Facts on Silver

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For those who missed my piece of March 25, 2011, here is the link. I asked the question, "Is Silver Topping?" I may have been right about silver topping, only time will tell. For certain I was dead wrong about the timing and the price. Silver has rocketed from $38 and change when I wrote the piece to over $47 now.

But lots of people get lots of things wrong about silver. So here are some facts.

1. Silver is going parabolic.

According to Jim Rogers all parabolic moves end badly. I have seen similar charts in all kinds of commodities and they always correct. Parabolic charts mark tops. So when silver bugs start suggesting, "This time it’s different" I know better.

Study the chart below. Ignore the commodity. When charts go parabolic, it ends badly. I was an investor in the 1970s in both gold and silver. I started buying gold at $35 and silver around $5 an ounce. I sold out all my silver in January of 1980 a week too early at $35 as it rocketed to $50.25 an ounce at the open on January 21, 1980. It went parabolic and basically that’s all you need to know.

Those investors who want to buy at new all time highs almost always are the same investors who want to sell at all time lows. Naturally as a guy running a metals site, I think $46 silver is wonderful for all my readers that I was telling to buy at $4 and $6 and $10 and $20. Is silver a good buy today? No, it’s a good sale… to those who insist on buying at tops.

2. The actual ratio of silver to gold in the earth’s crust is not 16 to 1.

It’s more like between 20 or 26 or 64 to one. This is not an absolute fact, these are opinions from experts but no experts conclude the ratio is 16-1. Go to Wikipedia and do the math for yourself.

What happens on the web is that one guy starts a rumor saying there are tens of thousands of gold-plated tungsten bars out there. Some other fool adds a few "facts" to the rumor and all of a sudden hundreds of sites are writing about fake gold bars.

Alas, years later not a single tungsten bar has showed up. It was rubbish and anyone who understood anything about metalworking would understand that technically it would be very hard to do. All 400 ounce gold bars are tracked and if by some strange process someone managed to counterfeit one, he would be caught at once. But you can sell a lot of subscriptions to those who pay to have their fantasies catered to.

It doesn’t matter how many people claim the ratio of silver to gold is 16-1, it simply isn’t true.

3. There is no shortage of silver. There never has been a shortage of silver. Until the laws of supply and demand are repealed, there never will be a shortage of silver.

The first person I ever read that claimed there was a shortage of silver was Ted Butler. He claimed in May that according to his figures the world was going to totally run out of silver by December. This was on the Kitco forum. I wrote and told him he was dead wrong, there were billions of ounces of silver above ground. His response was that according to his numbers, we would be out of silver bullion and that would drive the price of silver all by itself to between $50 and $100 an ounce. In a vacuum. Without gold going up or oil or anything else going up because of inflation. Silver was that rare.

My retort was that with billions of ounces around, prices would soon turn Grannie’s silver service into silver bullion. He insisted I didn’t know what I was talking about; he was the silver "GURU." The exchange took place in May of 2001 and by December of 2001 I had correctly called the bottom in silver while he was insisting that it would be $50 an ounce. One of us was dead right.

But then he was also the guy claiming that silver was the most critical war material and if we ever go into a war, that would drive silver prices to between $50 and $100 an ounce and it was so rare that you should, "never, never, ever sell silver." With the US engaged in three different wars at the same time, you would think that silver would be $300 an ounce. It’s not.

My question is, "If you were smart enough to buy 100 ounces of silver at $4 an ounce, a 5000-year low in real terms, how much profit have you made if silver goes to $50 or $100 or $300 and you never, never, ever sell? The answer, of course, and ignored by all the silver "GURUS" is that if you buy low and don’t sell ever, you don’t make any profit. That may be the dumbest investment advice I have ever heard.

Silver is a commodity like any other. If you are smart enough to buy it cheap and you are smart enough to sell it when it gets expensive, you will profit. If you want to buy at all time highs, good luck with that.

There are 19 billion ounces of silver above ground today. People talking about silver "bullion" inventories are being misleading. Silver is silver is silver and it only takes a day to turn a few 200-year-old tea pots into a boring 1000 ounce "bullion" bar.

Just how accurate is the 19 billion ounce figure? We can figure that out with simple logic. I think the figure accepted by more people for total silver production ever would be about 45 billion ounces. A favorite argument of the permabulls is that silver is consumed, not recycled. Let’s think about that. Silver is used in computers, iPhones, aircraft, and lots of commercial purposes where it isn’t recycled. But that use of silver wasn’t common until perhaps 1960. Silver before that time was recycled. Yes, silver coins did wear but they didn’t wear out, they might lose 20% of their original weight.

If 45 billion ounces were produced, it’s more logical that a good percentage of it is still around. I was in my coin dealer’s shop a week ago. He bought 2800 ounces of silver on Saturday. Not a bar of bullion in the bunch but 2800 ounces of real silver in other forms. The numbers on silver are not hard numbers; we simply don’t know how much silver is around. But we do know there is a lot of silver and with the exception of a short period between the end of November of 1979 and January 21 of 1980, a mere six weeks later, silver has been well under $10 an ounce on average for the last 40 years. How rational is $46 silver? Not very.

I’d guess most silver mines have cash costs between $3 and $10. A market price of $46 an ounce will suck silver out of grannies’ closets and out of the ground at the same time. Every silver refinery in the world is running at capacity right now, if you want silver, there is a lot of it around.

4. The most illogical thinking and worst use of "facts" is common among the silver uberbulls and the parrots that follow them.

Someone just posted the most incredible theory on the validity of SLV. That’s the silver ETF that has been trashed for years by a small group of uberbulls with an agenda. One of their supporters came up with a brilliant argument. Since we don’t really know and can’t prove that SLV actually has all the physical silver, the proof that it is a scam is when they deny it being a scam. Read that carefully. The proof that it is a scam is when they deny it.

So, apparently, if you ask the people behind SLV if it is a scam and they admit it, that means we know it’s a scam since they admitted it. And if you ask the people behind the SLV if it is a scam and they deny it, that also means it is a scam because the proof is when they deny it.

I think that’s circular logic. No matter what the people behind SLV say, it’s a scam.

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