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TheStreet Open House

Chinese Housewives vs. Goldman Sachs: No Contest

Jeff Clark, Senior Precious Metals Analyst

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Never mind the schizophrenic gene that would be required to follow the constantly fluctuating predictions of all these big banks; it's amazing to me that anyone continues to listen to them after their abysmal record and long-standing anti-gold stance.

Sure, the too-big-to-fails can move markets -- but they say things that are good for them, not us.

As an example, while Goldman Sachs (GS) was telling clients and the public to sell gold in the second quarter, it bought 3.7 million shares of SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) and became the exchange-traded fund's seventh largest holder.

When I visited China two years ago, guess who no one was talking about? Goldman Sachs. There was news about the U.S., of course, but the regular diet of journalistic intake consisted of Chinese activity, not North American. And -- surprise, surprise -- the view from that side of the big blue ball was materially different than what we hear and read here--and in some cases, the opposite.

Not only has the average Chinese housewife, perhaps the most frugal and cautious species of savers in the world, probably never heard of Goldman Sachs and their call for $1,000 gold -- if she had, she would think: (Rubbish!)

Here's some evidence. Since Jan. 1, gold ETF holdings have fallen by roughly a quarter (26%, according to GFMS). But Chinese housewives aren't refraining from buying and certainly aren't selling:

The red dotted line represents the total outflows of GLD through last Tuesday. The gold bars are cumulative monthly imports of gold to China, through Hong Kong. You can see that China has absorbed roughly twice what most North American ETF holders have sold. It's actually more than that, because we only have Hong Kong import data up to the end of July.

But it's even more dramatic than this.

If you dig down into the data further, you find that cumulative gold imports through July surpassed the 26.7 million ounces (831 tonnes) that was imported to China for the whole of 2012.

That means rather than being deterred from buying gold when its price was declining this year, the Chinese were snapping up the yellow metal as fast as they could. Further, last year Chinese miners produced 12.9 million ounces (403 tonnes) of gold, all of which stayed in the country.

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