As an economy grows it takes on increasing amounts of debt. The point eventually comes when the cost of servicing that debt can no longer be met by that economy's productive capacity - that's the Minsky Moment, and we're watching it play out all over the world today. When Greek bond yields spiked back in February 2012, bond investors looking at the country's €368 billion of debt outstanding, its population of 11 million people, and its nominal GDP of $312 billion realized that it couldn't possibly work. There was no way Greece could pay the interest on its debt load. There was no way the bond market could keep pretending everything was ok, like it currently does with the UK, US and Japan… for now.

Greece clearly needs another large-scale bailout, and we think they'll get one. Greece's exit from the Eurozone represents a Lehman-like scenario to the global banking system - why wait to see what carnage it will unleash? It's always easier to print money, and printing another couple €100 billion is nothing compared to the trillions that have been printed since last November. Where this will get tense, however, is when the market acknowledges the Minsky moment in a larger EU economy, like Spain or Italy. As we go to print, Spanish bond yields are now trading back above 6.5%, signaling the market's non-confidence in the country's ability to back-stop its own banking system. Spain has a population of 47 million, a GDP of roughly $1.3 trillion, national debt of roughly $1.1 trillion, debt owed to the ECB and various bailout funds totaling €643 billion, and now, a banking system that also appears close to collapsing.17 Their Minsky Moment has already arrived, and it's simply a matter now of how the market will react to it, and how long it takes the ECB to come to Spain's rescue.

Without a doubt, the most counterintuitive aspect of the Greece/Eurozone debacle has been its impact on the price of gold. Gold is now back below $1600 for the third time since August 2011; each time has coincided with severe banking stress within Greece and the broader Eurozone. Some pundits have suggested that various European banks are selling gold to raise liquidity, and this would make sense if the Eurozone banks had gold to sell, but we cannot find any evidence of large physical sellers out of Europe. Also, ever since the unlimited US-dollar SWAP agreement was launched in November 2011, USD liquidity has not been the key issue in Europe - rising sovereign bond yields and deposit withdrawals have. On the contrary, the selling pressure in gold once again appears to be expressed primarily through the futures markets, which are highly levered and rarely involve any physical transactions involving actual bullion. The futures market sell-off also appears to be waning now, since the European banking crisis has provided central banks with a politically-palatable excuse to take action if it deteriorates any further.

The recent gold price has been particularly frustrating given the continuation of bullish demand trends out of China. China posted another record Hong Kong gold import number in March of 62.9 tonnes. Gold imports into China have now totaled 135.5 metric tonnes between January and March 2012, representing a 600% increase over the same period last year.18 We don't have to connect the dots here - China is stockpiling the precious metal while investors in the West scratch their heads wondering why the spot price is so low.

CHINA HONG KONG GOLD IMPORTS AND GOLD SPOT PRICE


Source: UBS, Bloomberg

Non-G6 central banks have also continued to accumulate physical gold, with the latest reports revealing another 70 tonnes of gold purchases completed in March and April by the central banks of Philippines, Turkey, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Sri Lanka.19 We won't bore you with the exercise of annualizing those numbers and comparing them to the annual global mine supply, but suffice it to say that the fundamentals still remain firmly intact. It's now simply a matter of improving sentiment towards gold in the West, and if the current banking crisis in Europe gets any worse, or if we see another large-scale policy response, it will likely happen on its own accord.

Although the last eight months have not played out the way we would have expected for gold, they have played out the way we envisioned for the banks. The question now is how long this can go on for, and how long gold can remain under pressure in a banking crisis that has the potential to spread beyond Greece and Spain? So much now rests on the policy responses fashioned by the US Fed and ECB, and just as much also rests on what's left of European citizens' confidence in their local banking institutions. Neither of these things can be precisely measured or predicted, but we continue to firmly believe that depositors in Greece and Spain will choose gold over drachmas or pesetas if they have the foresight and are given the freedom to act accordingly. The number one reason we have always believed gold should be owned, and why we believe it will go higher, is people's growing distrust of the banking system - and we are now there. We will wait and see how the summer develops, and keep our attention firmly focused of the second phase of the bank run now spreading across southern Europe.

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

May 26, 2012

Eric Sprott states that governments are scared of market sell and panic liquidation


After Lehman’s failure and the market crash back in 2009, governments around the world are worried that it could happen again and are doing everything they can to avoid it. Fannie, AIG and GM of course were taken over to prevent and avoid this kind of panic liquidation event. Still Eric believes that the market is continuing liquidating no matter what the governments and powers want them to do. Eric Sprott believes that the process is getting bigger and forming itself into a tsunami…

This information was taken from a recent interview by King World News. Feel free to read the interview here:

http://kingworldnews.com/kingworldnews/KWN_DailyWeb/Entries/2012/5/18_Eric_Sprott_-_Governments_Frightened_of_Panic_Liquidation_Event.html

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

May 18, 2012

Eric Sprott on derivatives and problems

Eric Sprott of Sprott Asset Management is worried what could happen during market declines when derivatives trigger. He said that there is no underlying wealth creation of these things. There is always a seller and a buyer. The thing is which could explode if the contract must be paid off.

What is strange is that most participants in the market believes they are making bugs of this in and out trading. The reality is different. Yes there are some people draining a lot of money out of these derivatives but its on the back of the mass.
The worrisome thing is that the derivatives market is growing very rapidly. We have no what it could cause. If there is not enough money around and a big counterparty fails , who knows what could happen.

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

April 30, 2012

Eric Sprott says that the Ponzi scheme Continues in full motion

Even though politicians are fighting hard to continue the current financial system and use different techniques, the people are doing what is logical and withdraw their money from the banking systems which are unsafe. Not only have that but people and investors no longer trusted the sovereign debt and the credibility of countries. He mentions that in the last reported month people took out 65 billion USD from Spain banks. With this speed, Spanish banks will need a huge bailout very soon. LTRO was to safe the banks and we will probably have more as deposits continue to leave. The only way out is to continue print or the system will collapse. Eric Sprott recommends investors to hold gold and silver as well as mining stocks as the countries will debase their currencies when they print to safe the financial system.

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

April 10, 2012

Eric Sprott is Super Bullish on Silver

As you know Eric Sprott has been known as strong advocate of precious metal investments. In fact, he has not always been bullish on precious metals so it is not correct to call him perm-bull. During the 1980s, Eric was very optimistic about the stock market. Since 2000, Mr Sprott is known for his rather more pessimistic views and the only things he is bullish on are precious metals and precious metal stocks.

He is very worried about Europe. He shared recently that only the LTRO is keeping the banking system in Europe alive. Banks are now addicted to the 1% credits but even with them things are not rosy. On China, Sprott believes that we might see hard-landing there.
He pointed out to a recent report that predicts a U.S. recession by mid-year, so this might be his view also.

As for the stock market, he points out it went up in the first quarter on decreasing volume. "It's a BS rally," he tells the audience, who would like to believe it's anything but.
"We have a system that is breaking down," he concludes.
Still the protection and best investment is not gold. The answer to all investors’ needs is another.

 The answer is silver.

Buy Gold

Why? Let us count the reasons.

1. Demand exceeds supply. Annual production is about 900 million ounces per year, including recycling. Industrial usage alone will rise to 660 million ounces by 2015. That leaves only 240 million ounces for coinage, central bank purchases, and investment. The latter category is huge; as of 2010 holdings of physical silver to back up exchange-traded funds was 577 million ounces.

2. Silver is undervalued compared to gold. The historic silver to gold ratio is 16 to one. The geological silver-gold in situ reserve ratio is 17.5 to one. The current silver-gold ratio is 51 to one. The implied price if silver reverts to its historic ratio with gold at US$1,600 an ounce is US$100 an ounce. The actual closing price on Thursday was US$31.73.

3. The silver price is artificially low. There has been speculation for some time that the price of silver has been kept deliberately low by market manipulation. A further unwinding of short positions is needed to free the metal to rise in value.

We agree with Eric Sprott, silver price will be up multiple times by the end of this decade.

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

April 05, 2012

Ellis Martin Interviews Eric Sprott


Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

Eric Sprott doesn’t believe the recovery is sustainable and real

Eric Sprott, founder and CEO of Sprott Asset Management expects more CB printing as well as higher prices of the currencies “gold and silver”. Even in case there is manipulation in their prices, it probably aims at hiding the wonderful investment characteristics of gold and silver from the public. That is positive for investors who own it for the long run. This also gives opportunity to investors to purchase the metals at cheaper nominal prices now. Even though volatility is hard experience, it doesn’t change the ultimate underlying fundamentals and trends of these precious metals, therefore Sprott advocates of purchases.

Buy Gold

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

March 29, 2012

New Highs Coming for Gold

Even though some people including Chariman Ben Bernanke are bashing gold saying that it is old, not money and is a worthless standard that should not be considered, Eric Sprott of Sprott Asset Management doesn’t agree. He states that those investors who have studied history and what is going on the world economy, these who understand what money printing of out thin air means are aware of the merits of gold.

Buy Gold

Eric believes that the merits of gold are getting better day by day but the mainstream is trying to downplay it. The majority of forecasters still do not believe in gold to be an appropriate investment. Still Mr. Sprott knows that these who owned gold and silver for the last 12 years know they are right. He points out that even though gold and silver are hugely manipulated and the price prices of gold and silver are negatively affected, before the yearend both precious metals will reach new highs. Right after gold and silver reach new highs, the mining stocks which have been lagging the prices of precious metals lately will also follow and will rise significantly. Only when the precious metals start rising and continue their uptrend with no vacillation, precious metal stocks will follow.

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

March 27, 2012

Eric Sprott says Silver will go to it's all time high this year

Eric Sprott the founder of Sprott Asset Management believes that silver is due for an upside move this year. He states that silver will reach it's all time high this year and the catalyst is the bad health of the world economy. He recommends that investors hold precious metals in 2012. Silver is up about 20% this year and according to Mr Sprott will continue rising.

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

March 19, 2012

Financial Sense Newshour Interviews Eric Sprott & David Morgan

Buy Gold

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

March 14, 2012

Eric Sprott Silver

What is happening to gold and silver is stunning. When he is looking at the silver market, in 30 minutes time span we had sellers of 225 million equivalent paper oz of silver, in a market that in one year silver miners can only produce 800 million ozs. So again, it’s paper markets that overwhelm the physical market. It’s stunning to me that on day like Feb 29, the world traded 500 million ozs of silver.
No rational person could believe it had anthing to do with the real market of silver…
Eric Sprott via a recent King World News Interview

Buy Gold

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

February 24, 2012

Eric Sprott and "The Year of Central Banks"

 Eric Sprott explains that central banks are the driver of the markets due to their many liquidity injections and purchases. He believes that the bonds of Italy, Spain and other EZ countries are down because of the LTRO, and is worried that once started, banks are addicted to the cheap funding. Eric Sprott believes that 90% of the market positive up moves are due to the Central Banks operations. The problem is what happens, when world investors start to question the creability of the CBs, and also do not want to invest in bonds? The problem is that there is no last resort to the Central banks ... China and Russia reduced it's USA treasuries, and increased gold bars buying in effect to the CB operations worldwide. Printing is like drugs, once started it can not be stopped, and even though markets rise short-term, we have no idea what the long-term consequances will be.


Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

February 19, 2012

Eric Sprott - Central Banks Don't Have Enough Gold


Note: The reporter at the 2:17 mark says that the US Dollar is backed by gold. This is completely false. Please bear this in mind when viewing the video.

Eric Sprott is a Canadian hedge fund manager and founder of Sprott Asset Management. He became a billionaire on paper with the initial public offering of 
Sprott Inc., the parent of his Sprott Asset Management firm.

February 12, 2012

Eric Sprott - How To Invest Successfully


"Join Sprott Asset Management and Casey Research for a compilation of valuable advice for gainful investing in the real world of financial and political deception."