What are the pros and cons of investing in silver bullion? With tensions high worldwide, now may be the time for investors to enter the market.
As with anything in the market, investing in silver bullion has both pros and cons, and what’s appealing to one investor may not be a good choice for another.
Silver has had a relatively flat year so far, but its price is on the rise, prompting many investors interested in the precious metals market to wonder if now is the right time for buying silver bullion. The white metal can be volatile, and some have concerns about that as well.
However, precious metals like silver and gold are also seen as a safety net — as safe haven assets, they can act as protection for investors in times of uncertainty. With tensions running high around the world, they could be a good choice for those looking to preserve their wealth in these difficult times.
With all of those factors in mind, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying physical bullion in the form of silver.
Pros of investing in silver bullion
1. Silver can offer protection — As mentioned, investors often flock to precious metals during times of turmoil. When political and economic uncertainty are rife, legal tender generally takes a backseat to assets like gold and silver. While both gold and silver bullion can be appealing to investors, the white metal tends to get overlooked in favor of individuals investing in gold, even though it plays the same role.
2. It’s tangible money — While cash, mining stocks, bonds and other financial products are accepted forms of wealth, they are essentially still digital promissory notes. For that reason, they are all vulnerable to depreciation due to actions like printing money. Buying silver bullion, on the other hand, is a tangible asset that is finite. That means that, although it is vulnerable to market fluctuations like other commodities, physical silver isn’t likely to completely crash because of its inherent and real value.
Chris Duane, an investor and YouTube figure, has said he puts his metal where his mouth is by liquidating his assets and putting the money into silver bullion when prices get low. Duane believes that our money system, and indeed our entire way of life, is built on unsustainable debt. In his opinion, the purpose of investing in silver bullion is to take yourself out of the mathematically inevitable collapse of that system.
3. It’s cheaper than gold — Between gold and silver bullion, the white metal is not only the less expensive of the two bullion products, and therefore more accessible to buy, but it’s also more versatile to spend. That means, if you are interested in buying silver coins to use as currency, they’re easier to break than gold because they are lower in value. Just as a US$100 bill can be a challenge to break at the shops, divvying up an ounce of gold can be a challenge. As a result, silver bullion is more practical and versatile than physical gold.
4. Silver offers higher returns than gold — Because silver bullion is worth around 1/79th the price of gold bullion, it is affordable and stands to see a much bigger percentage gain when silver prices go up. In fact, in the past, silver has outperformed gold in bull markets, according to GoldSilver. GoldSilver claims that, from 2008 to 2011, silver gained 448 percent, while gold gained just 166 percent in that same time period. It’s possible for an investor to hedge their bets with silver bullion in their portfolio.
5. History is on silver’s side — Silver and gold have been used as legal tender for hundreds and hundreds of years, and that lineage lends the metal a sense of stability. Many find comfort in knowing that this metal has been recognized for its value throughout a great deal of mankind’s history, and so there’s an expectation that it will endure while fiat currencies may fall to the wayside. When individuals invest in physical silver, whether that be through silver bars, fine silver, coins or other means, there is a reassurance that its value has and will continue to persist.
6. Silver offers anonymity — Whether you value your privacy or not, silver has the same benefit as cash in that it gives users a degree of anonymity with regards to spending. Not everyone wants all of their transactions to be a part of the public record, and privacy is a necessary component of democracy, according to Glenn Greenwald’s TED Talk. That is another benefit of the white metal.
Cons of owning silver bullion
1. Lack of liquidity — There is a chance that if you hold physical silver, it may not be immediately liquid. In order to make common purchases such as groceries, you are not able to use bars of silver, so you will need to convert that to currency first, and the ability to sell in a hurry can be an issue. In a jam, pawn shops and jewellers are an option, but not necessarily the best paying one.
2. Danger of theft — Unlike most other investments, such as stocks, holding silver bullion can leave investors vulnerable to theft. Securing your assets from looting may incur other costs, including a safety deposit box in a bank, or a safe box in your home. Additionally, the more physical assets that reside within your home, the more at risk you are for burglary.
3. Weak return on investment —Although silver bullion may be a good safe haven asset, it may not perform as well as other investments — for example, real estate, or even other metals.
Stocks may also be a better option than silver bullion for some investors. As Randy Smallwood, president and CEO of streaming company Wheaton Precious Metals (TSX:WPM,NYSE:WPM), has said, “streaming companies will always outperform bullion by itself.” He attributes this to organic growth and dividend payouts that bullion doesn’t provide.
Where is silver headed?
Finally, it is important to look at where analysts believe that the white metal is headed.
David Morgan, publisher of the Morgan Report, told the Investing News Network (INN), “Silver will overtake gold on a percentage return basis once the gold market reaches a certain level. That level is unknown, but US$1,550 is probably a good, educated level based on sentiment in the market when both metals were selling off and moving lower.”
Analysts at FocusEconomics agree with Morgan, stating, “The rally in gold prices, which has widened the price differential between the two metals, could also spill over into the silver market (moving forward).”
In terms of price predictions, panelists at FocusEconomics believe that silver will climb to an average price of US$15.80 in the fourth quarter of 2019 before making even further gains to reach an expected average of US$16.60 in Q4 of next year.
Finally, Johann Wiebe, lead analyst at Thomson Reuters’ GFMS division, told INN recently that he expects silver prices to be around US$16.75 in 2019 and US$17.50 in 2020 thanks to rising economic and political turbulence weighing on the US dollar and supporting precious metals.
With all of these factors in mind, investors may want to reflect on the pros and cons from their own personal lens before deciding whether to build up their stockpile of silver bullion. Timing is also an important factor for those who want to reap the benefits of the white metal.
This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2016.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Nicole Rashotte, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.