As a result of an irresponsible monetary policy with out of control spending and deficits, there are many asset bubbles being formed, and the silver market seems to be the latest such bubble grabbing headlines. Bernanke has a fear of deflation, which is understandable, but his method of creating “a little inflation” as a cure is sure to have disastrous consequences down the road. And kicking the can down the road is a problem in this country when politicians and monetary policy makers have to think more about re-election or reappointment, than in correcting the problem. Fixing the problem would be painful and insure losses in an election. But destroying the currency and trying to force inflation to defeat deflation will only postpone the inevitable.
The chart above is the weekly silver ETF. After an extended period of consolidation this market broke out to the upside, and has more than doubled in a few months. And that launch was a couple of months prior to the announcement of QE2 (not the boat). You can see how the adaptive CCI (middle sub-graph) quickly went above the bullish plus 100 line and has stayed there. Also, there was an oversold inverse head-and-shoulders in the double stochastic indicator in the lowest sub-graph at the start of the big move. There was one consolidation, forming a bull flag at about the mid-point of this trend. Now the stochastic is in over-bought territory and turning down a bit, along with a still bullish and trending CCI. The daily chart (not shown) shows a very similar interaction with these indicators, however the daily bar show an outside reversal day to the downside, which has a bearish implication if one believes in these patterns. Like all patterns they work about the same as a flip of the coin, but they are interesting to watch as they do sometimes precede spectacular reversals.
So what does all this mean, if anything. For me, as much as I think this market is long overdue for a correction, I don’t want to try to pick a top and go short, at least not yet. I prefer to let someone else pick the top, and to wait for the trend to turn down and then sell the rallies back up to the moving averages. Of course the downside of this thinking is that sometimes the market just collapses and good entry points just don’t materialize. If one were to look at the great silver bull market of the late ’70s to early 1980, one would see a run from $5 an ounce all the way past $50, at least in the futures market, and then a straight drop all the way back down. Of course this was a different time. The market was being cornered, and then regulators changed the rules at the peak, with the peak only lasting a short time, and then limit moves for many days to the downside. Now we don’t have anyone cornering the market, but we do have a fed chief who is engineering inflation and destroying the currency, and money is pouring into just about everything solid, well, maybe with the exception of real estate. But what about supply and demand? Is there a silver shortage as there seems to be in some commodities? There may be a shortage due to the demand to have physical silver back each share of the ETF. But keep in mind that this shortage can quickly turn into a surplus if holders of the ETF reverse their trade. So things are different this time. But they are also the same.
As bullish as I am on the long term fundamentals of both gold and silver, I try to keep an eye on how crowded the trade is, and know from lots of painful experience how quickly greed can turn into fear. I don’t know, and nobody else knows, if this market is putting in a top. This market was under $10 near the end of 2008 and went past $40 last Friday. That was enough for me to take half my silver eagles to the coin shop Friday after the close to lock in some profits. There were many people there buying. I asked the coin shop guy if there were more people buying or more selling, and how high they think silver will go. He said everyone was buying and that silver should go past $50 by next week. After hearing that I felt like getting the rest of the silver out and selling it.
I hear many justifications for higher prices, and of course the destruction of our currency is a legitimate and sensible reason for a continued bull market, but markets can and do become overheated and test prices beyond what the fundamentals can support. The idea of buying high and selling higher works for a while, but buying low when nobody want it, and then selling when they are all waiting in line to buy seems like a more sustainable strategy. And one more point: I’ve been hearing on the radio nearly double the number of ads for silver than for gold. One common justification I hear is that gold historically sells for 16 times that of silver, therefore silver has to climb to way over $100 an ouce just to get back to that ratio. That is utter nonsense. Each market trades on its own fundamentals. Inter-market relationships, even in so-called highly correlated markets, tend to fall apart as differences in supply and demand shift and change in each market. And of course that 16 times ratio theory doesn’t take into account what would happen if gold fell rather than silver climb to achieve that ratio.
And one final point is that the fed has nowhere to go regarding any further lowering of interest rates, and it’s unlikely there will be more QEs. If there is not to be a QE3 and QE4 and QE5, and if the inevitable interest rate uptick happens, especially if unemployment is still high, these asset bubbles could all pop very quickly and be followed by deflation. Uncle Ben surely understands this, but what can be done to prevent it? I sure don’t have the answers. But I do know it’s easier to get out of bubbles as they are inflating rather than waiting until they pop.