Could the Silver Price Really Hit US$100 per Ounce?

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The silver price made waves in 2020 when it rose above US$20 per ounce for the first time in four years, and the precious metal has largely stayed above that level since, even reaching US$29.59 in 2021.

The metal has repeatedly tested the high US$20s since, including a high of US$29.59, and passed the US$26 mark again as recently as May of this year. However, it has yet to break through the US$30 mark.

Nonetheless, well-known figure Keith Neumeyer, CEO of First Majestic Silver (TSX:FR,NYSE:AG), has frequently said he believes the white metal could climb even higher, eventually reaching into the triple digits.

Neumeyer has voiced this opinion often in recent years. He put up a US$130 price target in a November 2017 interview with Palisade Radio, and has reiterated his triple-digit silver price forecast in multiple interviews with Kitco: in March 2018, at the top of 2020, in May 2021, in March 2022 and the latest in March 2023. He also discussed it in an August 2022 interview with Wall Street Silver.

At times he’s been even more bold, suggesting in 2016 that the white metal could reach US$1,000 if gold were to hit US$10,000. More recently, his expected timeline for US$100 silver has been pushed back, but he remains very bullish on the metal in the long term.

In order to better understand where Neumeyer’s opinion comes from and whether a triple-digit silver price is really in the cards, it’s important to take a look at the factors that affect the metal’s movements, as well as where prices have been in the past and where other industry insiders think silver could be headed. First, let’s dive a little deeper into Neumeyer’s US$100 prediction.

Why is Neumeyer calling for US$100 silver?

There’s a significant distance for silver to go before it reaches the success Neumeyer has boldly predicted. In fact, in order for the precious metal to jump to the US$100 mark, its price would have to increase from its current value by around 350 percent.

Neumeyer has previously stated that he expects a triple-digit silver price in part because he believed the market cycle could be compared to the year 2000, when investors were sailing high on the dot-com bubble and the mining sector was down. He thinks it’s only a matter of time before the market corrects, like it did in 2001 and 2002, and commodities see a big rebound in pricing. It was during 2000 that Neumeyer himself invested heavily in mining stocks and came out on top.

“I’ve been calling for triple-digit silver for a few years now, and I’m more enthused now,” Neumeyer said at an event in January 2020, noting that there are multiple factors behind his reasoning. “But I’m cautiously enthused because, you know, I thought it would have happened sooner than it currently is happening.”

In his August 2022 with Wall Street Silver, he reiterated his support for triple-digit silver and said he’s fortunately not alone in this optimistic view — in fact, he’s been surpassed in that optimism. ‘I actually saw someone the other day call for US$500 silver,’ he said. ‘I’m not quite sure I’m at the level. Give me US$50 first and we’ll see what happens after that.’

Another factor driving Neumeyer’s position is his belief that the silver market is in a deficit. In a May 2021 interview, when presented with supply-side data from the Silver Institute indicating the biggest surplus in silver market history, Neumeyer was blunt in his skepticism. “I think these numbers are made up,” he said. “I wouldn’t trust them at all.”

He pointed out that subtracting net investments in silver exchange-traded products leaves the market in a deficit, and also questioned the methodology behind the institute’s recycling data given that most recycled silver metal comes from privately owned smelters and refineries that typically don’t make those figures public.

‘I’m guessing the mining sector produced something in the order of 800, maybe 825 million ounces in 2022,’ Neumeyer said when giving a Q4 2022 overview for his company. ‘Consumption numbers look like they’re somewhere between 1.2 and 1.4 billion ounces. That’s due to all the great technologies, all the newfangled gadgets that we’re consuming. Electric vehicles, solar panels, windmills, you name it. All these technologies require silver … that’s a pretty big (supply) deficit.’

More controversially, Neumeyer is of the opinion that the white metal will eventually become uncoupled from its sister metal gold, and should be seen as a strategic metal due to its necessity in many everyday appliances, from computers to electronics, as well as the technologies mentioned above. He has also stated that silver production has gone down in recent years, meaning that contrary to popular belief, he believes the metal is actually a rare commodity.

Neumeyer’s March 2023 triple-digit silver call is a long-term call, and he explained that while he believes gold will break US$3,000 this year, he thinks silver will only reach US$30 in 2023. However, once the gold/silver ratio is that unbalanced, he believes that silver will begin to take off, and it will just need a catalyst.

‘It could be Elon Musk taking a position in the silver space,’ Neumeyer said. ‘There’s going to be a catalyst at some time, and headlines in the Wall Street Journal might talk about the silver supply deficit … I don’t know what the catalyst will be, but investors and institutions will wake up to the fundamentals of the metal, and that’s when it will start to move.’

In an August interview with SilverNews, Neumeyer discussed his belief that banks are holding the silver market down. He pointed to the paper market for the metal, which he said the banks have capped at US$30 even in times of high buying.

‘If you want to go and buy 100 billion ounces of silver (in the paper market), you might not even move the price because some bank just writes you a contract that says (you own that),’ he explained, saying banks are willing to get short, because once the buying stops, they push the price down to get the investors out of the market and buy the silver back. ‘… If the miners started pulling their metal out of the current system, then all of a sudden the banks wouldn’t know if they’re going to get the metal or not, so they wouldn’t be taking the same risks they’re taking today in the paper markets.’

The month after the interview, his company First Majestic launched its own 100 percent owned and operated minting facility, named First Mint.

What factors affect the silver price?

In order to glean a better understanding of the precious metal’s chances of trading around the US$100 range, it’s important to examine the elements that could push it to that level or pull it further away.

The strength of the US dollar and US Federal Reserve interest rate changes are factors that will continue to affect the precious metal, as are geopolitical issues and supply and demand dynamics. Although Neumeyer believes that the ties that bind silver to gold need to be broken, the reality is that most of the same factors that shape the price of gold also move silver.

For that reason, it’s helpful to look at gold price drivers when trying to understand silver’s price action. Silver is, of course, the more volatile of the two precious metals, but nevertheless it often trades in relative tandem with gold.

Looking first at the Fed and interest rates, it’s useful to understand that higher rates are generally negative for gold and silver, while lower rates tend to be positive. That’s because when rates are higher interest shifts to products that can accrue interest.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Fed cut rates down to zero from 1 to 1.25 percent. However, rising inflation has led the Fed and other central banks to hike rates, which has negatively impacted gold and silver. In February 2023, the Fed raised rates by just 25 basis points, the smallest hike since March 2022, as Chair Jerome Powell said the process of disinflation has begun. The Fed has continued these small rate hikes since, with the latest coming in July.

While central bank actions are important for gold, and by extension silver, a key price driver lately has been geopolitical uncertainty. The past few years have been filled with major geopolitical events such as tensions between the US and other countries such as North Korea, China and Iran. More recently, the huge economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s war with Ukraine and the banking crisis earlier this year have been sources of concern for investors.

On a separate note, silver’s close ties to gold’s safe-haven status should be beneficial in the long term, and there is also a strong case to made for the metal’s industrial potential. According to CIBC analysts in mid-2021, higher industrial demand from emerging sectors due to factors like the transition to renewable energy will be highly supportive for the metal over the next few years.

Does historic price action support US$100 silver?

While not all silver market watchers anticipate a triple-digit silver price in the near future, there is support for Neumeyer’s belief that the metal is undervalued and that “ideal conditions are present for silver prices to rise.”

Many are on board with Neumeyer in the idea that silver’s prospects are bright, including Peter Krauth of Silver Stock Investor, who believes that ‘we are very likely going to experience the greatest silver bull market of our generation.’

So, if the silver price does rise, how high will it go?

Let’s look at silver’s recent history. The highest price for silver was just under US$50 in the 1970s, and it came close to that level again in 2011. The commodity’s price uptick came on the back of very strong silver investment demand.

After spending the latter half of the 2010s in the teens, the 2020s have seen silver largely hold above US$20. In August 2020, the price of silver reached nearly US$28.50 before pulling back again, and moved back up near those heights in February 2021. The price of silver saw a 2022 high point of US$26.46 in February, and passed US$26 again in May 2023.

What do other experts think about US$100 silver?

Many experts in the space expect silver to perform strongly in the years to come, but don’t necessarily see it reaching US$100 or more, especially given the current macroeconomic conditions.

However, 2022 didn’t shake out as many expected, and Morgan’s expectations are more muted for 2023. ‘We’ll have to see what happens,’ he said at the end of 2022. ‘Last time we got near US$30, very close to it, Rostin Behnam of the (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) came out and said they had to tamp down the silver market. What kind of a free market is that?’

From a longer-term lens, Matt Watson, founder of Precious Metals Commodity Management, thinks that over the next decade silver will benefit greatly from increased industrial demand, particularly from the electric vehicle, solar photovoltaic and electronics industries. This increasing demand for the white metal is happening in concert with decreasing mine supply, which has the potential to push the silver price to US$50 — just not in the short term.

‘As I was doing my research, and this goes back over several years already, I would get to that US$300 forecast for an ultimate high in the silver price in different ways,’ he said, and broke down what a low gold/silver ratio — like we’ve seen the previous times that silver has peaked — could mean for the metal’s price in the future.

FAQs for silver

Why is silver so cheap?

The primary reason that silver is sold at a significant discount to gold is supply and demand.

There is an abundance of silver — according to the US Geological Survey, to date 1,740,000 metric tons (MT) of silver have been discovered, while only 244,000 MT of gold have been found. In terms of output, 26,000 MT of silver were mined in 2022 compared to 3,100 MT for gold. However, looking at these numbers, that puts gold and silver production at about a 1:8.3 ratio, while the price ratio in at the beginning of August was around 1:82 — a huge disparity.

While silver does have both investment and industrial demand, the global focus on gold as an investment vehicle, including countries stockpiling gold, can overshadow silver. Additionally, jewelry alone is a massive force for gold demand.

Is silver really undervalued?

Many experts believe that silver is undervalued compared to fellow currency metal gold. As discussed, their production and price ratios are currently incredibly disparate. While investment demand is higher for gold, silver has seen increasing time in the limelight in recent years, including a 2021 silver squeeze that saw new entrants to the market join in.

Another factor that lends more intrinsic value to silver is that it’s an industrial metal as well as a precious metal. It has applications in technology and batteries — both growing sectors that will drive demand higher.

Silver’s two sides could both be seen last year: Silver demand hit record highs in 2022, according to the Silver Institute, with physical silver investment rising by 22 percent and industrial by 5 percent over 2021.

Can silver hit US$1,000?

In 2016, Neumeyer predicted that silver could hit US$1,000 per ounce if gold ever climbed to US$10,000 per ounce. This is related to the gold to silver production ratio discussed above, which at the time of the prediction was around 1 ounce of gold to 9 ounces of silver and last year was about 1:8.3.

If silver was priced according to production ratio today, when gold is at US$2,000 silver would be around US$240, or US$222 at 1:9. However, the gold to silver pricing ratio has actually sat around 1:80 to 1:90 recently, and when gold moved above US$2,000 in May, silver was around US$25. Additionally, even if pricing did change drastically to reflect production rates, gold would need to climb around 500 percent from its current price to hit the US$10,000 Neumeyer mentioned back in 2016.

As things are now, it seems unlikely silver will reach those highs.

Is silver better than gold?

There are merits for both metals, especially as part of a well-balanced portfolio. As many analysts point out, silver has been known to outperform its sister metal gold during times of economic prosperity and expansion.

On the other hand, during economic uncertainty silver values are impacted by declines in fabrication demand.

Silver’s duality as a precious and industrial metal also provides price support. As a report from the CPM Group notes, “it can be seen that silver in fact almost always (but not always) out-performs gold during a gold bull market.”

Should I buy silver in 2023?

Investors looking to buy silver in 2023 have a variety of factors to consider, including where the metal’s price will go and when they can get the best deal. Here’s a quick run down of the year so far, and what three experts think could happen.

Silver’s lowest price so far this year came on March 8, when it briefly dropped under US$20. Since that low, silver has performed strongly against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, including the banking crisis, peaking at a year-to-date high of over US$26 in early May. As of the beginning of August, the silver price was sitting at around US$23.50.

In April, Gareth Soloway said he thinks silver will see a subdued performance this year. While a break above US$30 could be possible, he believes a potential recession will weigh on silver’s industrial demand and thus its price as well.

How to invest in silver?

There are a variety of ways to get into the silver market. For example, investors may choose to put their money into silver-focused stocks by buying shares of companies focused on silver mining and exploration. As a by-product metal, investors can also gain exposure to silver through some gold companies.

There are also silver exchange-traded funds that give broad exposure to silver companies and the metal itself, while more experienced traders may be interested in silver futures. And of course, for those who prefer a more tangible investment, purchasing physical silver bullion in bar and coin form is also an option.

At what price did Warren Buffet buy silver?

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A,NYSE:BRK.B) bought up 37 percent of global silver supply between 1997 and 2006. Silver ranged from US$4 to US$10 during that period.

In fact, between July 1997 and January 1998 alone, the company bought about 129 million ounces of the metal, much of which was for under US$5. Adjusted for inflation, the company’s purchases in that window cost about US$8.50 to US$11.50.

Securities Disclosure: I, Lauren Kelly, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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