Chris Powell: Who will put the gold questions to central banks?

Section:

Remarks by Chris Powell, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
GATA Gold Rush 2011
Savoy Hotel, London
Friday, August 5, 2011

Those of you who have been following GATA for a long time are owed a bit of an apology from me today. For I will say some things you have heard before, as they may be new to others here, as I'm reminded of the advice given to me some years ago by a friend who was twice elected to Connecticut's state legislature, three times to the U.S. House of
Representatives, and three times as governor of Connecticut. He told me that repetition is crucial in politics, and that, tedious as it may seem, just when you think you're going to have to kill yourself if you say something over again, that's when people are just starting to listen.

Of course that was before he disgraced the state, was caught taking gifts from government contractors, resigned under threat of impeachment, pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge, and was sent to prison for a year. But I guess he didn't get everything wrong.

GATA is still about what it was about when it was founded in January 1999 -- exposing and opposing the rigging of the gold market and related markets.

Why is the gold market rigged?

It's rigged because, despite Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's insistence the other day that gold is not money, just "tradition," gold is indeed a currency that competes brutally with government-issued currencies and helps determine not only the value of those currencies but also the level of interest rates and the value of government bonds. This was all documented in an academic study published in June 1988 in the Journal of Political Economy written by Harvard economics professor Lawrence Summers and University of Michigan economics professor Robert Barsky. This Summers-Barsky study was unearthed and interpreted by another speaker at this conference, gold price suppression litigator Reg Howe. The study implied that if governments could get control of the gold price, they could also get control of interest rates.

... Dispatch continues below ...



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Of course Summers went on to become U.S. treasury secretary, an office in which expertise in controlling the gold price is highly desirable.

How is the gold price rigged, and by whom?

It is rigged openly through outright sales of gold by central banks, as it was rigged openly in the 1960s by the association of Western central banks known as the London gold pool, and, since the gold pool's collapse in 1968, rigged both openly and surreptitiously through central bank sales and leases and by bullion bank short positions and derivatives that are backstopped by access to Western central bank gold.

GATA has established this extensively from official sources whose admissions are compiled in the "Documentation" section of our Internet site:

http://www.gata.org/taxonomy/term/21

That is, the gold price suppression scheme is not what it is disparaged as being, "conspiracy theory." Rather it is a matter of public record -- at least for those who want to look at the record. I would welcome an opportunity to examine and discuss this record in detail, document by document, with any doubters in a public forum. Some of the most incriminating material remains posted at Federal Reserve Internet sites.

But the official record of gold price suppression is not merely historical. Thanks to GATA's work, it is very contemporary as well. That's what I'd like to update you about today.

Two years ago, using the federal Freedom of Information Act, GATA asked the Federal Reserve to provide access to its gold records, particularly its records involving gold swaps. Gold swaps are trades of gold between central banks, enabling one central bank to intervene in the gold market at the behest of another, keeping the other's fingerprints off the intervention. Gold swaps are a primary mechanism of the gold price suppression scheme.

While the Fed refused to give us access to its gold records, in adjudicating our request internally the Fed did make, perhaps inadvertently, a sensational disclosure. On September 17, 2009, the member of the Fed's Board of Governors who was acting as the judge of our request, Kevin M. Warsh, wrote a letter to GATA's lawyer, William Olson of Vienna, Virginia, confirming the Fed's denial of access. Among the records being withheld from us, Warsh disclosed, were records about the Fed's gold swap arrangements with foreign banks, which, he wrote, "is not the type of information that is customarily disclosed to the public":

http://www.gata.org/files/GATAFedResponse-09-17-2009.pdf

This admission of gold swap arrangements plainly contradicted previous statements by the Fed that it was not involved in the gold market in any way.

Unwilling to let Fed Governor Warsh's letter be the last word on access to the Fed's gold records, on December 31, 2009, GATA sued the Fed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Fed told the court that the Fed really couldn't find many records involving gold. Implausible as this was, unfortunately the judge, Ellen Segal Huvelle, denied GATA's request to interrogate Fed officials under oath about what seemed to us to be their wholly inadequate search. Whereupon the judge reviewed, privately in her chambers, the few documents the Fed had submitted, and on February 3 this year she ruled that the Fed could keep secret all but one of those records. She ordered the Fed to disclose that one record to GATA within two weeks.

On February 18 this year the Fed released the document -- the minutes of the April 1997 meeting of the G-10 Gold and Foreign Exchange Committee as compiled by an official of the New York Federal Reserve bank. The minutes showed government and central bank officials conspiring in secret to coordinate their gold market policies.

Perhaps of equal interest, the Fed claimed not to be able to find minutes of any other meeting of the G-10 Gold and Foreign Exchange Committee. Either the the G-10 Gold and Foreign Exchange Committee has met only that once, in April 1997, or the Fed was not represented at any other such meetings, or such minutes were conveniently misplaced for the purposes of GATA's lawsuit.

Thus GATA's lawsuit established that the Fed, despite its protests of innocence, has many gold secrets after all even as we managed to pry a couple of those secrets loose and publicize them -- first, that the Fed has gold swap arrangements, and second, that in 1997 the Fed was conspiring with other central banks to coordinate their gold market policies, and that there was no announcement of this.

Almost as gratifying to us was that, since the court found that the Fed had illegally withheld that one document from us, Judge Huvelle ordered the Fed to pay court costs to GATA, which the Fed did in May, sending us a check for $2,870, which we'll display here later today.

But the revelations about central bank gold swaps don't end there. In August 2009, while GATA was waging its freedom-of-information battle against the Fed, our consultant, Rob Kirby of Kirby Analytics in Toronto, wrote to the German central bank, the Bundesbank, about a report that most of the German national gold was being kept outside Germany, particularly in New York, presumably at the New York Fed.

The Bundesbank replied to Kirby as follows:

"The Deutsche Bundesbank keeps a large part of its gold holdings in its own vaults in Germany, while some of its gold is also stored with the central banks located at major gold trading centres. This has historical and market-related reasons, the gold having been transferred to the Bundesbank at these trading centres. Moreover, the Bundesbank needs to hold gold at the various trading centres in order to conduct its gold activities."

So the Bundesbank says it keeps much of its gold at "trading centers" so that it may conduct its "gold activities."

What are those activities exactly?

In late 2010 the German journalist Lars Schall, who is here at this conference today, sought to follow up with the Bundesbank, posing 13 questions about those "gold activities," particularly as to whether the Bundesbank has any gold swap arrangements with the United States. The Bundesbank replied to Schall as follows:

"In managing foreign reserves, the Bundesbank fulfils one of its mandated tasks as an integral part of the European System of Central Banks. We trust you will understand that we are not able to divulge any further information regarding this activity. Particularly with respect to the confidential nature of information about where gold holdings are kept, we are unable to go into any greater detail concerning exact locations and the quantities stored at each of these. Likewise, owing to the strategic nature of the activity, we are not at liberty to provide you with more detailed information about gold transactions."

That seems like a pretty good confession that the Bundesbank has undertaken gold swaps as part of what it considers "strategic activity."

Another pretty good confession of the secret maneuvers being played with gold came at the hearing held by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's House Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology on June 23 this year, a hearing I attended. The Treasury Department's inspector general, Eric M. Thorson, testified that he had been told that no part of the U.S. gold reserve was encumbered. But he did not say exactly who told him this, so his comment was only hearsay. And when Thorson was asked just where the gold pledged by the United States to the International Monetary Fund is kept and how it is accounted for, Thorson couldn't say.

Three years ago when GATA put similar questions to the IMF -- "Exactly where is your gold, and do you possess it or is it just a claim on the gold reserves of your member nations?" -- the IMF was at first evasive and then abruptly cut off the correspondence without answering.

But then most official gold data is actually disinformation.

For the six years prior to 2009 China reported to the IMF that it held 600 tonnes of gold. But in April 2009 China reported that its gold reserves had increased by 76 percent, from 600 tonnes to 1,054 tonnes. Had China obtained the new 454 tonnes only in the past year? Of course not; China had been accumulating gold steadily without reporting it for six years.

In June 2010 the World Gold Council reported that Saudi Arabia had increased its gold reserves by 126 percent since 2008, from 143 tonnes to 323 tonnes. But a few weeks later the governor of the Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority said Saudi Arabia had not been purchasing gold lately and that the 143 tonnes in question had been held all along in what he called "other accounts" -- held in accounts not being reported by Saudi Arabia.

That is, the true disposition of national gold reserves is a secret more sensitive than the disposition of nuclear weapons. For gold is a weapon just as powerful -- a weapon crucial to market rigging, the secret knowledge of the financial universe. And while nuclear weapons can be used for blackmail, market rigging is a far more effective mechanism for looting the world.

Many of you have heard about the looting of Europe undertaken by the Nazi German occupation during World War II. But most of that looting did not take place as it is imagined, at the point of a gun. No, it took place through the currency markets.

This looting through the currency markets was spelled out by the November 1943 edition of a military intelligence letter published by the U.S. War Department, a letter called Tactical and Technical Trends. Of course the Nazi occupation seized whatever central bank gold reserves had not been sent out of the occupied countries in time. But then the Nazi occupation either issued special occupation currency that could not be used in Germany itself or, in countries that had strong banking systems, took over the domestic central bank and enforced an exchange rate much more favorable to the reichsmark. Or else the Nazi occupation simply printed for itself and spent huge new amounts of the regular currency of the occupied country.

It was this control of the currency markets that drafted everyone in the occupied countries into the service of the occupation and achieved a one-way flow of production, a flow out of the occupied countries and into Nazi Germany.

For a few years Nazi Germany had one hell of a trade deficit -- and couldn't have cared less about it. For controlling the currencies of occupied Europe, Nazi Germany never had to cover that deficit, at least not as long as the military occupation continued.

Since the United States now issues the reserve currency for the world, the dollar, the United States now more or less occupies most countries economically, even those countries that have their own currencies, since even those countries hold most of their foreign exchange reserves in dollars. Thus the current one-way flow of production -- out of the rest of the world and into the United States.

This exploitation is not well-publicized but it is no secret.

In the 1960s France's finance minister called it an "exorbitant privilege" for just one country -- the United States -- to be able to issue the world reserve currency.

In 2004 the deputy chairman of the Bank of Russia, Oleg Mozhaiskov, told the London Bullion Market Association conference held in Moscow:

"Although there are several reserve currencies, the blatant lack of discipline is demonstrated by the U.S. dollar. I am leaving aside the main aspects of this problem, such as the social and economic injustice of a world order that allows the richest country in the world to live in debt, undermining the vital interests of other countries and peoples. What is important for us today is another aspect, which is connected with the responsibility of the state issuing the reserve currency and for the international community preserving that currency's buying power."

Incidentally, the only words of English spoken by Mozhaiskov in that speech were "Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee." The Bank of Russia long had been following our work without our knowledge.

And just this week Russia's prime minister, former president, and perhaps future president, Vladimir Putin, called the United States a "parasite" on account of its huge external debt and the dominance of the dollar.

The whole gold price suppression scheme -- a dollar-support scheme -- is exposed by any serious questioning. But who will ask the questions? The scheme survives only because of negligent journalism about the true reserve currency, gold.

The falsity of the data about the gold market practically screams at financial journalists:

-- There is the omission from official gold reserve reports of leased and swapped gold.

-- There are the sudden huge changes in official gold reserve totals.

-- And there are the deception and conflicts of interest built into the prospectuses of gold and silver exchange-traded funds, whose metal custodians happen also to be the world's biggest gold and silver shorters.

Valid documentation about the gold market also practically screams at financial journalists:

-- There are the huge and disproportionate gold, silver, and interest rate derivative positions built up at just a few international banks, positions that never could be undertaken without the expressed or implicit underwriting of government, particularly the U.S. government.

-- There are the many official records, collected and publicized by GATA over the years, demonstrating the explicit plans and desire of the U.S. government to suppress and control the price of gold.

Most obvious is the question that should follow the common disparagement of gold, a question that somehow is never asked. You've heard it: the constantly reported observation that gold has not come close to keeping pace with inflation over the last 30 years. Oil has kept up, food has kept up, other metals have kept up, but not gold.

So why not? Why hasn't gold kept up with inflation?

Could it be that someone found a way to vastly increase the supply of gold without having to go through the trouble of mining it -- to dishoard and lease it from central bank reserves and then issue certificates against gold that never existed in the first place?

"Why" is supposed to be a basic question of journalism. But it has fallen out of financial journalism when it comes to gold.

In May I spent an hour in New York with the commodities reporter of The Wall Street Journal. That newspaper has been given much of the documentation GATA has collected but has not yet published anything about it.

Also in May a nationally broadcast television program interviewed me for an hour, with the cameras rolling, on the steps of the Federal Reserve in Washington. That program has all the documentation too. Nothing has been broadcast yet, though I'm hopeful.

Over the last year I've spent much time briefing a reporter for a major news agency, at her request. At my urging, unlike all other reporters, she even called the Fed and got a very telling "no comment" about the gold swaps. But last I heard from her, she couldn't get her editor's permission to write a gold story.

Frustrating as all this is, it can't be too surprising. After all, who are the major advertisers in the financial news media and the major sources of news? The market manipulators and governments themselves. And journalists seem to take for granted that central banks operate in secret, particularly in regard to gold, so there's no point in questioning them.

Well, maybe someday some journalist somewhere will put to a central banker a critical question about gold. Maybe it will be one of the journalists we met at our press conference yesterday.

In any case, whenever I come to this great city I can't help falling into June 1940 mode and reminding myself that liberty is worth contending for no matter how bad the odds -- that there really isn't much else.

The other day a few blocks from here I went through the museum that has been made out of the old Cabinet War Rooms, where the rescue of all decent civilization was arranged even as the bombs of the most evil totalitarianism fell all around and Britain, at Churchill's urging, heroically faced them alone.

At the museum there was, of course, a photo of General DeGaulle, who refused to accept the fall of France and flew to London to fight on. For the time being, De Gaulle decided, in exile he would be France, and he was -- though maybe, years later, he thought himself to be France even after France was once again able to do the job itself.

From GATA's beginning I have wondered whether we could really presume to speak for gold. And not just for gold, of course -- we are not idolaters -- but for the economic and political liberty it serves and stands for. With gold always under attack precisely for what it represents, and with no others coming forward to defend it for what it represents, with the gold mining industry's main trade association refusing to acknowledge the attack, we have hoped that any presumption on our part might be forgiven.

We remain largely amateurs. At the outset we did not half understand what was going on and what we were setting about to do. Our name preserves that imperfect understanding. We thought we had discovered just another anti-trust violation. It was a while before we perceived that we were up against government policy and that most of what we were discovering had been discovered long ago, at least in principle, just not well taught, publicized, preserved, and made timely again.

Because it can work only through surreptitiousness and deceit, this government policy will be defeated when it is more widely understood -- and every day it is being better understood.

Just yesterday GATA Chairman Bill Murphy was invited on CNBC Europe -- GATA's first invitation on CNBC in 12 years. And two more speakers at this conference, James Turk and Ben Davies, were on CNBC Europe this morning.

The word is getting around now, and thanks to you and the speakers who have come here today, we are no longer alone. That, I think, will prove decisive.

Some of our speakers will talk about what should be. At this turbulent time for its financial system, the world surely needs new options. But with your support GATA will keep working to reveal what is.

This is, we think, a great cause. And as Churchill said even as the bombs fell on this city, "When great causes are on the move in the world, we learn that we are spirits, not animals, and that something is going on in space and time, and beyond space and time, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty."

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