The ultimate play in silver?
There is a fascinating situation unfolding in the ‘paper’ silver space at the moment. The graph below illustrates the total “open interest” on the COMEX futures trading last Friday when silver had its big drop. Open interest simplistically is the total number of futures contracts outstanding (long (buying to sell later) or short (selling to buy later), as they must by definition equal out) and Friday’s number was the highest since early 2008. For critical context, they represent about 800m oz of silver at a time when there was about 65m oz available for delivery in COMEX. Recall too that the Shanghai Futures Exchange inventory is down to only around 3m oz (93t). There is growing speculation that it is China who is the party buying and holding all these long positions as the price falls, to then take delivery to restock the critically short and physical trade dominated SFE. This makes sense also given most futures traders buy on margin and when you are long and the price drops to the extent is has over the last few weeks, you would expect a margin call, yet these (this?) long buyers are holding strong (losing over $1.3b in the last couple of weeks). The other interesting thing happening is incredible amounts of silver going INTO the SLV ETF at a time that the price is dropping. Again speculation is rife that this is China’s doing. There is certainly no great probability that the long buyer(s) on COMEX will demand all 800m oz to be physically delivered but just think for a minute ‘what if’ this time it is someone who actually wants the metal, someone, say, who needs it for their world’s largest physical metal exchange.