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Stock to Flow - Silver Supply in a Fiat Depression

Commodities / Gold and Silver 2012 Jul 31, 2012 - 03:21 AM GMT

By: Dr_Jeff_Lewis

Commodities

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleMaking a case for higher silver prices can involve two ways of looking at its supply:

  1. The total amount of silver ever mined.
  2. The total amount of silver available in investment grade bullion form.

The result of this supply analysis yields two different ratios for gold versus silver.

Stock to Flow Ratios for Gold Versus Silver

Interestingly, gold has a very high stock-to-flow ratio compared with silver. Gold’s stock or total volume ever produced is roughly 170,000 tonnes, while its yearly production or flow was reported at 2,586 tonnes in 2010 by the World Gold Council.

This puts gold’s stock to flow ratio at 65.7 years, while silver’s is less than one third of that. Other key commodities — like crude oil, copper, corn and wheat — have much lower ratios, as the following chart illustrates.

(Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/article/gold-special-report-erste-group-says-foundation-return-sound-money-has-been-laid-expects-gol)

Reclaiming Gold is Easier Than Silver

It was not until the Industrial Revolution — and more specifically the 20th century — that silver became useful in a variety of products and processes in small and dispersed quantities that essentially consumes the metal. This is where gold and silver diverge, since gold is typically more easily reclaimed than silver.

Basically, a substantial difference between silver and gold is that the various forms of above ground silver are typically more difficult to recycle and recover the silver from than it takes to recover gold from the products containing it.

Silver is therefore often more easily mined and refined than recycled. Furthermore, for each of these precious metals, not only is a cost associated with mining each ounce, but there is also a shadow cost involved in recycling each ounce.
  
From an industrial perspective, a trend toward ‘just in time’ delivery makes reliance on melting down Grandma’s silverware rather unlikely. In addition, reclaiming silver from industrial uses like photography, medicine and solar panels is also challenging.

Silver's Monetary Role

Deflationists typically cite the performance of the U.S. dollar during the Great Depression as evidence of the futility of money printing and the difficulty of creating enough inflation to spark real economic growth.

The problem is that most ardent deflationists fail to consider that this time around - the U.S. Dollar has no precious metal backing it. Paper Dollars are only backed by faith and confidence in the creditworthiness of the debt-laden United States, and they offer no ultimate safety to holders.

Trust in the current and future purchasing power of money — or any means of payment — not only depends on how much is available now, but also on how the quantity of money is expected to change over time.  Furthermore, a form of money should have both a stable amount of annual production and a sufficiently large amount of stock to permit a typical volume of transactions to occur.

Although gold may seem more like money than silver due to its higher stock to flow ratio, the prices of both hard currencies are heavily managed and manipulated. Once that management becomes untenable due to the pent up forces of market supply and demand, the true value of silver and gold will be revealed.

For more articles like this, and to stay updated on the most important economic, financial, political and market events related to silver and precious metals, visit www.silver-coin-investor.com

By Dr. Jeff Lewis

    Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, in addition to running a busy medical practice, is the editor of Silver-Coin-Investor.com and Hard-Money-Newsletter-Review.com

    Copyright © 2012 Dr. Jeff Lewis- All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


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