China ‘has more gold than official figures show’

In other words, they could be getting ready to pull the plug.

China could be holding even more gold than previously realised, according to Alasdair Macleod, a researcher at online precious metals trader,GoldMoney.

Official figures from China Gold Association (CGA) show that the Asian superpower consumed 1,176 tonnes of gold in 2013, 41pc higher than in 2012.

However, about 500 tonnes of gold from Chinese mines and scrap is unaccounted for by the CGA.

Mr Macleod believes the country holds more gold that the stated figures suggest, and in fact consumed 4,843 tonnes in 2013 alone. He raised his estimate after researching Chinese Gold Reports, where he said he found details of the amount of gold vaulted.

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By 2015, Russia Wants To Establish A Eurasian Union To Rival The EU

Is Moscow’s proposed Eurasian Union an initiative to revitalize stagnant economies, or an attempt to re-establish a Soviet Union “lite?”

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the world suddenly had 15 more nation states, some of whom had not been sovereign territories since the 19th century.

Nevertheless, calls for a re-integration of the Eurasian region were soon heard, often led by Russia, according to (pdf) a Chatham House paper.

In 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the fall of the USSR “a major geopolitical disaster of the century.”

There’s been a smattering of different attempts at unification, including the Commonwealth of Independent States security union, but a lack of commitment to creating the institutions have stalled efforts, Chatham House writes.

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Russia Raises Gold Holdings By 7.247 Tonnes To Over 1,040 Tonnes In February

Yesterday U.S. President Barack Obama warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia would face more sanctions if it moved further into eastern Ukraine after its annexation of Crimea. Worryingly for residents of New York and for financial markets, Obama also warned that he was more worried about the risk of a nuclear bomb going off in Manhattan then he was about Russia.

Geopolitical risk in the form of terrorism, financial and economic war and actual war remains high and should support gold.

Russia has increased its gold holdings by 7.247 tonnes to 1,042 tonnes in February. Turkey and Kazakhstan also raised their bullion reserves, data from the International Monetary Fund showed today. Turkey’s gold holdings rose 9.292 tonnes to 497.869 tonnes, the data showed.

Many analysts are ignoring the important context of today’s new geopolitical backdrop. Russia alone has some $400 billion in foreign exchange reserves – mostly in U.S. dollars. If they were to diversify just 5%, worth some $20 billion, of those reserves into gold – it would be equal to nearly 500 tonnes of gold or nearly 25% of global annual production.

Russia bought another 7.247 tonnes of gold in February. It will be interesting to see what Russian demand is in March and indeed in the coming months. Sanctions could lead to materially higher demand from the Russian central bank, Bank Rossii.

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Putin puts troops in western Russia on alert amid Ukraine tension

President Vladimir Putin ordered an urgent drill to test the combat readiness of armed forces across western Russia on Wednesday, news agencies reported, flexing Moscow’s military muscle amid tension with the West over Ukraine.

“In accordance with an order from the president of the Russian Federation, forces of the Western Military District were put on alert at 1400 (1000 GMT) today,” Interfax quoted Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying.

Putin has ordered several such surprise drills in various parts of Russia since he returned to the presidency in 2012, saying the military must be kept on its toes, but the geopolitical overtones could hardly have been clearer this time. Continue reading

China’s New Silk Road Must Pass Through Middle East

JERUSALEM — Three hundred kilometers by high-speed rail between the cities of Eilat and Ashdod, connecting the Red Sea coast to the Mediterranean: They call it the “Red-Med” Project.

Financed by Beijing and launched from Jerusalem, China has revealed its strategy for “West Asia” — the term that the China Shipping Container Lines company uses to delineate the area of operations between Hormuz, Suez and Haifa.

The use of the term West Asia rather than Middle East is no accident — this gives precedence to the size of the economic link with China rather than the ever troublesome geopolitics of the region. Continue reading

At all Costs

If you want the real deal on the Ukraine, here it is. Berlin is going all in. There are no such thing as sporatic uprisings where college kids empty the university classrooms to go out, demonstrate with wooden picket signs,  or throw bottles and stones at police officers in riot gear. These are 99.9% of the time well thought out and methodically planned in advance, such as the Occupy Wall Street (see also here) thugs.

KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) – Yesterday, the day after the German Chancellor held deliberations with two leaders of the Ukrainian opposition, protests in Kiev escalated into bloody confrontations. Demonstrators, unconditionally sponsored by Germany and other western countries for months, began, over the past few days, to arm themselves with firearms and ammunition. Two police officers were shot to death during yesterday’s uprising. This escalation into a bloody confrontation followed on the heels of government compliance with a fundamental demand of the demonstrators, just as it seemed that a de-escalation was about to begin – to the tactical disadvantage of the “German’s man” in Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, who has been calling for the president to resign. Klitschko, who flew to Berlin Monday, to discuss the next steps, threatened an even more bloody escalation and declared, that he does not “rule out the use of force in the evacuation of the Maidan.” One of the organizations he is relying on is explicitly named after Nazi collaborators, who had carried out mass-murder of Soviet Jews. Escalation strategies, such as those currently implemented in Kiev, are not alien to German foreign policy. Continue reading

American and Chinese geo-economic interest in a New Great Game in Central Asia

Captain Arthur Conolly, a British officer of the Sixth Bengal Native Light Cavalry, coined the concept of the ‘Great Game’ in the 1830s. Later, the English writer Rudyard Kipling immortalized the concept in his 1901 novel Kim. In basic terms, the Great Game was simply a struggle for power, territorial control, and political dominance between the Russian and British Empires in Central Asia in the nineteenth century. This competition of manoeuvring and intrigue between the two empires came to an end in 1907, when both nations were forced to focus their resources on more serious threats. The British had to gear up and contain the rise of an assertive Germany in Europe, and the Russians were locked in a fierce struggle with the Japanese in Manchuria. Continue reading

What Happens After a Superpower Dies?

What happens when a superpower dies? What happens when the geopolitical order that has stabilized the world for several decades crumbles?

We are all about to learn firsthand. Continue reading

China Leapfrogs the U.S. in World Trade

Another indication of the decline of America’s economic and geopolitical influence

China overtook the United States in 2013 to become the world’s biggest trading nation, ending many decades of American trade dominance, according to data released by the two countries.

China’s total exports and imports of goods for 2013 hit $4.16 trillion. The U.S. hasn’t yet released its final figures for the year, but its trade of goods for the first 11 months totaled $3.5 trillion, which puts it considerably behind Beijing. Continue reading

Euro plummets after ECB warns currency zone may need more support

European Central Bank head Mario Draghi says Japanese-style stagnation possible amid high unemployment and falling inflation

The European Central Bank sent the euro tumbling on world markets after it warned that the 18-member currency zone may need further support to prevent a Japanese-style period of stagnation.

The ECB president, Mario Draghi, said persistently high unemployment, falling inflation and difficult lending conditions were harming the recovery, and the ECB stood ready to use all the tools available to maintain confidence and growth. Continue reading

Germany and France’s interest in Africa

Germany’s effort to making a show of military force in Africa are aimed not just at crisis resolution in conflict areas but also at promoting and marketing German weaponry. However, this effort is not independent from the French rivalry factor.

When Germany achieved reunification in the 1990s, it began trying to play a more active role in the international arena. Germany’s interest in Africa has grown in recent years, in line with the continent’s increasing geo-economic and geopolitical importance. Germany’s participation in the international peace force in Afghanistan and the gradual German intervention in the crises in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa were signals of the transformation of German foreign policy. In the same way, it may be said that with the changes that came with the Arab Spring, German moves to assume a larger role in North Africa have gained speed. On this point, answers need to be found for some basic questions such as “what are the repercussions of Germany’s interest in Africa”, “how are the transformations in the Arab world affecting Germany’s policies in Africa?”, and “what impact will this interest have on relations with other countries such as France?” Continue reading

German Global Policy and its Minister

BERLIN (Own report) – With the appointment of a foreign minister, who is under heavy criticism for his stance on human rights, the new German government is preparing a global policy offensive. According to the CDU/SPD Coalition Agreement, the government is more determined than ever to help “shape international policy” and play “a strong autonomous role.” Counting on the EU, to couple more tightly its “civilian and military instruments” to intervene globally, the German government will promote EU foreign and military policy at the summit in Brussels later this week. Designated Foreign Minster, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), has been actively involved in Berlin’s geopolitical climb since he became the Chancellery’s coordinator of the German intelligence services in 1998. In 2001, he became Chief of Staff of the Federal Chancellery and played a central role in the German/US-American coordination in the “War on Terror,” which had initially consisted of the abduction and torture of terror suspects. For this, Steinmeier has been repeatedly under criticism – without effect. He will once again preside over the foreign ministry. Continue reading