PM Daily Market Commentary – 1/13/2014

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  • Thu, Jan 16, 2014 - 10:59pm

    #21
    DrZaius

    DrZaius

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    Comex inventories

Hi everyone. This is my first post. I've been following the forum for a while now and enjoy the discussion. I thought this video regarding comex inventories might be relevant to this discussion:
 
  • Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 03:36am

    #22
    Hrunner

    Hrunner

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    Evidence for historic tightness of gold supply

Dave,

I appreciate you want to label me as histrionic, promoting crazy theories with no evidence, like a Mel Gibson in "Conspiracy Theory"

And if you accuse of not having perfect evidence, then I agree with you.  I've said before, as an example, I wish we had a transparent government that would hire a rock-solid trustworthy auditor to go in and be shown every single bar of gold to be recorded and summed in a proper audit report, as is done thousands of times each year for private companies, but apparently our government's opinion of us citizen's is "don't worry, just trust us, the gold is all there".  In the wake of the recent "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.  Period" ironclad promise, let's just say I'm a bit reluctant to accept the good word of our leadership.

And world investors you may be aware have a perhaps understandable reluctance to tell the public exactly how much gold we have, in exactly which building.  This behavior makes sense to me, in fact, I would use the same discretion.  But it makes the kind of "show me beyond any atomically small shred of an infinitesimally minute iota of doubt that 169 ktons of gold is not all floating around on the open market" level of proof challenging.  Agree.

As we have discussed before, a big percentage of the world makes decisions based on imperfect circumstantial evidence.   True, sometimes these evidence sets cause us to arrive at wrong conclusions.

If I come home and find chocolate smeared on my kid's face, all my chocolate bars missing, I typically "leap" to the conclusion that my child ate my chocolate, even in the face of the sad fact that I don't have a video showing my child eating each and every chocolate nor do I have a dozen witnesses testifying that they watched my child eat said chocolate.

Circumstantial evidence 1

There is testimony by actual gold fiduciaries that there is unprecedented levels of refining by major Swiss refiners.  [bolding mine]

"Koos Jansen: What was the purpose of your trip to Switzerland?

Alex Stanczyk [Chief Market Strategist for Anglo Far-East]: The purpose was two fold. We go to Switzerland once a year as part of our governance, we’re required to have an annual inspection of the gold, that was the main purpose of the trip. But in addition to that we also liked to talk to the refineries. It was myself, it was the managing director of Anglo Far-East mister Philip Judge, and Jim Rickards went with us, he sits on our advisory board.

We met with the managing director of the largest refinery in Switzerland and spend about two hours talking to him, we learned some very interesting things. What’s going on in the gold market as far as the price, is I think very counter intuitive. Everybody understands, knows and believes the price should be higher than it is, but it isn’t. There’s confusion in the marketplace, and there are two reactions; the reaction in the west is fear, confusion and uncertainty; the reaction in the east is buying. Now, this gentleman we were talking to probably has a better idea of physical gold flow than anybody else globally. He sees what is coming from the mines, he sees what is coming from the UK, and all over the world, as well as where its going. He indicated the price didn’t make sense because he has got so much fabrication demand. They put on three shifts, they’re working 24 hours a day, and originally he thought that would wind down at some point. Well, they’ve been doing it all year. Every time he thinks its going to slow down, he gets more orders, more orders, more orders. They have expanded the plant to where it almost doubles their capacity. 70% of their kilo bar fabrication is going to China, at apace of 10 tons a week. That’s from one refinery, now remember there are 4 of these big ones [refineries] in Switzerland.

Mr. Stanczyk also noted that bars marked from the 1960s were showing up to be recast into higher purity kilo bars destined for China — just as SD and Alasdair Macleod reported back in October. The refinery source indicated that in his 37 years working the trade, he had never seen problems sourcing gold. But several times this year, his refinery was not able to source gold"

http://www.ingoldwetrust.ch/alex-stanczyk-physical-supply-never-been-tighter

Please proceed to label this manager 'hyperbolic'.  Sounds to me like a guy that works as a manager in one of the world's largest refineries that says there is unprecedented gold supply tightness.

So we're melting down 50 year old bars and sending them to China.  I apologize, I should have used 49.9999 years supply in strong hands as opposed to 36.9999.

Circumstantial Evidence 2

 Gold is in historic backwardation

I admit the whole backwardation / contango thing is a difficult concept to understand

That said, apparently we are in a 40-decade historic period of gold backwardation.

Described by one writer [bold mine again]: (July 28th, 2013)

"So while commodity backwardation is not a unique event, gold backwardation is rare. Even though gold backwardation cannot happen in theory, it does occur when government intervention loses its desired effect, meaning that market forces are overpowering government attempts at manipulation.

Until now gold backwardation has only happened two times since this bull market in gold began back in 1999, and each prior occurrence lasted only a few days. In both instances market forces briefly overpowered government interventions aimed at manipulating interest rates. So gold backwardation does occasionally occur in spite of government intervention because central banks cannot ‘print’ physical gold to alleviate demand pressures.

Amazingly, gold has remained in backwardation against the dollar since my KWN interview [on July 8th, 2013]. The duration of this backwardation is unprecedented in the 4+ decades that I have been following the gold market. Clearly, something noteworthy is happening, which I believe in turn is signalling that something significant may yet happen. An indication of what that event may be can be discerned from the definition of backwardation on the LBMA website:

Backwardation – A market situation where prices for future delivery are lower than the spot price, caused by shortage or tightness of supply.

Clearly, the LBMA is defining commodity backwardation, and not the backwardation that occurs between different monies as a result of interest rate differentials. But their definition can be applied to physical gold, which is both money and like commodities, a tangible asset. A “shortage or tightness of supply” means that unless demand slackens or supply increases, the price must rise. "

http://fgmr.com/gold-backwardation-explained.html

 In fact, gold 1 month forward rate has been in backwardation for 75 days of the last 6 months of 2013 and all 11 business days of January of 2014 so far.  This is an unprecedented amount of backwardation in history.  I need to understand why as price is pushed down, "signalling" lack of interest, a boring and out of favor investment, we have historic interest in physical gold.

http://www.lbma.org.uk/pages/index.cfm?page_id=55&title=gold_forwards&show=2013

While we're on the London and AM and PM fixes, you may be interested in news from Bloomberg regarding the London Fix

Metals, Currency Rigging Worse Than Libor, Bafin’s Koenig Says

Germany’s top financial regulator said possible manipulation of currency rates and prices for precious metals is worse than the Libor-rigging scandal, which has already led to fines of about $6 billion.

The allegations about the currency and precious metals markets are “particularly serious, because such reference values are based — unlike Libor and Euribor — typically on transactions in liquid markets and not on estimates of the banks,” Elke Koenig, the president of Bafin, said in a speech in Frankfurt yesterday.

Bafin interviewed employees of Deutsche Bank AG as part of a probe of potential manipulation of gold and silver prices, a person with knowledge of the matter has said in December. The U.K. finance regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, is also reviewing gold benchmarks as part of its wider investigation into how rates are set.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-16/metals-currency-rigging-worse-than-libor-bafin-s-koenig-says.html

I know, I know, you don't care about what some "guy in Germany" says.

I did not even bring up discontinuing of gold coin minting in UK this month (I'm still not sure how a government mint runs out of money).

I did not bring up the fact that the U.S. Fed gold vaulting "guys" said it would take 7 years to send back a partial fraction of Germany's sovereign gold, which is an amount that could be easily and comfortably be shipped by planes in 2 months. 

I'm glad you are long gold, and look forward to more of your analysis on the daily PM conversation.  Maybe even a conspiracy theorist can pick up a few honest signals.

H

 

  • Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 07:31am

    #23
    davefairtex

    davefairtex

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    premiums are my guide

Hrunner-

I appreciate you want to label me as histrionic, promoting crazy theories with no evidence, like a Mel Gibson in "Conspiracy Theory"

Hey if the shoe fits…and just because you are acting like Mel Gibson doesn't prove you are just as correct as he was in that movie.  It doesn't even suggest that.  In fact, it just says you're acting crazy.  🙂

And world investors you may be aware have a perhaps understandable reluctance to tell the public exactly how much gold we have, in exactly which building.

That's exactly why I would never make such a claim such as the one you made – that "all gold is in strong hands except for Aunt Mabel's necklace."  I choose not to damage my own credibility by coming up with unbelievable stories quoting numbers that are clearly made up to support my opinion.  Instead I say, "hey, I think…" or "its my opinion that…" which makes it clear that I don't have solid backup for my opinion, and that the reader should take it with a grain of salt.

Please proceed to label this manager 'hyperbolic'.  Sounds to me like a guy that works as a manager in one of the world's largest refineries that says there is unprecedented gold supply tightness.

So let's examine the numbers of the swiss refinery anecdote.  I too found it fascinating to read.  I'd like to poll the guy weekly to see if the situation is still happening.

At 10 tons per week, that's 520 tons per year from that refinery.  Let's say there are 4 big refineries, which means that's about 2080 tons of gold gone to China.  Lets see, that's 1.2% of the above-ground supply of gold transiting through Switzerland in one year.  Not bad.  Quite a bit in fact.  Mine supply for the year.  But not the end of the world.  I know we as humans tend to project the present infinitely into the future, even the gang here at PP that should know better – but you know, its possible China's massive bubble might actually pop someday.  In the meantime, it certainly seems to be the case that gold is going to China, and that now and then, gold is becoming harder for that refinery to source, and that this is a rare occurrance.  And that some of the bars he received were old.

I have to say, that's not the same thing as "all gold being in strong hands except for Aunt Mabel's necklace."  There appears to be occasional tightness in supply, and this is rare.  That's as far as the evidence in this story will go.  Interesting, perhaps a sign of something to come, but that's it.

When that refinery starts being routinely unable to source gold, then we move to the next level of interest.  Presumably, that should be supported by visible hikes in premiums at the physical exchanges, and an expansion of premiums in PHYS – you know, the usual places.  Nothing like confirmation of our stories with price-based evidence that helps quantify how serious the problem is, and whether it is just a spike high, or something ongoing.

As far as labeling him hyperbolic – he didn't claim that all gold was in strong hands.  You did.  And clearly, since that refinery is still sending gold off to China every week, that actually contradicts your claim.  Gold is still being sourced.  So no, I won't say he's acting hyperbolic.  Why would I?  He seems to be quite level-headed.

Described by one writer [bold mine again]: (July 28th, 2013)

"So while commodity backwardation is not a unique event, gold backwardation is rare. Even though gold backwardation cannot happen in theory, it does occur when government intervention loses its desired effect, meaning that market forces are overpowering government attempts at manipulation.

So this one writer (at KWN?) says there's gold backwardation, and that this somehow proves that "government intervention loses its desired effect."  Trader Dan says that's nonsense – backwardation isn't happening.  I believe Trader Dan.  This is the whole negative GOFO thing again.  We could go into all that, but I don't have the energy.  Negative GOFO led to exactly zip last year so I remain unimpressed.

Bafin interviewed employees of Deutsche Bank AG as part of a probe of potential manipulation of gold and silver prices, a person with knowledge of the matter has said in December. The U.K. finance regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, is also reviewing gold benchmarks as part of its wider investigation into how rates are set.

I know, I know, you don't care about what some "guy in Germany" says.

I think you must have a reading disability.  In my response to you, I already said that I found what I consider to be conclusive evidence of manipulation in the London AM/PM Fix.  Did you just not read that part of my response?  If you did read it, you certainly didn't acknowledge it.  Again, why must you continue to put words in my mouth?  I know the case you make is better if somehow I deny everything – but unfortunately, when evidence exists, I not only accept it, I enthusiastically support the claim.  As I do in this case.

I also found evidence overall that prices decline in London and NY, while they tend to rise in asia.  This bias is true over the long haul, and is hard to miss when you look at the data.  Again, its not enough to make money from, but it is very clear from the evidence that something is going on, on a systematic basis.

And I also believe that there is LIBOR-style manipulation going on with the GOFO rates, because they are constructed in a similar method to LIBOR, and if history is any judge, if there's a way for the banks to mis-report information and make a buck from it without risking a penny, they'll do it in a heartbeat.  [These are the same GOFO rates that all the goldbugs base their claims of "backwardation" on – but I digress.]

But the phenomenon we are talking about are both intraday manipulations, not trend manipulations.  Those two types of manipulations are not the same at all.  Apples & oranges.  I enthusiastically support the claim of "apples manipulation", and I do not support the claim for "oranges manipulation."  The difference is evidence, and the level of effort and risk involved in execution.

I did not bring up the fact that the U.S. Fed gold vaulting "guys" said it would take 7 years to send back a partial fraction of Germany's sovereign gold, which is an amount that could be easily and comfortably be shipped by planes in 2 months.

Agreed, this one is interesting too.  And the fact they only got 37 tons, that's interesting as well.

But ultimately, I use premiums as my guide.  If all these stories are true, if gold was in strong hands except for Poor Aunt Mabel, then anywhere there is physical gold, premiums should be blowing out.  I don't see that happening, at least not right now.  So will I base a trade on any of these awesome stories?  No, I won't.

But I'm watching premiums.  And you can be sure if I see them start to expand in a way that tends to support the outcome that you project, I'll report on it.

  • Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 08:11am

    #24

    Bron Suchecki

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    Sorry for the late response,

Sorry for the late response, I have this annoying thing called a job. FYI, while I don't comment here, I was involved in this April 2012 https://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/134236#comment-134236 372 comments post, which inbetween the snarky stuff, is a lot of good info.

[quote=Jim H]That being said, as with the cop, I question his (your) allegiance to the State.. you get your Gold at the pleasure of, and you have your charter from the State … So I have to question whether you are really here to support me, the common man, or the State, who ultimately holds the key to your paycheck.  Anyway.. who wants to talk about such complications.. right?[/quote]

Firstly, I would note that the Perth Mint is owned by a state government, not a federal government. State governments are not involved in central banking or money printing. Western Australia is similar to Texas in its relationship with the federal government, having voted to secede from the federation in the great depression, see here for some discussion around this http://goldchat.blogspot.com/2008/11/australian-gold-confiscation.html

I therefore think that your view that somehow I, via my boss the CEO, via the Premier of the State, via our federal Prime Minister via the US Govt, has been told to push X meme as part of some conspiracy as farfetched. I'd like to think I have that much influence but I don't. Perth Mint has never been instructed by anyone to push negative agendas re gold, indeed, the state government continues to own us for the specific purpose of supporting the local gold mining industry, which employs a lot of voters.

Secondly, if you read my blog you will see many times statements which counter any claim of being part of a Cartel. My integrity is not for sale and if the Perth Mint engaged in any financially risky behaviour or was being influenced, I would resign. You can believe that because becoming a whistleblower would mean I would get a lot of coverage by the gold blogosphere and be able to start my own subscription service and probably make more money than I earn now.

[quote=Jim H]but the fact is, Gold is currently in shortage at all levels.. at all points in the supply chain (and I am a materials supply chain guy in the semiconductor industry, so I understand this stuff pretty well).  I stand by all that I said in the previous post, and you have said nothing of substance to convince me that there is not in fact a raw materials shortage.  What say you about the story that has been passed along by both Alex Stanczyk AND Jim Rickards about lack of supply?[/quote]

A shortage at all levels is a big claim and not true, you only provide evidence from one source. As my recent blog post says, there are other sources saying there is no problem and indeed the FastMarkets article said the shortage was intermittent. That is certainly an interesting event, but there has not been an ongoing shortage of 400oz bars in the past. I will reiterate what I said in my post, if GoldMoney is not reporting any problems selling its 400oz bar backed product, how can you claim gold is currently in shortage at all levels?

[quote=Jim H]Lots of paper to be had… and we must keep the common folk believing that paper = phys, right?  I like the blanks bottleneck story because I agree that it's true (or will be true in the end).. only it's not the real story at all, is it Bron?  The real story is  that there has never been more demand, in bulk, ever.  Negative GOFO.  The real story is that the price has never been more disconnected from the physical supply limitation, ever.  I believe you could tell the real story if you wanted, but I very much understand if you don't.[/quote]

I have no agenda to keep the common folk believing paper = physical and you will find many times in my blog where I discuss and warn people against paper, eg http://goldchat.blogspot.com.au/2010/04/london-unallocated-fractional-fubar-or.html. The real story is there has never been more demand, but so is the supply, eg scrap has increased along with price as cash for gold shops show. Negative GOFO has been small (un abitragable, which is why it occurs) and infrequent, not much proof there, you need more than just negative GOFO http://goldchat.blogspot.com.au/2010/07/degrees-of-distrust.html

  • Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 08:17am

    #25

    Bron Suchecki

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    davefairtex wrote:I’m curious

[quote=davefairtex]I'm curious about the cost structure for making the various gold products: coins, bars of varying sizes. How much does it actually cost to make a coin?  A 1-oz bar?  A kilo bar?  Labor + some fraction of the capital investment in the machinery is what I'm looking for.  And what's the profit margin on the resulting product?  Is coin-making (or blank-making) a high margin business?[/quote]

Minting is a competitive business so costs and margins can't be revealed, but just let me say this, where have you seen the investment in the industry? Distribution, eg GoldMoney, BullionVault, Gold Bullion International. Easy businesses as mostly IT web stuff. Do you see any money going into opening large scale minting? Nope, probably because it is not a huge margin business and needs a lot of capex and funding.

[quote=davefairtex]I can see what you are saying about the cost of maintaining a large inventory of blanks – those carry costs will eat up your profit, and if you scale up blank-making machinery in advance of demand, you sink capital into something that's not providing you any ROI until that demand appears – if it ever appears.

And when it does appear, you have to guess if that demand is just a spike, or if it will be steady enough to justify the investment in more machinery over time.

When I consider this as a business decision, seeing if I can justify buying more coin-making machines vs risks of demand falling off and my machines going idle, coin shortages make a lot more sense.[/quote]

That capacity utilisation issue is the big what if. That is why few are willing to spend $50 million, as the Perth Mint has done since 2007, on building a factory when you run the risk that if the gold bull market dies, you do your investment.

  • Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 08:22am

    #26

    Bron Suchecki

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    6w3hy davefairtex wrote:is

6w3hy[quote=davefairtex]is he seeing any difficulty in sourcing gold for the mint right now?  Rather than telling him, I mean, which might be seen as possibly arrogant, coming from someone who doesn't work for a mint.  And the Shanghai premiums right now are around $6 or so, and delivery volumes are pretty strong, so I'm not seeing massive supply shortages showing up at the moment at least in the places that I can measure it.

Perhaps the mint gets its gold from Australian mining companies, and maybe they have long term supply contracts priced at spot, so they aren't exposed to the worldwide gold supply chain.  Bron?[/quote]

We aren't having any problem sourcing gold, but then we do refine around 300-400 tonnes a year, so it is not really ever going to be an issue. But our contacts into London are not saying there is any problem sourcing gold.

We do enter into refining agreements with miners for a period, but we don't lock them into us as they are free to sell the gold to us or swap it into London and trade it with anyone they choose. Refining is a globally competitive business and one with overcapacity, so quite tough.

In 2008 when markets were going nuts, we were shipping in 20 tonnes of silver from London for 20 weeks straight. If we need additional, we go into the pro market and source it, which has never been a problem to date.

  • Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 08:27am

    #27

    Bron Suchecki

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    davefairtex wrote:I’ve always

[quote=davefairtex]I've always wondered if they do that, hedging cost swings I mean.

However, the cost I was referring to was the cost of carrying the inventory.  A lot of money sunk into inventory is money that either has to be borrowed (at an interest rate) from somewhere else, or its capital that is sunk into inventory not providing any ROI which is an opportunity cost.

Presumably, this opportunity cost is made up by profits from the premiums over spot gold charged on the coins, but the larger the inventory, the higher the cost structure for the mint.

In some sense, if the cost of short term money in AUD is about 3%, then the cost of maintaining a billion-dollar pile of gold is about $2.5 million per month – either in borrowing costs, or opportunity costs for the capital that paid to buy that pile.  And that's a cost that can't be hedged away at COMEX.[/quote]

We have never traded futures markets, in the past prior to our Depository business, we hedged by leasing gold, see here http://goldchat.blogspot.com.au/2008/06/gold-value-chain-part-iii-manufacturing.html for an explanation.

The point of our unallocated Depository business is that we cut out the bullion bank and it is our unallocated clients who are effectively funding our working inventory. They get free storage, backed 100%, and we get free funding. Win win deal. No fractional crap. Also, because the gold in the Mint is effectively owned by the clients, they are ones that are taking the price risk. So unallocated give us free funding and zero price risk, it is a great business model.

FYI, I have two posts held up in moderation due to inclusion of links, I have responded to you Jim.

  • Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 02:23pm

    #28

    Tycer

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    I am never bored on the PM threads. Thanks!!

Love it, love it, love it.

 

  • Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 04:44pm

    #29
    davefairtex

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    thanks bron

Your responses (and the posts at your site) were quite helpful for me in understanding how and why leasing happens, and how companies (and the mint, in the past) use it to hedge their exposure to gold market fluctuations and/or fund mine development.

Also the depository/unallocated gold thing makes sense.  Someone else takes price risk, and no need for the mint to be out the capital.  And the clients either reap the rewards or take the losses, as the case may be.  As you say, win-win.

You really have written a lot about the industry and all of its moving parts.  It is really fascinating stuff.  Thanks for the link.  I ended up reading a lot more than just that one page.

And Jim, before you jump all over Bron, you might consider taking a look at some of the stuff he's written.  It is information I haven't seen anywhere else, presented clearly and understandably.

Here I'll shill for your site once more:

http://goldchat.blogspot.com/

  • Sat, Jan 18, 2014 - 03:06am

    #30

    Jim H

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    Bron’s site and other thoughts

Thank you Dave,  I hope you noticed that I correctly answered your question about how the Perth mint handles the carrying cost of their inventory (by selling unallocated) before Bron did… regardless of my fractional reserve quip – I may seem to be shooting from the hip, but I am usually not.  I am well aware of Bron's blog, thank you. 

You should know Dave that my quip about being fractionally reserved was based on some analysis done by James Turk some years ago… because, as I am sure you know, I would never just be blanket pejorative toward something as solid and well accepted as unallocated Gold… no, I was kinda thinking about this when I said that;

https://www.igolder.com/glossary/perth-mint/

Year Perth Mint Leverage Ratio Gold Available for Redemption Paper Gold
2000 3.65 27.4% 72.6%
2001 4.83 20.7% 79.3%
2002 4.61 21.7% 78.3%
2003 8.85 11.3% 88.7%
2004 10.36 9.7% 90.3%
2005 11.38 8.8% 91.2%
2006 18.18 5.5% 94.5%

I will assume that Bron is correct and that these kind of practices (i.e. 18x fractional reserve in 2006) are no longer the case.  

I am sure there are interesting things to be learned from his blog about how the various markets operate.. but in a macro sense, he strikes me as a guy who has never found a signal for physical Gold scarcity that he cannot debunk.  Some Gold positive articles that get promoted may indeed be overblown, not completely true, or subject to mis-interpretation.. it just seems to me that, for a guy whose business is selling beautiful stuff made of Gold and Silver, he tries really hard to convince us all that the raw materials are not as scarce as some of us think they are.  I could pull up details and debate them, like his posts arguing that Jesse's owners/ounce Comex charts are, "one eyed".. but what's the point?  I believe that Gold is more scarce than the price says, and Bron seems not to.  Everyone must make up their own mind about these things… do their own due diligence.  I have nothing against Bron, and if my pp.com brethren think I was overaggressive in my tone, which I would tend to justify (even as the new, more evolved Jim H) based on the fact that Bron presents himself as a public person… not a private one, then we can reassess.

Shouldn't we be talking about the miners though?  That was quite a day for my AAU and TGD, for starters…. seems miners are leading the metals, no? 

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