Emotions, Premiums and Backwardation

Good interview between Jeff Lewis (silver-coin-investor.com) and Grant Williams (vulpesinvest.com). Grant makes a very good point on emotions influencing how events are interpreted (my emphasis):

” It’s important to try and keep a sense of balance because the way things trade, particularly in silver, it’s easy to get fixated upon an idea and to blame every move on that particular idea. In the case of silver, the big theory about silver is the manipulation of the COMEX futures. … It’s a dangerous game to sort of ascribe every single move in an instrument to a construct that has yet to be proven beyond any doubt. While I suspect there is definitely something untoward going on the silver futures as Bart Chilton has intimated in his comments this past year. I think it’s a very dangerous game to not have a balance, to just simply look at the way markets behave, look at the extraneous events that may have an effect and cause the de-leveraging or liquidation and to try and get a more rounded picture of why something moves now.”

Later he says what the extraneous event was:

“I think a lot of that downdraft we saw in both gold and silver going into year end, was just people who are having to raise cash and selling the thing that they had a little bit of profit built into. Now, once they start going down, the shorts are going to press that; and so these falls get a lot more vicious than perhaps they would be in just an orderly market where people were looking to sell a bit of precious metals to raise some cash for year end. But as I say, you have to try and take your emotions out of this thing.”

Interesting here that Grant says that the initiator of the price drop was year end selling, which was further “pressed” by speculators. I made a similar point in this corporate post when talking about bullion banks being aware of falling Indian consumer demand. My point, and Grant’s, is that not everything is a manipulation (as in being initiated by speculators) and sometimes speculators are just riding a physical market trend. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid (or should that be “Silver-Aid”) of the pumpers which blame every price drop on manipulation but who never question any price rise.

As Ted Butler says (my emphasis) “… when silver experienced two separate 35% price declines in a matter of days. Such a decline in a world commodity for no observable supply/demand reason is unprecedented and I would say impossible in a free market.” Same applies when you have the London AM Silver Fix increasing 20.1% over 24 hours from $10.77 to $12.93 on 18 Sep 08 (note: I can’t find two 35% price declines in London Fix data, Ted must be talking intra-day).

Some who has been drinking the Silver-Aid is Tyler Durden with the silly headline Physical Silver Surges To Record 30% Premium Over Spot, In Backwardation. Regrettably, it was picked up by Money Morning Australia (from whom I’d expect better), to which I left this comment:

“What that chart tells us is that PSLV is a closed end fund with some possible tax advantages with good marketing, hence the premium. In the real physical wholesale silver market which is not constrained by a limited number of shares, Perth Mint is not having any problem acquiring, or selling, silver at spot.”

Tyler must be drinking a lot of Silver-Aid or desperate to alleviate the cognitive dissonance of a circa 25% increase in COMEX silver warehouse stocks since mid-2011 to claim that a stock exchange listed trust is as good as and representative of cold hard physical in your hand.

Further proof that Tyler is suffering is his conclusion that the backwardation discussed in Keith Weiner’s appended article “means, although for those who like the punchline here it is, as above: shortage” when, if you read Keith’s good article, he says at the bottom that (my emphasis) “In a normal commodity, backwardation means shortage. … But in gold and silver it means something else entirely. People have the metal. But for whatever reason(s), they choose not to take this free money. In the silver market right now, trust is in short supply.”

Why everyone thinks that Zero Hedge is a credible source when in this example (and I have others) he can’t even understand that Keith is saying there isn’t a shortage of metal, there is a shortage of trust. I covered this idea in the Gold Standard Institute’s 2009 Canberra seminar (I’ll post up the points from the presentation shortly for those interested).

I’ve left this comment on ZH, let’s see what comes of it:

“Perth Mint does not incur any premium when it pulls physical out of London. Whoever is feeding you that is making a fool out of you. If you really are independent and after the truth, more than happy to chat with you anytime – you have access to my email in my profile.”

There are plenty of good reasons to hold precious metals I don’t know why people resort to this shortage and premiums meme – maybe it is just a simple idea easily understood and communicated compared to some more intellectually dense analysis of the market’s supply/demand/stocks.

Anyway, to finish on a more upbeat tone, here is Grant again:

“… we are left with an awful lot of strong hands holding silver now. I’m here in Asia, the futures price is really more of an irrelevancy. Over here it’s all about physical metal both in gold and silver and so we see a lot of buying of physical metals here in Asia when the price comes down on the COMEX and we see premiums expand because it’s very tough to get delivery.”

I focus on the base trend for precious metals and see it driven by increasing numbers of strong hands. The day-to-day volatility (down AND up) is driven by leveraged money of speculators and hedge funds and bullion bank prop desks. I’d suggest ignoring that volatility, otherwise you waste too much emotional energy stressing about it. Just buy your PMs (or dollar cost average in) and forget about it and relax. That’s what insurance is for.

1 comment to Emotions, Premiums and Backwardation

  • Jim Nasium

    What a lot of rubbish comments. The Silver market is rigged just like the Gold market. The MANIPULATION has been proved already!

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