Silver’s Smoking Guns, Part III: Market Paradox
Jeff Nielson: In Part I and Part II of this series, readers were presented with two dimensions of the great Silver Paradox. Despite having the best investment fundamentals of any commodity today, and arguably the best fundamentals for any commodity in history; silver hasn’t been so under-produced since it was discovered in the New World nearly 600 years ago, and it has never been so under-owned.
Along with establishing that silver is under-owned (by a factor of at least ten) and under-produced (by at least a factor of two); we also saw it conclusively established that silver wasgrossly under-priced. As we will see in this installment, it is the relentless suppression of the price of silver which is at the root of silver being both under-produced and under-owned.
Much has been written on this subject previously, by myself and others. However, any discussion of price-manipulation in the silver market must begin with the relentless sleuthing of noted silver authority, Ted Butler. It was his shocking discoveries in the silver market which originally attracted the attention of small numbers of far-seeing Contrarians, as well as other commentators such as myself.
Among Mr. Butler’s revelations were the outrageous/absurd short positions in the silver market of a handful of bullion banks. Five of these banks hold approximately 80% of the global short position (year after year), in the world’s largest silver market (the Comex) – another smoking gun. Furthermore, the magnitude of these short holdings is grossly disproportionate to the size of short positions in any other commodity market – another smoking gun.
Even more outrageous, the largest of these short positions (held by JP Morgan) is always roughly twice as large as the size of the Hunt Brothers long position in the silver market; when they were charged and convicted of silver-manipulation. This goes well beyond a mere “smoking gun”, and a more accurate metaphor would be to refer to it as a Smoking Cannon.
The banksters tell us they are “hedging” for anonymous clients with these short positions, and the blind/deaf/dumb CFTC vacuously parrots that drivel. This excuse is nonsensical on many levels. Hedging is an activity done to protect an entity from a sudden, severe price-reversal (lower) in the market. However, as noted in Part I, relentless price-suppression in the silver market had already taken the price of silver to a 600-year low (in real dollars).
Precisely what sort of “sudden, severe reversal” were these banksters hedging against with the price of silver already at a 600-year low? Silver priced below $4/oz was one of the most one-way bets in the history of commodities. Any objective analysis of that market would have indicated that silver clients required much less hedging than in any other commodity market – not much, much more. This multiplies the perversity of the grossly disproportionate short position, and totally negates the lies of the bullion banks.
Instead, building and maintaining a short position which was at least an order of magnitude larger than what could possibly be justified by market conditions yields only one, possible conclusion: this blatantly manipulative short position was/is a millstone aimed at dragging down the silver market – and specifically the price of silver.
We can support this obvious conclusion with irrefutable empirical evidence: the collapse of silver inventories. As I explained in theoretical terms in a prior commentary, excessive shorting must always result in the collapse of inventories. What appears to be (by dollar-value) the most grossly excessive/disproportionate short position in the history of commodity markets resulted in a 90% collapse in silver inventories. Case closed.
Of course we don’t need to “close” our case on silver-manipulation here, since there is so much more that can be said. When precious metals commentators were accused (by mainstream talking-heads) of being “conspiracy nuts” for pointing toward obvious, serial manipulation of the silver market; they frequently fell-back onto a single argument. “Where is your whistle-blower?”
In rebuttal, GATA (the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee) produced veteran metals-trader Andrew Maguire; ready, willing, and able to explain in detail how and when the silver market was being manipulated. GATA produced Mr. Maguire just as the CFTC was about to hold its farcical “hearing” about allegations of precious metals manipulation. The CFTC’s response was to refuse to allow Mr. Maguire to testify, crossing the line between acute tunnel-vision and willful blindness.
Then we have the “attack” on the silver market by the administrator of the Comex itself, the CME Group. In the Spring of 2011; the CME Group bombarded the silver market with five, large rapid-fire increases in margin collateral requirements – the last four increases coming after the price of silver was already plummeting lower.
Here readers need to understand that margin collateral requirements are flat rates, not percentages. Thus the plummeting price of silver itself was already rapidly increasing the effective size of margin requirements (in percentage terms). Indeed, the (only) appropriate regulatory action for a commodity which is rapidly falling in price is to reduce margin requirements. There can be no possible defense of that succession of margin increases.
It’s easy to understand how/why silver is so grossly under-produced; given that it’s price has been (and is) suppressed so far below its fair-market value. When commodity-producers can’t get a fair price for what they produce (in a world of soaring costs), then that commodity will be under-produced.
Much more paradoxical is how/why silver is so ridiculously under-owned (again by a factor of at least ten) at a time when it is objectively under-priced, and with supply/demand parameters so strongly favorable. Referring back to the Golden Rule of “buy low/sell high”, we would expect astute investors to be flocking to this sector, soon after followed by the inevitable stampede of retail investors – as the “bandwagon effect” kicks in.
Why have we not seen this expected evolution toward higher investment in the silver sector? Here the clueless shills of the mainstream media can claim full credit. With silver inventories sitting at historic lows, with silver obviously/objectively under-priced, with silver mining so depressed that most silver is produced as a byproduct of other metals mining, and with silverunder-owned by a factor of ten; these mental midgets have been crowing about a “silver bubble”.
Again, there can be no possible defense for such idiocy. All commodity market bubbles must be characterized by two obvious conditions – as part of the inherent definition of an asset-bubble. First we must see the asset being over-represented in investor portfolios, since one half of the definition requires an excessive flow of capital into the sector.
That must always be followed by an explosion in inventories, as bubble-prices must result in over-supply. With silver ridiculously under-owned, and ridiculously under-supplied; we have literally the precise opposite of “bubble” conditions. No writer who had the slightest understanding of the concept of an asset-bubble could possibly conclude that a “bubble” had even begun to form in the silver market. Thus at a time when any responsible/legitimate media would have been urging investors toward silver; instead we have had an inane flock of Chicken Littles shrieking to investors to “run away!”
Potential investors may still be asking themselves how/why they would invest in an asset which (admittedly) is still being serially manipulated. The answer to that is simple: low prices lead to high prices. It was silver being manipulated to under $4/oz which led to the inventory collapse which drove the price to nearly $50/oz in the Spring of 2011.
Inventories are still totally depleted. Thus the suppressed/manipulated $30+/oz price of silver today can only result in an equal if not greater price-explosion in the future. Smoking guns rarely lie.
Jeff Nielson is from Canada and is a writer/editor for Bullion Bulls Canada www.bullionbullscanada.com. He has a personal background in law and economics. Bullion Bulls Canada provides general macro-economic and political commentary, since the precious metals markets are among the most complex (and misunderstood) in the world.
Bullion Bulls Canada also provides basic coverage of Canadian precious metals mining companies. Canada is the global leader in mining exploration, and Canadian-listed mining companies (on the Toronto Stock Exchange and Venture Exchange) are responsible for the majority of the world’s most-promising discoveries.