Sunday, December 4th, 2016 MST

The Greatest Bull Market Ever

Monetary Digest, August 1998

Without a doubt, this has been the most profitable stock market in the history of the world. Never have so many people made so much money. In the bull market of the 1920s, most of the investors were wealthy; few average Americans participated. This time, however, the middle class is in the market up to its neck, having invested directly in stocks and through mutual funds, IRAs, and 401(k) plans. Americans are now more heavily in stocks, as a percentage of household wealth than at any other time.

Stocks have risen so steadily for so long without a major correction that many investors have forgotten bear markets follow bull markets. Other optimists seemingly believe that bear markets are things of the past, that stocks will rise forever — with only minor pauses along the way. After all, have not all downturns been quickly reversed? Even the sharp 1987 decline was recouped in two years. One widely-touted philosophy advocates being heavily invested at all times.

A danger of such a strong market is that investors forget prices can go down. Some investors say, “Hey, I know stocks can go down. But, I think the market’s going higher before it turns down. I’ll pick up more profits, then get out.” They may, for there is no way of knowing when a mania will end.

And, this stock market is a mania, excessive investment activity based not on reason, logic, or fundamental investment values but on new, untested premises. Investors are told that we have moved into a “New Paradigm” where the old measures — price/earnings ratios, quick/cash ratios, book values, measures of liquidity, etc. — are no longer relevant. Instead, we are told the collapse of communism, low inflation, low interest rates, budget surpluses (perceived), a worldwide economy, and brilliant money manipulation by the Federal Reserve guarantee a bull market for as far as the eye can see.

But, how far can investors see? And, are they really looking? There are many signs that this market is on its last legs, but most investors have been blinded by the market’s past performance.

Not only are mutual fund buyers bullish, but the fund managers are equally optimistic. At the end of April, funds held only 3.8% of their portfolios in cash or cash equivalents. If stocks head down and mutual fund owners decide to bail out, managers will be forced to sell stocks to meet redemptions, further exacerbating the decline. Still, more signs of speculative excesses abound.

Margin debt has soared, acquisitions have exploded, initial public stock offerings (IPOs) have inundated the market, investors are driving up the share prices of companies with little or no earnings, and 12-month flows of money into stock mutual funds as a percent of personal savings hovers at 100% — an unprecedented level. Funds invested in mutual funds of all types now top $5 trillion and rival investor deposits at banks.

With margin debt at a record 1.7% of GDP, up fourfold from less than 0.5% in 1991, investors have shown their willingness to go into to debt to buy stocks. As for mergers, through mid-May they totaled $662 billion, more than two-thirds the full 1997 record of $917.7 billion and more than all of 1996. High consumer confidence and takeover frenzies often come at business and stock market peaks.

Consider also the sky-high prices of Internet “search engines” Yahoo!, Infoseek, Excite, and Lykos, none of which have a cumulative profit for the past four quarters. K-tel International’s stock recently soared from less than $4 to more than $25 after the company announced it was going to sell music products on the Internet. America Online (AOL) sells at more than 200 times earnings. Through mid-May, IPOs totaled $11.1 billion, up 41% from the $7.9 billion raised at the same point last year. Frothy stock prices and IPO activity seem to reach peaks along with stock market tops.

Another sign of excessive speculation: Financial assets are overvalued against commodities, just as commodities were overvalued against financial assets in 1980.

This bull market, like all the others before it, will end. It is just a question of when, and there are signs that it may be soon.

Another prescient sign of a market top is the ratio of “insider” sales to purchases. Insiders are corporate executives and directors who know more about their companies than any analysts.

The ratio soared the week before the October 1987 meltdown as insiders unloaded. Then, at the bottom, insiders switched gears and became buyers as the market began the greatest bull market in the history of the world. Now, though, insiders have again turned sellers and have driven the ratio to the highest level in five years.

As insiders sell, average Americans, who historically have shunned stocks, are buying. Over two-fifths of American households now hold shares either directly or in mutual funds or pension plans. That is twice as many as in the early 1980s. Statistics show, however, that in addition to the insiders, the rich are selling their direct holdings of stocks.

Today, personal computers provide a wealth of information at the touch of a key, and all those data make investors feel informed. Consequently, investors have been drawn to stocks. However, the participation of many people does not prove the correctness of their activity. In fact, the masses are usually wrong.

Past issues of Monetary Digest have covered some of the ridiculous manias the masses have been sucked into, the most ludicrous being the tulip mania in Holland during the 1630s. Others were the South Sea Bubble that engulfed the English in the early 1700s and the Mississippi Scheme that swept France in 1720. Many readers remember the land rush that had Americans from all over the country flying to Florida in the 1950s. Normally reasonable people participated in these manias not for any logical or reasoned positions but because “everyone else was doing it.” Are stocks at today’s record valuations any different?

The public’s interest in stocks did not come because of greater knowledge of stocks and how to pick winners but because of consistently rising stock prices. Their participation adds fuel to the fire, pushing stocks still higher.

The ratio scale chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average shows the three major advances of this bull market. The third and most explosive rise started in late 1994. Now, the bull market may have just ended. Many technical indicators suggest that.

The advance-decline ratio peaked way back on April 3. This indicator tells us that most NYSE-traded stocks have been declining since then, in the face of a Dow Industrials average that went to new highs in July. The direction of the majority of stocks on the NYSE is one of the most fundamental phenomena of the market. Richard Russell says it is as important as the direction of the major stock averages.

As for the major averages, the Dow Industrials surged to new highs in mid-July. However, the Transportation index lagged, failing to better its previous high. And, when the Industrials suffered big declines in late July, the Transports fell also, making it unlikely that they will go to new highs anytime soon.

The Averages will send a Dow Theory bear signal by breaking through the June lows of 8627.93 for the Industrials and 3259.30 for the Transports. As this is written, the Transports have broken the 3259.30 mark. The Industrials remain some four hundred points above their critical 8627.93 level. As we have seen, however, the Industrials can lose four hundred points in days, maybe one. By the time this reaches readers’ hands, we may be in a bear market.

Readers inclined to stay in stocks need remember that it was twenty-five years before the 1929 top was again reached. More recently, in December 1989, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 nearly hit the 39,000 mark, but in 2-1/2 years fell below 15,000 for a two-thirds drop.

Although the Nikkei has since rallied above 21,000, it only recently rebounded to the 16,500 level after the government’s announcement of a five-year plan to take over troubled banks. Nine years after the top, the Nikkei is still down 60%. (Could you stand such a drop in your stock portfolio?) With the Japanese economy stagnant — and some say on the brink of depression, the Nikkei may fall farther.

In his July Intelligence Report, Richard Young revealed that he recently shifted nearly a million dollars from the stock market to bonds. This was a significant move because Young has been an ardent stock market bull for years. He gave ten reasons for the move. Some are listed below.

  1. Since 1950, a bond portfolio component has helped cut volatility when the stock market has had a bad year. (Young must fear a bad year.)
  2. Stock market valuations are at peak levels. (For years, Young was right with his “fully invested” philosophy; now, let’s see if he is right about a “bad year.”)
  3. Conditions in the Far East are worsening, and not, as you may be reading, getting better. (Young studies the Asian crisis as much as anyone.)
  4. The Y2K — year 2000 computer issue — poses problems. The government, with its many agencies, will not be in compliance on time. (This is an alarming position for a member of the establishment.)
  5. The current market has a tulip mania feel to it. An awful lot of investors have never seen a bear market. Far too many do not have any experience with bear markets and will panic once the eventual stock market correction hits. (Here, Young’s views run parallel with CMI’s.)
  6. Isn’t it interesting that the last two big buys by the world’s most successful investor, Warren Buffett, were not stocks? (Warren Buffett’s last two big investments were zero treasuries and 130 million ounces of silver for $780 million.)

The stock market will eventually turn down, if it has not already. Concerns about the Asian crisis could trigger a bear market. The stock market’s worst days this year came over concerns about Asia.

Additionally, the Y2K problem could cause at least a recession if not a depression. Or, when the full effects of the Y2K problem are felt, they could turn a recession started by the Asian crisis into a depression.

When this market turns down, it could be fifteen years before today’s levels are again reached, maybe longer. The coming bear market could take two generations out of stocks, never to return. Investors caught with the bulk of their investments in stocks will suffer more than financially. They will curse themselves for being greedy, for not being satisfied with huge profits this bull market has already produced. They will know the anguish of watching their capital dwindle. Perhaps they will watch their retirements be postponed, maybe even made impossible. Such losses gnaw at the stomach daily; they stick in the back of the mind, jumping to the forefront at the slightest provocation.

Another potential problem is the heavy buying of blue-chip stocks, the Dow Industrials, for example. At first, this may seem prudent. If you are going to be in stocks, why not be in the best? But, at these levels?

In the mid-1970s, bonds looked attractive based on performance over the previous five years, while stocks seemed utterly unappealing. Over the following five years, however, stocks produced better results than bonds. Similarly, in the mid-1980s, real estate ranked as one of the most dazzling investments over the previous five years, while foreign stocks had posted unspectacular results. Then, over the next five years, foreign stocks soared while real estate values fell.

Finally, in the late 1980s, Japanese stocks were the world’s favorites as the Nikkei 225 registered huge gains. U.S. stock market gains, while impressive, fell short of the spectacular profits made in Japan. Over the next few years, however, Japan’s stocks plummeted while U.S. stocks went on to produce the greatest stock market ever.

Do not invest in yesterday’s winners!

CMI believes that precious metals offer the best financial protection over the crucial next two years. In less than eighteen months, we will find out just how bad the Y2K problems are, and during that time we will learn how badly the Asian crisis will affect us. And, by 2000, we will probably suffer a severe stock market decline which may be exacerbated by both the Y2K problem and the Asian crisis.

If two years from now it turns out that the printing of more currencies really did solve the Asian crisis and that the Y2K problem was overblown and that the stock market declined only 2,000 points, then you can convert your gold, silver, and platinum back into cash at probably higher prices than they are today.

That is because everyone’s solution to Japan’s problems is the printing of more money. First, it was the yen, Japan’s currency, for a fiscal stimulus. Now, it is dollars to support a weakened yen. Is this the rebirth of inflation?

The Federal Reserve has shown its willingness to print dollars to support a weak yen. Printing yen to stimulate the economy followed by the printing of dollars to support a yen weakened by too much printing is a cycle that can only result in inflation. That is why gold jumps when the Fed intervenes in the world’s currency markets.

If the Asian crisis throws us in a recession and the Y2K problem turns out to be only half as bad as Gary North predicts and the stock market falls 50%, then you will kick yourself for not putting more money in the metals.

For decades, Wall Street types have admitted that portfolios with 5% to 10% invested in the precious metals make sense. Now, conditions warrant much higher percentages be allocated to the metals. Make the move while stock prices are high and the metal’s prices are low.

Y2K, 18 Months and Counting

As January 1, 2000, draws closer, media coverage of the Y2K problem grows. Calling Y2K a problem is about as pessimistic as the establishment gets. The media refuse to take a serious look at Y2K and even discuss the doomsayers’ most serious charge, that the country’s electrical producing capacity and delivery capability are in jeopardy. Often, media coverage serves only to ridicule those who warn people to prepare.

Most of the coverage focuses on the cost of fixing the problem, as if fixing the problem is a given. A Wall Street Journal article said that in government filings, Fortune 500 firms anticipate spending about $11 billion on Y2K before 1/1/00. The same article noted that Fed board member Edward Kelley offers “an educated guess” that the U.S. private sector will spend $50 billion. He said the “mess” could shave one-tenth off U.S. economic growth for each of the next two years. The Journal says, “That’s big, but not the deep 1973-75 recession.”

Another Journal article noted that the nation’s thirty-five largest regional banks will spend about $1.8 billion through 1999 trying to become compliant. The banking industry is also preparing to take loan losses due to borrowers’ failures to comply. Again, all establishment commentaries assume all the necessary fixes will be in place, or if not in place, that we will suffer only minor economic inconveniences.

Yet, Time Bomb 2000 coauthor Ed Yourdon “doesn’t expect civilization to collapse, but there will be two weeks of absolute chaos.” Mr. Yourdon recently moved from New York to a solar-powered retreat in northern New Mexico.

No bank claims to be ready now. Yet, all say they will be compliant by 2000, and it is astounding how confidently bank employees tell customers their bank will be ready. Those employees have no way of substantiating those claims. It is unlikely, however, they would ever say, “Best take your money out. We’ll never make it.” Even if a bank thought it were ready, it could not prove it. No one will know until January 1, 2000, rolls around.

In May, the Journal carried an article calling Year 2000 “costly but not catastrophic.” We all hope they are right. The Journal noted that Edward Yardeni, Deutsche Morgan Grenfell’s economist in New York, puts the odds of a Y2K-caused recession at 60%. Mr. Yardeni sees a year-long downturn comparable to the 1973-74 recession which was caused by OPEC oil price increases. His strongest statement: “Let’s stop pretending that Y2K isn’t a major threat to our way of life. This year the American economy is a supertanker, but next year it is going to be Titanic America.”

Dennis Grabow, a Wall Street investment advisor, guarantees a recession. Fed member Kelley concedes that “horror scenarios have a certain plausibility.”

While the Journal admits that “not all computers will be fixed in time,” it says “what matters are those computers that are vital to the economy.” The Journal has not a clue as to the seriousness of the problem.

The Journal accurately notes that global finance relies on instantaneous electronic transfers of money, but if a transfer fails to arrive on January 3, 2000, the expected recipient will “assume a temporary Y2K problem.” Talk about naivete! If the banks cannot get the problem fixed by 1/1/00, how long will it take to fix a “temporary Y2K problem” after 1/1/00?

Consider also how the Journal down plays the Y2K problem:
Some disruption of business is likely, but it takes more than that to cause a recession. Two years ago, the budget tussle between President Clinton and Congress shut the government for 22 days; no recession ensued. In early 1996, a storm paralyzed large parts of the country for a week; the economy rebounded when the roads were cleared. The United Parcel Service strike disrupted shipments last summer; the lasting effects were very small. If Y2K glitches occur, big problems result only if the glitches can’t be quickly remedied or the paralyzed computers bypassed. Pessimists assert the remedies won’t be easy; no one really knows.

If the pessimists are right about anything, it is that “the remedies won’t be easy.” Major corporations and governmental agencies have been at it for years, and no one claims to be ready. Why should anyone believe that after 1/1/00, the fix will be easy?

As noted above, the Journal focuses on the economic impact. Why doesn’t the establishment refute the pessimists’ charges that the nation’s electric generating capacity is at risk, that the ability to move trains will suffer, that even our telephone service may deteriorate?

In June, the nation’s power utilities told a Senate panel that they cannot guarantee the lights won’t go out on January 1, 2000. A survey of 10 of the largest utilities found that none had completed contingency plans in case its computers fail because of Y2K. Co-chairman of the panel, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn, said, “We’re no longer asking whether there will be any power disruptions, but we are now forced to ask how severe the disruptions are going to be.”

The best the establishment can do is claim that the problem will be solved. How about this one: “If we can put a man on the moon, we can figure out how to solve a computer programming glitch.”

Actually, fixing the Y2K glitch is straightforward. Just manually go through a couple hundred million lines of codes and change those involving dates. That’s simple enough, but it is labor intensive and time consuming. According to people who have studied the problem, there simply is not enough time left for everyone to get the job done. Adding to the problem, there are not enough trained programmers for such a massive project.

The leading Y2K doomsayer is Dr. Gary North, editor of the Remnant Review1 newsletter. Dr. North sees nothing but dire consequences from Y2K. Besides his newsletter, Dr. North has a Web site (www.garynorth.com) where he posts documents that reveal the severity of Y2K. Among them are government reports which the media ignore. On May 21, ABC Evening News ran an interview with Dr. North.

While North’s views are apocalyptic, he backs up his position with reports and articles from sources generally considered credible. But, there is no way he can prove the consequences he predicts. Yet, his critics cannot refute his views except to say, “It won’t happen. If we can put a man on the moon… ” No one knows how bad it will be.

North sees the collapse of the division of labor, which means we are all going to be growing our own food, sewing our own clothes, and making our own pencils. He sees the failure of our electric power grid, which threatens “the survival of this civilization.”

North says Y2K will “trigger a collapse,” and goes on to cite the May 25 issue of Time which questions the vulnerability of the banking system, due to the large international banks’ exposure to the derivative market. In the next six months, some $10 trillion ($10,000,000,000,000) in derivative contracts mature for U.S. banks.

North says that he does not think there will be any organized long-term capital markets in 2000. He sees a collapse (North uses collapse a lot.) of all prices that are presently pumped up by massive debt, including the stock market, the housing market, and the bond market. He predicts “the end of the 300-year experiment in central banking.”

North maintains that our train system is not Y2K compliant. It used to be that men ran switching stations, but now computers in Florida control them. Are those computers Y2K compliant? Will there be electric power to switch tracks even if computers send the right signal?

Dr. North sees the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse about to lay waste to the land. Dr. North, however, has cried “wolf” many times. It was fifteen years ago or so that he moved to Tyler, Texas for a reason that I cannot recall. I remember he predicted big city rioting and “blood in the streets.” It did not happen. Now, this does not mean Dr. North will not be right about some aspects of the Y2K problem. There is just no way of knowing which.

I am not prepared to advise readers to sell their homes and move to New Mexico. Even if you believe the worst, moving away from your family is difficult. Also, few people are in positions to pack up and go. Even if Y2K produces the problems North sees, most readers will find themselves where they are living right now. Maybe laying in a few months’ extra food is in order. Consider storing some water, if feasible. Senior citizens should be close to those who are most inclined to look after them.

The ability to use a firearm could provide protection, and peace of mind.

Right now, no one knows what will happen on 1/1/00, not Gary North, not the Polly annas who see no problems. It will probably be somewhere in between. Many computers will be compliant; many will not. Most government computers will not be compliant.

Recently, the GAO concluded after a study of U.S. Navy operations that “Time is running out to correct Navy systems that could malfunction or produce incorrect information . . .” and that “The impact of these failures could be widespread, costly and potentially debilitating to important Navy operations worldwide.” This was a Reuters release that most newspapers and news organizations get. I doubt any Monetary Digest readers saw it.

If the government’s computers fail, a recession is guaranteed. I do not know about “blood in the streets.”

The government is a major part of our economy. If government checks quit coming, many businesses will fail.

Here, we are talking only the federal government. Most states are also behind on becoming Y2K compliant.

Through the rest of the year — but especially in 1999 — the Y2K problem will become high profile. As more people become aware, or if the country’s important institutions, such as banks, utilities, and transportation companies, fail to reassure those already concerned, a minor panic may set in. Many people plan to withdrawal their money from the banks; others plan to have significant amounts of cash on hand. (Gary North advises both.)

If people start taking their money out of banks in a big way, a serious problem could develop. The Bureau of Engraving is running at nearly full capacity. The dollar is the world’s currency. It can be spent in nearly all countries. In problem countries such as Russia, it is the preferred currency. The Bureau cannot meet additional demand. Now, what would happen if banks start limiting cash withdrawals? It would feed the frenzy. Anyone planning to have cash on hand for Y2K should start accumulating now — and quietly.

Circulated 90% U.S. coins offer a better alternative than cash. They once were used for money and can fulfill that purpose again. If Y2K turns out to be less of a problem than Gary North fears, 90% coin prices should rise because of industrial demand. And, they will rise if the Asian crisis worsens, or if the stock market turns bearish. U.S. 90% coins are a good bet for the next eighteen months to three years.

Old U.S. Gold Coin

Prices Weaken

The May Monetary Digest recommended trading old U.S. gold coins for the modern bullion coins, preferably Gold Eagles. Double Eagles ($20 Libertys and St. Gaudens) are the old U.S. coins most readers are likely to have. The $10 Libs and other old gold coins should be traded as well.

Coin publications are now praising the coin market. Recent headlines in The Coin Dealer Newsletter read: Strong Demand Fuels Coin Market. Another issue declared: Bull Market Begins 2nd Half of 1998. Magazines directed to collectors carry equally bullish headlines. On reading the articles, however, you will learn that they are talking about the rare coin market.

$20 Libertys and St. Gaudens (Double Eagles) are not rare coins. Telemarketers sell them as rare, but they are not. Some 165 million Double Eagles were minted; millions still exist; most of them rest in European bank vaults. The May Monetary Digest explained how they got there. It also explained how they are coming back, are sent to the grading services, and then sold to investors as “non-confiscateable” gold. The May Monetary Digest also exposed the lie of them being “non- confiscateable.”

Despite what ads say, prices are not up, and U.S. $20 Gold is not vanishing. In fact, the market for low-end Mint State Double Eagles (MS-60, -61, -62, and -63) and the raw (VF, XF, AU, and BU) coins has softened over the last few months; however, old U.S. coins still carry significant premiums. CMI expects prices to fall farther if gold stays down; we expect these premiums to shrink relative to spot when gold rises.

It is important for investors to know that telemarketers drive the market for common-date low-end Mint State coins and raw coins. Coin collectors do not buy these coins. Telemarketers, however, use the headlines and articles from coin-collecting magazines to paint a rosy picture for prospective buyers.

Do not confuse numismatic coins with those touted by telemarketers. There is nothing “rare and unusual” about common-date Double Eagles, neither the raw nor the low-end Mint State. Their prices are up because of low prices for gold.

Yes, you read that right. Europe is the primary source of Double Eagles. With gold down, the European banks are not selling. This has forced the telemarketers to bid up Double Eagle prices in the domestic market. Look at the two graphs on page 7. Note that when gold dropped through the $325 level last year, the premium on MS-60 St. Gaudens rose immediately. The Europeans had quit selling.

When gold rallies, European banks will again become sellers. If the banks sell more than the telemarketers can promote, old gold coin prices will fall. Since May, prices on common-date coins are down $15-$25 each.

Study the graph plotting the price of gold and VF-grade $20 Libertys over the last eighteen years. Note how the premium comes and goes. Graphs of other common-date Double Eagles show the same relationship. Higher grade coins carry higher premiums, but those premiums drop also.

If you are holding old U.S. gold coins, trade them for bullion coins, preferably the Gold Eagles. Although, the market for old U.S. gold coins has weakened, they still carry big premiums by historical measures. It is not prudent to hold on to gold coins with inflated prices any more than it is to stick with stocks whose prices are inflated.

Do not let this opportunity get away. Trade those premiums for real gold. Call us, and we will tell you know how many Gold Eagles your old U.S. coins can be traded for. Many investors have gotten 30% to 50% increases in their gold holdings simply by trading.

World Silver Survey 1998

The Silver Institute’s Silver Survey 19982 has been released. Produced by Gold Fields Minerals Services Ltd, London, the Survey emphasizes two aspects of the silver market that all silver investors should recognize.

First, silver production and scrap recovery has fallen short of industrial demand every year since 1990, resulting in a cumulative deficit that now totals 1,052, 200,000 ounces. This massive deficit has been met primarily by silver investors who have been net sellers most of this decade. Clearly, the stock market has drawn investors away from silver.

Second, known inventories have shrunk to levels that are influencing silver’s price. Gold Fields says that since 1990 “identifiable” bullion stocks have decreased by 700 million ounces. For decades, it was generally thought by silver consumers that vast supplies of silver were available. Today, many analysts no longer accept that position.

In fact, CPM Group, New York City, maintains that silver supplies are “critically low” and sees silver trading between $10 and $11.50 by the end of 1999. CPM’s projections are based on silver’s supply/demand fundamentals and do not consider the world’s fragile financial condition. Asian chaos and/or falling stock market prices could propel silver’s price even higher.

On the demand side, the Survey further noted that “without a doubt the star performer in 1997 was the electrical and electronics sector, which was up 12% year-on-year, with electronics accounting for much of the growth.” The overall growth in electronics demand is being driven by increased production of mobile phones, pagers, and other high-tech devices. In these modern conveniences, the cost of silver is insignificant compared with the cost of the devices; therefore, as the price of silver rises, manufacturers will not likely seek alternatives. Besides, silver’s unique properties and performance characteristics make it difficult to replace.

For decades, some metals analysts have predicted that someday silver halide photography would be replaced, but nothing on the horizon appears close to doing that, even the much heralded digital photography. While digital photography has become popular for some special uses, in 1997 photographic uses of silver grew by a healthy 3.5% to 232.3 million ounces. All major fabricating countries, except France, recorded gains in usage last year.

And, new uses for silver are being developed almost daily. For example, because of silver’s high reflectivity, silver-coated glass cuts heat transfer from sunlight. Last year, Texas and California began requiring all new buildings to have low energy emissivity. Silver-coated windows will help meet this regulation. Silver coated glass for cars holds a tremendous potential demand for silver.

Additionally, silver’s anti-bacterial properties hold potential in medicine and to maintain water free from bacteria and algae for households, communal swimming pools, and even municipal water treatment plants. (Actually, this is an old use. Pioneers traveling west 150 years ago threw silver coins in their water containers to keep their water free from algae.)

Investors have many options when buying silver. They include pre-’65 U.S. coins, both circulated and uncirculated, 100-oz silver bars, 1-oz Prospectors and generic medallions, silver dollars, 1-oz Silver Eagles and Silver Maple Leafs. The price per ounce varies widely among the products listed above. Before buying, consider your objectives. Sometimes a higher price per ounce is worth paying, sometimes not.

A Small Change

Note that the format for prices of the more popular gold, silver, and platinum products is altered. Previously, we listed wholesale prices; now, delivered, retail prices are posted.

For about the last year, we have been quoting delivered prices when clients call. Yet, we continued to post wholesale prices in Monetary Digest. Now, we are consistent.

The delivered prices are for the most frequently traded quantities, twenty ounces of gold or platinum and 1,000 ounces of silver. Pre-1965 coin and silver dollar prices are for $1,000 face.

When larger amounts are ordered, the price will be reduced. Smaller orders will result in slightly higher prices. Obviously, availability affects prices as well.