Silver is clearly out of its rut.
After steadily falling nearly 30% since its 52-week high
in February, the price of silver has rebounded quickly over the past few weeks to a current price of $33 -- almost entirely because of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
's announcement of a third round of quantitative easing
For some investors, the QE3 decision to continuously pump money
into circulation wasn't a surprise. Back in July, I urged readers to buy silver while it was still trading below my recommended "Buy Under" price: "If the market
feels like the Fed will
start throwing money at the economy
(via QE3) in an effort to spur growth, I can almost guarantee
silver will see a short-term bounce." I even added shares
of iShares Silver Trust ETF (NYSE: SLV)
, which tracks the price of physical silver, to my portfolio.
I bought silver in July for just under $26/ounce, and now I'm up nearly 30%. But that doesn't mean I'm selling any time soon.
You see, I didn't buy silver as a short-term bet that the Fed was going to announce QE3. In fact, I'd rather not waste my time trying to predict the exact future of the economy
Instead of relying on speculation, I like to keep things simple -- there's less room to screw something up. That's why I only invest in stocks that I can buy today and hold forever.
What makes silver such a slam-dunk?
Demand for it grows feverishly every year
. From Sony to Apple to Boeing, mega-manufacturers rely on it just to keep their doors open
In fact, more of today's most useful devices use silver over any other commodity besides petroleum.
- Sony, Samsung and dozens of other manufacturers use it in their flat-screen TVs, Blu-ray players, video game systems and sound systems.
- Apple depends on it to generate annual revenues of $108 billion from its insanely popular iPad, iPhone and iPod product lines.
- Manufacturing of solar panels, which incorporate highly reflective silver, is forecast to grow up to 396% in less than four years.
Worldwide demand for silver is strong and only getting stronger. Since 1999, demand from electronics and battery manufacturers has increased 120%, feeding the American middle class' hunger for cell phones, televisions, laptops and batteries.
Now, imagine what kind of demand we might see from a middle class that's seven times larger than the U.S. middle class -- consumers hungry for the same cell phones, televisions and laptops we crave.
Yep, it's going to happen. ... And it won't be that long from now.
The United Nations and Goldman Sachs expect China's middle class to grow from 13.4 million people to 1.4 BILLION in the next 20 years -- four times the predicted size of the American middle class. India's middle class is expected to grow from 300 million people to 1 billion, or three times larger than our own.
Fortunately for long-term investors, supply is not growing fast enough to keep up -- and there's no real industrial alternative to take up the slack.
The Investing Answer: Sure, silver's 30% pop from QE-infinity has been nice. But don't lose sight of the larger, long-term picture. The fact is, the world uses more silver than it mines. That long-term trend should play out favorably over decades, not weeks or months.