Assumptions, Risks & Disadvantages

Assumptions:

  1. JP Morgan (JPM) and other large commercial banks have been manipulating the silver price to the downside for at least 10 years.
  2. JPM has acquired 650 – 700 Moz. of physical silver per Butler over the last 7 years.

 

Risks & Disadvantages:

  • I think the risks of investing in physical silver are minimal, but should be noted and watched for.
  • 30 years ago silver was under $5/oz for quite a while. It went up to just under $50/oz. in 1980 when the Hunt Brothers tried to corner the market, then crashed when they were stopped. It went up to almost $50/oz. again in the months before May 1st of 2011 due to physical tightness. Then manipulators took the price down . They have worked it down and it has been in the current trading range ($15 – $20/oz.) pretty much ever since.
  • There is a small chance of the government or governments declaring silver a “strategic metal” and trying to confiscate it. I don’t think that it is likely or would likely be successful and wouldn’t happen until there was an actual physical shortage. But it is something to watch out for.
    • Gold and silver are traded internationally and if USG tries to confiscate it will just make these commodities more valuable.
    • I think if there is confiscation it will be mainly to get silver. Silver could be declared a “strategic metal” which it is and is needed for electronics and military equipment.
    • I think physical metal under your control would still be relatively safe, but if the USG wants/needs it hopefully they will at least pay a fair price.
  • Having physical silver under your direct control is the safest, but other methods may produce better returns and probably more risks and volatility.
  • There is an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) for silver with the symbol SLV. Basically, a share of this is an ounce of silver (less accumulated fees). Currently, there are 326M oz. in this ETF.
    • Advantages of SLV are:
      • Can be traded thru most any brokerage account including most retirement accounts (you may have to sign additional notifications)
      • Has physical silver backing most shares.  There has been some shorting of the stock, but that has been fairly minimal and consistent for the last few years.
    • Potential Risks of SLV are:
    • You don’t have the silver under your direct control.
    • BlackRock, Inc. is the SLV sponsor, JPM is the SLV custodian.  I’ve seen many comments and questions about JPM being the custodian and the potential for them to somehow use that position to their trading advantage.  I haven’t seen any reported abuses, but something to keep an eye on.
  • Physical silver typically does have a fairly large premium.  At your local coin shop you can pay $2 -$4 premium on a Silver Eagle.  A 10 or 100 oz. bar may have a smaller premium.  While this premium is definitely a deterrent to trading silver as a short term investment, I don’t think it is for long term investment.
  • At some point the price could get into a bubble situation, but I don’t think that will happen until $100/oz. or more.
  • If the COMEX trading got too wild, I could see COMEX halting trading on silver.  Hopefully, we would get some prior indication that might happen, but if it does it should be bullish for physical silver and could be very negative for “paper” silver.