From the article:
“So if tens of thousands of tons of copper and aluminum are suddenly “missing”, one can assuredly say: “at least the gold is still there.” Right?“
– China Scrambling After “Discovering” Thousands Of Tons Of Rehypothecated Copper, Aluminum Missing (ZeroHedge, May 4, 2014):
“Banks are worried about their exposure,” warns one warehousing source, “there is a scramble for people to head down there at the minute and make sure that their metal that they think is covered by a warehouse receipt actually exists.”
The rehypothecated catastrophe that we discussed in great detail here (copper financing), here (all commodities), and here (global contagion) appears to be gathering speed as the China’s northeastern port of Qingdao has halted shipments of aluminum and copper due to an investigation by authorities after they found “there is a discrepancy in metal that should be there and metal that is actually there.”
Copper prices are tumbling already (despite Gartman’s most recent prognostication on Dr. Copper’s China recovery meme) as the world’s 7th largest port disallows any shipments until the probe is complete.
“It’s such a massive port I would think virtually everybody has exposure,” warned one analyst, adding that this will be bearish for metals as “a lot of Western banks will try to offload material and try not to deal with Chinese merchants.”
China’s northeastern port of Qingdao has halted shipments of aluminium and copper due to an investigation by authorities, causing concern among bankers and trade houses financing the metals, trading and warehousing sources said on Monday. Port authorities could not immediately be reached for comment. China has a public holiday on Monday.
“We were told we can’t ship any material out while they do this investigation,” a source at a trading house said. The port of Qingdao is China’s third-largest foreign trade port and the world’s seventh-largest port, trading with 700 ports in more than 180 countries, according to its website (www.qdport.com/).
“Banks are worried about their exposure,” one warehousing source in Singapore said.
“There is a scramble for people to head down there at the minute and make sure that their metal that they think is covered by a warehouse receipt actually exists,” he said.
Metal imports have been partly driven in China as a means to raise finance, where traders can pledge metal as collateral to obtain better terms. In some cases the same shipment can be pledged to more than one bank, fuelling hot money inflows and spurring a clampdown by Chinese authorities.
“It appears there is a discrepancy in metal that should be there and metal that is actually there,” said another source at a warehouse company with operations at the port.
“We hear the discrepancy is 80,000 tonnes of aluminium and 20,000 tonnes of copper, but we hear that the volumes will actually be higher. It’s either missing or it was never there – there have been triple issuing of documentation,” he said.
Beijing last year set new rules to curb currency speculation amid signs that hot money inflows helped push the yuan to a series of record highs. The rules required banks to tighten the management of their foreign exchange lending and types of clients that are able to access those loans.
“It’s such a massive port I would think virtually everybody has exposure,” the trading source said.
“Once the investigation is over, it could be bearish for metals. I think that a lot of Western banks will try to offload material and try not to deal with Chinese merchants,” the trading source added.
Critically – this is a major problem for any shadow-banking credit creation process as if the rehypothecated commodity-backed CCFDs are ultimately unwound, 1) someone will not get their collateral (payment problems – bailouts?), 2) less real collateral means less real credit expansion (which banks can;t fill because the firms that use this method of financing are anything but creditworthy), and 3) liquidation of any assets will proceed rapidly…
Goldman concludes that “an unwind of Chinese commodity financing deals would likely result in an increase in availability of physical inventory (physical selling), and an increase in futures buying (buying back the hedge) – thereby resulting in a lower physical price than futures price, as well as resulting in a lower overall price curve (or full carry).” In other words, it would send the price of the underlying commodity lower.
Finally, as we showed before when it comes to commodity financing deals, in terms of total notional value, both copper and aluminum pale by comparison to the one metal most used (by value) in China as a funding substitute: gold
As we commented previously:
When we previously contemplated what the end of funding deals (which the PBOC and the China Politburo seems rather set on) may mean for the price of other commodities, we agreed with Goldman that it would be certainly negative. And yet in the case of gold, it just may be that even if China were to dump its physical to some willing 3rd party buyer, its inevitable cover of futures “hedges”, i.e. buying gold in the paper market, may not only offset the physical selling, but send the price of gold back to levels seen at the end of 2012 when gold CCFDs really took off in earnest.
In other words, from a purely mechanistical standpoint, the unwind of China’s shadow banking system, while negative for all non-precious metals-based commodities, may be just the gift that all those patient gold (and silver) investors have been waiting for. This of course, excludes the impact of what the bursting of the Chinese credit bubble would do to faith in the globalized, debt-driven status quo. Add that into the picture, and into the future demand for gold, and suddenly things get really exciting.
So if tens of thousands of tons of copper and aluminum are suddenly “missing”, one can assuredly say: “at least the gold is still there.” Right?
4 thoughts on “China Scrambling After ‘Discovering’ Thousands Of Tons Of Rehypothecated Copper, Aluminum Missing”
From the Oxford English Dictionary,
HYPOTHECATE : verb, meaning to pledge or mortgage.
So presumably, if the pledge is broken and made again, it is ‘rehypothecated’.
And presumably, until the motgagees, owners of the metal, can audit this stuff and physically witness it, they will just have to be happy with these promises/pledges until the people making them go bust….which looks like soon.
Rehypothecate….just awesome jiggery-pokery.
Squodgy: You nailed it again. I was pulling out my dictionary, when I saw you had made a comment…rehypothecate …..to pledge, to gamble, to promise……anything but the real product.
We have been discussing the problem banks are all going to be facing very soon……..the day when people start asking for their money, or gold.
My father had lots of silver than vanished after his death….and that was here in America…..China is even worse than the US, you cannot believe a word they say. They lie about their exports, profits…..everything. They bank their GDP on what they build, not what they sell.
China is an export dependent country. And, nobody is buying…….now, all banks who claim to store metals for people are in jeopardy.
The day draws closer, the runs on the banks are gaining steam. Thank the greedy gut gold and silver traders for galvanizing the action……
I watched Max Keiser the other day, discussing the state of the UK’s biggest bank, NatWest, who I’m with.
Seems they are TOTALLY insolvent & will need bailing out again……does this mean some government minion is going to raid my overdraft?
Squodgy: After the banks confiscated funds in Greece and Spain, and Jon Corzine’s enterprise that stole $2 billion from it’s cash depositors (he has not been charged, they claim there is no reason)…..nothing will surprise me.
The banks are shells housing huge numbers, mostly debt…..
It is all going to implode. Wait till the FED can’t feed the US stock market $45 billion a month…..that keeps the national debt current…….what a mess. The storm is on the horizon, and heading straight for us.