gold investment, silver investment

Precious metals investment terms A to Z

Size of the Silver Market

How big is the silver market? It should be easy to answer this question, right? After all, the silver market is a market for silver. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 1,740,000 metric tons of silver has been discovered to date, which translates into about 56 billion ounces of silver ever mined.

However, most of the physical silver mined over time has been lost due to industrial use. And we are interested in silver as part of the financial market, i.e., private investment and perhaps official reserves. Hence, although jewelry also serves as a store of wealth in many cultures, we subtract it from our calculations. Neither do we include silver for technological applications. Therefore, after all these corrections, we estimate the market for investable silver at 4 billion ounces. So, at today’s dollar price (about $27 per ounce, as of February 3, 2021), the silver market capitalization would be about $108 billion.

We can also interpret and measure the size of the silver market in terms of its liquidity. According to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), 218 million ounces of silver worth $3.1 billion were cleared in the London market in September 2018. If we add futures and silver ETFs, the trading volume was even be higher. Hence, silver is heavily traded, although less intensively than gold.

Reddit Rally and Silver Market Size

At the turn of January and February 2021, the price of silver skyrocketed to its highest level since 2013, as retail investors flooded the market. It all started one week earlier when Reddit users coordinated their actions and sparked a rally in the GameStop shares. Another post on the r/wallstreetbets Reddit message board under the headline “THE BIGGEST SHORT SQUEEZE IN THE WORLD $SLV Silver 25$ to 1000$” urged investors to buy silver. The idea was to expose a shortage of supply and to push prices up.

As a result, BlackRock iShares Silver Trust, the largest ETF tracking the silver, recorded unprecedented inflows, while silver prices were up more than nine percent on February 1, 2021, the biggest daily gain since the Great Recession.

However, a short squeeze similar to the one that happened in GameStop, is unlikely. This is because the silver market is much bigger and more liquid than GameStop. Before the recent actions inaugurated on Reddit, GameStop had a market cap of $1.4 billion, while the size of the silver market is in the hundreds of billions of dollars or even trillions! The silver to be found in London’s vaults alone is worth $48 billion. So, trying to corner the silver market would be like trying to drain the ocean.

Conclusions

In summary, the silver market is quite big, which makes it one of the largest and most important financial markets in the modern economy. Given its size and liquidity, silver is clearly a monetary asset, although not as attractive as another reserve currency – gold. The impressive trading volume also explains why annual mining production (and its cost) is not the most important factor in silver’s price formation (its equivalent is cleared during several trading days in the global silver market). The size of the silver market also explains why long-term price manipulation would be very difficult, or even impossible. The short-lived character of the Reddit driven rally in the silver market confirms the view that – contrary to popular narrative – there is no systematic suppression of silver prices (and gold prices – remember that the gold market is much larger than the silver market).  

We encourage you to learn more about the silver market – not only how large it is, but also how to successfully use silver as an investment and how to profitably trade it. A great way to start is to sign up for our Gold & Silver Trading Alerts. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

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