Precious metals are heating up, much to the joy of the investors that have stuck with the shiny laggards. Gold has been enjoying a good rally, and that should help pull up silver, which has been in a slump. “It is difficult to be pessimistic about silver at these levels”, says one portfolio manager. Silver is down more than 9% this year, even as gold has rallied. However, eventually gold will start pulling investors into silver. “Silver has lacked retail investment demand, so a sustained rally in gold will lead to the speculators coming and buying silver”, says the portfolio manager.
FINSUM: Precious metals have not been getting much attention for years, but gold is off on the right foot this year. Importantly for silver, a recession doesn’t hurt demand because it isn’t an industrial commodity.
Tell us an investment that does well when inflation is rising AND when rates are falling? Most investments are sensitive to one or the other, but gold can benefit from both. Rising inflation (and rates) can lead to gold-buying as a hedge, helping prices, while falling rates make the metal’s zero yield look more attractive (and make it easier for overseas buyers). Yet, conditions in the middle of those two extremes—which have prevailed since the Crisis—are usually bearish for the metal, as it does not have a natural place in the portfolio in such conditions. That said, gold’s outlook is now the best it has been in years, as the economy is weakening and rates look likely to fall, weakening the Dollar and clearing the path for appreciation.
FINSUM: Gold is in the most interesting position we have seen for some time and we are inclined to think it might start to rise out the doldrums.
All precious metals have been in a tough bear market for several years. Rising rates and a strengthening Dollar have effectively blocked any recovery. The question then is when do they get cheap enough that it is a no-brainer buy? Perhaps right now. Gold’s ratio to silver just hit its highest point since 2008, making silver a buy. Silver has fallen 16% this year, almost double gold’s fall, making it the cheapest in a decade. Gold currently trades at over 80x silver, compared to a ratio of just above 30x in 2011.
FINSUM: The big question here is a catalyst. What would spark a rally? We are not specialists in precious metals, so we won’t comment, but we are sure it will take something significant to break a 6-year slump like this one.