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I don't believe they make money buying or selling silver, but rather making a market. For example, a large hedge fund wants to protect against against a stock drop due to interest rate hikes, but they don't want to liquidate hundreds of millions of dollars in a position. They go to JP Morgan and say, "we would like to buy x-thousand ounces of a basket of precious metals." JP is like, "sure, no problem. Here is a piece of paper (minus hefty fees) saying you bought your precious metal basket at a particular price. Come back to us to cash it in when you are ready."
JP does this on *both* sides of the trade, raking in fees from all parties, all the while not actually owning any of the metal they are selling or agreeing to buy in the future. One day the risk-management guy bumps into the financial instrument guy and asks, "hey, been watching the books. What happens if there is a black swan event and you have to cover these positions?" The reply, "no worries, mate, we will just buy what we need off the market."
The risk management guy rolls his eyes, "do you know how much that is going to cost or how likely it is that such a call will be needed?"
The financial instrument guy shrugs.
Risk management guy shakes his head, "good thing we employ a team of people with no social skills or employment prospects, other than being insanely good at math, paying them half a million per year plus hookers and blow to tell us. You need to have X-amount of underlying assets for a Y-risk profile. Go buy some ****ing precious metals."
Financial instrument guy is like, "where am I supposed to get the money for that?
Risk management guy, "how about using some of the money you've been making from buying and selling the metals you don't own to your clients?"
This is why the global silver market will never behave rationally.
the silver market is ~1/8th the size of the gold market.
keeping everything the same silver needs to go up 8 times
(reaching $120/toz) to reach the same size as the gold
market. at the height of the 2011 top silver never reached
the same market size as gold. how much money can
jp morgan put into silver? how much profit will it make
them? (the market for silver is too small and too illiquid)