lt has been known for those at some (planetary) distance from the markets to accuse the LBMA of being a club. But one club its monthly clearing numbers are not a member of is the over­ subscribed 'damned lies and statistics' association. As a reflection of' where the action is' clearing data are getting better and better. Quibbles, even laments, about how accurately they capture the level of London business misses the main point; as a former leader of the Free World might say: "it's the correlation, stupid".

As the table shows, the ' fit ' of clearing data with 'the action ' has been getting more intimate since the series began in October 1996. Especially so, as might be expected, with price volatility (here 20- day historic, taken at the end of the month) rather than the price itself. Correlations between 'voly' and clearing, for both silver and gold, are uniformly higher across all sub-periods. Churning and clearing go together - we suspected as much, but now we know it, officially.

And if the clearing data ' front run' any more major turning point sin volatility - as they did at the start of 1998 - the queue of option dealers for the next release might stretch around Frederick's Place (and be visible even from other planets).