Silver prices stay exciting after Tuesday's outside day reversal
Silver prices peaked this week mid-day Tuesday, when iShares Silver Trust (SLV) briefly hit 28.6 during an 'outside day reversal.' Friday morning, SLV opened at 28.11. This essay, first published Wednesday, explains the phenomenon.
Cotton…silver…palladium…nickel…corn.Skip to next paragraph
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What do these things have in common?
Answer: They are not a dollar bill. And neither are they a euro (EUR) or a renminbi (CNY) or a rupee (INR)…or any of the other currencies that central bankers around the world are aggressively debasing.
“It’s not just our own Federal Reserve that wants to destroy its currency,” observes Chris Mayer, editor of Capital & Crisis. “It seems everybody is doing it. As Eric Sprott, a great investor hailing from the Great White North, recently noted in his Markets at a Glance letter:
‘By our count, no less than 23 separate countries have now intervened in the foreign exchange market in some way since Sept. 21, 2010. The goal for all is to increase the supply of their respective paper currencies in order to drive them down in value.’
“Investors, though, aren’t dummies – at least not always. That’s why real assets are rallying.”
The nearby chart tells the tale. Commodities, as an asset class, have become quasi-currencies. From gold to coffee to cattle, commodities of all types have been soaring in price, ever since the Federal Reserve publicly declared its war on deflation. General Bernanke vowed to conduct this war aggressively and to utilize a battlefield tactic he called “quantitative easing.”
The war has been underway for several months, but victory is nowhere in sight. Instead the battlefield is littered with the remains of dollar bills that once seemed so powerful and full of potential.
Seeing the results of this campaign, investors are growing increasingly fearful of taking sides with the US dollar. Instead, they are placing their security in the hands of gold, silver, platinum and numerous other commodities. As such, every major commodity has outperformed the S&P 500’s 8.8% gain for the year to date. Only zinc and cocoa trail behind.
In a world where every major paper currency is suspect, gold is a compelling alternative. But it is not the only alternative. As reliable stores of value, a bale of cotton or a bushel of wheat also seemed preferable to paper currencies.
“Reports Barron’s: ‘This year, for the first time ever, China has been investing more overseas in assets like iron, oil and copper than it puts into US government bonds.
“‘China in this year’s first half spent $31 billion on hard assets,’ the journal continues, ‘compared with $23 billion on Treasuries and other US government bonds. Experts say China’s investments in each of these asset classes will total about $55 billion for the full year. But even a tie marks a major turnaround from China’s previous practices. For many years, the mainland spent next to nothing on hard assets abroad, while its purchases of US government debt ranged as high as $100 billion a year.’”
Monetary tastes and habits – like culinary tastes and habits – do not change overnight. But once these habits begin to change, they rarely regress to their previous condition. General Bernanke would be unwise to ignore this tendency of human behavior.