Peter Cooper 
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Gold and silver went through a severe correction this summer just like the correction in 1975. Then gold prices dipped by almost 50 percent from peak to trough.
Since its March all-time high of $1,030 an ounce, gold has completed a perfect 38.3 per cent Fibonacci retracement, bouncing back to current price levels. Silver also followed the Fibonacci sequence, albeit with a deeper 50 percent fall from March peak to the trough.
It is important therefore to note that price corrections are behind us in precious metals. These were fairly brutal commodity price corrections. But the rebound has been quick in the case of gold and can only be around the corner for silver – the two seldom move out of synch for long.
Now we have to look at the supply and demand position to determine whether this could in fact be a tipping point. The downside after a big correction like we have just seen is clearly small or entirely gone.
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Gold first: last week investors queued in the streets of London to buy gold. We have a similar rush in the souks of Dubai. Gold coins are selling at the highest premiums to spot gold price in 30 years, and stocks are running out.
Gold has risen sharply in price this week despite a very sharp rally in the US dollar, lower oil prices and collapsing stock markets. Usually the dollar and gold do not move in the same direction, so this is highly significant. Gold also usually falls with oil.
In silver the premium paid for bullion bars is up to 50 percent above the spot price as dealers are running low and demand remains very strong. Why are silver premiums higher than gold: simply because silver stocks are tighter.
This is the classic case of tugging on a piece of elastic fixed to a brick. The pull of the retail price is suddenly going to increase the silver spot price. It just has to as bullion dealers replace their stocks.
We now also have an official enquiry into the shorting of the silver market by two US banks over the summer that crashed the price. No matter that the banks will probably be exonerated. They have removed their short positions – so there is nothing there to prevent silver prices surging ahead.
Meanwhile on the supply side things could hardly be better for price rises in precious metals. Central banks are withdrawing planned gold sales while output is falling at the major producers.
Silver stocks have always been tight as unlike gold the metal is consumed by industrial processes; but silver is also a precious metal which tracks gold as ‘the poor man’s’ alternative. Silver production is increasing but only at a snail’s pace.
Will silver prices again outperform gold by a factor of two as they have in the 2000s so far? It is not guaranteed but looks to be a fair assumption. And once stock markets have ceased to fall silver producers look like an excellent buy, as will the junior gold exploration companies.
However, if this is not a tipping point for gold and silver prices then it can only be a matter of weeks or a couple of months until we reach one. Mostly likely this is it.
From the 1975 correction up to 1980, gold prices grew eight-fold and silver 20-fold – and history has a habit of repeating itself. It never is different this time…
Indeed, the highly inflationary bailouts of the banks that we are seeing today are a mirror image of the rescues that occurred after the 1974 stock market crash and the tripling of oil prices in 1973. Oil prices tripled in 12 months to $147 earlier this year. We are watching an old movie here with money supply boosts from the central banks that can have only one effect: higher inflation.