July 5, 2022

US Mint Gold and Silver Bullion Sales Soar In April

geThe exploding demand for physical gold and silver has become a worldwide phenomenon.  Shortly after the price plunge of early April buyers rushed in to take advantage of bargain prices.  Dealers and mints worldwide have reported off the charts demand for physical gold and silver.

Intense demand across Asia has resulted in shortages of gold and silver in both India and China as dealers struggle to keep up.  Singapore’s largest supplier of coins and bars reports depleted stocks of silver and long delivery delays.

The surge in physical demand is also rapidly depleting U.S. gold inventories according to Reuters.

Physical gold held at CME Group’s Comex warehouses in New York have dropped to a near-five year low in a further sign that gold’s price crash unleashed a frenzy of demand as investors scramble to buy bars and coins.

U.S. gold stocks, comprised of 100-troy ounce COMEX gold bars, have fallen almost 30 percent since February, as dealers have switched to selling into the burgeoning Asian market, where prices and demand are higher than in New York.

But the pace of the outflows from vaults has accelerated since bullion’s historic sell-off, falling more than 7 percent last week for its biggest weekly drop since 2005.

The latest sales figures from the U.S. Mint for April are further confirmation of  the voracious demand for physical gold and silver.  Sales of both the America Eagle gold and silver bullion coins skyrocketed in April.

According to the US Mint, sales of the American Eagle gold bullion coin totaled 209,500 ounces in April, up a stunning 948% from the previous year and up 22% from the previous month.  The gold bullion coins had the largest amount of sales since December 2009 when 231,500 ounces were sold.

Gold and silver bullion coin sales have soared since the financial crash of 2008 and the subsequent repetitive use of the print button by the world’s central banks.  In order to get a perspective on the flight to precious metals, consider that over the entire year of 2007, the US Mint sold a total of only 198,500 ounces of gold bullion coins – less than montly sales during April 2013.

Sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coins were also very strong.  During April 2013, the US Mint sold 4,087,000 silver bullion coins, up 169% over April of last year and up 22% from the previous month’s sales.  The US Mint has struggled to keep up with demand even before the April surge.  Sales of the American silver eagles was recently suspended twice and in late April the US Mint suspended sales of the one-tenth ounce American eagle gold bullion coin due to inventory depletion.

Based on sales to date, it would not be surprising to see an all time record high amount of the American Eagle silver bullion coins sold in 2013.

 

Worldwide Buying Frenzy of Gold and Silver Continues

Liberty EagleDon’t precious metal investors read newspapers?  Despite proclamations from the mainstream press that the bull market in gold and silver is over, a buying frenzy in precious metals is occurring worldwide.  The gold rush mentality to buy gold and silver at bargain prices has resulted in stock out conditions for many retail sellers of precious metals, including the U.S. Mint.

Intense gold demand in India has lead to shortages as Gold Buyers Throng Indian Stores for Second Week on Rally.

Gold consumers in India, the world’s biggest importer, thronged jewelry stores across the country for a second week on speculation that bullion may extend a rally after the biggest plunge in three decades.

“We waited for sometime to see if prices will fall more but when we saw them moving up again, we decided it’s time,” said Sripal Jain, a 77-year-old silver dealer who came with his younger brother, daughter and daughter-in-law to buy gold necklaces at Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazaar. “We don’t have any wedding or occasion coming up. The rates fell, so we decided to buy.”

Bullion slumped 14 percent in two days, reaching the lowest price in two years on April 16, triggering a frenzy among coin and jewelry buyers from the U.S. to India, China and Australia. The surge in demand has helped prices rally 11 percent since April 16, and jewelers in India are paying premiums of as much as $10 an ounce to secure supplies, according to the Bombay Bullion Association.

Gold will rally to $1,800 an ounce by December as skepticism over the global recovery increases demand, billionaire Indian jeweler T.S. Kalyanaraman said on April 19.

The rush to buy has led to a shortage in India and jewelers are paying premium of as much as $10 an ounce compared with $2 just 10 days earlier, said Bipin Jain, owner of Vimalson Jewellers and a vice president of the bullion association.

The Perth Mint reports that while the media is talking about the bear market in gold, bullion buying has soared as bargain hunters move in.  As gold and silver prices corrected, Perth Mint buyers viewed the situation as a perfect buying opportunity and stepped up their purchases of gold and silver.  Activity on the Perth Mint website was so intense, that some buyers experienced long delays.

As the central bank of Japan continues its unprecedented experiment in massive monetary expansion, the Japanese Seek Refuge in Bullion as Yen Slumps, Inflation Looms.

Japanese consumers are poised to become net buyers of gold for the first time in eight years as the yen’s decline and looming inflation drive them to seek refuge in bullion, according to Standard Bank Plc.

Net sales of gold bars and coins by Japanese individuals shrank to 10.1 metric tons in 2012, the smallest amount since 2005, data from the World Gold Council show. A surge in purchases this month and the chance to buy after bullion slumped into a bear market foreshadow a turnaround in 2013, said Bruce Ikemizu, Standard Bank’s head of commodities trading in Tokyo.

The currency has depreciated 13 percent against the dollar this year and is trading near a four-year low after the central bank’s pursuit of unprecedented monetary easing to end deflation was unopposed by Group of 20 nations. Inflation may rise above 1 percent in the 12 months starting April 2014 and approach a 2 percent target as early as that year, Bank of Japan (8301) policy board member Ryuzo Miyao said April 18.

“The time has come for Japanese to buy gold with the government trying to engineer inflation,” Ikemizu, who has traded commodities for almost three decades, said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday. “Retail investors are turning from sellers to buyers of bullion.”

In India and China, the biggest gold-consuming nations, shoppers last week lined up in bazaars from Mumbai to Shanghai to buy the metal for brides, babies and strongboxes after prices fell. Indian consumers bought a net 312.2 tons of gold bars and coins in 2012, while purchases by individuals in China reached 265.5 tons, according to the World Gold Council.

The long term rationale for owning gold and silver remains intact.  The reasons for the recent smash-down in gold and silver may never be known but it has provided a gift opportunity to increase positions in gold and silver.

Silver Rally Is Imminent Based On COT Data

Silver ETFBy: GE Christenson

The Commitment of Traders data is published every Friday. It lists the reportable positions of the commercial and non-commercial traders for silver contracts on the COMEX.

STOP! Yes, I know

  • The data is manipulated. The same people who brought us LIBOR, flash crashes, high frequency trading, and the most recent gold and silver crash are the people who report the data.
  • Experienced traders like Jim Sinclair understand the inner workings of this data far better than I, and it is my impression that he is skeptical of the value of the COT data.
  • The data is subject to revision, errors, and occasional changes in definitions.
  • Not everyone in the world is honest in their reporting (really?), and the regulation and enforcement might be a bit lax (really?).

But, given the above, let’s look at the data and USE WHAT WE HAVE.

  • First: Take the non-commercial category and net the longs and shorts. Call this the non-commercial net longs.
  • Second: Take the commercial category and net the longs and shorts (longs minus shorts – may be negative). Call this the commercial net longs.
  • Third: Subtract the commercial net longs from the non-commercial net longs. This provides a rough estimate of the difference in commitment to silver between those two broad groups of traders on the COMEX. So what? Is it valuable? Does it tell us anything useful about probable future price changes?

Examine the graph. The COT non-commercial net longs less the commercial net longs (in the legend as “net long”) are shown in red. Pay attention to the red circles where the “net long” drops below 50,000.

Click on image to enlarge.

The price of silver (in dollars) since 2005 is shown. Note the black circles that roughly correspond to the red circles. Each red circle (low in “net long”) was a buying opportunity, and silver subsequently rose in price. Some were excellent long-term opportunities, such as September 2005, August 2007, October 2008, and April 2009. Others, such as July 2011, October 2011, December 2011, and June 2012, were good but short-lived buying opportunities.

Conclusions

In spite of the supposed manipulation and distortion in the data, it does have some value indicating future price direction.

The data is better at picking price bottoms than tops. Do NOT trade using this data alone. NOW looks like a price bottom.

The data will probably NOT tell you if the current “bottom” is one in a series of lower lows in a bear market or if it is a multi-year bottom and the beginning of a new bull market.

My Opinion

This current bottom is more like the bottom in 2008 after that 55% washout than any other bottom in the past three decades. I expect that now is a significant bottom, and we will see substantially higher prices over the next several months and several years. Unfortunately, I also expected the same after the June 2012 bottom. So, we’ll wait and see… In the meantime, go back and review the fundamental case for silver and gold. Read: Why Buy Silver? and Why Buy Gold?

GE Christenson
aka Deviant Investor

U.S. Mint Runs Out of Gold Bullion Coins

tenth oz gold-eaglesWe already knew from numerous previous reports that demand for physical gold and silver has soared since the early April precious metals crash.  Further confirmation of vanishing physical gold and silver inventory was provided today by the Untied States Mint.  Authorized purchasers of gold and silver bullion coins were informed by the U.S. Mint that sales of the one-tenth ounce American Eagle bullion coin would be immediately suspended due to depleted inventories of the coin.

As short term paper speculators run from the precious metals markets, long term investors have been lining up around the block to buy physical gold and silver.  Numerous coin and bullion dealers have reported growing shortages of gold and silver and premiums have expanded as demand overwhelms supply.

Based on mid month sales reports for the American Eagle gold bullion coins, it looked like monthly sales would exceed 167,000 ounces, the highest since December 2009 when the financial system was still in a meltdown.  As of today, U.S. Mint sales of gold bullion coins has reached 183,500 ounces, an astonishing increase of 818% over the prior year’s monthly sales of 20,000 ounces.  April sales to date have increased by 196% over March sales.  For all of 2012, average monthly sales of the American Eagle gold bullion coin were 62,750 ounces.  Gold bullion coin sales by the U.S. Mint are shown below; figures for 2013 are through April 23rd.

 

Gold Bullion U.S. Mint Sales Since 2000
Year Total Ounces Sold
2000 164,500
2001 325,000
2002 315,000
2003 484,500
2004 536,000
2005 449,000
2006 261,000
2007 198,500
2008 860,500
2009 1,435,000
2010 1,220,500
2011 1,000,000
2012 753,000
2013 476,000
TOTAL                                      8,478,500

Sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coins, which had already been selling briskly before the April silver smash-down, continue to sell at a rapid pace.  Total monthly sales as of April 23rd have reached 3,232,000 ounces, almost as much as the previous month’s total and 112.6% higher than the comparable month of 2012.

The steep correction in gold and silver prices that occurred in early April has certainly not disturbed the fundamental long term reasons for buying precious metals.  Expect the buying stampede to continue.

Physical Demand For Gold and Silver Skyrockets – Gold Bullion Coin Sales Highest Since December 2009

1881-CC-Morgan-DollarWe have probably all heard enough already from the mainstream nitwits who are forecasting the end of the gold bull market and further price declines.  Funny thing though, most precious metal investors don’t need advice from self proclaimed experts on how to invest their money.  The explicitly stated goal of central banks to increase the rate of inflation through currency debasement is blatantly obvious.  Investors are acting accordingly by taking advantage of the recent decline in precious metal prices.

A look at product availability and pricing at some major coin and bullion dealers shows spot shortages of gold and silver as well as large premiums as investor demand overwhelms supply.

The Perth Mint reports that retail customers are increasing purchases at a record rate even as gold slumps to a 21 month low.  As the experts were proclaiming the “Death of Gold”, the Perth Mint website recorded the highest activity of the year and one of the best days of the past year.  Bargain prices on gold and silver have greatly increased the demand for physical gold and silver by the public.  Demand for gold coins have skyrocketed with sales of Australian gold bullion coins increasing by 48% in the first quarter over the comparable prior year period.

2013-Australian-Kangaroo-1oz-Gold-Bullion-Coin-Reverse-S

Buying by U.S. investors of the American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins has also increased dramatically.  Through April 16th, sales by the U.S. Mint of the American Eagle gold bullion coins have already exceeded total monthly sales for the previous two months.  At the current sales pace, sales of the gold bullion coins in April will total over 167,000 ounces, an increase of over 260% from the prior month.  The last time sales of gold bullion coins exceeded 167,000 ounces was in December 2009 when the U.S. Mint sold 231,500 ounces.

Sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coins are also strong in April, continuing a trend that began with the financial crisis in 2008.  Sales of the silver bullion coins through April 16th total 2.2 million ounces.  If the current sales pace continues through the end of April total sales of the Silver Eagle coins will increase by 31% over the previous month.

Short term speculators may be crashing the precious metals markets, but long term investors in gold and silver see this as the ultimate golden opportunity to increase positions.

 

Where Does Silver Go From Here?

silver-eagleBy: GE Christenson

You bought silver with high expectations! Then it crashed while endless news reports informed you that silver would drop even further. Frustration! Misery! Despair! Depression! You have lived it all. There was no light at the end of the tunnel.

Darkness and despair covered the land of silver. There was no joy in silver-ville.

But, then from the depths of despair and ugly bearish sentiment, a rally materialized. But, not just a small rally, a HUGE RALLY – TOTALLY AWESOME! The price doubled in a few months. Then it paused, scared some of us out, and rallied even further. You heard that silver was going to $100 or maybe $200 per ounce. Analysts outdid each other with higher and higher projections. You congratulated yourself on your foresight and financial acuity by investing in silver – sheer genius – forgetting that you almost sold out for a loss at the bottom. The manic phase is great while it lasts…

Silver rallied, and you waited for even higher prices before you sold. If you were rational or just lucky, you sold out before it crashed 25% in a week. If you did not sell out, you screamed to anyone who would listen, “they crashed it,” and “I should have sold out before the crash,” and “it’s not fair.”

Silver investing felt like a bipolar roller coaster ride – manic up followed by depressing down. You began to self-medicate with alcohol and wishful thinking. You sought out others who agreed with you, told you what you wanted to hear, and…

… it goes on and on.

STOP!

I repeat. STOP with the bipolar behavior, the delusional thinking, the self-medicating, and the emotionally debilitating ups and downs. It is not good for your physical, emotional, or financial health. Just stop, hit the silver reset button, and reassess.

  • Silver is heavily manipulated by the big players (JP Morgan, etc.) – what else would you expect? They are in the business to make profits, and their profit at YOUR expense is just fine with them. No need to worry about the DOJ, congress, or any regulators … for obvious reasons. So just admit it, the price is managed and manipulated, the “fix is in,” and that is exactly what we should expect. But, it is still a better investment than most paper.
  • Silver has gone up, from January 1, 2000 (a good place to start) to the LOW in April 2013 about 14% per year. One more time, what is wrong with 14% per year?
  • Silver rallied from under $9 in October 2008 to a high of nearly $49 on April 29, 2011. The next week it crashed to a low of about $35, briefly bounced, and then fell again to a low of about $26 in June of 2012, rallied to about $35 in October, and fell again to about $27 in early April 2013. That was a wild ride on the bipolar silver roller coaster.
  • Since 1971 when Nixon severed the already tenuous link between the dollar and gold and encouraged money creation to accelerate, silver has risen, on average. about 7% per year, compounded annually, for 42 years. It will go higher because the value of paper currency is almost certain to continue its decades’ long decline.
  • Central banks around the world are printing money, expanding the money supply, and doing what they can to suppress the price of gold and silver. Given the financial mess they have created, what choice do they have? So expect money printing and erratic silver rallies to continue.

For your emotional and financial sanity and physical health, get off the bipolar silver roller coaster, buy physical silver, relax, and watch the spectacle as the central banks of the world drive the value of paper currency toward zero and the value of silver to $100 or $200 or $300 per ounce. You own it for insurance and to preserve purchasing power, so there is no need to fixate on the daily or weekly price, except to buy more at bargain prices – like now.

Again: Why do we own silver?

Read:

GE Christenson
aka Deviant Investor

How To Buy, Store and Sell Gold and Silver

By: GE Christenson

You want to buy silver and gold. There is much to consider!

safe

  • Physical metal or paper promises?
  • From which supplier will you buy it? Price is not the only consideration.
  • Where do you store it? Your sock drawer, a safe, insured and secure vault, or in another country?
  • How do you sell it and when?
  • IRS Rules

 

Physical, ETF, or Paper?

Do you want actual physical silver and gold that you can hold in your hand? If you do, then buy coins or bars and skip ahead.

If you want to buy and sell easily without taking delivery of actual metal, then perhaps you should invest in an ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) for gold and silver. The fees are minimal; ETFs are convenient and good for frequent trading. The two most popular are GLD and SLV. They are also criticized by many analysts, so I encourage you to also consider PHYS, PSLV, GTU, and others.

If you want paper, then buy options or futures contracts and be careful. When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled – and most of us are merely grass in the world of futures trading.

You Want to Buy Physical Gold and Silver Coins and Bars. Good! Where?

There are many dealers who will sell over the internet and ship to your home or to a secure storage vault. Their prices will vary slightly and so will their terms for payment and delivery. See the partial list and brief comments at the end of this article to get started. There are many other fine dealers in addition to the few examples I have listed.

Storage

More important than where you buy is whether you will buy for delivery to your home, delivery to a secure domestic storage facility, or for delivery to a vault outside of the United States.

Your home – Convenient and close but vulnerable to fire and theft. Your sock drawer is not recommended – buy a safe, hide it, and tell very few.

Safe deposit box at local bank – Secure, less convenient, probably not insured, and vulnerable to a search warrant, court order, and banking shutdown. Use a local bank, not a branch of a huge mega-bank.

Secure storage in the USA – Very secure and safe but may not be close or convenient. Are you comfortable with such storage? If so, then this is an excellent choice. Choose a vault OUTSIDE the banking system.

International Storage – You can store in commercial vaults in London, Canada, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and other locations. The IRS MAY want to be told what you are storing and its value if you are an American citizen and storing internationally. See IRS Rules.

How Do you Sell Your Gold and Silver?

If you are buying for insurance against devaluing paper currencies, perhaps you intend to hold it for a long time or expect to will it to your family. In either case, don’t sell it.

If your gold and silver coins are in your possession, then you can sell via the internet or take them to a local coin store. Most companies that will sell to you via the Internet or a phone call will also buy back at a slight discount to sales price (they have to sell at a mark-up to stay in business). You can also sell on eBay or to private individuals. There probably will be tax implications, so consult with your tax advisor.

When to Sell Gold and Silver?

Again, there is no right answer for everyone. Some will argue that gold and silver are essential insurance against unbacked paper currencies and so should never be sold. Investors may want to hold until they see some large price, say $150 silver and $4,000 gold. Others wish to trade in and out, buying low and selling high. Your choice will help determine if you want paper silver, an ETF, coins, or bars, stored domestically or offshore. It is easy to sell paper or an ETF. It may be less convenient to sell coins and bars that you have stored in a safe deposit box. It probably will be easy to sell gold stored in Switzerland.

Jim Sinclair, legendary gold trader and investor, says buy “fish lines” and sell “rhino horns.” What he means is that markets, especially gold and silver markets, often move too far, too fast, both up and down. The down moves – the fish lines – scare out leveraged speculators and “weak hands” and usually indicate good buy points for long-term investors. When leveraged speculators, hot money, and the public drive the market higher in a parabolic spike upward, the chart looks like a rhino horn, and that often indicates a good time to sell. There will be many more signals, but most of us are overwhelmed by greed and fear, especially panic, and we often miss the signals. In 1929 the “signal” was to sell when shoeshine boys were giving stock tips. Something similar will happen at the next panic high in gold and silver, but that may be years away.

IRS Rules

The IRS has instituted new rules for United States taxpayers. We are now required to report holdings of foreign assets on form 8938 (Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets) and form TD F 90-22.1. Consult with your tax attorney and financial advisor, but the simple interpretation is this:

If you own financial assets in another country worth more than certain amounts, usually you must report these assets on form 8938 with your federal tax return and on form TD F 90-22.1 due June 30 of each year. It is wise to comply with IRS requirements as the penalties can be severe. There may be exceptions that your professional advisor can discuss, but these relatively new requirements may influence your choice of investments and their storage locations.

Alphabetical (partial) list of gold and silver vendors with brief comments on each.

Please do your own research before making a purchase.

APMEX – Large gold and silver bullion and coins dealer operating out of Oklahoma. They maintain a sizeable inventory and will buy and sell online in several currencies with reasonable commissions. Apmex will “lock-in” a purchase price online and accept a personal check in payment (with delayed delivery). If you wish, they will also arrange for secure storage with a subsidiary company and ship directly to that insured storage facility. Apmex will assist with the purchase of silver and gold for investment in your qualified IRA.

Bullion Vault – Secure insured vault storage in London, Zurich, and New York for both gold and silver. Purchases can be arranged quickly and online in different currencies with low costs for storage and insurance. It is easy to sell or take delivery of your metals.

Global Gold – Secure insured vault storage in Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Singapore for both gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Purchases can be arranged quickly and online with low costs for storage and insurance. It is easy to sell or take delivery of your metals. Ownership is physical and fully allocated.

GoldMoney – Secure insured storage in the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Canada, and Singapore for both gold and silver. Purchases can be arranged quickly and online in different currencies with low costs for storage and insurance. It is easy to sell or take delivery of your metals.

GoldSilver.com – Large gold and silver coin and bullion dealer operating out of California. They maintain a sizeable inventory and will buy and sell online with reasonable commissions. GoldSilver.com will arrange storage in Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, or the USA. You can easily sell your gold and silver holdings or take delivery. They also will assist with purchasing gold and silver coins and bullion for your retirement accounts. If you have time, watch their instructional videos.

Hard Assets Alliance – This is a relatively new company that attempts to meet many needs including convenient gold and silver purchases with secure insured and allocated storage for gold and silver. Silver can be stored in the US but currently only gold can be stored offshore in several countries. Their downloadable information booklet states:

Exempt from US reporting requirements. As a domestic institution, GBI’s US customers are exempt from both the FBAR and Form 8938 filing requirements if offshore metal storage is elected.”

In some circumstances, this exemption from US reporting requirements may be important in your decision-making process.

Lear Capital – Large gold and silver coin and bullion dealer operating out of California. They maintain a sizeable inventory and will buy and sell online with reasonable commissions. Lear Capital will assist with purchasing gold and silver coins and bullion for IRA and 401k retirement accounts.

Liberty Gold and Silver – A smaller gold, silver, and platinum coin and bullion dealer operating out of Oregon. Liberty Gold and Silver will assist with purchasing gold and silver coins and bullion for IRA accounts and can arrange secure allocated storage in the USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and Singapore.

Perth Mint – Located in Australia, the Perth Mint has been in business for over 100 years and is owned by the Government of Western Australia. The mint refines and produces a variety of products, special coins, and commemoratives in gold, silver, and platinum. The Mint receives over 70,000 visitors each year. You can purchase coins and bullion for delivery and arrange for allocated or pooled storage of your metals.

SilverSaver – Secure insured storage in the USA for gold and silver. You can make convenient periodic purchases by direct withdrawal from your checking account. This allows for a signup and forget “dollar-cost averaging” purchase plan. You can also take delivery of your gold and silver or easily sell it back to SilverSaver.

The Ultimate Gold Trust – Gold can be purchased and held in Switzerland. This storage solution is recommended by Julian D. W. Phillips, a frequent commentator on gold and gold storage options. Read his latest article on the safety of offshore storage.

GE Christenson
aka Deviant Investor

COMEX Price Manipulation Forces Silver Price Down Despite Demand Increase

By: Mike McGill of Liberty Gold and Silver

Let’s begin with a definition. Investopedia.com defines the Law of Supply and Demand as follows:

The effect that the availability of a particular product and the desire (or demand) for that product has on price. Generally, if there is a low supply and a high demand, the price will be high. In contrast, the greater the supply and the lower the demand, the lower the price will be.

A solid definition, agreed? The Law of Supply and Demand should be the core premise of all economic studies as it has proved itself to be historically true.

How can we explain what has happened recently with the price of silver? In about three months, silver has declined from its late-November price of about $34 per ounce to its current price of about $28.50 as of today’s close (February 28, 2013). That’s a drop of about $5.50, which equates to a decline of over 16% in about 90 days. An economist with a solid grounding in the supply and demand theory, when viewing this decline, would have to conclude one of two things. Either the supply of silver had recently rapidly expanded or the demand for the precious metal had substantially decreased over the same period. These would appear to be the only logical explanations for this situation.

However, in the alternate universe of manipulated markets, insane derivatives, massive criminal fraud in both the banking and commodities markets, central bank machinations with currency handouts, and complete dereliction of duty on the part of regulatory bodies, it seems that the basic laws of economic price discovery no longer apply.

We need to ask ourselves how is it possible for the price of silver to undergo a substantial drop in price while simultaneously experiencing extremely tight supplies and burgeoning demand. In order to make a professional inquiry regarding this conundrum, we will dispel all the blather from the CNBC crowd that precious metals are in a bubble (they are NOT; both gold and silver remain firmly in a ten year upward channel of growth) and adopt an attitude like Dragnet’s Sergeant Friday, “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.”

Here are those facts:

In 2012, silver sales soared. The US Mint reported that the sale of American Silver Eagle bullion coins topped off at the third highest annual total in the twenty-seven year history of the series. Just past mid-December, the US Mint told its distributors that it had “sold all remaining inventories of 2012 American Eagle Bullion Coins,” adding that “no additional coins will be struck.” Until the sell-out, Silver Eagles were on pace to eclipse the second best annual sales in history. Even more amazing was the ratio of sales of Silver versus Gold Eagles – over fifty to one. In total dollars, the sale of Silver Eagles almost matched that of Gold Eagles – nearly 98%.

In January of this year, the sale of Silver Eagles was tremendous. So strong was the demand that the US Mint notified all its distributors shortly past mid-month that it had halted all new orders because it had run out of bullion supply. Despite two production shutdowns in January, the US Mint sold a record breaking 7.13 million Silver Eagles in ONLY TEN BUSINESS DAYS, shattering the previous monthly record set in 2011. Currently, the US Mint is on allocation rationing to its distributors – and we’re into this year only eight weeks!

Another instance of extreme silver shortage that has seen little to no reporting is the near total annihilation in the availability of “junk silver” (pre-1965 US silver coins). As of the beginning of this week, almost none could be found anywhere in the country except in extremely tiny amounts. Nearly every wholesaler and retailer in the nation was completely sold out. Waiting time for orders is at least a month with six weeks being quoted as a reliable delivery date.

Just a week ago, it was reported that Apple will be delaying its new 21.5 iMacs because of a shortage of silver in China. Silver is used extensively in iMacs. The production delays are already three months and counting.

On the demand side of this equation, wholesale premiums over the silver spot price have risen as much as six-fold in the past two months. Retail mark-ups for these coins have never been greater since the 1980 high when silver topped $50.

What is one to conclude with this incredible contradiction of drum-tight silver supply and record breaking demand weighed against a silver price decline of nearly 16% in the last three months? It is difficult not to conclude that there has been market intervention and/or price manipulation occurring.

As we’ve reported several times over the last few years, the spot price of precious metals is set almost entirely by the bid-ask trading action in the world’s commodity pits, principally the COMEX in New York and the London Bullion Market Association. These exchanges have been notorious for allowing massive naked short selling by large investment banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs without these firms having to post either the normally required margin deposits or having adequate silver on deposit with these exchanges to satisfy delivery requirements for those traders who might wish to take physical delivery of the silver upon contract expiration. Both of these activities are violations of the rules of the futures exchanges involved as well as federal requirements that are supposed to be enforced in the US by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The CFTC itself has been repeatedly accused by the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA) and many others of being derelict, if not outright complicit, in allowing these trading violations to continue. Link is here.

What we’re seeing is a big disconnect between silver’s paper price and its actual physical availability. It is not inconceivable that what is occurring is similar to what happened to markets in the old Soviet Union. The communist ruled markets quoted cheap prices for products that were chronically in short supply. The real market, the “black market,” was where you could purchase real goods with fair price discovery. When this dichotomy completely broke down, so did the Soviet Union. It is not difficult to foresee that a breakdown and growing distrust of the paper silver markets could well cause a price explosion in physical silver.

We have been warning for years that paper markets in general and precious metals markets specifically, should be viewed with suspicion, as they all contain counter party risk, which cannot be honored. The only sure way to fully protect oneself is to own physical coins and bullion. Do it today while the “paper price” is still low.

Gold and Silver Bullion Coin Sales Soar In February

Sales of both the American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins soared in February compared to the previous year.

According to the U.S. Mint, sales of the American Eagle gold bullion coin totaled 80,500 ounces in February, up 283% from comparable sales of 21,000 ounces during February 2012.  During January, the Mint sold 150,000 ounces of the gold bullion coins compared to 127,000 ounces during January 2012.  January gold bullion sales were the six largest on record and the most since July 2010 when the Mint sold 151,500 ounces.

Total 2013 sales of the American Eagle gold bullion coin through February are up 56% over the comparable period for last year.  Year to date, the U.S. Mint has sold 230,500 ounces of gold bullion coins compared to a total of 148,000 ounces during the first two months of 2012.

The American Eagle gold bullion coin is available in one ounce, one-half ounce, one quarter ounce and one-tenth ounce versions.   The vast majority of gold bullion coins are purchased as one ounce coins as can be seen from the February sales breakdown listed below.

FEB 2013 GOLD BULLION SALES
OUNCES # COINS
ONE 68,000 68,000
HALF 2,500 5,000
QUARTER 3,000 12,000
TENTH 7,000 70,000
80,500 155,000

Sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coin also remained robust after last month’s record shattering sales total.  During January, the U.S. Mint sold 7,498,000 silver bullion coins as public demand for physical silver coin soared.  The huge demand for the American Eagle silver coins forced the U.S. Mint to suspend sales twice as they sought to ramp up production to meet demand.  Ever since the financial crisis and the subsequent open ended money printing operations by the Federal Reserve, demand for physical silver has continued strong.   Prior to 2008, total annual sales of the silver bullion coins averaged only around 9.5 million coins.  During 2012, the U.S. Mint sold 33,742,500 silver bullion coins.

During February, the U.S. Mint reported that 3,368,500 American Eagle silver bullion coins were sold, an increase of 126% over sales of 1,490,000 ounces during February 2012.  Year to date sales of the silver bullion coins through February total 10,866,500, up by 43% over the comparable two month period during 2012 when 7,597,000 silver bullion coins were sold.

Long term investors are taking advantage of temporary price weakness in precious metals to add to positions (see APMEX Reports Sales Spike).   Virtually every major central bank in the world is now engaged in open ended money printing operations and blatant attempts to competitively devalue their currencies.  The public is not stupid and continued demand for physical gold and silver proves that gold and silver are becoming the default store of value.

Both the American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins are sold to the Mint’s network of authorized purchasers who buy the coins in bulk based on the market value of the precious metals and a markup by the Mint.  The public is not allowed to purchase bullion coins directly from the Mint but are allowed to buy numismatic versions of the coins.  The gold and silver bullion coins are sold by the authorized purchasers to the public, other bullion dealers and coin dealers.  The rationale for the Mint’s use of authorized purchasers is that this method makes the coins widely available to the public with reasonable transaction costs.

American Eagle Gold Bullion Coin Sales Soar In January To Multi-Year High

Sales of the American Eagle gold bullion coin soared during the first month of the year.  According to the US Mint, gold bullion coin sales totaled 150,000 ounces, up 97.4% from December 2012 when 76,000 ounces were sold.  Sales for the month were up 18.1% from comparable sales of 127,000 ounces a year ago during January 2012.

There has been a surge in demand for both gold and silver bullion coins during the first month of 2013.  Sales of the American Silver Eagle bullion coins hit an all time record high during January as public demand for physical silver soared.  The U.S. Mint has been forced to suspend sales of the silver bullion coins twice since last December since their entire stock was sold out.  In addition, opening day sales for the 2013 American Silver Eagle bullion coins were the largest on record with total sales of 3,937,000 coins.  To put this huge sales figure into perspective, prior to 2008, total annual sales of the silver bullion coins was only about 9.5 million coins.

January sales of 150,000  ounces of American Eagle gold bullion coins was the sixth largest on record and represents a multi-year high in sales since July 2010 when 152,000 ounces were sold.  The previous record months were June 2010 with 151,500 ounces, December 2009 with 231,500 ounces, April 2009 with 157,500 ounces and December 2008 with 176,000 ounces.

The gold bullion coins are available in one ounce, one-half ounce, one quarter ounce and one-tenth ounce.  The total number of coins sold during January 2013 was 275,500 as shown below.

JAN 2013 GOLD BULLION SALES
OUNCES # COINS
ONE 124,500 124,500
HALF 8,500 17,000
QUARTER 6,000 24,000
TENTH 11,000 110,000
150,000 275,500

The American Eagle gold bullion coins are not sold directly to the public but rather to the Mint’s network of authorized purchasers who buy the coins in bulk based upon the market value of gold and a Mint markup.  The authorized purchasers then resell the coins to the public, coin dealers and other bullion dealers.  The U.S. Mint utilizes this distribution channel in order to make the coins widely available to the public with reasonable transaction costs and premiums in line with other bullion programs.