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Investasi Favorit Saya untuk Dekade ke Depan (Bagian 1)

“Unlike gold, which has very little industrial use, silver is also an industrial metal and gets used up in all sorts of manufacturing processes.  It’s also largely a byproduct of big base-metal mines (there’s almost no pure silver production in the world), so the supply crunch we see ahead affects it much more than gold.  Silver has become the win-win metal.”

– Louis James, senior editor of the International Speculator

Anda mungkin terkejut jika mengetahui bahwa investasi favorit saya di tahun-tahun mendatang bukanlah saham, obligasi atau properti, tapi PERAK. Meskipun telah mengungguli aset-aset terkemuka dunia dalam 5 hingga 10 tahun belakangan,  lima dan sepuluh tahun periode, perak  masih merupakan salah satu komoditas yang paling undervalued – atau jika boleh saya katakan kurang dihargai.

Perak saat ini diperdagangkan di bawah $25/ons, dan para pengamat memprediksi akan melambung ke harga puncak yang disesuaikan dengan inflasi, di $130/ons pada tahun 2015. Alasan beberapa analis memprediksi peningkatan drastis harga perak tersebut karena ekonomi dunia yang tengah tertekan, pasokan perak yang merosot, permintaan industri yang signifikan, peran perak sebagai penyimpan nilai (store of value), penggunaannya sebagai mata uang, dan meningkatnya permintaan investasi.

Saya pribadi memang mempercayai perak adalah logam yang menakjubkan, yang cenderung akan melambung di tahun-tahun mendatang. Seperti mungkin Anda telah ketahui bahwa perak memiliki lebih dari 10 ribu kegunaan, dan sebagai salah satu pengantar panas dan listrik terbaik dunia. Dan para penemu pun lebih banyak mengajukan hak paten pada penggunaan perak dibanding logam berharga lainnya di dunia.

Bahkan ketika perak digunakan untuk tujuan industri dan teknologi, maka secara harfiah akan digunakan selamanya karena ternyata terlalu banyak biaya yang dikeluarkan untuk mencoba mendaur ulang perak, bahkan dalam volume kecil sekalipun seperti pada ponsel atau chip kasino.

Juga perlu diingat bahwa perak bukan hanya seebagai komoditas safe haven (aman resiko), tetapi namun memiliki peran sebagai mata uang dan nilai moneter ini tidak dapat didevaluasi seperti umumnya mata uang dunia. Perak bahkan memiliki perbedaan dalam penggunaan sebagai uang untuk waktu yang lebih lama dan di tempat-tempat yang lebih banyak daripada emas. Menurut Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman, “The major monetary metal in history is silver, not gold.”

Berikutnya yang tak kalah penting adalah bahwa hanya ada kurang dari 1 miliar ons perak murni di dunia. Lebih dari 90 persen dari hasil tambangnya digunakan oleh industri. Tuntutan industri ini senantiasa melampaui pasokannya selama 20 tahun terakhir.

Meskipun produksi belakangan ini relatif masih datar, persediaan dan pasokan pemerintah masih mampu menahan kenaikan harga. Sumber-sumber tersebut akan menurun dan jika melihat ke belakang pasokan tidak akan selalu dapat memenuhi peningkatan permintaan!

Namun demikian, kebanyakan orang yang telah berbincang pada saya benar-benar belum tertarik pada perak karena mereka masih menganggap emas lebih berharga dan/atau sama sekali belum memahami tentang perak. Mungkin idiom yang tepat untuk menggambarkan pandangan orang-orang tersebut tentang perak adalah ‘out of sight, out of mind’…

Seorang ahli perak terkemuka, Ted Butler, yang merupakan analis riset pertama yang secara terbuka mengakui dan menulis tentang konsekuensi dari pinjaman logam mulia serta kegagalan forward-sale dalam usahanya untuk menghentikan sewa logam, adalah seorang penulis yang produktif dan analisa peraknya telah beredar luas di internet.

Dalam salah satu laporannya, yang diterbitkan pada tanggal 2 Desember 2011, ia menghimbau dengan tegas pada para pembacanya untuk memandang jauh ke depan karena keunggulan perak atas aset-aset global lainnya akan mengejutkan dalam jangka panjang:

“With more financial uncertainty in the world than in memory and with price volatility going through the roof, it’s hard to think about the long term. The only problem is that our lives are still measured in the long term. In financial terms, starting families, raising and educating children, preparing for retirement and preserving hard-earned wealth are not day to day considerations; we are forced to look ahead.  In looking and planning ahead, there is no crystal ball; no guarantee that things will turn out as we expect.  All we can do is to make assumptions based upon what we now know and then try to position ourselves for what may come.

Imagine that you are going on a journey for ten years and will be out of touch for that time. With no short term trading allowed, what assets would you choose to invest in until your return?  Silver is an asset that can offer spectacular returns and preserve value with low risk. It is a vital resource and essential industrial material in addition to being a precious metal.  And because so few investors are familiar with the real silver story, it is a near certainty that silver will become more appreciated over time.

There are limitations on the future supply of silver. Every metal resource in the world becomes more expensive to produce each year.  That’s due to the growing cost of extraction and because ore grades have declined (the biggest and cheapest deposits have already been found and exploited). The grades for silver ounce per ton of ore 150 years ago at the Comstock Lode were hundreds of times richer than grades being discovered today.   It takes greater effort and expense to extract metals from the earth, to say nothing of new environmental restrictions.

The world population now stands at seven billion.  Over the next ten years, the world will add another 750 million and perhaps a billion people on top of that over the twenty years.  That’s six times the equivalent of the current population of the U.S.  That will most likely be accompanied by an increase in the standard of living throughout the world. One measure of an increased standard of living includes greater use of electrical appliances and electronic devices of all types, from TV’s, refrigerators, washing machines to computers and cell phones.

Since silver is the best conductor of electricity it is sure to be in greater demand. Plus silver has other important attributes.  It’s the best reflector of light, the best transfer agent for heat and has important biocide properties, making it indispensible to modern life.

Silver performed better than any other asset over the past decade. But don’t buy silver because it did well, buy it for the new forces in place in the world. Ten years ago, there was no net investment in silver.  Only in the last five years has the world taken to investing in silver. Over that time, over 600 million ounces of silver have been bought in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), with hundreds of millions of additional ounces of silver bought in coins and bars.  Five years in a worldwide investment movement is a very short time frame.  In per capita terms, the world only bought one-tenth of an ounce of silver per person.  It would be accurate to suggest that a worldwide movement towards investing in silver is in its infancy.

There is more investment capital today than ever before.  Between the banks, large investment pools, and hedge funds, that capital base is more concentrated than ever.  We are talking about many trillions of dollars.  All the silver bullion in the world is valued at less than $35 billion. Despite silver’s great investment performance over the past 5 and 10 years, it has yet to attract investment from these big concentrated pools of wealth.  It is only a matter of time before the really big guys wake up and make a move into the metal. Considering how little silver exists to accommodate them, the effect on price when it occurs should be explosive.

One thing that didn’t exist ten years ago is the growing unease over government debt.  For the first time in living memory, sovereign debt in the developed nations has come to be questioned and shunned. This is not going to go away or be resolved easily. It is not hard to imagine the distrust of paper growing. A distrust of paper is a distrust of someone else’s promise to pay.  The only escape route is to switch to assets not dependent on someone else’s promise or ability to pay. Silver is a premier example of such an asset. The kicker with silver is that without any rush from paper assets it will still be great.

The growing distrust of European sovereign debt is occurring at the same time there has been a rush to deposit money in government paper obligations and insured bank accounts. Given volatile stock markets, a troubled real estate market and broad economic malaise, people are voting for safety, despite historically low returns on deposits. Investors are flooding the banks with deposits that earn little or no interest. Money is piling up on the sidelines like never before. In due course, it will seek better investment returns than the near zero returns currently offered on insured deposits.  Silver will attract some of this money. Either we’ll come out of this economic mess and all the money currently flooding into the banks will increase industrial demand for silver; or we’ll slide into further distrust of paper which could set off a buying panic in silver. In either outcome, it’s hard to see how silver won’t be the place to be.

The outlook for silver looks better than ever.  There are important regulatory changes afoot that promise to powerfully impact the price. There will also be closure to the current CFTC investigation of wrongdoing in the silver market. The manipulation to the downside in silver has many times the awareness that it did a decade ago and there are fewer counterarguments to explain it. Take advantage of the current low prices to establish a long term position in silver; I doubt you’ll regret it. As unsettling as financial events may be, they are actually quite positive for silver.

The reason for recent price drops rests with a group of around 20 commercials on the COMEX, including JPMorgan, that know how to suddenly rig prices lower (usually in the middle of the night or at some other thinly traded time).  Knowing that this will scare some people into selling and keep others from buying, this small group of commercials then sits back and waits to buy what they can scare others into selling.  I call this financial terrorism because it causes fear among investors.  The proof is that government data consistently reveals that these commercials are always the big buyers on any sharp sell-off in silver.  No exceptions.  Some might call this just luck on the part of these commercials.  I call it manipulation and financial terrorism.

It’s ironic that most silver and gold investors originally bought precious metals as protection against exactly the type of financial crisis we are going through now.  In other words, the price of gold and silver should be soaring based upon current conditions.  Instead, the manipulation is so pronounced that the crooked commercials on the COMEX have managed to convince the market that a flight from paper assets is somehow bad for precious metals.  That’s preposterous and you should not be fooled by their crooked games.  The proof is that these commercials crooks are buying hand over fist on the contrived sell-offs.  You should do exactly the same.  These rigged price drops are an opportunity like no other.  The fact that it is being artificially suppressed means you are getting a chance to buy it much cheaper than it would be in a free market.  That has to change and when it does it will be like a sling shot in the other direction.  The facts are more bullish than we can fully comprehend.” (semua yang dicetak tebal adalah penekanan saya pribadi)

For subscription info please go to www.butlerresearch.com

Selain itu Eric Sprott, CEO, CIO, dan seorang Portfolio Manager senior di Sprott Asset Management, mempertanyakan di akhir tahun lalu mengapa para investor (yang cerdas) membeli perak 50 kali lebih banyak dari emas dalam artikelnya berikut, yang menurut saya masuk dalam kategori yang HARUS DIBACA:

“As long-time students of precious metals investing, there are certain things we understand. One is that, historically, the availability ratio of silver to gold has had a direct influence on the price of the metals. The current availability ratio of physical silver to gold for investment purposes is approximately 3:1. So, why is it that investors are allocating their dollars to silver at a much higher ratio? What is it that these “smart” investors understand? Let’s have a look at the numbers and see if it’s time for investors to do as a wise man once said and “follow the money.”

Average annual gold mine production is approximately 80 million ounces, which together with an estimated average 50 million ounces of annual recycled gold, totals around 130 million ounces available per year. In comparison, annual mined silver production has averaged around 750 million ounces, while recycled silver is estimated at 250 million ounces per year, which adds up to approximately 1 billion ounces. Using this data, there is roughly 8 times more silver available to buy than there is gold. However, not all gold and silver is available for investment purposes, due to their use in industrial applications. It is estimated that for investment purposes (jewelry, bars and coins), the annual availability of gold is roughly 120 million ounces, and of silver it is 350 million ounces. Therefore, the ratio of physical silver availability to gold availability is 350/120, or ~3:1.1

Now, let’s examine how investors are allocating their investments between gold and silver. The data below is from the US Mint showing gold and silver sales in ounces:

Source: US Mint (www.usmint.gov)

As you can see, investors are choosing to buy silver at a ratio to gold that is well above what is available. This uptrend doesn’t show any signs of slowing either. The ratio of the physical silver to gold is both rising and extraordinarily above the availability ratio of 3:1.

We can also use other data such as the most recent issues of the Sprott Physical Gold and Silver Trusts. The last Gold Trust issue in September 2012 raised US$393 million and the last Silver Trust issue raised US$310 million. On the basis of prices for each metal at the time of issue, we could purchase ~213 thousand ounces of gold and ~9.1 million ounces of silver. This represents a purchase ratio of 43:1.

If we examine ETF holdings in both gold and silver, we note that in the period from 2007 to 2012, the increase in silver holdings amounted to 12,000 tonnes, compared to 1,200 tonnes of gold – meaning, investors purchased ten times more silver than gold.

These are only three factual data points to consider, but there are other indications that silver investment demand is way out of line with availability. Our favorite question to the bullion dealers we meet, is to ask the ratio of their dollar sales in gold versus silver. The answer is that dollar sales are equal, which means that physical silver sales relative to gold are greater than 50:1.

A recent news headline on Mineweb read, “Silver Sales to Outshine Gold in India.2” It went on to quote a bullion dealer that “investors and jewelry lovers prefer silver jewelry these days.” As the largest importer of gold in the world, it would be impossible for India to purchase an equivalent amount of silver, as it would require more than one billion ounces, essentially more than the current annual mine production.

While these last two confirmations of silver demand are anecdotal, the statistics from the US Mint, the ETFs, and our Physical Trust issues, are factual.

For the time being, the silver price is essentially set in the paper market where the daily average trade on the Comex is approximately 300 million ounces. An outrageous number when you compare it to the daily mine production of about 2 million ounces. As Bart Chilton, Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission stated on October 26, 2010, “I believe there have been repeated attempts to influence prices in silver markets. There have been fraudulent efforts to persuade and deviously control that price. Based on what I have been told and reviewed in publicly available documents, I believe violations to the Commodity Exchange Act have taken place in the silver market and any such violation of the law in this regard should be prosecuted.”3

Which brings us back to the phrase “Follow the money.” In our view, it is almost inconceivable that investors would allocate as many dollars to silver as they would to gold, but that is what the data shows.

The silver investment market is very small. While the dollar value of gold in the world approaches $9 trillion, the value of silver in the forms of jewelry, coins, bars and silverware is estimated at around $150 billion (5 billion ounces at $30 per ounce). This is a ratio of 60:1 in dollar terms.4

How long can investors continue to buy silver at the current ratios when the availability for investment is only 3:1? We are surprised that the price of silver has remained at such a depressed level compared to gold. Historically, the price ratio between gold and silver has been 16:1, when both were currencies. Today the ratio is 55:1, so what are the numbers telling us? We believe this is one of those times when smart investors will be well rewarded to “Follow the money.”

1 Sources: Gold data is from World Gold Council www.gold.org, and silver data is from Silver Institute, http://www.silverinstitute.org/site/supply-demand/
2 Source: Mineweb.com
3 Source: Bloomberg: http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-26/silver-market-faced-fraudulent-efforts-to-control-price-chilton-says.html
4 Sources: Gold data is from World Gold Council, silver data is from United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Silver Institute.

What Do the Charts Say?

Adam Brochert, seorang editor pada Gold Versus Paper, memberikan grafik beserta komentar yang menarik pada pekan lalu serta mengingatkan orang-orang yang peduli bahwa saat ini mungkin akan menjadi momen bagus untuk mulai mengakumulasi perak:

“The big money is made by sitting tight and holding on during a big bull market. Those who held common stocks thru the 1987 crash certainly didn’t regret it for long. Meanwhile, using silver as a more volatile proxy for the Gold bull market, it seems as though we may be at the end of a big 4th wave-type correction that suggests a mania phase dead ahead:

If you accept this Elliott Wave labeling (not saying it is correct – this is just an opinion), it would suggest that the first wave resulted in a roughly 5.3 fold gain and the third wave roughly a 5.9 fold gain. Thus, since the first and third waves are roughly of equal magnitude, the fifth (and final) wave higher is likely to be of the extended variety and thus perhaps a 9-11 fold gain is coming. This would mean a peak for silver in the $200-$300 USD per ounce range. To anyone who thinks this is an outrageous number, I would ask: what do you think of one quadrillion as a number tracking the amount of outstanding financial derivative instruments in existence or one trillion dollars being the annual deficit of the world’s current largest single country economy (i.e. USA). As last week’s policy announcement from the Bank of Japan proved, there is no limit to the insanity induced by drinking the collective Kool Aid.

This is a juicy set up for a trade, if nothing more. I think it will be much, much more. Much as in the last cycle (i.e. 2003-2008), it may well be another commodity price spike that derails the current “Goldilocks” scenario. I think Gold and silver are set to lead such a spike as business conditions continue to deteriorate globally. Meanwhile, the futures COT (commitment of traders) report indicates unusually skewed bearishness for all but the commercial traders (large banks like JP Morgan), who are now as bullish on silver as they ever seem to get (chart below stolen from Software North):

This is a potentially explosive situation that strongly favors a resolution in the PM bulls’ favor. I don’t think there has been a reading of greater than 45% bullish for the commercial traders in the past 10 years, and they are now at 43%. The momentum-chasing hedge funds are piling on the shorts here right as we hit trading range support. With an expanding open interest (rather than the usual decline into a low), an explosive short covering rally could occur with the slightest hint of a bottom (such as, say, with the action to end last week?).”

Kesimpulan

Ingatlah selalu bahwa hanya perak yang memiliki peran ganda sebagai dasar dari aset investasi dan material industri.  Yang membedakan perak dari komoditas sumber daya alam lainnya adalah daya tarik yang sudah berlangsung ribuan tahun, saat menjadi sebagai simbol kekayaan manusia dan kemudian berkembang sebagai material industri yang vital di dunia modern ini.

Jadi meskipun banyak orang berinvestasi di emas, logam mulia ini tidak memiliki peran ganda yang unik seperti perak, yakni aset investasi dan material industri. Itulah yang membuat perak menjadi langka.

Hal yang menakjubkan adalah bagaimana sejumlah investor potensial dunia menghargai keunikan peran ganda perak tersebut. Kemudahan investasi di perak sudah sangat diketahui dunia. Di beberapa dekade lalu, perak dikenal merupakan mata uang logam umum. Hal ini menjelaskan mengapa orang mengalami kesulitan memahami bagaimana suatu materi yang sebelumnya melimpah kini bisa dianggap langka. Berapa banyak orang yang tahu bahwa persediaan perak dunia sudah turun 90% sejak tahun 1940? Itulah yang sebenarnya telah menciptakan peluang investasi seumur hidup – melihat sesuatu lebih awal.

Akhirnya, mari berpikir sejenak mengenai hal berikut: Berapa banyak tetangga, teman, kerabat dan orang sekitar yang Anda tahu telah berinvestasi serius dalam perak? Saya kira akan sulit menemukan 1 dari 100 orang yang Anda tahu, atau bahkan 1 dalam 1000 orang. Meskipun terjadi kenaikan harga yang mengesankan selama 10 tahun terakhir, perak masih jauh sebagai aset yang dimiliki atau masih kurang dihargai. Investasi mengalir ke perak, dibandingkan dengan aset dunia lainnya, kecil. Namun, jumlah perak yang tersedia di pasar fisik untuk investasi memang sangat kecil sehingga arus investasinya hingga saat ini cukup untuk mendongkrak kenaikan harganya.

Agar Anda tetap ceria seperti biasa di akhir tulisan ini saya tampilkan sebuah gambar lucu untuk Anda:

Dibuat Tanggal 15 April 2013

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