By Eric Sprott and Andrew Morris:
The recent bear raid on silver has left many concerned about the sustainability of its historic run. Silver, being a relatively obscure market for most mainstream commentators, attracted much attention in the ensuing days following the May 1 takedown. Indeed, though the 30% drop in silver occurred over only four days, seemingly all eyes were on silver, with commentators who could’ve cared less about the silver market only a couple of months ago, suddenly tripping all over one another to make the bubble call. Silver bubble 2.0? Hardly. Anyone who has been fortunate to have been invested in silver over the past few years would unfortunately be used to such blatant takedowns. The Chinese don’t call it the "Devil’s Metal" for no good reason. With so much talk these days about the risks of investing in silver, we think that perhaps it may be timely for us to weigh in on the matter. The silver market is riskier than ever, but for reasons the vast majority of pedestrian commentators have failed to grasp.
There is no doubt that speculative dollars have been flowing into the silver market. We note that in April record trading volumes were registered in the SLV, Comex futures2, LBMA transfers, and the Shanghai Gold Exchange futures. In fact, converting the average daily trading volume in the aforementioned silver instruments to the amount of ounces of silver they are supposed to represent, there were on average, over 1.1 billion ounces worth of silver traded every day in the month of April5. Truly a staggering number when contrasted against the actual amount of silver available for investment. To wit, the world will only supply about 979 million ounces this year from mine and recycling of scrap, of which it is estimated that 657 million ounces will be used up for non-investment purposes. So in effect, that leaves roughly only 322 million ounces available this year for investment purposes. Converting to days (recall that at least 1.1 billion ounces traded each day) it leaves only about 1.3 million ounces per trading day of available supply. So, we are essentially trading the amount of physical silver actually available for investment, 891 times over each day! It really begs the question; just what are people trading in these markets?
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