Will mushrooming supply crush gold and silver prices in the years to come?

One of the most common arguments bears levy against gold and silver is the fact that record prices mean more gold and silver mines. With those mines, they argue, comes a glut of supply.

One of the most common arguments bears levy against gold and silver is the fact that record prices mean more gold and silver mines. With those mines, they argue, comes a glut of supply that could crush the precious metals markets.

One of the leading voices in this debate is Dr. Paul Walker of precious metals consultancy GFMS Thomson Reuters. At a conference last week in Dubai, Dr. Walker pointed out that it takes some $120-$150 billion of investment demand every year just to keep gold prices flat – not to mention see prices climb higher (per Resource Investor).

That a lot of cash to maintain a baseline, and I would argue that bodes well for silver prices.

“The amount of silver that’s available for investment each year is 450 million ounces and the amount of gold that’s available for purchase is about 70 million ounces, which means you have a ratio of about six-and-a-half to one is amount of silver you can buy versus gold,” Eric Sprott said in a recent interview (per ETFDailyNews).

At current prices, that means investment demand needs to grow by $13.5 billion to keep silver prices where they are. That’s far less than the $120 billion gold prices will need to stay afloat.

Still, silver prices tend to follow gold prices as both metals act as stores of value during periods of inflation. The main indicator for whether or not gold and silver prices can keep up with supply then is the expectation of inflation, and expectations are a fickle thing.

As Dr. Walker pointed out last week, it’s probably not supply that gold and silver investors should be concerned about, but rather the possibility that the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates in an attempt to begin strengthening the dollar. That, he argues, could be the true “Black Swan” event we’ve all been worried about.

We’re not there yet, though. In fact, we just might see all-time record high gold and silver prices again before we ever see the interest rates rise. Check out our posts Silver prices setting up for 30-year high? and Why Eric Sprott believes silver prices will triple to $100 an ounce in 2012 for more.

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