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Dec 11, 2012

GATA | THE GATA DISPATCH (December 11, 2012).: In India, 'investment in gold is like social security'.

In India, 'investment in gold is like social security'

India Must Tap Household, Temple Gold to Reduce Imports, Jewellers Say
By Pratik Parija
Bloomberg News
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

NEW DELHI -- India, the world's largest bullion buyer, should mobilize idle gold lying with its citizens to curb imports and lower a record current-account deficit, according to the All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation.

Households including temples carry about 25,000 metric tons and a successful plan to gather at least 10 percent of the gold reserves for lending to jewelers will ensure supplies for three years, Bachhraj Bamalwa, chairman of the federation, which represents about 300,000 jewelers, said in a phone interview. The plan should be run by the central bank, which can help India halt imports for three years, he said.

India is grappling with the highest ever current-account deficit, the broadest measure of trade, mainly because of its gold and crude oil imports, weakening the rupee to a record against the U.S. dollar. The central bank is mulling a gold investment plan to curb the deficit, Deputy Governor Subir Gokarn said last month. Imports climbed to a record 969 tons last year, according to the World Gold Council.

"The only way India can reduce its dependence on imports is to tap the gold lying with individuals and temples," Kishore Narne, head of commodity and currency at Motilal Oswal Commodity Broker Pvt., said in a phone interview. "By doing this the country can reduce influx of gold at these high prices. Appetite for gold is never going to diminish."

Imports more than doubled in three years through 2011 as the economy grew an average 7.8 percent in the past decade, boosting disposable incomes and spending on ornaments, cars, televisions, and fridges. Investment demand for gold has climbed almost fivefold to 366 tons in the same period as a rally for 12 straight years boosted bullion's appeal as a store of value.

India's current-account deficit widened to a record $21.8 billion in the quarter through March and was $16.6 billion in the three months through June, official data show. That has weakened the rupee 2.4 percent this year to 54.3450 per dollar after an almost 16 percent plunge in 2011. A weaker currency raises import costs and fuels inflation in a country that meets more than 80 percent of its oil requirements from overseas and is the world's biggest user of gold.

Bullion for immediate delivery fell 0.2 percent to $1,709.40 an ounce at 3:11 p.m. in Mumbai yesterday. The contract for delivery in February dropped 0.3 percent to 31,385 rupees ($578) per 10 grams on the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd. yesterday. The most-active contract climbed to a record 32,464 rupees on Nov. 26.

India can cut imports by offering investment plans that offer returns equivalent to gold, extend tax incentives, easy liquidity and redemption in physical gold through tie-ups with banks and jewelers, said Nilesh Shah, president for corporate banking at Axis Bank Ltd.

"The benefits of lower gold imports will be reflected by way of a stronger rupee, lower interest rates, higher liquidity, higher investments, higher employment generation, higher growth, higher tax collection, lower trade and fiscal deficits, higher credit rating, and lower poverty levels," Shah said in a note.

Gold imports account for 80 percent of the current-account deficit, the central bank's Gokarn said Nov. 25. The monetary authority last month issued guidelines prohibiting commercial banks from lending funds for purchases of gold, other than for jewelers' working capital needs.

The objective of any investment plan should be to put the idle gold into productive use and provide people an opportunity to earn interest income on their holdings, said Prithviraj Kothari, a former president of the Bombay Bullion Association.

India has eased restrictions on the metal in the past decade to stop it being smuggled into the country. A plan to allow banks accept gold deposits against bonds that pay interest in 1999 failed to attract investors. In November 2003 a 4-decade-old ban on futures trading in gold was ended. The import duty was doubled to 4 percent this year to check the surge in imports.

"The only way to reduce gold imports is to increase the import tariff and one can hope that demand then goes down," said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist with Credit Analysis & Research Ltd.
India's official gold stockpiles are estimated at 557.7 tons, compared with world reserves of 31,491 tons, according to the gold council. The Reserve Bank of India held $27.8 billion worth of gold, or 9.4 percent of its $294.51 billion of foreign exchange reserves, as of Nov. 30.

"Even if the depositors bring in unaccounted gold, the government should not ask them about the source," the federation's Bamalwa said. "Indians will continue spending on gold for marriages and festivals. In a country like India, there is no scheme for social security, and investment in gold is like a social security."

* * *

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Sunday-Monday, January 20 and 21, 2013
Vancouver Convention Centre West
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GATA | THE GATA DISPATCH (December 11, 2012).

Gold mining CEOs told to fix slump as investors prove restless

By Thomas Biesheuvel
Bloomberg News
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gold-mine investors are losing patience with management in the $60 billion industry as their shares head for the first back-to-back annual slump since 1998, even as the metal completes a dozen years of gains.

Producers from Canada's Barrick Gold Corp., the world's biggest, to Newmont Mining Corp. of the United States are failing to control expenses. The average cost to extract an ounce of gold by the largest miners jumped 23 percent to $584.70 in 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show. In contrast, silver production costs fell 12 percent to the lowest since 2007, the data show.

Money managers including billionaire investor George Soros reacted by boosting stakes in physical gold, pushing gold-mine executives to resign, or shifting into silver. Direct holdings of the metal reached a record 2,629.3 metric tons Dec. 10, valued at $145 billion, after more than tripling in five years, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

"Investors are very critical, voting with their feet and pushing management teams to resign," said John Wong, a portfolio manager at CQS Group's New City Investment Managers, who increased his silver holdings. "You can tell from the way investors sold Barrick down that they are on short fuses."

Barrick replaced Chief Executive Officer Aaron Regent with Chief Financial Officer Jamie Sokalsky on June 6, saying it was "disappointed" in the share performance after costs rose and production dropped. Since then the stock lost another 19 percent as the company missed earnings for four straight quarters amid delays and cost overruns at its Pascua-Lama project on the mountainous Argentina-Chile border.
At least five more gold CEOs lost their jobs this year.

Silver producers comprise three of the five biggest holdings in Wong's $94 million Golden Prospect Precious Metals Ltd., led by Silver Wheaton Corp. In 2010 four of the funds' five largest holdings were gold producers.

The NYSE Arca Gold BUGS (HUI) Index of gold mining companies has declined 24 percent in the past two years compared with a 4.4 percent gain in the MSCI World Index. The performance is a result of an "appalling track record of value destruction" by management teams, according to Evy Hambro, manager of BlackRock's $12 billion World Mining Fund.

Hambro's biggest holding is Rio Tinto Group, which produces gold only as a byproduct from copper mining.

Gold producers make up six of the eight worst performers in the S&P Global Resources index this year, with IAMGOLD Corp., Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd., and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. posting the biggest declines.

The Arca benchmark gold index fell about 12 percent this year compared with a 9 percent gain in gold's price. The Bloomberg World Mining Index is little changed, while key materials such as iron ore and thermal coal dropped 11 percent and 16 percent respectively. Copper has gained 6.7 percent.
Gold companies also face competition from gold-backed exchange-traded products, or ETPs, as investors bet on bullion without the operational risks from mining.

Billionaire Soros boosted his stake in exchange-traded products backed by gold in the third quarter. Soros Fund Management increased its investment in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest fund focused on the metal, by 49 percent to 1.32 million shares as of Sept. 30 from three months earlier, a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing showed.

"We are at a watershed where the message from shareholders is very loud and clear: 'We do not like what you do,'" said Markus Bachmann, Johannesburg-based manager of the Craton Capital Precious Metal Fund. "The costs are too high. The returns are not good enough."

To be sure, producers with good management and operations may be set to benefit from slowing cost inflation and rising gold prices, investors say. Gold may advance to $1,850 an ounce next year, according to the median forecast of 24 analysts, while cost inflation of 19 percent in the past 12 months may ease as the mining industry curtails expansion in response to faltering Chinese demand.
"There are signs that the cost inflation is contained, which will help the companies," said Bachmann. "By and large we will see a healthier industry next year."

Kinross Gold Corp., Canada's third-largest producer, fired CEO Tye Burt in August, saying a change of leadership was needed to guide the company through capital allocation and project development improvements. In October, Kinross said CFO Paul Barry will leave the company.

"Kinross was in fact the first of the majors to respond decisively in early 2012 to industry-wide cost escalation -- first by resequencing our growth projects to reduce our overall capital commitments and second by pausing a large build at our Tasiast expansion project in order to review smaller, less capital intensive options," J. Paul Rollinson, Kinross CEO, said in an e-mailed statement.
"As a third step after I assumed the role of CEO in mid-year we reduced our capital spending by $200 million from our original 2012 forecast and are continuing to look for every opportunity to reduce costs," Rollinson said.

Barrick said it's continuing a review of its assets and has deferred about $3 billion in capital expenditure. All alternatives for investing shareholder capital will compete against each other to allow it to return more to shareholders in the future, repay debt, and invest in assets.

"Our overriding objective is to translate Barrick's strengths and results into higher shareholder returns," Barrick said in an e-mail. "We intend to deliver this through a disciplined capital allocation approach that maximizes risk-adjusted returns on investment and free cash flow."

Newmont, the largest U.S. gold producer, was one of the first companies to respond to costs rising across the industry, the company said in a statement. That included reductions in operating costs, sustaining capital, general and administrative costs, development capital, and exploration and advanced projects, it said.

Precious metal producers spent a record $53 billion on deals in 2010 and a further $43 billion last year as record gold prices spurred deals. That led to writedowns that are an admission of overpaying.
Newmont took a $1.61 billion writedown on its Hope Bay mine in Canada in February after putting the project on hold. The company gained control of the mine as part of its C$1.5 billion ($1.5 billion)

acquisition of Miramar Mining Corp. in 2007. Kinross took a $2.49 billion writedown on its Tasiast mine in Mauritania, which it bought as part of its all-stock C$8 billion acquisition of Red Back Mining Inc. in September 2010. Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. wrote down its Meadowbank project in northern Canada.

"The lack of capital discipline is probably the biggest issue," Wong said. "They've all relied on the gold price to bail them out, which actually is a very bad way to manage a business."

* * *

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Vancouver Resource Investment Conference
Sunday-Monday, January 20 and 21, 2013
Vancouver Convention Centre West
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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GATA | THE GATA DISPATCH (December 11, 2012).:

SS boots Liberty Dollars off eBay but no prosecution of HSBC money launderers

8:41p ET Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:

Coin World's Paul Gilkes reports this week that the Internet auction house eBay has forbidden listing of Liberty Dollar coins ... er, medallions ... at the request of the U.S. Secret Service, which considers them counterfeits of U.S. coinage:
Liberty Dollar founder Bernard von Not Haus still awaits sentencing for his conviction 21 months ago in federal court in North Carolina on counterfeiting charges brought by the U.S. Justice Department. The U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina accused von Not Haus of "domestic terrorism":
Also this week the Justice Department declined to bring criminal charges against any officers of HSBC, the biggest short in the gold market, upon the bank's agreement to pay nearly $2 billion in fines for laundering $881 million in Mexican and Colombian drug gang money. The Justice Department also accused HSBC of doing business with customers in Iran, Libya, Sudan, Burma, and Cuba in violations of sanctions law:
HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver said HSBC now "is a fundamentally different organization from the one that made those mistakes."
Maybe von Not Haus is a changed man too. At least now he has every right to look at the inscription above the columns of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington --
-- and laugh ruefully.

CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

NYT Breaking News Alert (December 11, 2012): South Korea Says North Korea Has Fired Long-Range Rocket

BREAKING NEWS Tuesday, December 11, 2012 8:32 PM EST
North Korea defied the likelihood of more sanctions by the United Nations Security Council to launch a rocket on Wednesday, demonstrating that the government of its new leader, Kim Jong-un, was pressing ahead to master the technology needed to deliver a nuclear warhead on a intercontinental ballistic missile.
It was not immediately known whether the rocket had succeeded in North Korea’s stated goal of putting a rocket into orbit.


NYT | Politics (December 11, 2012): Michigan Bills Limiting Union Power Pass in Legislature

The New York Times

December 11, 2012


Michigan Bills Limiting Union Power Pass in Legislature

Over the shouts of angry protesters, lawmakers on Tuesday approved two bills that would vastly reduce the power of organized labor in Michigan, a traditionally strong union state.
Representative Scott Garrett, a Repbulican from New Jersey:

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DealBook P.M. Edition (December 11, 2012): HSBC to Pay Record Fine to Settle Money Laundering Charges

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
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NYT | Opinion (December 11, 2012).: A Simple Way to Create Suspense

The New York Times

December 11, 2012

Opinion Today

Opinionator | Draft

A Simple Way to Create Suspense

Here's how you make your readers hunger for an answer.
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