I consider the dark bullion effect significant because it invalidates more than one general thesis out there (about the metals). For anyone new to the discussion, I am defining dark bullion as 'A bar previously known and registered, re-appearing on a list after an absence.' I stand resolute on this topic simply because the signal (of the dark bullion effect) is unmistakeably clear and provides a different view of metal inventories - I have been pursuing this ever since I first detected the effect in 2011, and I want to talk about it more, with the hope that with enough discussion we might be able to squeeze some secrets out of the data.
Every good test starts with a theory or premise. For the recent 96 'added' bars I originally expected a high percentage (at least 80%) of 'previously known and registered, re-appearing on the list' bars, given the large amount of outflows we've seen in early 2013. At first I rushed some analysis and concluded to my colleagues that only 24% of the 'new' bars were previously seen. But during that same week I did more measured studies using some of my new tables and while I'm embarrassed that my first quotation was incorrect, I am glad to find the new figure is 66%. Getting different results from the same test always sucks, so finally these figures are checked and cross-checked. The curious critic who wishes to debunk my work is invited to do so - the spread-sheet contains references to the original PDF source documents which are downloadable. Figures shown are for all Dark Bullion GLD Additions detected so far this year (i.e. 701 dark bars in total, returned - 45% average for 2013).
Cutting a long story short *, across the last 3 years GLD show a steady 30% 'average rate of return', meaning that on average 30% of the bars we see being added to the inventory, are bars that we've seen before in the data. Later we hope to look at the other 70% of bars and figure out whether these are old or new, but this will take a fair amount of work to sift through the different production sequences from each refiner.
In my last article I used high-school-level-math (statistical probability) to estimate the total stock of gold in the HSBC vault, but now that I've processed the three year's worth I see that the sample sizes available are too small and (as such) a small variation in assumptions about delivery can skew the estimate wildly. Still the back-of-the-envelope calculations are useful and the percentages involved are surprisingly consistent.
In recent results, we've identified gold bars which regularly swim on and off the register:
|GLD Bar movements - the '1' is not special, but the '2 times' is, because it means|
these bars moved off the bar list once, came back and vanished again.
Measurement is from over 3 years of data (440+ source documents).
That's all I have for today. In one way the study is a failure again because the data creates more questions than it answers. This won't be a satisfactory state of research for casual critics, but I'm happy to be at the stage of asking more advanced questions.
Oh, and just so it's clear — the reason for writing this is there is proof of SOME bars that don't appear to have left the vault when they disappeared from the GLD bar list the first time. Although we're talking about a small percentage, we've at least moved on to discussing PERCENTAGES and not absolutes. i.e. these particular bars did not go to China (argument type otherwise known as Falsifiability. I do acknowledge that the GLD drain is an unusual event but I would argue it can't be described in a simplistic fashion).
* In regards to data integrity, my new tables revealed for the first time, gold bars with changed signatures. Aided by a data method kindly provided from about.ag, I managed to clean up about 1,000 bar records (which had previously been showing up as same-bar-different-signatures). Now my GLD figures are now 0.5% 'more accurate' and somewhere in the piece, the day spent cleaning up the core data will make a difference. The adjustments were incredibly slight - some extra digits on a Russian bar serial number, that sort of thing. At time of writing I'm in the process of using the same mechanic to clean up the silver data, which we know have a lot of changed signatures from when the bars got moved to the Brinks vault - current estimate is this produces ~5% limit of reading error (on SLV data).