A Silver Panic to Beat 1980
"Get me anything but dollars..."
IT WAS RECENTLY announced on a Chinese news service that silver bullion is now being offered to the Chinese public, writes David Morgan of Silver-Investor.com.
Please note it is a very small operation, and at this point none of us knows if this will really catch on with the Chinese investing public. There are some subtleties going on in China that not too many people write about.
China actually has a fairly long history with silver and I might suggest that readers check out the archive section at Silver-Investor.com and read what Charles Savoie has written on this subject. I know many of my colleagues are not as bullish on silver as I am, yet going back many years I recall reading an article in Barron's by John Doody.
I'm going to guess that article appeared about 15 years ago. Barron's interviewed John mostly about the gold market, but during the interview he got bullish on silver. He made this argument about the industrialization of China before it was really taking place, how vital silver is to an industrial society – same argument I make – that China had over a billion people, and this was going to be very bullish for the silver market.
I thought, you know, "Touché, John, right on."
That's still the main argument about China and silver. Everything that uses electricity or electronics requires silver, almost everything. Your cell phone, your laptop, your CD player, plasma screen, refrigerator, washing machine...everything you can think of that uses electrical current or is an electronic item, like an iPod, uses silver to some level.
So even though it's a miniscule amount, if you've got a billion people seeking these type of gizmos, gadgets, and just raw power or something as basic as a washing machine, that puts an upward pressure on the silver price from an industrial perspective.
But I think more importantly that China is catching on to silver as an investment.
When I was in China, I met with the Mining Bureau in Beijing, and also the banking sector responsible for mining finance. The bank was concerned about a couple of things.
One, they were very concerned about recycling; in other words, they are very conservative. I believe anybody who's thinking green would be astounded to know how China is so un-wasteful in some areas, though not all I grant you. The Chinese are really conservative, but let's face the facts – when you have very little you waste very little.
China doesn't want to waste anything, especially silver. The mining finance people expressed concern that there's lots of mom-and-pop recycling going on and they wanted to know my idea on how to consolidate this recycling.
China was also the last economy to go off the silver standard. And it was not a good thing for them, relative to what was going on with the currency markets on a worldwide basis at the time. So there is a history in China of using silver as money. People who remember this are not dead yet. So there is some propensity to use silver as an investment. How much silver investment demand there will be, nobody knows, but I expect it to catch on. I believe that, as we get nearer to the ultimate top in the precious metals markets, silver will far out-perform gold.
My belief, and this certainly can't be proven, is that people have almost a financial survival instinct, just like a basic survival instinct, and when things are really going south in a hurry, people will seek something, anything, that they perceive will preserve their wealth or protect them. Both gold and silver have done that throughout history. Now, if gold is going north of $1,000 or $2,000 an ounce (pick a number), you might not have that much to preserve, but whatever you've got you will still be highly motivated to defend it. So you're going to go to the next best thing or the only other thing you can find – and that of course is the silver market.
We saw a taste of that in 1980. At the panic buying phase of the market, where "everybody" – or rather about 1% of the population – was trying to ditch the US Dollar, they were saying, "Get me anything but dollars...the Dollar is history." And they were seeking silver and gold, and a lot of silver was purchased at the top because silver was more affordable to a lot of these people.
I see that taking place this time around, except it's not going to be 1% of the United States' population, it's going to be roughly 1% of the world's population. And on top of that, you've got to remember that silver hit $50.00 in 1980, but there were roughly 1.6 billion ounces more fine silver available above ground than there are today.
So, we have a much smaller silver supply that's available for investment or industrial use, and we also have a much larger base of people willing and able to get into the silver market than there was before. That's why I think the $50.00 level is going to be breached in real, inflation-adjusted terms. If we take the $50.00 price that silver achieved in 1980 and adjust for inflation, that's roughly $130.00 an ounce in today's dollars!
I have been on record as saying I see silver going over $100.00 an ounce in US Dollar terms. Now I want to be very clear here: I'm very practical. For something to get to $100.00 it means it must get past $20.00 again and then it needs to get to $30.00 and $40.00 and $50.00 and on and on, so certainly I'm not trying to give any false hope or false indicators. But when the US Dollar goes this time, I believe, the panic of 1980 will look like a warm-up event.
That is, in this euphoric phase of the market where everybody and his brother and mother and aunt and uncle are looking to get into precious metals, that's all you're going to see on the mainstream news. You're going to see silver and/or gold on the cover of Time magazine.