(Official Discussion) Gold, silver, and other precious metals for sane preppers
Tom Hunt - May 20, 2021
This article claims that the basis behind precious metal valuation in the modern age is industrial usage, and that this is why they would hold value in a SHTF scenario. This is basically false. The modern reason for precious metal valuations is the same as the ancient reason: 1. they’re scarce, and 2. they’re widely considered valuable.
(Yes, this is circular. It’s just reflexivity; the value comes from the demand, and the demand comes from the value.)
Notably, in the case of gold, held stocks are several hundred times annual production, and industrial use is only a tiny proportion of annual production. If people stopped using gold as a savings instrument and it was valued based only on industrial demand, then the price would crater; it’d be $10/oz or less for centuries. Silver has a less extreme ratio and greater industrial use, but is qualitatively similar. Meanwhile, the platinum group are priced as (expensive) industrial metals, not savings instruments; their held stocks are small compared to annual production, and most of their demand is industrial.
This means that gold and silver (“precious metals”) are categorically different from platinum-group. If you invest in gold or silver, you’re investing in a Schelling point whose value is primarily monetary. If you invest in the platinum group, you’re investing in an industrial commodity whose value is primarily industrial. These are two very different investment theses. Notably, if you invest in precious metals then the important factors governing your investment performance are macroeconomic and monetary (e.g. is the environment inflationary or deflationary, are investors spooked or optimistic); if you invest in industrial metals then the important factors are industry-specific (what’s the demand for new catalytic converters like, how efficient are platinum mines).
Personally, I would generally recommend against investing in industrial metals. They aren’t primarily stores of value, so they aren’t likely to exhibit useful economic properties during a SHTF event; their value depends on the relevant industries remaining in good health. But if you want to invest in the continued good health of the automotive industry or whatever, you can just buy stocks, and get more direct exposure and better performance during normal times.
squidvicious - March 6, 2022
Good points. I’ve “done my own research” on this and Crypto recently (actually, been privy to other smarter people talking about the latter) and here’s a couple observations:
1. Crypto (any one of them) has been described as a decent place to store value. Like gold, people have decided it HAS value, so it could be a good store. Unlike gold, there are like a million crypto varieties and many last just long enough for the creator to get rich and disappear. Gold is harder to keep of course…it’s heavy and not very portable.
2. I saw one tech-bro/crypto pumper say Crypto was better than land as a store of value. Mostly, because, in his words, Crypto was more flexible (portable, could be easily broken into smaller portions for trade, etc.). However, land actually has several advantages. It also can be broken down into smaller portions for trade/sale. But, perhaps most importantly, land has value even if nobody else wants it! Even with all the restrictions on land use, you can harvest timber, grow food, build a house, etc.
Will share one final tidbit, was watching a webcast recently with our financial brokerage service. The head economist was asked about crypto. He made the following points…
1. rolled his eyes
2. composed himself and admitted that the technology has great potential for payment systems, etc.
3. admitted it could be good store of value, except for the fact that there are lots of them so picking the “right one” could be challenging.
4. the risk is that eventually Central Banks will get involved. What happens to Dogecoin once the US fed establishes its own digital currency? This theory is already being tested in some countries (Japan, Cambodia, China — which backs theirs at 1:1!) Yes, it goes against the decentralized nature of crypto, BUT… it does start to reign in the security of it too (less laundering, fewer scams, etc.). With the current Ru/Uk conflict raising more awareness of shady deals, it seems only a matter of time before regulation.
July LewisContributor - September 21, 2022
Idle question….if you have a jumble of mismatched inherited sterling silverware, and it’s kinda cool because some of it is pretty old, but you’re not actually that sentimental about it and will never use it….what’s the best thing to do with it, from a prepping perspective? Hold on to it? Trade it in for nice compact coins?
Henry Tubbs - September 22, 2022
That is a good question because many of us have inherited some silverware and if push comes to shove, we might go to selling it because it is one thing we have of value.
My initial thoughts are to see what you could get selling it. Check out a couple pawn shops or coin stores that buy silver and see what you could get from them. I’m guessing that pricing will vary greatly depending on where you go. Hopefully they would pay you in it’s melt value, which is how much it weighs and what silver is currently going for. That way I would sell it and then buy some US coins. The reason I say that is that a 1 ounce silver dollar has a known value because of it’s weight. People aren’t going to associate the same value to a 1 ounce fork that they might not know the weight of.
And if you are just going to sit on it, a stack of coins is more compact and easier to store than a stack of silverware.
I don’t know the market, but I don’t think you will be able to get more than melt value for a set of mismatched silverware. People who want it for eating with are going to want a complete matching set.
Now don’t take this as fact and don’t take advice from a random stranger with no experience, but if you look at https://silverprice.org/silver-price-history.html you will see that between 1-3 months after a US election, silver prices seem to go up for a bit, even if it’s only a few dollars. That might be a good time to sell… wait for it to come down a few months later, then buy your coins.
July LewisContributor - September 23, 2022
Good perspective- Thanks, Henry!
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