Friday, April 22, 2011

Silver Goes Crazy

Back in 1994, I was publishing a zine called Asylum For Shut-Ins. (Yes, the name was a blatant rip-off of the TV show of the same name. I was trying to find the creators of it!) Anyhow, I offered a deal to subscribers, as an experiment: Take 90% off the subscription rate of $10/year by sending $1 in face value pre-1965 silver US coins.

I actually had several takers. In those days, silver traded at less than $5/oz, so my $1 in pre-1965 quarters, which are 90% silver, was worth close to $4. It was a good deal for subscribers.

That less-than-$5/oz price held for some ten years before edging upwards to $15/oz in 2006, then $20/oz in 2008. It dipped down hard to $10/oz in 2009. Since then, it's off to the races. Yesterday, it closed at $46.06! Link to silver price history.

So, that $1 in coins I got for a subscription, which I still have, is worth $41.54- until today's new high is set. That's a 1000% gain since acquiring 17 years ago. Yes, I would do this over and over, all day long.

Problem is, it only reflects a devaluing of our dollar. I'm not getting rich here. I'm preserving some value. I have crabbed and crabbed about inflation, especially at the stimulus when it happened about inevitable inflation. I don't know why that clarion cry, so widely issued by libertarians, was so widely dismissed. I dunno: $4 gas? Food prices going up?

I only wish I was in better position to heed my own advice. I did buy some silver when it was at $20 last year. Bought some this year at $30. I'm very glad that I hung on to every coin I got from the Asylum experiment! I imagine very few people hold metals. I'd be interested to know the percentage of Americans that have physical possession of gold or silver.


Doug said...

If my math is right:

1994 value of service = $10.
2011 value of payment = $46.
Rate of return = 9.39%

By contrast, over the same period, this calculator suggests you would have made $37.10 by investing in the S&P 500.

Mike Kole said...

Waitaholdit. How is the rate of return 9.39%? Is that meaning ($46 / $10) / 17 years? No- I just ran that, and it wasn't close. Not a math major. Hep me!

I see what I would have made on the SP index. No argument there.

And, some would argue that I made no improvement. The coin is still the coin, silver is a constant, the variable is the value of paper money, which is dropping like a rock. Hence the phrase so often used with specie, "Hedge against inflation".