News Analysis date published New: 
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 11:00
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 14:03
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 11:00

Why Silver Could be the Hottest Commodity of 2012

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 11:00 AM

If you're around my age, then you probably remember exactly where you were when you heard the news in November 1963 that President Kennedy had been shot. The first lunar landing in July 1969 is another such time marker for my generation, as is Sept. 11, 2001.

Jan. 21, 1980, on the other hand, is probably notable only to the extreme financial market aficionados among us.

That's the day the price of silver peaked at an intraday high of a record $50.35 per ounce, or about $140 an ounce in today's (inflation-adjusted) dollars -- more than four times the current price.



Even more memorable than the record price 32 years ago, was the run-up during the preceding weeks and months, at which time inflation in the United States was well into the double digits.

The Hunt brothers, Nelson Bunker and William Herbert, sons of a Texas oil billionaire, began buying silver in 1973 at $1.95 an ounce. Six years and some 2,500% in price appreciation later, the brothers were said to have controlled a third of the world's nongovernmental holdings of silver.

In 1979 alone, with inflation about to hit 13% by year-end, prices rose from $6 an ounce to $48 an ounce. In search of a scapegoat, jeweler Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) took out a full-page ad in The New York Times calling the silver "hoarding" by the Hunt brothers "unconscionable." The balloon burst after commodity market regulators made it much more difficult to buy silver on margin.

Fast-forward to the current decade. Silver made another move to nearly $50 an ounce this past April, from lows of about $5.50 in 2004, making the metal one of the best-performing assets in recent years.

This time, though, no one was attempting to corner the market. And inflation was negligible.

So what's going on? Plenty, according to our researchers.

Consider this: By some accounts, all known silver reserves will be mined out in 27 years, at current usage rates.

Silver is already found in just about every electronic device modern society runs on, from appliances to cell phones to computers to MP3 players. And as the rest of the world ramps up its usage of silver, supplies will become even scarcer.

The recent pullback in silver prices to the lower $30s has set the stage for what could be a rebound to new highs. In fact, according to the StreetAuthority researchers, a climb to $200 an ounce -- in today's money -- isn't out of the question. That's a potential return of more than six times the initial investment.

So, as we used to say in Chicago: "Ubi Est Mea -- Where's mine?"

Well, here's the best news: You don't have to corner the market to get a piece of this action. And the time is now.

I'll explain in a moment. But first, consider this:

In the precious metals boom of 1979-1980, you could have bought 17 ounces of silver for the price of one ounce of gold. That put the silver/gold ratio at 17:1. At current prices the ratio is 55:1, meaning there's lots of room for silver to run higher in its historic relation to gold prices.

Just recently, in fact, legendary investor Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, told CNBC in an interview that he would buy silver over gold given the relationship in prices between the two precious metals.

Action to Take--> We at StreetAuthority think every investor should have some money in precious metals, and we're especially bullish on silver. There are several options out there for investors (silver miners, ETFs), but we think the best way to own silver right now is with silver coins. But whichever way you choose, we think you're getting a deal at these levels.

Bob Bogda does not personally hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.
StreetAuthority LLC does not hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.