Submitted by Jim Willie on Wed, 3 Nov 2010
A love affair with silver is so natural. The fundamentals are astoundingly positive and bullish in price prospects. My basic argument has been repeated many times. Industry has countless uses for silver, significant demand. But industry has only miniscule isolated uses for gold, in trivial demand. So silver wins on the Demand side of the equation. Central banks own a huge amount of gold. They frequently sell it, even through their slippery surrogate the Intl Monetary Fund. Central banks own zero silver. So silver wins on the Supply side of the equation. My motto is that gold fights the major political and financial war, but silver will ride in on a shiny white horse and take much larger spoils. That effect has already begun. Since the significant game changing FOMC meeting on September 21st, where the telegraph message delivered to the world financial markets was made by megaphone, the impact has been clear and stark. Compared to closing prices on September 21st versus October 29th, just five weeks, the silver price had risen from $20.64 to $24.56, up 19.0%. During the same timespan, the gold price had risen from $1274.30 to $1357.60, up 6.5%. My claim, a loose forecast often repeated, has been that the silver breakout gains would be at least double and possible triple the gold gains. We have seen exactly that in recent weeks.
An extremely fuzzy factor is the CFTC attention. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is supposedly investigating the Big Four Banks for gigantic concentrated short positions in the silver market, for naked shorting of silver, and for collusion with other banks. Commissioner Bart Chilton has made a lot of noise, but has done next to nothing. Some find encouragement, an absurd notion in my view. Let me know when court injunctions are slapped at JPMorgan. Several class action lawsuits against JPMorgan have begun, also encouraging, but unclear on substance. They crop up every couple weeks, the latest citing a RICO aspect. Let me know when the full force of the USGovt regulatory bodies order JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Bank of America to liquidate even 10-20% of their short positions. Unless and until such action occurs, the CFTC chirping is just that, noise from the managerie of obedient pets who work on short leashes at the behest of bankers. Mail room clerks do not give orders or make demands to the executive suites, not now, not ever. The regulatory chiefs are mere squires to the bankers, and will follow orders, not give them. By the way, the Big Four positions are naked short positions in all likelihood. They are immune from posting collateral, as required by the metals exchanges. So they routinely sell a stack of silver whenever the price moves have been made, like in the wee hours this Wednesday and very early at the New York open. Good Morning New York resulted in almost a full $1.00 drop in the silver price, undoubtedly another naked short raid before the QE decision by the US Federal Reserve and its statement. The full impact of the ambush decline was reversed by afternoon. Right before important events deemed negative nasty to the USDollar, the Big Four go wild with naked shorts, called ambushes. The evidence, the trails, the fingerprints are easily seen except by blind men, official gold industry wonks, and USGovt regulators.
SUPPLY & DEMAND BASICS
Silver total demand was essentially flat in 2009 versus 2008, as the world adjusted to a mammoth meltdown late in 2008. During the extraordinary disruptions, disturbances, and sudden insolvencies, JPMorgan liquidated much of the inherited (commandeered) precious metals accounts from Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. In the case of Bear Stearns, a solid argument can be made that they were targeted for kill due to their long gold account. In the case of Lehman, they were targeted fro kill in order to consolidate the power structure in the twin monoliths at JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs. On silver demand, the bulk of the 11.9% decline in the 2009 fabrication demand was primarily driven by the global financial crises. The reduced drop in industrial requirements was the lowest level since 2003. Total fabrication demand totaled 729.8 million oz and industrial demand was 352.2 moz in consumption. Much of the decline in factory demand was attributed to the car industry.
Implied net silver investment increased by a staggering 184% to 136.9 million oz last year, reaching its highest level in 20 years. Overall jewelry demand fell slightly by 1.1% in 2009 to 156.6 moz, a testament to the historical norm. It falls with a bull market, not to contradict it, but to confirm it!! That is the opposite message, contrary to what the official gold industry propaganda preaches. In fact, India and China posted increases in jewelry demand last year, outside the global trend. Silverware demand rose by a decent 4.6% to 59.5 moz, largely due to a surge in Indian fabrication. Their middle class grows impressively.
As for supply, the silver mine production rose by 4.0% to 709.6 moz in 2009. Gains came both from primary silver mines and output from mining by-product. The strongest growth came from Latin America, where silver output increased by a hefty 8%, the biggest gains logged in Argentina and Bolivia. Again Peru was the world leader in silver production in 2009, followed by Mexico, China, Australia, and Bolivia. All of these countries saw increases last year except for Australia, where output was dragged down from the lead/zinc sector, with the by-product impact. Some mines are devoted solely to silver targets, called primary silver projects. Global primary silver output saw a 7% increase in 2009, accounting for 30% of total mine production last year. The cash operating costs for primary silver mines remained relatively stable, rising by less than 1% to $5.23/oz in 2009. The big story is the huge decline in net silver supply from above ground inventory stocks, which were reduced by 86% to 20.2 moz in 2009. The drawdown was driven mostly by the surge in net investment, higher de-hedging (the active reduction in forward sale contracts), lower government sales (like official mints), and a drop in scrap supply. The scrap supply came down by 6% from 2008, enough to register a 13-year low of 165.7 moz. It was the third consecutive year of losses in the scrap category. Government stocks of silver, the feeder in official coin mint programs, fell by an estimated 13.7 moz last year, to reach their lowest levels in more than a decade. Data was supplied by the Silver Institute (SEE LINK).
IMPACT OF Q.E. CANCER
The big event on the horizon has been the US Midterm Elections, just completed. Its outcome was close to poll expectations. Many decisions have been delayed. Much detail has been withheld. Unfortunate pauses have come as a result. A palpable dread can be identified and pointed to. Difficult unpopular decisions will now be made. Some of the decisions will involve continued bank sector welfare after failed fiduciary responsibility. Some of the next programs or legislation will involve devious political and legal cover for criminal bond fraud related to the mortgage industry, which is fully in the open for dissection, outcry, and acrimonious debate. Basically, the bank sector will see great maneuvers to be supported, protected, with escape routes, now that the consequences of voter backlash are out of the picture. Furthermore is the issue of political partisan gridlock. Only dim bulbs would call the gridlock constructive or a good thing in the current setting. When a nation is mired in a financial crisis, requires leadership, demands restructure, and urgently needs reform, any inaction from gridlock is like fighting over the steering wheel on a big tractor trailer truck unable to manage a winding road, certain to careen over the cliff. Some analysts use the term public serpents to describe public servants, which seems spot on. Activists should demand that private bank accounts be investigated of committee heads, or even past Secretary of State (Colin Powell), or joint chiefs of staff at the Pentagon, or past SEC and CFTC heads. While at it, check the bank accounts of past presidents too.
The most reliable and expert sources within my contacts mention a specific point, with consistency. When the US elections are over, and after the USFed gives some guidance on the QE2 Launch for monetized debt, the system will experience tremendous added strains and will gradually show signs of breakdown again, in accelerated mode. This time, unlike September 2008, efforts to stabilize will not be possible. The system will degrade, as supports, pylons, control cables, levers, guy wires, and buttresses will be removed in the coming weeks. The Midterm Elections served at the roadblock event, the beacon on the horizon, the gate factor, the delayed lit fuse. The actions taken in November will involve both the US captains and foreign entities. The US brass can act without as much concern of voter backlash. The foreign financial decision makers can act with knowledge that the USGovt, the USFed, and Wall Street will not make a single solitary move toward bank system reform, toward bank debt restructure, or toward debt liquidation on the balance sheets. Instead, the US will redouble the magnitude of what failed, their habit, their engrained failure in policy, their legacy.
The main worry by the USFed and USDept Treasury will center on foreign creditors and abandonment. US bank leaders will ramp up the monetization under the QE2 banner with added motivation. Trade war stokes the fires of hostility, angst, and rebuke. Foreign creditors are worried that their debt security paper is being diluted. Its value will be diminished, but later in time. Expect a new European Dollar Swap Facility to be announced soon, but with less delay than the last one. They must match and offset the power of the QE2 initiative. It could be urgently declared by EU in next several weeks. They must defend against a rising Euro currency. Do not be trapped into thinking a USTreasury Bond rally means a USDollar coincident rise. The USTBonds are from the Printing Pre$$, which means no source of funds to convert. The Jackass still believes 2.0% is an important 10-year USTreasury yield target. All hell breaks loose after the target is hit, as the USTBond bubble is likely to give off massive greenhouse gas afterwards.
UNWIND OF TREMENDOUS SUPPRESSION
When professional equity analysts ply their craft in examining the merits of a certain stock, they often use a simple statistical technique. They fit a model of the growth in a stock Y versus the sector X in which it trades, like BAC (Bank of America) versus the BKX (bank index). They fit a model of the growth of a major stock Y versus the X market backdrop, like IBM versus the S&P500 index. A stock Y performs well if it does better than its sector or does better than the entire market. That shows up as a BETA over 1.0 within the fitted model using data as weekly change entries in price for X and Y. Take silver as Y and the entire commodity arena as X, as measured for instance by the CRB index. Clearly silver rises and falls with the commodities, and even makes swings with more volatility than other items. That testifies to a high silver BETA. Lately, the silver move has been powerful, much bigger than other commodity items since it is being recognized as a currency hedge, a safe haven asset, with the menace of lawsuits and investigations hanging overhead. In fact, Silver is a currency, if pure money can be classified as currency at all. Like gold, silver is a super-currency.
Y = ? + ? X
The important aspect to highlight of the linear price change model is the ALPHA component. When an asset or stock has a particular advantage or unique strength, it can outperform its class. Take for instance a pharmaceutical firm with a vaccine discovery, or a computer firm like Apple with a nifty IPod winner, or a mining firm with a huge ore discovery or great process improvement. Silver and gold each share a robust ALPHA feature that is not often mentioned, even in the gold community. As the monetary system crumbles further, as the big banks topple amidst insolvency, as the sovereign debt for certain nations defaults, as the USGovt deficits spiral endlessly into the $trillions, the concept of real money is being questioned by important chambers of global finance. Money wants to escape the false monetary clutches, and find true safe haven. Sound money is sought out with increased vigor and even desperation to preserve wealth. At the same time, illicit activity from two to three decades of gigantic price suppression, extended from enormous naked short positions being revealed, has conspired to suppress the price of gold & silver. The slow healing of the market infestation reveals the manifestation of the Silver Alpha, during its release.
The monetary system works gradually to unmask the corrupt precious metals market, and to lay bare the absent bullion at the official metals exchanges. Angry depositors like the Chinese and Arabs have been demanding their bullion for return back home, no longer trusting the London and New York banksters. They have grown fully aware of illicit gold leasing as commonplace. The fraud of the USGovt balance sheets, recording deep storage gold as a ledge item, an utter absurdity, only adds to the motive to unmask the banksters at their own game. The fast rising deadly USGovt deficits has brought cries to prove the collateral for new debt added upon old debt, in an uncontrollable debt episode. The world pursues gold & silver, knowing the USGovt has none, even as it continues to suppress its price with heavy hands. Foreign creditors are angry that the gold & silver they hold has been pushed down in price by illicit USGovt devices.
The consequence is that SILVER possesses a high ALPHA. What lifts the ALPHA is many factors, each powerful. The Silver price will rise much more than price inflation. The Silver price will rise in response to money fleeing corrosive vehicles like the major currencies, whose basis is not gold but rather rapidly growing debt resting upon broken banking and economic foundations. The Silver price will rise as the USTreasury Bond bubble becomes more widely recognized. The Silver price will rise as greater volumes of freshly printed money undermine the USDollar well behind controlled activity. The Silver price will rise more than most analysts anticipate out of the sheer release from corrupted markets that hold down the price after a mountain of silver has been shorted in the market without collateral. THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF ALPHA!! The shorts are being squeezed, in clear fashion since August. The naked short quantity for Silver is well beyond a full year of annual global output from the mining industry. As the markets work toward a freely traded system that seeks a true equilibrium, the Silver price will move past $100 per ounce easily. Laughter now will be followed by sheepish quiet in three years. But first it will surpass the $40 price, maybe as soon as late 2011 or early 2012. The silver ALPHA is big, and that fact will be quite evident very soon, if not already. My forecast is for a $29 to 31 price for Silver by mid-January. Both December and January are strong seasonal months for silver, just like September. Notice how silver is outperforming the commodity group, and shows a BETA over one.
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