Home > Is There Any Truth To Rumors Of A Physical Silver Shortage? (SLV, PSLV, SIVR, AGQ, GLD, ZSL)

Is There Any Truth To Rumors Of A Physical Silver Shortage? (SLV, PSLV, SIVR, AGQ, GLD, ZSL)

January 25th, 2013

rumors1Jeff Uscher: News that HSBC (NYSE ADR:HBC) has concluded a second large purchase of silver bullion from KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. (OTC:KGHPF), the world’s largest silver miner, has sparked speculation that there is a physical silver shortage in the markets.

KGHM issued a press release on Wednesday which read in part,”… on 21 January 2013 a contract was entered into between KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. and HSBC Bank USA N.A., London Branch for silver sales in 2013. The estimated value of the contract is PLN 1,672,260,469.66 [$532.6 million].” Get A Free Trend Analysis For Any Stock Here!

The press release continued, “As a result of entering into this contract, the total estimated value of contracts entered into between KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. and HSBC Bank USA N.A., London Branch over the last 12 months exceeded 10% of the equity of the Company and amounts to PLN 3,654,120,061.59 [$1,163.7 million].”

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Coming on top of news earlier this week that the U.S. Mint had temporarily run out of Silver Eagle coins and that the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV) had added 18.4 million ounces of silver to its holdings, nearly as much as the 20.8 million ounces added during all of 2012.

Together, these events have triggered rumors of a looming silver shortage – is it so?

Physical Silver vs. Paper Silver

Many of the rumors talk about the relationship between physical silver-actual silver bullion-and paper silver, which is the silver that exists only on paper in the form of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or futures contracts.

Some market observers have speculated that there isn’t enough physical silver currently available to make delivery to all of the owners of silver futures, which would result in a “default” by the Comex where the silver contract is traded.

This would be a major disruption to trading in silver, gold and other hard commodities. The price of physical silver, gold or other contract deliverables would spike higher until there was enough of the underlying commodity to satisfy demand from the futures market.

But is this likely to happen? According to Kitco, a major London-based bullion broker, this is not likely at all.

Kitco Senior Analyst John Nadler at Kitco said in a video interview that there are 207 million ounces of surplus silver overhanging the markets. “…it’s fairly sizable and it is a quantity that needs to be absorbed in one way or another either by ETFs or by physical purchases or else we will have a price problem.”

Referring to the suspended sales of U.S. Silver Eagle coins, Nadler said,”…there is absolutely no shortage of material to make these types of coins. It’s simply a question of fabrication capacity.”

What Does this Mean for Silver Prices?

Clearly, silver has been in a down trend since rising above $48 an ounce back in the spring of 2011.

At today’s price of $31.18, silver seems to be in a fairly narrow trading range between support around $30.75 and resistance in the area of $32.50. This price action would seem to confirm Nadler’s observation that there is still a lot of silver overhanging the market.

But, as the bulls will tell you, new silver production has been muted because of the lower price and, with deals like HSBC’s purchase form KGHM, it is only a matter of time before the surplus is worked off and prices start to rise again.

Silver bulls also cite increased industrial production in China as a reason for higher silver prices. Get A Free Trend Analysis For Any Stock Here!

As Money Morning explained Wednesday, “China’s industrial use of [silver] has rocketed higher, no doubt due to China’s nearly uninterrupted economic growth over the past 20 years… China’s offtake from fabrication demand grew from just 48.7 million ounces in 2000 to 159.5 million ounces in 2011…This represents a 12% annual increase during that period.”

Money Morning precious metals guru, Peter Krauth, is forecasting silver at $54 an ounce during 2013.

If we take into account the 18.4 million ounces of silver purchased by the iShares ETF and KGHM’s silver supply contracts with HSBC-worth an estimated 36.4 million ounces at today’s price-a large chunk of Kitco’s silver overhang has disappeared in just one week. And that has got to be bullish for silver prices.

Related: iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV), ProShares Ultra Silver (NYSEARCA:AGQ), SPDR Gold ETF (NYSEARCA:GLD), ProShares UltraShort Silver (NYSEARCA:ZSL),  ETFS Physical Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SIVR), Sprott Physical Silver Trust ETV (NYSEARCA:PSLV).

Money MorningWritten By Jeff Uscher For Money Morning

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  1. January 26th, 2013 at 15:00 | #1

    @Jack Lee

    SLV and COMEX together have about 485Moz, so the 207Moz surplus comes from somewhere else (I have no idea where; I’d love to have access to those numbers!). The silver in SLV has serial numbers; those bars exist and legally belong to SLV. If anyone else claims those bars, there is fraud involved, pure and simple.

    COMEX does indeed use fractional reserve; that’s how it was originally designed, and it doesn’t take an expert to figure it out (they publish that the inventory is 150Moz, and open interest is 740Moz; nobody is pretending that it isn’t fractional reserve).


  2. January 25th, 2013 at 19:46 | #2

    Sure, I am an easy target because I get under their thin gold/silver bug skin with the very truths that they try really hard to ignore. But, can Usher or Lee contradict Standard Bank as well? What China ‘demand?’ Read for yourself (and weep):

    “As for industrial demand and inventory, China’s silver net imports were the lowest annual net number since 2009. Despite these imports declining from 2,237mt in 2012 to 1195mt in 2012, we estimate that China’s silver stockpiles are higher now than a year ago.” -Standard Bank.

    Please inform Ben Bernanke that I am awaiting my commission cheque for January – I did an excellent job of “bashing” gold and silver, no? Why, I single-handedly brought them both down with my might keyboard.


  3. Jack Lee
    January 25th, 2013 at 15:57 | #3

    Can Nadler show anyone where this magical 200 million ounces of silver is? Let me answer for you. It’s on an Excel Spreadsheet of COMEX and SLV inventory. It doesn’t really exist in physical form. And whatever does exist has multiple paper claims to it. COMEX has admitted using a fractional reserve system. Jon “Never right” Nadler saying there is no silver shortage GUARANTEES there is a shortage. Just check the mans credibility. Here is a track record of his claims that goes back to 2008: http://silverenthusiast.com/grading-jon-nadler/

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