Monday, August 25, 2008

Silver moments: Meeting another believer

I was milling about the Scotia metals desk on Friday waiting and waiting and waiting. It seemed there was quite a rush to acquire precious metals suddenly, driven by the dire warnings coming out the U.S. and the recent price collapse. A collapse which is obviously not supported by the level of retail demand we are seeing, as quoted in numerous articles much more eloquent than mine.

I went in about 1:00 with the intention of picking up a few of the last maples Scotia had in stock. A fellow hoarder/collector/bug told me he’d just picked up 15 in the morning and they were down to 70 coins from the 6000 they had 3 weeks earlier. Since I did not have any 2008s for my kids this year (My previous page of maples this year turned out to be 2001 resale product not new) I figured I pop over and get back to my desk in a reasonable amount of time, HA!

The line up was about 10 people long, which is not unheard of considering this desk also does currency exchange but there were also several people hovering about clutching the pick copy of their metals purchase, mmmm peculiar!

Quickly they announced that people wanting U.S. funds should go to a regular teller as they were all occupied doing metals trades, something I had never heard before. Of course the goof in front of me who wanted U.S. dollars refused to move lines costing me another 10 minutes.

Finally I placed my order with one a teller who must think everything is top secret refusing to tell me how many maples were left, or how much they’d been selling. I did find out there was nothing left in silver but maples and Good delivery Bars.

Because of her relcutance to give me any details I complained that the bank should have a plasma screen up where we could see metal quotes, bank buy and sell prices, and inventory levels for products at the branch. Like people want to wait 40 minutes for a quote or to be told there is nothing in stock, idiots!

With my order booked and paid I was told to go have a coffee or mill about as the fellow pulling the orders was behind and someone still had to go down, pick them up in the vault and bring them to customers. I opted to hang around and watch this group pick up their purchases, just to get a feel for what was being happening. I saw a youngish fellow pick up what was a I believe a gold Maple, as well as two older fellows with long beards and a hippyish feel to them who both picked up an envelopes, I could not see they were getting but it was small so probably also a gold coin or wafer.

What also struck me was the fact that it was not the usual elderly Asians doing most of the buying but rather a representive mixture of the population. Rarely do I see anyone my own age(mid 40s) or younger buying gold or silver.

While I’m watching all this another fellow walks over and says,” You buying too” gesturing to my receipt, “Getting 1000?”,

I responded, “ah No, I don’t have that kind of money, I’m just getting a few maples before they run out” , "I invested what I could a couple of years ago and now just nickel and dime when I can"

Turns out this was not his fellows first purchase and he’s there well prepared to take his Good delivery Bar home in a little piece of luggage with wheels and a handle, understandable considering the weight and lack of handles on a 1000 oz bar of silver. We exchanged a few words regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s imminent demise, the FDIC Friday night announcements of yet another bank failure (see Columbian Bank and Trust failure this weekend), the abysmal supply of silver in Toronto, Scotias slowness and Kitco’s nerve taking money now and promising delivery later.

I was called away at this point to pick up my coins but I was very glad to have met another silver ubber Bull, glad that some people deep pockets are buying up the large bars I cannot afford and most importantly, I left suffering ingot envy.

Scotia is probably out of maples again by today but for any of you well heeled types out there 1000 oz bars are available. I don’t know how many bars they have other than the “lots” the teller reluctantly gave up. If you can swing the cost of one of these bars this is the best price per oz you're likely to see this year, the lowest premium and apparently one of the few games in town for silver buyers. Try to convince family members of the validity of silver investments and perhaps you can share a bar to make it affordable. I would with my family, if only they thought I was sane!