Sunday, February 22, 2009
Is something I haven't written about before. I prefer gold over the other precious metals, in part because it is the precious metal of choice in recent monetary history and is held by central banks around the world. When the poop really hits the fan, central bankers can simply declare by decree that the gold they hold is worth a boatload of paper dollars/promises. Get the end game? Instead of villifying gold, they will finally come to embrace it and use it to their advantage.
Silver is a bit of a schizophrenic precious metal, as are platinum and palladium. I say schizophrenic because it is both an industrial and monetary metal in history. Silver has a much longer monetary history and general track record compared to the platinum complex metals. I hold some physical silver as a small percentage of my portfolio. This is a core, long term holding with a time horizon of years (decades?). One of the reasons I am not as enthusiastic about silver is due to its past price behavior during credit contraction-type depressions. The best example is the last one we went through in the United States, the so called "Great Depression."
Below is a chart stolen from the Long Wave Analyst (great site and analyst by the way):
Silver also didn't do well during the previous credit contraction induced depression that started in 1873. Since history doesn't always repeat but it does rhyme, I am concerned the same thing will happen to silver this time.
Now, silver also has a few bullish things going for it and, remember, I hold a little.
1. Physical metal shortages are obvious on the retail investor side and there is a premium above spot price that is now chronic. This is an alarm bell not to be ignored.
2. The concentrated short position in silver (as with gold) on the futures market (see Ted Butler's work) is insane.
3. Silver is the "poor man's" gold and will be useful for bartering and daily transactions if our society has a significant monetary breakdown.
4. Silver has been in backwardation for an unprecedented one month now.
On the last point, see Antal Fekete's work, as he is an amazing voice of reason in the fiat wilderness.
So I prefer gold, but I understand the bullish case for silver and if it drops low enough during this deflationary wave, I will likely buy some more to be used both as a long term store of value in lieu of fiat cash equivalents and as an investment with explosive upside potential.