It is mildly amusing that when the precious metals markets are in confirmed up trends that the perennial debate of whether it is best to own gold or silver always comes to the fore. Both gold and silver, historically, have been money (merely utility in exchange). Gold in nature is approximately 15 times as scarce as silver. All the gold mined since the dawn of man, if molded into a cube, is said to fit inside a baseball diamond. Silver would nearly fill the stadium.
China, now the world’s largest gold producer, had silver standard as gold was more plentiful in China than silver. A bias that the West took full advantage of up through the 1870’s. Silver imports by the Spanish Empire from their New World holdings were so large that it collapsed the European silver market. England, then on a bi-metalic standard, quickly switched to a pure gold standard. The Spanish Empire never recovered from the experience.
In the United States, the debate raged incessantly as to how the ratio would be “fixed” after the discovery of the Comstock Lode with western mining interests best known champion, Senator Williams Jennings Bryant, being the foremost proponent of a lower ratio. Seems it is an old debate. The good news is, you can own both. If/When the world returns to honest, stable money, you will need both. Gold for the larger acquisitions and silver to make change.
While we await such an event, ratio trade the two metals to increase your holdings of precious metals.The ratio fluctuates wildly over time. In the 1970’s and 1980’s I used 28:1 and 40:1 as points that I would switch. At 40:1 I would be in silver. When the ratio dropped down to 28:1 I would exchange silver holdings for gold. Each time I switched, my stack of precious metals would increase in size even after dealing with the spread. Find a precious metals dealer who will work with you on that. You maybe able to locate one that will only charge the spread on one of the metals and not both when you switch.
Since then, the ratio has moved up. At one point it was even at 100:1. I now use 45:1 and 70:1 as switch points. See your tax accountant as to the benefits of such a program. Think 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange. For those who do not want to break the rear axle of your automobile moving your silver when it comes time to switch, think about using ETF’s that solely reflect the price of the two metals. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this. From being in just one or the other to being long one and short the other.
IF your objective is to accumulate the actual physical metals, do not use ETF’s as a substitute for physical ownership. Rather, take profits from your switching trades and purchase the actual metals themselves. Gold vs. Silver? No debate, accumulate both.