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5 CHARTS: The Real Story Behind Silver

Steve St. Angelo, SRSrocco Report
Saturday, December 7th

As the world continues down the road of self-destruction via its highly leveraged paper financial markets, there's a much more fascinating story worth looking at. Hidden from the majority of the public and misunderstood by many of the so-called professional metal analysts, is the Real Story Behind Silver.

One of the reasons why we are all in such a big mess today, is due to the failure of the analyst community to provide the public with honest, meaningful and proper data and information. As I have mentioned several times before, there's only a few good analysts out there.... and a whole bunch of losers. Unfortunately, the investing public has no idea that it is being misled due to this increasingly worthless shortsighted analysis.

Thomson Reuters GFMS put out a new Silver Update last month that was already covered by BrotherJohnF's website last week (which many have already seen). However, I took some time to closely examine the presentation and found some interesting charts worth explaining.

The first chart below has to do with the change in Silver Bullion Coin Sales. According to GFMS, they show approximately 43 million oz in silver coins sold in North America in the first 9 months of the year.

They don't give you the exact figures, so we have to just eyeball the red bars and estimate what the amount would be by the scale on the left. I came up with the following:

2013 Q1 = 14 million oz

2013 Q2 = 15 million oz

2013 Q3 = 14 million oz

Total = 43 million oz

So, GFMS figures that 43 million oz of North American Silver Bullion Coins have been sold in the Q1-Q3 period. Now, according to my figures obtained from the U.S. & Royal Canadian Mints, total sales for the Silver Eagle & Maples were 55.7 million oz during this time period. I don't know why there is a discrepancy here, but it turns out to nearly 13 million less than the figures put out by the two Official North American Mints.

Furthermore, this does not include the "Other Commemorative" silver coins that these two mints also produce and sell. This can be seen more accurately in the next chart:

Here GFMS is forecasting an approximate 17.5 million oz increase in fabrication of silver coins in 2013 over 2012. If we estimate that there will be 43 million oz of Silver Eagles and 25 million oz of Silver Maples sold in the entire year, the total would be 67 million oz in 2013.

Now, if we compare this to the total Silver Maples & Eagles sold in 2012.... it was 52 million. So, the estimated change in sales from just these two North American coins will be about 15 million oz. In addition, this does not include the gain from the other Official Mints as well as misc. silver coins that are produced and sold by the U.S. & Royal Canadian Mint.

As stated in the chart above, the North American mints produced and sold nearly 6 million oz of these misc silver bullion coins in 2012. I believe the change in Silver Bullion coins in 2013 over 2012 will be more like 25-30 million oz.

I tried to contact Andrew Leyland, the Thomson Reuters GFMS analyst who wrote the report, but I was told that they do not give out contact information of their analysts -- seems like everything is a big secret today. Regardless, one of their associates asked if they could assist me, so I sent a reply that was forwarded to Mr. Leyland.

Mr. Leyland was kind enough to respond to my email. This is what he stated about the discrepancies in the figures:

The survey is designed to show where coins are sold, rather than produced. A proportion of RCM and US mint coins leave North America (primarily for Europe). There was also a discrepancy between the data supplied to us and the Q3 figure released by RCM. We’ve been in touch with them and this will add around 1.1Moz to our Q3 number.

Incidentally, the chart probably under-estimates the size of the market outside of North America and Europe, partially due to the private mints that are not currently surveyed but also because many of the national mints will sell to distributors in North America and Europe who then sell worldwide.

Again, it was nice enough for Mr. Leyland to respond, but I don't know how they can tell how many of these coins are being purchased by individuals in different countries. So the discrepancy is based on where the coins are "PURCHASED" and not where they are "MINTED".

If you look at the first chart the total number of coins for 2011 were 88 million (again eyeballing the figures), but according to the 2013 World Silver Survey (also done by GFMS) the total coins sold were 118 million oz in 2011. While that figure includes what they call "Medals", I would imagine it is only a fraction of the overall amount.

So, as Mr. Leyland stated in his last remark...."Incidentally, the chart probably under-estimates the size of the market outside of North America and Europe", just goes to show that overall silver bullion coin sales are probably much higher than are estimated by GFMS.

This next chart says it all. If Jeff Christian can't see the Fed & Central Bank precious metal manipulation at work, the figures below certainly smacks the truth upon the individual -- just like a 2 x 4 across the forehead:

Since the beginning of the year, silver has lost 29% of its value while gold is down 22%. Of course the base metals are behaving much better as copper is only down 12%, lead down 10% and zinc a modest 9%. The data for this chart was calculated using prices before Nov 12th.

If we do a quick update including the Central Bank's phat finger during Monday's precious metals' raid, Gold is now down 27% and silver, a whopping 38%. Interestingly, copper is now only down 13% which makes the year to date difference between copper and silver nearly 3 times the rate.

Of course there's no manipulation taking place ....."nothing to see here so let's just move on", as Jeff Christian would say.

This next chart has to be one of my favorites. I still receive emails from readers and investors who believe that it cost $9 to produce an ounce of silver. For some strange reason, the industry continues to promote the insane methodology of "CASH COSTS."

Mr. Leyland is trying to show that the large gap between the 1H 2013 Top Primary Silver cash cost and the price of silver is still a healthy $17 an ounce, even though it fell from a record $27 in 2011. If we take this data at face value, the silver miners should be making a huge $17 cash cost profit.... or are they?

I would like to remind the reader that "Cash Costs" are not a GAAP - Generally Accepted Accounting Principle. Basically, cash costs are figured by subtracting the company's by-product metal from its production costs. So, the higher percentage of by-product revenue a company has, the lower the cash cost. So what.

For example, Hecla Mining recorded a $7.40 cash cost per ounce in Q3 2013 from their Lucky Friday and Greens Creek mines while they suffered an $8.4 million net income loss during the period. I have to say, if I was running Hecla I wouldn't be bragging about my low silver cash cost while the company is still losing money for its shareholders.

Again, cash costs do not determine the profitability of a mining company.

Hopefully at some point in time, the industry can step away from focusing on this totally meaningless accounting metric and throw it away in the trash bin where it belongs.

The last chart puts into perspective the totally out-of-whack market of silver investment. Here we can see that total global silver investment is forecasted to fall to a little more than $6 billion in 2013 down from $8 billion in 2012:

The reason why the Silver Market is so small, is because the Fed & Central Banks want it that way. $6 billion dollars invested in the silver market in 2013 is $6 billion too much for the monetary authorities.

This is apparent if we go back in time and read what President Lyndon Johnson said about silver when he signed the "Coinage Act of 1965" -- the act that removed silver from U.S. coins:

Now, all of you know these changes are necessary for a very simple reason--silver is a scarce material. Our uses of silver are growing as our population and our economy grows. The hard fact is that silver consumption is now more than double new silver production each year. So, in the face of this worldwide shortage of silver, and our rapidly growing need for coins, the only really prudent course was to reduce our dependence upon silver for making our coins.

If anybody has any idea of hoarding our silver coins, let me say this. Treasury has a lot of silver on hand, and it can be, and it will be used to keep the price of silver in line with its value in our present silver coin. There will be no profit in holding them out of circulation for the value of their silver content.

Basically, Johnson was saying that silver's role as a monetary metal was over because it was becoming scarce and it was needed more as an industrial metal. You will notice that Johnson warned the "Silver Hoarders" that the U.S. Treasury had the ability to keep the price of silver in line with the value of the silver coin at the time.

Of course that doesn't imply "manipulation"... does it? Naw...just a standard policy of the U.S. Government.

In addition, Johnson made the following comments:

Some have asked whether our silver coins will disappear. The answer is very definitely-no.

Our present silver coins won't disappear and they won't even become rarities. We estimate that there are now 12 billion--I repeat, more than 12 billion silver dimes and quarters and half dollars that are now outstanding. We will make another billion before we halt production. And they will be used side-by-side with our new coins.

Since the life of a silver coin is about 25 years, we expect our traditional silver coins to be with us in large numbers for a long, long time.


Johnson remarked that the real silver coins would not "disappear", but indeed they did. Within just a few years, it was difficult to find hardly any silver coins in circulation. As we all know the famous Gresham's Law .... Bad Money Drives Out Good.

As I mentioned in the chart above, the $6 billion of global silver investment is peanuts if we compare it to the $85 billion a month of Fed QE monetization as well as the $90+ trillion in Global Conventional Assets under management.

The Real Story Behind Silver will spread as the world realizes the majority of its paper assets held will become increasingly worthless in the future. Today, the markets are running on fumes coming from the ink off of the Central Banks printing press.

While this all seems quite normal to the majority of people today.... I guarantee it won't be the day the U.S. Dollar and Treasury Market finally dry up and blow away.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: I will be releasing my Q3 2013 Top Primary Silver miners adjusted break-even in the following week here at the SRSrocco Report.

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