Matt Badiali

Silver is an amazing metal…which is why it’s likely to soar over the coming years…

You see, silver has more than 10,000 uses. It’s one of the world’s best conductors of heat and electricity. Inventors filed more patents on silver uses than any other precious metal in the world. And when silver is used for most industrial and technological purposes, it is used up forever… It simply costs too much to try to recycle the tiny bit of silver from every cell phone or casino chip.

I’m not saying industry is going to use up all the world’s silver. That simply can’t happen. But scarcity is a real issue.

Our rapid consumption of silver leaves very little to meet any uptick in demand from investors. A spike in interest will send prices spiraling higher…

Here’s a breakdown of the silver market. The table below shows the percentage of the total amount of silver consumed by each category over the past four years…

Percentage of Silver Supply Consumed by Various Sourcs of Demand

As you can see from the table above, only 12% of the silver supplied to the market made it to bullion in 2010. That means only a little more than 100 million ounces of silver became bullion for the entire investing world.

That’s a tiny fraction to sop up all the investment interest in the world.

Of that silver, about 43 million ounces went to exchange-traded funds like the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) and the Sprott Physical Silver Trust (PSLV).

That means you could buy all the extra silver bullion for about $2 billion. We could buy all the surplus silver bullion from the last four years for about $10 billion.

That’s the same as the market value of the iShares Silver Trust today. If you wanted to build another silver fund, you couldn’t. There just isn’t enough silver bullion out there to fill the order.

Even trying to amass that much physical silver would send the silver price soaring. It’s a simple market fact… When there is more demand than supply, it drives the price up.

And the economic problems confronting Europe and the United States have increased interest in precious metals… Silver gained a colossal 174% from August 2010 to April 2011.

In May 2011, however, the price collapsed 31% in just four weeks. The bull market simply ran up too far, too fast… and the decline wiped out many highly leveraged silver traders.

The big money is tiptoeing back into silver.

Last month, commodity trading advisors, pool operators, and hedge funds — the “big money” — weren’t interested in silver AT ALL…

But as they move back into the market, silver prices could soar. Let me show you what I’m talking about…

Jason Goepfert created SentimenTrader, a service that tracks investor sentiment toward various asset classes. According to Jason, silver just bounced off its most pessimistic reading in four years.

The so-called “commitment of non-commercial traders” hit 10,352. That’s incredibly low. The last time sentiment numbers were that low was in August 2007. Six months later, the price of silver was 59% higher. It rose from $12 per ounce to $19 per ounce.

I went all the way back to 2002 and found that silver sentiment bottomed near 10,000 six times… On average, the price of silver rose 33% in the next six months and 54% over the next year. This chart shows the last four times it bottomed…

Here’s how the silver price performed after each of the last four times silver sentiment bottomed out…

Recent Lows in the Silver Price that Coincided With Negative Investors Sentiment

The best return came after Bottom No. 2, which coincided with the US banking/credit crisis. Silver soared an eye-popping 405%, including its parabolic rise in 2010.

As those numbers indicate, silver is one of the most volatile assets in the world. Over the last year, silver has seen massive price swings, including an 81% rally and two 30% drops. That forced many traders to liquidate their silver holdings in order to meet emergency short-term requirements. (Plus, the debacle at commodity broker MF Global has scared many folks out of the market.)

But the long-term drivers of gold and silver’s uptrends are still in place. Enormous and growing Asian economies like China and India are getting richer…and they have deep cultural affinities for precious metals. Plus, the Western world has lived way beyond its means for a long time…the debts and liabilities it has taken on can only be paid back with devalued, debased money. This is bullish for “real money” assets like gold and silver.

With sentiment so negative toward silver (and just beginning to turn back up), it’s a great time to take a position in this long-term bull market.

If gold and silver prices are nearly certain to rise over the next few years (and probably rise dramatically), the simplest way to play that trend is to buy bullion…real, hold-in-your-hand silver coins.

And I recommend everyone do just that… Buy some silver and store it away.

Regards,

Matt Badiali
,
for The Daily Reckoning

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Matt Badiali is the editor of the S&A Resource Report, a monthly advisory focused on investments in energy, metals, and other natural resources. Over the years, Matt has recorded an incredible list of triple-digit winners, like Northern Dynasty Minerals (322%), Silver Wheaton (345%), and Jinshan Gold Mines (339%), among many others.

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