Rather than another discussion of charts and COMEX
price projections, this week we thought we should point out a physical
fundamental that has gone seemingly unnoticed in 2018.
Before we begin, let's be sure to give credit to
Louis Cammarosano at Smaulgld. Louis diligently monitors global metal demand,
and he brought this Indian demand issue to our attention last week. You can
read his post here:
Let's cut to the chase. While the price of COMEX
Digital Silver is being pounded lower in 2018, demand for actual physical
silver in India is soaring. On Louis' chart below, note that the all-time peak
in Indian silver demand came in 2015... when the price of COMEX Digital Silver
bottomed below $14 and then began a 50% rally to $21 by mid-2016. In fact, the
month of April 2018 alone saw India import 902 metric tonnes, the highest one-month
total since December of 2015.
And it's important to understand the chart above
The 2,889 metric tonnes imported in 2018 is only through April.
That's just 1/3 of the year, so to determine an annual run rate we need to
multiply that 2,889 number by three. Thus, if current Indian demand continues
at this pace for the rest of the year, total Indian demand will reach 8,667
metric tonnes for 2018, exceeding the previous high of 8,529 metric tonnes in
But let's not stop there. How much silver is
8,667 metric tonnes? Is that a lot or a little? Well, consider this article
from December of last year. The author cites a report from a group called
Metals Focus, which projects total global silver mine supply in 2018 to be
867,000,000 ounces. A similar study from Jeffrey Christian's CPM Group pegs
global supply in 2018 at just 817,000,000 ounces.
Let's spilt the difference and call it 840,000,000 ounces.
Now back to India... How many ounces is 8,667
metric tonnes? About 280,000,000. So let's do some math. The entire world is
going to produce 840,000,000 ounces of silver, yet India alone is on pace to
import 280,000,000 ounces. Divide Indian demand into the total mine supply
number and you find that
India is on pace to import one third of all the
silver mined globally in 2018.
Now you might expect that any one country
sopping up fully one third of the global supply of
anything would have a
positive impact on price. But not in the bizarro world of COMEX digital
derivative pricing! In 2018, it's not physical supply and demand that
determines price. Instead, it's the supply and demand of the COMEX digital
derivative that determines the physical price.
While the world only produces 840,000,000 ounces
of silver, the COMEX in New York regularly maintains a total open interest of
more than 200,000 silver contracts. At 5,000 ounces per contract, that's
1,000,000,000 ounces of digital silver. And with an average daily trading
volume in excess of 100,000 contracts
the COMEX trades over 500,000,000 ounces of digital silver every day! As you
can see, it's not the trading of physical metal that determines price. Instead,
it's the trading of the digital derivative.
Putting this all together leads us to the crux
of the matter. Led by India, the world is on pace to consume all of the silver
produced in 2018, yet the dollar price of silver is now down over 10%
year-to-date. That's a dichotomy that must soon rectify itself. Either physical
silver demand will crash before year-end OR the paper price will be forced to
respond as it did in 2016.
Thus, watch these global physical demand numbers
closely in the months to come. If Indian and global physical silver demand
continue to surge, the digital derivative pricing system must respond with
higher prices or it will risk collapse and failure.
Our Ask The Expert interviewer Craig Hemke began his career in financial services in 1990 but retired in 2008 to focus on family and entrepreneurial opportunities. Since 2010, he has been the editor and publisher of the TF Metals Report found at TFMetalsReport.com, an online community for precious metal investors.
The views and opinions expressed in this material are those of the author as of the publication date, are subject to change and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprott Money Ltd. Sprott Money does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness and reliability of the information or any results from its use.You may copy, link to or quote from the above for your use only, provided that proper attribution to the author and source is given and you do not modify the content. Click Here to read our Article Syndication Policy.