by Jason Hommel, October 19th, 2008
When I first discovered the fundamentals of the silver market ten years ago, I was as giddy as a schoolgirl, and I knew I had to get as much as possible, as soon as possible. But I had little money. But my dad had money, and he wanted to invest in something, but not silver. Fortunately for my readers, my father was a skeptic, and offered every counter argument in the book, for several years, until he finally decided it was time to buy silver in bulk. This is how I first learned to argue about silver. Dealing with my dad. He was a skeptic, because he ran an advertising agency. See, he exaggerated for a living, and his cosmic punishment seemed to be that he was never able to trust anyone. Eventually, he was convinced to buy silver. After all, he finally reasoned that I had no reason to lie to him, and he was right. For the first few years after he bought, he kept thinking about all that money he spent and "wasted" on silver at $5/oz. Since he started buying in 1999, it was emotionally painful by 2003, 5 years later, to see silver down 25% to bottom out at $4.15 by that spring. It actually took him a few years after we bought silver, by the time silver hit about $6-7/oz., and after the Enron and Worldcom bankruptcies hit, for him to later remark offhand, "I'm so glad I have so much of my money safely locked up in our safe." When he said it, I was flabergasted at the change in his perspective. I was so proud of my father, because I knew he finally understood.
The fundamentals of silver sound just too good to be true. The few million ounces that remain are staggering when you consider the historical implications and comparisons of prices.
A silver dollar was the daily wages of a miner in my hometown in the early 1900's. A silver ounce per day, or less, was also the daily wages for people in 1980, but they didn't earn silver. In 1980, with silver at $50/oz., and minimum wage at $3.10/hour, you'd have to work 16 hours for an ounce.
More silver than is mined each year is consumed by industry, and as late as 2007, less than 10% was demanded by investors. The silver market spiked up starting in 2003, not so much from investor buying, but because investor selling began to slow down just a bit.
This year has been a amazingly good year for silver; tremendously exciting things have happened. When silver hit $20, investors turned buyers bigtime, and nearly stopped selling, and this sea change in the market cleaned out most of the major silver dealers in North America, by March.
Silver Shortage: 19 dealers reported "Sold Out" March 19, 2008
Since then, the shortages have only gotten worse, as I predicted.
What was stunning, and what I was not prepared for, was the extent of the manipulation to the downside to try to shake off and reduce investor demand. Two major banks sold, over the span of a month, contracts of promises to deliver 130 milion ounces of silver, to gamblers who never had any intention of taking delivery of silver, which broke the back of the paper market, and caused a panic sell off in paper silver. This caused further gamblers to have to sell their paper long positions of silver, which further depressed prices, and which also did not bring any new silver to market.
First, the biggest fraud is the COMEX. 90% to 99% of contracts don't result in delivery, but this market dominates the price.
With 142,578 contracts outstanding, for 5000 oz. each, that's 712 million ounces, which is more than all the world's silver mines produce each year, which is about 550 million ounces according to the CPM group.
The COMEX warehouses only store 133 million ounces, and not all of that is registered for delivery against a contract, therefore, there is paper contract fraud selling going on, which manipulates the price down.
I understand that paper contracts can also allow the silver price to be manipulated higher than normal. For example, if 85% of the positions of paper longs were concentrated and held by 2 traders who were short term gamblers who did not intend to take delivery, and if all of the sellers were only the mines who had every intention of delivering silver, prices would be manipulated higher as the paper long positions were purchased.
Likewise, if paper futures are sold, by entities such as banks who have no silver, and don't sell any silver, and don't have any intention of delivering any silver, then that would manipulate prices to the downside.
Many people continue to write to the CFTC to investigate and end the fraud. I don't think they will, since it's the nature of futures contracts themselves that is the essence of the fraud.
The second biggest fraud in the silver market is the LBMA London Bullion Market Association. These are a collective of banks who have 75 million ounces of silver, but trade 30 billion ounces of silver per year, according to statistics compiled by the CPM Group. Clearly, there is fraud there, and they admit it at their website, regarding "bullion accounts":
This is an account where specific bars are not set aside and the customer has a general entitlement to the metal. It is the most convenient, cheapest and most commonly used method of holding metal.
The units of these accounts are one fine ounce of gold and one ounce of silver based upon a 995 LGD (London Good Delivery) gold bar and a 999 fine LGD silver bar respectively. Transactions may be settled by credits or debits to the account while the balance represents the indebtedness between the two parties.
Credit balances on the account do not entitle the creditor to specific bars of gold or silver, but are backed by the general stock of the bullion dealer with whom the account is held. The client is an unsecured creditor.
Should the client wish to receive actual metal, this is done by ‘allocating’ specific bars or equivalent bullion product, the fine gold content of which is then debited from the allocated account.
By their own words, they admit that their standard "bullion accounts" do not have silver, are not backed by silver, but are only a debt or liability of the bank, and the owner of a bullion account is only an unsecured creditor.
Those idiot commentators who write to say that "gold is nobody's liability" ought to wake up. Of course many banks have liabilities of gold, in gold, they owe gold. Those unbacked gold and silver liabilities are part of what is going to drive the gold and silver prices much, much, much higher!
Gold is a liability for all men who practice financial fraud. God is an asset only for honest men. Since the world is so full of fraud, gold is a liability for most men!
You ought to check to see if your bank is listed among the LBMA members; most major banks are members, and for them, silver and gold are a major liability.
There are several long lists of bank names, market making members, ordinary members, and associates.
They, too, like COMEX, are safe as long as their clients don't demand real silver, and for the most part, they don't. Or if they do, they discourage them, and talk them out of it, or claim they only have 1000 oz. bars available, and they will lie about mysteriously costly "assay" fees, which are actually free, and "expensive" shipping, which should cost no more than 2% of the value of the silver. Or they will flatly say they are 'sold out', or that there are high commissions, or that "nobody asks for silver" or that they are unfamiliar with how to proceed, or that if you need real silver and don't trust them, then "we" are all doomed. No, it's they who are doomed, not we.
The third biggest silver fraud is probably the SLV ishares silver trust. It's like the roach motel, you can check in, but you can't check out. Easy to buy, but impossible to take delivery of the silver. You have to be an LBMA member bank to get delivery. How cozy and convenient.
A lot of us don't trust the SLV ETF. Supposedly, it has 6901 tonnes, or about 221 million oz. of silver, worth about $2.2 billion.
There are at least 6 brokers between you and your money, and they all need to get paid when you buy or sell shares in the SLV.
1. The sponsor, Barclays.
2. The custodian, JP Morgan, who is supposed to hold the silver.
3. The sub custoidans, which can have further
4. More sub custodians
5. The market making brokers who buy and sell the actual metal, futures, and/or shares in lots.
6. Your own brokerage account that holds your SLF shares for you.
SLV is not silver. It is promises and sub-promises of unauditable brokerage houses, and JP Morgan is an LBMA member, and is the bank with the largest portfolio of derivatives in the world, over $80 trillion. How can the SLV pay up to 6 middlemen or more, and give you a good spread? Think.
The entire reason behind owning silver is thwarted with the SLV.
Silver cannot default. SLV can.
You own silver to protect against bank failure and brokerage failure.
SLV cannot protect you in case of brokerage failure or custodian failure or sub custodian failure or Barclays failure, or short selling failure to deliver, or your own brokerage failure. Six brokers means 6 chances of failure.
For the SLV, consider Taxes: Physical silver purchases, for the most part, are non reportable. SLV sales are reportable.
For the SLV, consider Confiscation: If the Government changes a law, to confiscate silver, which silver is more vulnerable? Silver in your safe that that they cannot find and don't know about? Or silver in the SLV, which would have to be turned in or converted to "paper"?
The fourth biggest fraud in the silver market is probably the Perth Mint Certificate program.
Where's the Abundance of Perth Mint Rounds?! September 6, 2008
The Perth Mint now has a $1.5 billion precious metals liability to Certificate holders.
To get out of holding the certificates used to cost about 15% in fees just to get your cash, and then another 15% hit to buy real silver. Today, the spreads are much worse.
I've explained and warned numerous times about the Perth Mint's metals debt. It is a legacy fraud, from a legacy debt, probably going back decades. They transfered a bullion debt that they owed to the banks, to the public, though a wonderful public relations campaign, and many bought it hook, line, and sinker, because the people wanted the securty of promises, rather than silver.
The many contradictory statements coming out of the Perth Mint are enough to make your head spin. They say they only buy 20 tonnes of silver at a time, yet they buy every ounce of silver at every time anyone buys a silver certificate. Well, it can only be one, and so it's probably neither. 20 tonnes is barely enough to back 1/2 of 1% of their certificates, and is probably what they need to stay solvent from redemptions that started since I began telling people to get their physical out of there!
The fifth biggest silver market fraud is probably monex.com. A few years ago, I did a video interview with them for a CD promotion that I regret now doing. See monexfraud.com. It's bad enough that they offer silver on "leverage" terms in their atlas account. But what is worse is that the IRS is suing them for back taxes for about $400 million. If they even have that much silver on account for their investors, I sincerely doubt that it's there. Going short in the silver market was a wonderful "business" strategy when silver prices went down for 20 years, but will eventually bankrupt anyone in a rising market. But for the very old man who owns monex, in the short run, he'll be dead from old age, so what does he care?
I probably have had over 100 people complaining to me about the nature of the fraud inherant in the leveraged monex atlas account over the years, over three times as many as have contacted the Better Business Bureau. According to monexfraud.com, monex has an F rating with the BBB, which is very hard to accomplish. It's like you'd have to be actively seeking to defraud people for that to happen.
The sixth biggest fraud in the silver market is relatively tiny by comparison, so tiny, it's almost not worth mentioning, but so many complain to me about them, I should mention it.
NorthWest Territorial Mint Says they Have Silver March 25, 2008
Silver Market Structure: Shortages And Sources March 25, 2008
I just don't like the NorthWest Territorial Mint's policy of a wait time of 3-4 months to get your silver. They were sued by the Washington State's attorney general, and they recently paid a fine and settled, perhaps because the State's attorney general didn't understand the silver market enough to understand how to prosecute. A 3-4 month wait time means the company is likely floating on customer money. I can't prove that, and as a private company, their books are private, but it smells like that to me. Longer and longer wait times, which have been taking place, ought to be alarming.
My calculations, based on their admitted business volumes, show this might be about a 1 million ounce blow up when, or if, it happens. But who knows? In this market, they could earn enough money to be ok in the long run. Interestingly, companies can operate "on the edge" like this for years before a bankruptcy. Lower silver prices, and higher premiums for real product, should be the key to unlock their danger of bankruptcy, and should have shortened their wait times, but it didn't, which is telling. Perhaps they are afraid that if they raise prices, they will lose new orders? Instead, their wait times have gotten longer. Further, they have more and more creative deal incentives for people who are willing to wait. As long as I continue to hammer home to people to not trust long wait times, they should lose new customers, and if they depend on that for a float, then wait times will continue to increase. I get many, many complaints about NWT Mint, but not as many as I used to get, now that they are more upfront with how long the wait will be. I only got one complaint about them today.
If you have bought from them, you ought to be alarmed. What would I suggest you do? Don't order any more! Wait it out, or complain to the Washington State Attorney General. But you likely don't have a complaint, since the company likely told you how long you would have to wait, and you likely already agreed, and the company's delivery deadline is probably not been hit, so tough deal for you, you just agreed to buy a futures contract for delivery, and paid full price, and now you have to worry about counterparty risk.
The seventh biggest fraud in the silver market is likely Kitco. They have been saying for over a month now, that delivery of silver is indefinite, and if you want to cancel, you have to pay a fee. Outrageous. They operate a pool account. Sounds like a precious metals liability. How telling.
Nadler, Kitco, Perth, Matthey; Sold Out! September 3, 2008
All these people telling you that you have to wait, is bullshit.
Even the radio host, Alex Jones, is touting a metal dealer who offers silver for 4-6 weeks for delivery.
Here's a bit of silver industry info. Penoles will deliver 300 of the 1000 oz. comex bars in 2 weeks at 16 cents over spot. Unfortunately, you need to order 300,000 ounces at a time. Too rich for my blood, but maybe that bit of knowledge will be helpful for some of the "big players" listed above who might be having trouble finding silver. It should shorten wait times. But if they cannot afford that silver, because they are teetering on bankruptcy, it won't help them.
Meanwhile, since I found out where I can get real silver, through other honest dealers, almost immediately, I can offer silver for immediate delivery.
How can we do this when everyone else is backordered for months? Simple. We follow a long forgotten and neglected Biblical principle. We don't sell what we don't have. We only sell what we have.
There is so much fraud out there, and real silver is so scarce, you ought to get silver immediately.
I have two major auctions running at seekbullion.com, one ending tomorrow, Monday morning, the other Wednesday at noon, Pacific time.
I'll ship the SAME DAY that wires come in, and all winning bidders must wire within 24 hours. I can ship, "same day" because I'll have all the silver pre-packaged, because I know what I'm selling, and when. I just don't know at what price. You decide what real silver is worth. You tell me, as you place your bids.
You have nothing to lose. You will likely either pay less than you bid, due to the nature of the very small automatic proxy bid increment of $1.01 automatic bid increases, or you will simply not win, and owe nothing.
If you cannot afford a $9000 bag of silver, or a $1200 bar of silver, see my mom's ebay store, here:
Oh yes, more fraud. Since my mom is a new "ebay-er", they put a hold on over $8000 of cash that they now cannot access, and so, they cannot repurchase silver; they are locked out, for an unknown time frame. What fraud! They are so worred about fraud protection for buyers, they fraudulently withhold money and practice fraud themselves. The solution to end fraud is simple. It's a real silver bullet! It's simply silver. If you can understand it. My father finally got it. Do you?
Monex is the low-cost gold and Silver retailer. Paul Bea @ monex 800-949-4653 x2172
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