Supply and Demand of Precious Metals – Overview

By Walter Pehowich,

The question arises again and again. What happens if physical gold and silver demand next year exceeds the supply and we experience the same shortages as we did this year?

I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while now and I thought I’d ask the question to a few chosen mints, refiners and producers. I asked, “Are you planning to add new machinery, hire more people and even add a shift or two to meet the expected demand next year?”

And the overall answer I received was, “How to we plan for something we don’t know will happen. You used the word “expected.” As a manufacturer, do we commit more capital for machinery or hire more people when we have no idea if the demand will be sustained. We try to juggle around some personnel and do maintenance of the machinery on weekends but there is no real answer to making a commitment to expanding capacity in this business with an unknown demand in the future.”

Some mints have laws that govern them, while other Mints have some flexibility to determine their direction. And refineries are kind of stuck in place it seems, trying to figure what road to take on investing in any capital improvements. As much heat that the mints, refineries and producers took this year, it seems in the end, for the most part, they are just fine.

So as a dealer in precious metals, whether a retailer or wholesaler, how does one plan for a shortage of product? It becomes a very difficult situation and it’s almost impossible to determine what products will be in demand and what inventory to carry.

As I tell my kids. “Sometimes in life there are no answers.

Walter Pehowich is the executive vice president of precious metals investment services for Dillon Gage with over 38 years of experience in precious metals investment services. His career began in 1977 at Bache (which evolved to Prudential-Bache Securities and then Jefferies Investment Bank). While at Jefferies, he served as senior vice president with oversight of investment grade precious metal products. Pehowich holds a National Futures Association (NFA) Series 3 license, authorizing him to advise and sell alternative investments in commodities and futures markets.