The recent price drop in silver was severe, but not exactly like silver’s Black Thursday in 1980. It was different this time, but some aspects of the decline seemed the same.
This time, a different demand character prevailed. Also, the overall level of market awareness and underlying sentiment was stronger.
Awareness of the persistent value of precious metals is growing, though mainstream sentiment is chronically low and therefore true investment interest still seems a galaxy away.
What has Changed?
All government stock piles of silver have been drawn down and this is directly related to the silver users’ once powerful lobby.
Another key factor was the great easy money credit expansion. This suckered so many people (and governments) into accumulating debt levels that they could not really afford or into slaving away at their jobs to service the debt.
Furthermore, slow, steady and often unnoticeable inflation has eaten away at the purchasing power of paper currencies, while the authorities have subsidized one asset bubble after another. All of this has created the illusion of prosperity via paper millionaires and housing barons.
Also, the silver market is dominated by the largest naked concentrated short position ever seen. This situation has developed over decades and has evolved to control the price and trading structure. By gaming, the big speculative traders have juiced on easy money in their desperate search for yields that seem increasingly harder to achieve by investment alone.
Market Manipulation - Then and Now
Remember why the price of silver dropped so sharply in 1980. At that time, the Hunt brothers were trying to corner the silver market, but they were forced out of their dominant long positions and were later prosecuted for their actions.
Then, the shorts were the exchange board members and the silver users, but this time, no one quite understands why the market fell so sharply. Also, the market regulators are involved in the opposite ways to how they should be.
Today’s silver market, like most commodity markets, sees trading dominated by concentrated short sellers who often move the market at will to profit from their influence. Their manipulation of the silver market is ongoing and pervasive, and this situation has resulted in chronically low pricing for silver.
Theselarge, deep pocked shorts are typically fleecing the weak longs and profiting from their weakness by buying in the longs’ positions when they finally choke. Nevertheless, people who prefer to take ownership of silver are a diverse and growing group.
What has Changed Economically?
The economic backdrop to this latest decline in the silver market is a worldwide balance sheet blow out and a virtually zero interest rate policy or ZIRP.
Debt burdened governments have seemed increasingly eager to participate in the “race to debase”, as their countries’ paper currencies fall in unison. Only their notable decline against the precious metals shows how essentially worthless these paper currencies really are.
If interest rates rose by only small amount, the interest payments on many countries’ national debts would easily eclipse their tax revenue.
Furthermore, employment participation has fallen to multi-decade lows, and waves of baby boomer retirees have been exiting the workforce.
What Remains Basically the Same?
The key factor that has remained the same is that governmentsalways run deficits, and then borrow to printmoney so that they can fund the difference. This is one reason thatyou can read so many articles about currency debasement today.
Governmentsalso get first dibs on cheap credit via their debtor relationship with privately owned Central Banks.
Over time, this situation has resulted in massive sovereign debt burdens since legislators have very little incentive to cut government spending, which is typically unpopular with their electorate. Furthermore, politicians continue to promise more popular programs to help them get elected.
As the Greek sovereign debt crisis has shown the world, there is a limit to how far this overspending can go before investors lose confidence. That limit is now fast approaching for numerous other nations, thereby making owning hard assets like silver seem increasingly attractive, especially at today’s bargain prices.
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