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It will be a great deal harder to push up the price of the metal, which is already at an eight-year high. Attempting to corner the silver market has a long and dishonourable history, so one can understand why members of the have-a-go Reddit crew might be attracted to a version of the idea.
The day traders also appear to have chosen one tactic correctly. They targeted silver exchange traded funds, or ETFs, which are obliged to back their units with physical holdings of the metal.
No messing about with funds that merely hold derivative silver contracts. The central tactic may be correct, but the overall plan looks wildly overambitious. For starters, there are no obviously overextended hedge funds to beat up. Second, the price of silver is hard to push around artificially for any length of time. Both thoughts seemed to have occurred to members of the Reddit army, which looks less than united about the wisdom of this expedition.
Good point: the data shows institutions are actually net long.
Some will have been created for reasons of genuine hedging. So who is hurting? Then one has to consider the size of the silver market. Real-world manufacturers need silver for use in cars and computers, but they also keep stocks of the stuff.
So they do not become forced buyers overnight, unlike the hedge funds at Gamestop, who stupidly made the same overcrowded bet. It was a ificant move.
But was it just small-time investors buying? If so, one suspects the professionals will have banked their profits already. It creates short-term trading opportunities for those who can read, and create, social media forces.
But the likely losers are who get sucked in and arrive late. Silver was an odd target to pick, especially with the price now at an eight-year high. In practice, the chances of Bailey losing his job, or even being censured, are remote. If the chancellor was minded to act, he would have done so by now. It is a shocking tale. And it is equally shocking how smoothly the financial and political establishment moves on.
Nils Pratley on finance Silver. This article is more than 5 months old. Nils Pratley. Mon 1 Feb Silver price reaches eight-year high as small investors snap it up.
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Reddit's flashmob won't be able to work its GameStop magic on silver