An article on Yahoo Finance asked the same question many have asked me: are the high premiums for physical gold a scam or a supply crisis?
Gold is in high demand. As a safe haven for uncertain markets, the current markets have driven investors looking to have some stability in their portfolio. Some have suggested that the preppers, those who prepare themselves for a pending disaster, have been hoarding gold. A favorite among preppers is the small 1 gram through 10 gram gold bars because they will be more useful in daily transactions.
According to market analysts, the demand outpaced the available supply. The available supply is what is available to buy. The problem was that the pandemic caused many supply chains to break down with precious metals stuck somewhere and not being delivered to the buyers.
Another problem in the supply was the perception that the demand could not be satisfied after the West Point Mint’s temporary closing. Although the Philadelphia Mint stepped in to produce silver coins, the gold coin production stopped. Subsequently, there were conflicting reports on whether there was enough physical gold entering the supply chain or whether the gold was not getting to the sellers because of the pandemic.
During the shutdown, there were reports that gold mining slowed or stopped as travel became limited. It was also a problem when the major Swiss gold retailers had to shut down because of the quarantine since most as near the Italian border. While gold was available on the secondary market, perception became that if these retailers were closed, there would not be enough for the future. The uncertainty caused the gold buyers to increase their purchases.
One gold dealer reported that they had sufficient gold to satisfy the market but not in the form the customers wanted. The demand for American Gold Eagle exceeded their supply while the non-Swiss made bars were not selling. Customers that demanded Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins were also disappointed but refused to buy gold coins from other European mints.
There is also no consistency between the premiums dealers charge. Some of the larger dealers use software to calculate the market price that examines other online sales to determine an average. Smaller dealers have said that they watch what the larger dealers are charging and adjust their premium below the average.
Nearly every analyst is bullish on the future of gold pricing. Being bullish on gold means that those watching the markets are not comfortable with the equities market’s stability. We can be in for a bumpy ride.
And now the news…
This seems a bit untimely regarding gold where premiums are getting back to near normal. Silver is the big laggard in the supply chain with ASE premiums still
at double normal levels and small silver bars near triple the normal premium.
The patterns of gold, silver, paper contracts, and physical seem very similar to the last economic shock in 2008-09. First everything goes down, and then people start believing the end result of remediation “must lead” to inflation. The last time, the inflation bug-a-boo never materialized in any meaningful way and metals markets had a multi-year capitulation to reality. This time, we have 2008-09 to look back upon and I expect a very bifurcated situation, with inflation fears by some propping up metals, and the likely lack of inflation causing another multi-year retreat from these levels.