Swiss Gold Referendum

Citi analyst goes on tirade about gold’s value

   By  BarbaraKollmeyer  Markets reporter



One way or another, the weekend Swiss vote is going to affect gold.

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Gold prices took a dive on Friday as the market geared up for what could be the metal’s own OPEC moment — when Switzerland will vote on whether its central bank should hold more gold and bring back its other gold reserves held in places like Canada and the U.K.

All commodities were getting hammered Friday, with crude oil prices plunging more than 10% to levels not seen in more than five years after OPEC decided to leave its production levels unchanged, heightening fears of a global glut.

December gold GCZ4, -2.60%  fell $21.40, or 1.8%, to $1,175.20 an ounce, while silver SIZ4, -7.15%  tumbled $1.06 cents, or 6.4%, to $15.49 an ounce. U.S. markets took a holiday on Thursday and closed early on Friday at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

The result of the Swiss vote is expected at 1 p.m. local time on Sunday (7 a.m. Eastern). Latest polls show support is fading for that “Save our Swiss Gold” campaign. If the ‘Yes’ camp wins, gold will see an initial jump in prices, said Kathleen Brooks, research director at

OPEC deal hammers currencies, stocks 

The tumbling price of oil hammered commodity-dependent currencies as well as shares in oil and gas companies, a day after OPEC kept its output target. Charles Forelle reports.

Under such a vote, the Swiss National Bank would need to accumulate 1,500 tons of gold over five years. But Brooks said look for any initial gold upside to fade in coming days, as it’s not clear how the SNB would increase its gold holdings. The central bank could spread its gold buying over a long timeframe or use swaps or derivatives, making it that much harder to see a “footprint” in the market.

And even though a ‘No’ vote is expected, Brooks said gold will likely see a sharp move lower on Sunday night, though she said that move will also be short-lived and a mild trend higher for gold prices will continue.

Nothing but shiny Bitcoin: Creating a stir with a fresh view on gold, Citi’s global chief economist Willem Buiter said in a note from Nov. 26 that the Swiss vote is ridiculous and no self-respecting central bank should ever be putting a large chunk in a single commodity.

“Gold has become a fiat commodity or a fiat commodity currency, just as the U.S. dollar, the euro, the pound sterling and the yen…are fiat paper currencies and as Bitcoin is a flat virtual currency,” said Buiter. “The main differences between them are that gold, like Bitcoin, is very costly to produce, while the production of additional paper money has an extremely low marginal cost.

Buiter also said he views gold as a “6,000-year old bubble,” Buiter noted.

“Its value may go from $1,200 per fine ounce to $1,500 or $5,000 for all I know. Investing a vast amount of money in something whose value is based on nothing more than a set of self-confirming beliefs will make for an exciting ride,” he said.

In other metals trading on Friday, January platinum PLF5, -2.31% fell $17, or 1.4%, to $1,211.30 an ounce, while March palladium PAZ4, +0.98% the most actively traded contract for the metal, rose $10.80, or 1.3%, to $813.30 an ounce

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