Quick. If you are about to buy some silver as an investment, would you like to pay a premium of 19 percent over metallic value, 7.8 percent over or 2.3 percent over?
Trick question? Possibly.
On the whole, investors would normally seek to buy the metal in the form that gives them the biggest bang for their buck, meaning the lowest possible markup from bullion value.
However, if you judge the activity in the marketplace you will scratch your head. Buyers are chasing the 2008 silver American Eagle coins and other current bullion coins like the Austrian Philharmonic and the Canadian Maple Leaf instead.
I checked the Kitco Web site this morning, which appears at kitco.com
I see that silver American Eagles, which are temporarily out of stock are priced at $15.73 each, with silver at $13.23 for a nearly 19 percent premium.
Maple Leaf and Philharmonic coins, which are in stock, are priced just a little cheaper at $15.48.
If you want to buy 100-ounce silver bars, (which were all the rage in the late 1970s and early 1980s), the premium over silver value is 7.8 percent at $1,426. They are in stock.
A 1,000-ounce bar is just 2.3 percent above silver value at $13,530. It is also in stock.
Why choose to pay such a high premium for coins when other forms are more reasonably priced? Is their some hoped for numismatic premium?
Markets can be irrational. This may be one of those times. Bullion coin premiums have been much lower than those asked for currently. They will be again. Why pay them?