by Alasdair Macleod, Gold Money:
The purpose of this article is to explain how derivatives have distorted gold prices with particular reference to the US futures markets. This will enable us to anticipate the price effect when the distortion is eventually unwound.
When a derivative is created it diverts supply and demand from the underlying commodity. If it is then hedged into the underlying commodity the price effect is the same as if it was a simple commodity transaction. Enter the “honest speculator”, who is neither producer nor consumer, but seeks to profit by trading derivatives for profit, without an intention of taking delivery. The speculator who does not roll his positions into subsequent future contracts brings forward demand or supply only to reverse the price effect later in the life of the contract. In this case speculators provide liquidity with no lasting price distortions.
So far we have considered markets which are essentially free. In the US futures markets, this changed when banks were permitted to act as “commercials”, despite the fact they are in fact speculators in the original market definition. The nature of the futures market changed from this moment to one where speculative positions have become more or less permanent.
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