Silver Fundamentals From A Historian’s Perspective

November 20, 2013

Professional historian, author and college professor, Ryan Jordan, Ph.D. sees silver fundamentals from the perspective of a historian and as an astute observer of present conditions. He studies the drivers of the silver market, supply, demand, mining, inflation, investment sentiment, central bank bond monetization policies, and politics.

What does he think?

Demand for silver is strong!

Silver Demand As Guide for Silver’s Next Price Move “Yesterday, the US Mint confirmed a record year for sales of silver coins– and we still have six weeks in the year to go. Yes, the roughly 40 million ounces of silver only accounts for maybe 5% of overall demand, but it also represents a huge increase from a decade ago when it comes to investor interest in physical metal. In fact, globally, silver investment demand is up essentially from ZERO just 10 short years ago (take some time to allow that to sink in when thinking about the change in investor sentiment toward precious metals in recent years.) And demand for silver isn’t just an American phenomenon. Last month, somewhat surprising news came out of India of a roughly 130 million ounces of silver imported into that country in just the first six months of the year. This was in response to the shutdown of gold imports into that country.”

Inflation will be increasingly important.

As long as the world monetary systems are run by central banks, particularly the Federal Reserve, we can expect inflation in the money supply, debt, and consumer prices. The weakness in gold and silver since 2011 is, in our opinion, a temporary correction in the four decade uptrend for debt, spending, and gold and silver prices. Gold and Silver: The Big Picture “Another long term, fundamental factor in the rise of gold and silver comes from the belief of central planners that inflation is nonexistent currently and actually needs to increase. This is the view held by many among western central bankers, and is part of the reason why FED bond purchases will not decline much from the nearly 1 trillion a year mark, as made clear this week by the US central bank. FOMC statements released Wednesday continue to affirm that the deflationary threats from the 2008 crisis remain. The ultra-loose stance of the world’s largest central bank should be of concern to anyone who wonders if inflation might one day get out of hand.

And in India, known as one of the world’s leading gold markets, inflation is already making its presence felt. The Indian central bank continues to raise interest rates while attempting to curtail demand for gold among Indian citizens. Many observers note the similarity to policies once adopted by the US government in the late 1960s and 1970s, and how those policies failed to dampen demand for gold as both inflation and interest rates rose strongly.

My question for any gold or silver bear is this: if gold and silver went up nearly 7 times over the last 10 years with no meaningful inflation in western nations, how much more will the metals go up when inflation is officially recognized as a problem by those in charge?”

Precious metals have been largely ignored for over 30 years.

Yes, they are occasionally mentioned in the mainstream media and on financial television, but the media’s primary focus is on stocks and bonds – paper promises and paper debt – not on something real like a gold bar or a stack of silver coins. Dr. Jordan thinks that gold and silver will become an increasingly important part of more investment plans and that this transition will accelerate. Precious Metals: The Emerging Asset Class “Over the past year, the cult of equities has made a return, as indices roar to all-time highs, and as many look to cash in on new IPOs like they did in the last tech boom 15 years ago.” “But I’d like to make some historical comparisons between the two periods, to explain how even with stocks catching all the attention, this hardly means that gold and silver will continue to be left out in the cold. Here are three main reasons why I do not believe gold, silver, PGMs, or mining shares will behave as they did in the 1980s and 90s: Just last month, President Obama actually made reference to the reserve status of the U.S. dollar as being in jeopardy based on current dysfunctional behavior in Washington, D.C. I don’t ever recall Presidents Reagan through Clinton saying something similar– and for good reason. To take the case of President Reagan’s first term in office, the US Dollar rallied something like 50% at one point. While I don’t expect the dollar to crash anytime soon, too many players globally are looking to diversify away from the greenback for the dollar to re-enter a secular bull market. A big question mark remains over the US dollar’s reserve status and this represents one of the most powerful reasons to continue to own precious metals– or even to acquire more. The challenges facing mining companies these past couple of years signals a downshift in global gold and silver production. This decline won’t happen immediately, since it takes a while to shudder mine projects – but ore grades can only decline so much before it becomes uneconomical to attempt to increase overall mine output. This reality stands in marked contrast to the 1980s and 1990s, where mine output for both metals made significant increases during those decades. Supply constraints – especially if they are coupled with new industrial demand for the white precious metals – will eventually lead to higher prices.

The growth in the global middle class outside of the West is a trend that began 20 years ago, but the trend has accelerated in recent years. Many commentators believe that the shift in wealth from west to east will mean that upwards of 50% of new entrants to the global middle class in future years will come from areas outside the U.S. and Western Europe. As has been seen all year, buyers in Asia and the Middle East possess an attachment to physical gold- ranging from the person buying jewelry to the central banker buying bullion bars– that is hard to break. Oftentimes these attachments speak to the cultural memory of volatile local currencies or political malfeasance in these nations.

Overall there remain some big differences between today and 20 or 30 years ago when it comes to precious metals. While faith in central planners and their ability to levitate equity markets is strong among some, there are others like myself who do feel that 2008 mattered–and not in a good way. Zero percent interest rates, a stagnant economy for upwards of 80% of people in the U.S. and Western Europe, continued discussion of unsustainable debt levels, and the existence of a black hole of derivatives and other “off balance sheet” financial sleights of hand are just a few issues facing investors currently. It may be hard to believe it now, but I don’t think the precious metals will remain under-owned forever.”

Dr. Jordan encourages us to believe that the conventional investment perspective is not the only valid approach.

Don’t Drink Too Deeply From the Well of Conventional Thought “The inability of people to see the world for what it is was quite apparent with the nonsensical discussion of Fed tapering over the last several months. Many in positions of power sought to convince the unwashed that somehow these extreme monetary measures can be undone, or taken back. And many still believe them. As part of this naivety we then get people believing that entire asset classes, like gold, silver and mining shares are only for crazy people- that genuine tangible asset investing need not play any role in a given portfolio. My only advice for people is to please be very careful about drinking too deeply from the well of conventional thought. It is not that the world is going to end, but by the same token the days of 4 or 5% economic growth coupled with a strong and growing middle class are gone for a long time. This new reality requires a new attitude towards investing. Don’t let the recent weakness in the precious metals sector mislead you.”


Ignore for the moment moving averages, technical analysis, relative strength indicators, partial differential equations, econometric analysis, Federal Reserve economic models, and all the other tools of the technician and just listen to the historian. He thinks: Demand for silver is strong in the United States, India and China. Central banks are printing currency and attempting to create inflation. The reserve status of the dollar is weakening. Many countries are bypassing the dollar in their international trade. Mining companies will have reduced output because their revenues have declined while expenses have increased. Hence the supply of silver and gold will remain relatively flat while demand is increasing. The global middle class will demand more gold and silver for savings. Americans may not understand gold and silver but over 2,000,000,000 Chinese and Indians do, and that demand for actual physical metals will grow. The cult of equities is flying high but it may not last. There is room for a shift from equities and bonds to precious metals. Even a small shift in demand away from stocks and bonds could cause the relatively tiny gold and silver markets to rise to new highs. Fundamentally and historically speaking, there are many reasons to own gold and silver.


Courtesy of

GE ChristensonGary Christenson is the owner and writer for the popular and contrarian investment site Deviant Investor and the author of the book, “Gold Value and Gold Prices 1971 – 2021.” He is a retired accountant and business manager with 30 years of experience studying markets, investing, and trading. He writes about investing, gold, silver, the economy and central banking.

The symbol for silver ‘AG’ comes from the Latin word ‘agentum’ meaning silver.