In two previous reviews of the silver market, the CFTC has dismissed claims of manipulation. Most analysts say there is little reason to believe the price of silver is being systematically manipulated.
But Bart Chilton, a CFTC commissioner, said in October that he believed there had been “fraudulent efforts” to “deviously control” the silver price. He did not name any party.
Publicly available data on individual traders’ positions are sketchy. In a speech last Wednesday, Mr Chilton said that “earlier this year, one trader held more than 40 per cent of the silver market”. He declined to identify the trader.
The CFTC’s Bank Participation Report shows that one or more US banks held a gross short silver futures position equal to 19.1 per cent of the total number of outstanding contracts in early December. In January the share was 30.2 per cent.
The CFTC only reports data for the US silver futures market, a small corner of the global derivatives market for the precious metal, which is centred in London and largely traded via private over-the-counter deals. The data also do not cover transactions in the physical market.
Analysts and traders said that JPMorgan’s large short positions on New York’s Comex exchange, a division of Nymex, were hedges for the bank’s long positions in physical silver and London’s over-the-counter market.
JPMorgan has invested nearly $3bn over the past two years in its commodities business led by Blythe Masters.
And while we revel in the knowledge that the short squeeze is causing massive pain for JPM, we are far more overjoyed that the days of Blythe Masters as head of JPM's commodities desk is coming to an end: any comparable massive admission of weakness by a trader is always and inevitably followed by some very high profile terminations.
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