Friday, December 14, 2007

One for the copper conspiracists

From FT Alphaville:

Odd market, copper. Despite being pretty abundant (or at least boasting a multiplicity of uses) the price tends to bounce around like an illiquid penny stock.

What’s more, the market in copper is prone to scandal - witness the great Sumitomo affair a decade ago, which counted as the largest market heist in history at the time.

Recently there have been fresh mutterings of mis-deeds in the market, with rich conspiracy theories doing the rounds about hedge funds secretly stockpiling the metal, using covert bank funding to finance their positions.

Such chatter was given a real impetus recently when Metal Bulletin magazine used US freedom of information laws to get the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission to reveal that it had had extensive discussions with Britain’s FSA about potential collusion in the copper market, collating almost 20,000 pages of documentation in the process.
All of which was intriguing, but not very illuminating.

So this chart caught our eye - a depiction of underlying turnover of copper futures on the London Metal Exchange. It shows a sharp jump in average copper turnover since the summer....MORE