Source: JT Long of The Gold Report (10/20/14)
Could an infectious disease kill the monster that has been choking gold and silver prices for more than a year? On the heels of a lively Sprott Precious Metals Roundtable discussion, The Gold Report caught up with investor Eric Sprott to ask how a tragedy in Africa could impact the price of precious metals and mining stocks. We also spoke to his Executive Vice President of Corporate Development John Ciampaglia about a new way to gain exposure to gold.
The Gold Report: Deutsche Bank warned in a recent note that the Ebola virus could impact commodity markets, including gold and cocoa, as it spreads to producing countries in West Africa, particularly Ghana and Mali. In a recent article titled “Ebola, The Tipping Point,” you mourned the unnecessary loss of life and predicted 5% less global production next year than this year. Could a lack of supply due to Ebola-related closures really cause the price of gold to rise?
Eric Sprott: There is already a shortage of gold and silver in the markets without a corresponding increase in the price. I wrote an open letter to the World Gold Council questioning its data on China. If you believe the Shanghai Gold Exchange data, China consumes more than 2,000 tons (2 Kt). In 2011, it consumed only about 1 Kt. In the last two years, China has bought an extra 1 Kt gold—25% of a 4 Kt market. If any country came in and bought 25% of the oil market, the wheat market or the orange juice market, the commodity price would not go down. Obviously, the physical gold market is not manifesting itself in the price changes.
We also see that in silver. Last year, Indians bought an extra 18% of the silver market, yet the silver price declined. That’s because the price is being run by someone who has avoided the physicality of the market. I hope the U.S. Mint will announce that it has to stop selling 2014 silver because the demand has picked up so much. That’s what I expect the Mint to do if it’s running out of silver. It would be interesting if some of these futures players were to stand up and demand delivery, because I don’t think the Mint could deliver.
Closing mines in Africa would just exacerbate the supply problem and cause things to finally change dramatically to the upside in prices as people publicly acknowledge the fundamentals.