Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Russian Checkmate on Platinum and Palladium Is Looming!

The palladium bull case is getting better by the day, as the Russians are finally going to make their checkmate move, tomorrow:

Russia to launch platinum, palladium futures trade
MOSCOW, April 14 (Reuters) - Russia's RTS exchange will launch trading in
platinum and palladium futures contracts from April 15, adding to existing
contracts on gold <0#gdrts:> and silver <0#svrts:>, the exchange said on Tuesday.

The contracts are initially for three and six months and will be settled in cash based on the morning fixing on the London Platinum and Palladium Market, RTS said in a statement.

This is an interesting move, in light of recent news that ETF Securities physical platinum and palladium funds will be traded in the US market, which I believe is very bullish. A new Russian platinum and palladium futures market is the ultimate Russian Checkmate, and the best thing I can hope for, on top of all bullish factors in palladium. Norilsk Nickel (NILSY.PK) must have played a key role in pushing for the new PGM futures market, as they are the world's largest palladium producer. Let me explain why.

Granted, the Russian PGM futures contracts will be cash settled so there is no physical metals demand. But precisely because it is a paper market with no physical limit, it can send the metal prices to unimaginable high levels. The Dutch Tulip Mania happened precisely because cash settled paper derivative contracts, instead of physical flowers, were traded.

A cash-settled PGM futures market has no physical limit and allows more participants, both on the long and short side. Once the longs and shorts established their positions, each side will do their best to move the settlement price to their benefits. As the settlement price is decided by the platinum and palladium spot price, there is huge incentive to manipulate the narrowly traded platinum and palladium spot market for profit.

When a thinly traded physical metal market is manipulated, more often than not, the long side will win, by cornering the market. The short side has limited quantity of physical metal available to sell to depress the price, while the long side can bid for as many ounces as their cash allows them! It is almost a sure thing the longs will win and the shorts will lose. The longs could only lose if they are too greedy and killed by margin, or if they do not have enough capital to bid and drive up the thinly traded physical metal spot market, or if their counter-parties, the shorts, could not perform and could not pay up on the terms of the contracts.

How thin is the spot market of platinum and palladium? The annual supply and demand of each of the metals is roughly 7 million ounces, the bulk of which are contracted out between suppliers and users, leaving no more than one million ounces of each metal available to be sold in the spot market in a year, or roughly $1.2B in platinum and $0.23B in palladium, at current prices. Those are pocket changes in today's financial markets where trillion dollars of trades are conducted every day. Any hedge fund could easily corner this market for profits.

I believe this could be the start of a Russian Checkmate in palladium and platinum. Investors should now position themselves by acquiring any physical platinum and palladium they can find in the market, and by loading up shares of two primary palladium producers, Stillwater Mining (SWC) and North American Palladium (PAL), and maybe some South African PGM producers as well: Anglo Platinum (AAUK), Impala Platinum (IMPUY.PK), Platinum Group Metals (PLG), and Anooraq Resources (ANO).

I have been watching Colossus Minerals (CSIMF.PK) since it was first pitched by Mr. James West, publisher of Midas Letter. I wasn't totally convinced by James West's pitch so I never bought. But I encourage the readers to do their own DD to decide if it is good.

Are industry users of PGM metals aware of the looming Russian Checkmate? Auto makers like General Motors (GM), Ford (F) and Toyota (TM) must immediately prepare themselves for the extreme PGM price volatility and possible supply disruption as the Russian PGM futures start trading on April 15, 09. They must purchase and accumulate a strategic stockpile to safeguard their supply, or they will lose, as investors who act promptly will become winners.

Full Disclosure: The author is heavily invested in SWC and PAL, and own positions in AAUK and ANO. I do not own positions of other stocks mentioned. I own other positions unrelated to discussion in this article, like shipping stocks EXM, EGLE, DRYS, TBSI and GNK; precious metals stocks SSRI, PAAS; and ETFs like USO, UNG and SLV.


Anonymous said...


I agree with your views re; US$ and PM-s and rare-metals. However, your blog carries from time to time inconsistencies. For example, in 10/28 blog you talk about tellurium (where to get it from?) but all of a sudden you start talking about palladium. The thought is not finished, and you move to the next subject. Please be more coherent in your thought process.

Peter W.


Outstanding posts