The amount of paper gold and silver contracts that trade on the futures and equities exchanges still dwarf the amount of actual physical trading that takes place. Paper markets continue to set price discovery – thereby allowing for dramatic volatility with little or no influence from actual physical fundamentals. In the LBMA market, for example, market participants traded an average 19.6 million ounces of gold PER DAY in July 2011.1,2 Keep in mind that the total gold mine production in 2010, globally, was approximately 86.5 million ounces. Global gold mine production is not expected to increase significantly year-over-year, so the LBMA is essentially trading a year’s worth of production in less than a week. And this is just ONE market. When you add the COMEX futures and gold ETFs, the paper trading volume becomes absurdly high. When price discovery is dictated by levered paper contracts with no physical backing, it’s extremely easy and relatively inexpensive to jostle the spot price around. The result for gold has been many days of extreme downside volatility, despite a strong and consistent overall upward trend. Investors don’t like volatility – and the constant whipsawing has probably kept many of them away from the gold equity sector as a result.