May 1, 2015

A recent Mineweb article warrants a brief discussion. The article contains several illogical statements, which is not surprising considering the author. For example, this is from the second paragraph: “…the fact remains that any entity with sufficient capital behind it can usually move any market in the direction that suits it…” Large financial institutions and hedge funds undoubtedly wish that this were true, but in the real world these entities ‘come a cropper’ when they take big positions that aren’t fundamentally justified. However, I’ll ignore the other flaws and zoom in on the Ted Butler assertion that constitutes the core of the article. I’m referring to the assertion that banking behemoth JP Morgan (JPM) has managed to accumulate a 350M-oz hoard of physical silver while simultaneously causing the silver price to trend downward via the selling of futures contracts. It’s analysis like this that gives gold and silver bulls a bad name, because anyone with knowledge of how markets work will immediately see that it is complete nonsense.

Selling commodity futures and simultaneously buying the physical commodity cannot cause a downward trend in the commodity price, assuming that the amount sold via the futures market is equivalent to the amount bought in the spot market. Price-wise, the only effect would be to boost the spot price of the commodity relative to the price for delivery at some future time. Selling more via the futures market than is bought in the spot market could temporarily push the price downward, but the operative word here is “temporarily” since every short-sale must subsequently be closed out with a purchase. In any case, I get the impression from the above-linked article that JPM has supposedly managed to bring about a downward trend in the silver price while remaining net ‘flat’. This is not possible.

I don’t know how much physical silver is owned by JPM or what JPM’s net exposure to silver is*, and I couldn’t care less. I certainly see no good reason to comb through documents trying to find the answer because the answer is totally irrelevant to the investment case for silver. The investment case for silver is determined partly by silver’s market value relative to the market values of gold and the industrial metals, and partly by the same macro-economic fundamentals that are important for gold. Right now, silver has reasonable relative value and neutral fundamentals, with the fundamentals looking set to improve during the second half of this year.

I’m ‘long’ physical silver, despite, not because of, the ‘analyses’ of some of the most outspoken silver bulls.

*Neither does Ted Butler nor anyone else who isn’t a senior manager at JPM

Print This Post Print This Post