Why the price of silver is the last thing you should worry about

By Jeff Clark
Tuesday, May 17, 2011




I heard some disturbing reports about silver supply last month that I felt every investor should know. And while precious metals are currently in correction mode, the long-term concerns with supply won’t disappear anytime soon. In attempt to get a handle on the bullion market, I spoke to Andy Schectman of Miles Franklin, who has contacts that run deep in the industry. What he sees everyday might just compel you to count how many ounces you own…



Jeff Clark: Andy, tell us about your industry contacts and how you get the information you're privy to.

Andy Schectman: We source our product from three of the largest six primary U.S. mint distributors. Having 20 years of experience with these sources, as well as the dealers in the secondary market, we're as tied into the industry as anyone.



Jeff: You made some interesting comments to me about supply and premiums. Tell us what you’re hearing and seeing in the bullion market right now.

Andy: I feel as though I'm the boy who cries wolf or that I've been beating the same drum for too long. But in reality, it has been my feeling since late 2007 that ultimately this market will be defined less by the price going parabolic – which I think ultimately will happen – and more by a lack of supply. You see occasional reports that state it’s just a lack of refined silver or lack of silver in investable form. But as far as I'm concerned, there is a major supply deficit issue, and it’s getting worse.

Take the U.S. Mint, for example. Right now, as we talk, you can barely get silver Eagles. We’re seeing delivery delays of three to four weeks, and premium hikes of a dollar or more in the last three weeks. Most of the suppliers in the country are reluctant to take large orders on silver Eagles because they don’t know (a) when they’ll get them, and (b) what the premiums will be when they arrive.

I was talking to the head of Prudential Bache and asked him about silver Eagles. He said, "You know, as soon as the allocations come in, they’re sold out. We can't keep them in." This is coming from one of the largest distributors of U.S. Mint products in the country.

And this is all occurring in an environment that has only minimal participation by the masses. Few people in this country have ever even held a gold or silver coin. So, if it's this difficult to get bullion now, what's it going to be like when it becomes evident to the masses they need to buy? This is what keeps me up at night.



Jeff: Some analysts say it's a bottleneck issue, that the mints have enough stock but just need more time or more workers to fabricate the metal into the bars and coins customers want.

Andy: No, I don’t believe that. What business do you know that if they had that much profit potential wouldn’t increase production and hire more workers to meet demand? To me, the “inefficient model