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By Adrian Douglas
The London Bullion Market Association has just taken the highly unusual step of blocking access to statistics relating to the trading activities of its member bullion banks. This information has been available to the public since 1997 but as of this week it is available only to LBMA members. (See http://www.lbma.org.uk.)
I have recently written a series of exposes of the LBMA (see References 1-4 below) using the association's own data to show that the LBMA's bullion banks are operating on a "fractional reserve" basis. My analysis indicates that the bullion banks are holding only 1 real ounce for about every 45 ounces of gold that they have sold, a reserve ratio of just 2.3 percent
At the March 25 public hearing of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission on precious metals futures markets I cited the LBMA's own statistics to label the "unallocated gold" accounts of the bullion banks as a Ponzi scheme. (See Reference 3 below.) There were bullion bank representatives at the hearing but no one expressed an objection. That hearing was videotaped and posted at the CFTC's Internet site but the bullion banks have not made any public statement rebutting what I said. In fact at that hearing Jeffrey Christian, CEO of the CPM Group, acknowledged that what is widely called the "physical market" is in reality a largely "paper market" trading gold and silver as if they are financial assets and not physical metals. Christian stated that 100 ounces of paper gold are traded for every 1 ounce of physical gold.