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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

JPM’s TV Appearance by Ted Butler

Theodore Butler
April 10, 2012 - 7:35am

There was a very interesting and potentially significant development dropped into the silver equation this week. I’m speaking of the appearance of the head of commodities for JPMorgan, Blythe Masters, in a short interview Thursday on CNBC. There has already been widespread reaction to the clip and I must admit that it touched off a whirlwind of different thoughts in my mind. Quite frankly, I’m glad I’ve had a bit of time to sort them out before commenting. If you haven’t had the opportunity to view the segment, here’s the link.

I first discovered and revealed that JPMorgan was the big concentrated short in COMEX silver in the fall of 2008 (having inherited the position from Bear Stearns). http://news.silverseek.com/TedButler/1226344970.php  Since then, Ms. Masters has become somewhat of a lightening rod in the silver manipulation discussion world. Although I don’t believe I have ever mentioned her by name, she has been, more often than not, vilified in most Internet quarters. While I can empathize with the extreme sentiments that can arise from the outrage over the lingering silver crime in progress and the damage that it has caused to many, I don’t see much benefit in personal attack. 

Now, more than ever, we need to focus on the facts.

Since my thoughts are varied, let me see if I can put them into some semblance of order. First, let me give you my visceral feelings and then settle into a more measured and objective analysis. There were quite a few important statements that did come from the interview that go to the very heart of my allegations of manipulation in silver by JPMorgan. I won’t dwell on my knee-jerk reactions, but I do feel I should make them known. 

There is no doubt that this wasn’t a spontaneous event. The presentation wasn’t accidental. I’ve watched CNBC fairly religiously for as long as it has been in existence (but with the sound muted for much of the day) and the last firm recollection I have of any mention of a silver manipulation was more than three years ago, when Joe Kernan commented on the Wall Street Journal article on Sep 25 2008 about a CFTC investigation into silver. I remember him joking about some new Hunt Bros plot to drive prices higher. Never again have I heard the silver manipulation mentioned on that network. CNBC has never seriously broached the subject to my knowledge. So I was taken back when the reporter specifically asked about the allegations of manipulation in silver, as if they were widely recognized as common knowledge. I got a special kick out of the reference to all these allegations coming from the “blogosphere.” (As opposed to the mainstream media, I suppose). 

It would be safe to say that the interview tried to present JPMorgan as a contributor to worthy causes, who would never dream of manipulating silver and as a strong proponent of financial regulatory reform. All of JPMorgan’s positions in silver were claimed to be non-directional and only transacted to accommodate legitimate client hedging needs. To the typical CNBC viewer, who has little interest in silver to begin with, I would imagine that the segment appeared little more than a puff piece on an obscure topic. But I doubt that this was all that it was. There was an intent and purpose to this presentation, as many have already suggested.That’s what makes it so potentially significant.

To my knowledge, this is the very first time that JPMorgan has openly acknowledged the allegations against it for manipulating the price of silver. Please think about that. It’s been more than three years, dozens of class-action lawsuits and a ton of reputational abuse (remember “sink JPM, buy a Silver Eagle”?) and this is JPMorgan’s first rebuttal? Years ago, I used to wait for process servers and Fed Ex-delivered cease and desist demands; but I had just about given up on JPMorgan ever responding since so much time had passed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad not be sued; but I am a little underwhelmed with how JPM finally did respond. I can’t help but ask myself – why now and in this tepid a manner? A public relations campaign on CNBC to an audience not remotely aware of the allegations to begin with hardly seems the lasting solution to making the problem go away. So what was the motivation? Finish reading...