Why It’s Time to Invest in Silver: This Precious Metal’s Rally is Just Getting Started
by David Fessler, Energy and Infrastructure Expert
Wednesday, December 2, 2009: Issue #1149
You don’t have to look too far these days without hearing someone talk about how high gold prices could go. The topic is fiercely debated in the mainstream financial media at the moment – especially for investors who are late to the party.
But are they really late, or is the “party” just getting started? Yes, investors who bought the gold ETF, SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE: GLD), or gold miners like Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM), or Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY) a year ago have seen their investments soar by 54%, 83% and 184% respectively.
But gold continues to soar. And large open market purchases from central banks in China, India and Russia are only helping the price surge more. (Just one year ago, some of these same central banks were actually selling gold in an attempt to fill an annual 10,000-ton supply gap.)
When gold rallies, it often drags other precious metals along for the ride. Chief among them is silver. But according to one closely watched indicator, silver has lagged a bit. And that opens the door to an opportunity that well-respected commodities experts, like Jim Rogers, say could be at hand…
Silver: The “Other” Gold
Gold and silver are like blood brothers – generally in sync with each other and tending to move in the same direction.
The relationship is such that there’s even an indicator that measures it – the gold/silver ratio. Many investors use the ratio to spot extremes in the pricing of either precious metal, and to spot trends, whether up or down.
With gold at $1,191 and silver at $18.63, the ratio currently sits at 64:1 – well above its one-year low from September. But in 2008, the ratio hit 84:1 before retreating.
With individual investors and central banks still buying gold, its meteoric rise shows few signs of stopping… at least for now. As a result, the gold/silver ratio suggests that silver has some catching up to do.
But silver has one advantage that gold doesn’t…
The Supply-Demand Equation Bodes Well for Rising Silver Prices
Unlike gold, silver is used in more commercial and industrial applications. The list is extensive – electrical contacts, mirrors, jewelry, currency coins, photographic films and as a catalyst in many chemical reactions.
However, silver production is dropping. Much of it comes as a by-product of other mining and refining, primarily lead and zinc. But due to plummeting prices created by over-supply, many lead and zinc mines were mothballed back in 2008.
As a result, silver production stalled with lead and zinc – and inventories are now at historic lows.
That’s the supply side of the equation. But what about industrial demand?
In short, it continues to rise. So with silver supplies lagging, silver prices are likely to head in one direction: up.
There’s another big difference between gold and silver…
Don’t Ignore Silver… Take the Rogers Route
Most fund managers won’t touch silver with a 10-foot pole. The reason? At around $9 billion, the size and liquidity of the silver market is roughly 20 times smaller than the gold market.
However, it might be a mistake to ignore silver. With supplies continuing to fall and demand continuing to rise, the metal could very well make a very dramatic move to the upside over the next three to six months – even if gold prices fall.
Then there’s Jim Rogers…
As recently as October, Rogers, founder of the Quantum Fund, suggested that the U.S. dollar will continue its decline and that hard assets like gold, silver and agricultural products represented good value in the upcoming inflationary environment.
So if you want to gain some exposure to the silver market, you could consider a few shares of the ETFS Silver Trust (NYSE: SIVR), or silver miner Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW).
A deteriorating U.S. dollar suggests that while gold’s meteoric rise still has room to run, silver’s run is yet to get started.
An Investment U… Extra: Think gold prices are high in the United States? Take a look at Vietnam, where the price recently hit $1,300 per ounce. The reason? Supply and demand.
Two years ago, investors in Vietnam looked to gold as a hedge against inflation, just like everyone else. And for good reason, too: In 2008, inflation in the Southeast Asian country was already over 20%.
As a result, nervous Vietnamese investors began buying gold. Lots of gold. The government took notice and, concerned that too much of its citizens’ cash was flowing into the metal, shut down gold imports.
And as gold’s upward surge has intensified over the past few months, Vietnam slapped a $60 per ounce premium on the yellow metal.
But when gold soared above $1,120 an ounce two weeks ago, the price topped $1,300 an ounce in Vietnam, as investors scrambled for as much of it as they could get. That prompted the Vietnamese government to backtrack, dropping import controls and allowing prices to equalize with those of the rest of the world.
If you’re looking for a smarter, simpler way to buy either gold or silver (in addition to the two investments that Dave mentioned above), look no further than the EverBank Metals Select Account. As the dollar languishes and inflation lurks around the corner, an account offers important, cost-effective diversification into these traditional safe havens.