There is no doubt that speculative dollars have been flowing into the silver market. We note that in April record trading volumes were registered in the SLV, Comex futures, LBMA transfers, and the Shanghai Gold Exchange futures. In fact, converting the average daily trading volume in the aforementioned silver instruments to the amount of ounces of silver they are supposed to represent, there were on average, over 1.1 billion ounces worth of silver traded every day in the month of April. Truly a staggering number when contrasted against the actual amount of silver available for investment. To wit, the world will only supply about 979 million ounces this year from mine and recycling of scrap, of which it is estimated that 657 million ounces will be used up for non-investment purposes. So in effect, that leaves roughly only 322 million ounces available this year for investment purposes. Converting to days (recall that at least 1.1 billion ounces traded each day) it leaves only about 1.3 million ounces per trading day of available supply. So, we are essentially trading the amount of physical silver actually available for investment, 891 times over each day! It really begs the question; just what are people trading in these markets?
Consider the largest and most prominent of those markets - the Comex, which we believe has owned an effective monopoly on silver price discovery for decades. In fact, the Comex churned over 800 million ounces of silver futures and options on average each day in April. Indeed, notwithstanding the massive but very opaque over-the-counter silver derivatives market, trading on the Comex dwarfs both the physical and the other (known) paper silver markets, combined. Despite its dynamics being relatively complex and generally not well understood by most, the world’s financial community continues to view trading on the Comex as representative of the fundamentals for the physical silver markets. A market built on a high amount of leverage, both the buyers and sellers of Comex futures and options contracts are able to establish a position in "silver" with pennies on the dollar in collateral and even more astonishingly, no physical silver backing the contracts at all. The following charts illustrate just how unreal these markets have become.
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