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The Bank Of England Engaged In Flagrant Gold Manipulation In The Interwar Period Via The New York Fed; Does History Repeat Itself?

Tyler Durden
Zero Hedge
Monday, February 15th, 2010

An article written by University of Tennessee professor John R Garrett, “Monetary Policy and Expectations: Market-Control Techniques and the Bank of England, 1925-1931“, which describes in exquisite detail the gold falsification measures undertaken by the Bank of England in the interwar period in order to impact interest rates in a favorable direction, performed with the full criminal complicity of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, may mean paranoid “gold bugs” could soon be forever absolved of their “tin hat” wearing status as outright gold, and other data, manipulation by a major central bank is now proven beyond doubt. The implications regarding the possibility of comparable deceitful and treasonous acts by modern central bankers are staggering.

The Bank of England depleted its open-market portfolio by secretly sterilizing large gold inflows. Thereafter interest rates were influenced by manipulating reported gold flows.A gold flow falsification was over two-thirds as effective as an open-market operation.

Falsifying critical gold data worked for Britain 70 years ago. Is it working now too? And is the BOE alone, or is Bernanke taking advantage of the Bank of England’s experience? To be sure, the world was different with the Gold Standard the bedrock of monetary policy. Yet are the similarities between then and now not greater than the differences? With the shadow economy exposed as hinging on the investing community’s desire to go with the prevailing “valuation” lie (a reason why the shadow economy in broad terms will take many years to return, if ever) the core asset is and always will be gold.

And yet the main question remains: why did the Bank of England openly and flagrantly manipulate critical data? Why did it mislead the citizens of the country it was supposed to serve? And if this happened in the past is it happening now? Is this the reason why the Federal Reserve is so opposed to exposing itself to public scrutiny and audits? If the BOE was engaging in outright fraud in the 1925-1931 period, why would today be any different?

Garett’s mesmerizing report, published in the September 1995 issue of Monetary Policy and Expectations, has oddly not received much if any public notice, with not a single mention of the article or its implication in either the blogosphere or the mainstream arena. This is very unusual as Garret’s disclosures would lend vast credence to not just gold bugs’ claims that there is blatant (ongoing) gold data manipulation, but that Central Banks regularly engage in outright deception when it comes to achieving desired monetary policy results. To wit:

Montagu Norman, the Governor of the Bank of England… engaged in a large-scale deception that greatly over-stated the size of the effective open-market portfolio, understated the size of the gold stock, and misstated the size and even the direction of gold flows.

Not only that, but Garrett provides a direct link between secret gold market operations by the BOE and accumulation of US Treasuries: a critical concept not just in interwar Britain but more so currently, when faced with the need to finance trillions in budget deficits, the market is poised to decline by 25%+ should the US government experience a failed auction. Oh, and guess who was complicit in the BOE deception, and was used by the British central bank as a trading conduit? Why, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, of which Tim Geithner was president from 2003 to 2009.

Norman sold pound-denominated securities to sterilize the additional bank reserves created by the gold inflow. He simultaneously sold gold for dollars, lowering the Bank’s reported gold stock, and bought U.S. Treasury bills with the proceeds. He also had all transactions carried out on the New York market by the New York Federal Reserve Bank so that they could not be traced to the Bank of England. (see Figure 1) The U.S. Treasury bills were comingled with pound-denominated “other securities” in the Bank’s published open-market portfolio and were assumed by the markets to have been pound-denominated securities. In one stroke the gold inflow and the decline in the open-market portfolio were hidden. Bank Rate was kept at a very high level given the abysmal state of the economy, well over the level that would have prevailed under the Bank of England’s prewar reaction function.

The motive: the traditional misrepresentation of inflationary/deflationary forces to the general public.

Had it become public knowledge in the spring of 1928 that deflationary policy was three times as severe as reported and concurrently that gold inflows and the gold stock were at record levels, Norman would have been through.

And if anyone thinks the Fed’s penchant for secret is a novel thing, just look at what was happening in the dark corridors of the Bank of England in those dark days after World War I:

Sayers documents that the Committee of Treasury, the Bank of England’s day-to-day governing body, was left in the dark, as was the Court, the Bank’s de jure and, before Norman, defacto policy body. Sayers expresses surprise at the secrecy with which open-market operations were surrounded even within the Bank’s inner corridors. This extended to the point of declining to keep in the Bank’s confidential archives any written records of policy decisions motivating transactions. However, for Norman’s policy model the utmost secrecy was essential.

But it doesn’t end there: what Montagu Norman did was virtually equivalent to treason. One, thus, can not help but wonder what Ben Bernanke does behind closed doors.

Norman’s deception was audacious, as it involved the abrogation of Parliamentary authority over the coin of the realm and the subversion of the ancient charter of the Bank of England. These major questions of state, however, became bureaucratic trivialities compared to Norman’s daily task of convincing the financial markets that he was in control when in fact he was not. An effective open-market portfolio of well over 50 million pounds was required to maintain control through standard open- market operations. From late 1926 until the end of the gold standard Norman never held the minimum portfolio, and normally could muster only one-fourth or less of the requisite strength.

And while we can be sure that the Federal Reserve is certainly not performing the same kind of illegal and treasonable activities, as otherwise Federal Reserve General Counsel Scott Alvarez would be in prison for gross perjury, courtesy of Alan Grayson, looking back at history may provide some other ideas of how the Fed could engage in other just as illicit monetary activities:

Montagu Norman maintained his tenuous grip on the market by fully exploiting all traditional policy instruments and through the creation of a wholly new expectations channel for monetary policy. Four methods were employed: open-market operations; special deposits; coordinating public finances; and false reporting of gold flows. The quantitatively least important method of market control was using confidential special time deposits from individual financial institutions to take reserves off the market. Special deposits had to be substantial and secret, as the Bank was claiming in its published figures that it had no reason to resort to special deposits to drain reserves. Thus special deposits were difficult to use as a regular policy tool (see Table 1). Although special deposits were used only three times, each instance came during a period of market-control difficulties (see Figure 2).

Yet monetary policy response were vastly limited:

As the open-market portfolio was completely exhausted by 1928: 2 (see Table 2), contractionary monetary policy could not have been maintained otherwise. However, there were limits to such help, as padding the Treasury’s balance at the bank required issuing more Treasury bills than necessary, which cost the taxpayer, and was therefore certain to draw inconvenient questions from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

And here is where we enter the twilight zone:

Norman published misleading Bank of England balance sheets that falsely reported gold flows. Up until late 1926 the gold inflow was consistently understated, but the direction of change in reported gold holdings faithfully followed actual gold holdings. Sayers states that Norman’s intention in hiding gold was merely to accumulate a reserve cushion for a rainy day, and does not view the hidden gold as a market- control tool, though he admits that the secret reserves supported tighter monetary policy. Sayers’s position, which is consistent with the pattern from July 1925 until October 1926, may reflect Norman’s original intention. However, from late 1926, just as his open-market portfolio declined below the market-control threshold, Norman did not just underreport gold inflows, but began to under-, over-, and misreport gold flows as appropriate for his market-control needs. Every possible type of false reporting was committed.

If after reading this historical evidence of Central Banking treason, senators are unable to pass Ron Paul’s Fed Transparency Act then there has to be open social action to clean out the Senate of all those who claim that the Fed’s actions are pure and true, as they are merely corrupt cronies, bought entirely by interests of the Federal Reserve, and thus Wall Street. Furthermore, we urge readers to follow through on footnote 34 of the Garrett report “For example, Woolley, Monetary Politics; and Neumann, “Precomitment.Note that Woolley also finds evidence for the U.S. of a channel of influence running “backwards” from the central bank to the administration.” We are very curious just what “evidence”, besides the circumstantial, exists that the administration is nothing but the Fed Chairman’s puppet.

The BOE’s actions, which were open and flagrant fraud and deceit, went far beyond just gold manipulation. One can easily find parallels between the Mutual Assured Destruction wild card used by Norman and such “end of the world” exhortation by Paulson, Bernanke, Geithner, Blankfein and everyone else who stands to see their accumulated wealth disappear should there be a full audit of the Federal Reserve.

Norman’s proffered scenario called for a rise in Bank Rate supported by open-market operations. To restore reserves the London clearing banks would call in their overnight money, the chief source of finance for the discount market’s bill portfolio. To pay off their call-loan borrowing, the discount houses would be forced “into the Bank,” forced to discount their portfolios at Bank Rate, a full 2 percent above the call-money rate. Thus Norman was threatening to force the discount houses to liquidate their highly leveraged portfolios at rates 3 percent above those contemplated when the portfolios were purchased (the 2 percent differential between call money and Bank Rate plus a 1 percent increase in Bank Rate). Given the thin margins and low capital levels in the discount business, this would have produced severe losses.
Despite Norman’s weekly meetings with the discount houses’ governing body, he waited to deliver his ultimatum until the pound’s seasonal autumn weakness, when the market was already nervous about an increase in Bank Rate, five months after the market-control incident began. Why Norman had simply not drained sufficient liquidity out of the market at the time of the incident was probably puzzling to the discount houses, but the dire consequences of Norman’s threat made it unlikely that anyone would call his bluff, if anyone could have even conceived that he was bluffing. In fact, he was. His portfolio was empty.

Garrett’s findings ultimately provide a critical basis to reevaluate the entire foundation of modern fiat-system based economics.

The results may be summarized as follows. Markets can not tell when a central bank is lying. They then have the option to accept all or reject all forecast information emanating from the central bank. Under such circumstances the credibility model asserts that private financial markets reject all central bank information. This is possible because the financial markets’ private information is assumed to be almost complete. However, the results presented here contradict this assumption and lend support to the opposite case: the markets’ private information is so incomplete that they can not dispense with central-bank sources. The implication for the credibility model is devastating because pervasive ignorance and uncertainty allow the central bank to maintain its position as a disseminator of forecast information even if the central bank is guilty of extreme dishonesty, as under Norman. Under these circumstances monetary policy will be an effective instrument to stabilize the economy against both money demand and real shocks, which contradicts the core result found in the large and influential credibility-model literature.

And, sure enough, with these findings, the death of Monetarism and Keynesianism is one step closer:

Recently support has increased for Kindleberger’s “internationalness” hypothesis and in particular the role played by the internationally shared characteristics of the macroeconomic policy system. The three most important features of the macroeconomic policy system were fiscal policy constraints through balanced budget policy rules or laws; the independent central bank as the uncontested policy authority; and the gold standard as the system’s enforcer. The postwar international financial order was managed by central bankers who were not stabilizers, whether of a Monetarist (stabilizing the money supply) or Keynesian (stabilizing the level of output) variety. Montagu Norman’s policy model and his policy choices lend clear support to the new interpretation. Much of the earlier literature explicitly or implicitly assumes interwar central bankers were stabilizers. Conclusions dependent upon this premise must be reevaluated.

Garrett’s conclusion is stunning. Should comparable deception be found at the epicenter of monetarism, i.e., the Federal Reserve, the refutation of the entire “goal seek” science of economics as we know it may soon be at hand.

[T]he behavior of British financial markets is shown to be inconsistent with the microfoundations of the new classical model- expectations not only moved in a policy reinforcing rather than a policy negating direction, but expectations became a reliable, systematic policy instrument. One of Thomas Sargent’s hopes is fulfilled-economic history proves to be fertile ground for testing the accuracy of complex macroeconomic theory-though the outcome is probably not what he had expected.

We urge readers to read the Garrett paper and to send it to their representatives and senators, with the hope that once it becomes fully clear that formerly reputable Central Bankers openly, repeatedly and in flagrant violation of their charters, engaged in outright market manipulation and data fraud, that the Federal Reserve will finally be audited or abolished, which for all intents and purposes, will end up being the same thing.

We are confident that somewhere Mark Pittman is smirking, all too knowingly.

Full must read Garrett research paper.

John Garrett Gold Monetary Policy, Expectations and the BOE

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