Silver market manipulation can’t be ruled out

Whenever there’s a rise in a particular commodity, you’re going to get investors with very deep pockets who move into the space. Who’s to say we won’t see a repeat of the Hunt brothers episode in the 1970s.

Often cited as the most infamous example of silver price manipulation in history, the Hunt brothers started accumulating the metal early in the 1970s. By 1979, they held an estimated 100 million ounces of silver. The brothers’ treasure chest is generally regarded as the reason why silver would ultimately peak at $50 per ounce in January of 1980.

Not everyone’s convinced, though. In an interview with the The Daily Crux, Jeff Clark of Big Gold says investors shouldn’t conclude that silver’s price spike was solely due to the Hunt Brothers. He offers three reasons why:

1) Strange timing. Rumors that the Hunts were attempting to corner the market in silver really went mainstream in 1974, Clark says. If the Hunts were genuinely buying enough of the metal to affect prices, silver should have went up even then. In fact, prices declined for the next two years.

2) No love for gold. One of the most damning arguments against the belief that the Hunts were the sole cause of silver’s rise during the ’70s is the fact that gold rose, too. Prices for both metals topped out on the same day: January 21, 1980. The fates of the metals were linked despite the fact that the Hunts weren’t accumulating gold. With or without price manipulation, silver would have likely risen dramatically alongside gold.

3) The media machine. There’s a difference between a market that’s manipulated and a newspaper headline that claims the Hunts had “cornered” the silver market. It was likely members of the media, not institutional investors on the ground, who believed silver’s price surge was solely caused by the Hunts.

Whenever there’s a rise in a particular commodity, you’re going to get investors with very deep pockets who move into the space. “Who’s to say that we won’t see other ‘Hunts’ come along today and try to buy up large quantities of the metal?” Clark asks. “I wouldn’t rule it out.” The Hunts, after all, were buying the metal for the same reason investors are today: the devaluation of the dollar. Until that ends, silver will likely continue its upward trend.

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