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Buying Silver-Based ETFs

Using ETFs to Participate in the Precious Metals Bull Run
The number of available Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) has dramatically increased over the past decade. They allow the common investor to participate in classes of investments that used to be accessible to a select few, specialized investors & institutions.

But the relative ease and convenience of an ETF doesn’t necessarily mean they are safe investments. In fact, quite the opposite – they can be quite volatile. And since they are a derivative of the underlying asset or financial instruments, every investor should understand that the ETF does not yeild any ownership of anything but a share of stock. (It is not as if the underlying asset or financial instruments are being purchased.) At best, any ETF can only propose to have similar price-performance compared to the underlying instrument.

While it is true that some ETFs provide for the exchange of stock shares for the underlying assets, this option is closed to most investors simply due to the minimum number of shares necessary to execute such an option.

Any investor wishing to participate in the precious metals bull market by utilizing the ETF arena should understand that it is not the same thing as owning precious metals. Instead, it’s a paper asset and should be treated as such. It should also be realized that all ETFs are not managed the same, nor are they even structured the same. On top of that, given any specific ETF, there will always be varying opinions among different analysts regarding the validity and expected performance of that same ETF. As an example, here’s an article discussing and comparing some of the prospects of the GLD, SLV, PHYS and PSLV ETFs.

When it comes to ETFs based on precious metals, there are a variety of different types:

  • Standard ‘bull’ ETFs linking the price of one share to the price of a specific amount of a precious metal. The price of the shares tend to move more or less in synch with the underlying metal’s price movements.
  • Standard ‘bear’ ETFs also linking the price of one share to the price of a specific amount of a precious metal. Only the share price tends to move in the opposite direction of the metal. (The share price goes up if the price of the underlying metal goes down.)
  • Leveraged ETFs seek to give double (or sometimes triple) exposure to share price movements of twice (or more) the amount of the underlying metal. Again, these can be either bull or bear type exposure. (Incidentally, these leveraged ETFs are becoming quite a concern to market regulators in Washington. A derivative of a derivative of the underlying asset doesn’t seem so friendly to free markets. This related article discusses the dangers of the derivatives market.)

Below are some of the more popular ETFs in the precious metals space. Please note that this list is not comprehensive and these are not recommendations, but provided for informational purposes only.

ETF Asset Description
GLD
Gold
SPDR Gold Shares tends to have share-price performance similar to the price movements of gold.
SLV
Silver
iShares Silver Trust tends to have share-price performance similar to the price movements of silver.
PHYS
Gold
Sprott Physical Gold Trust tends to have share-price performance similar to the price movements of gold.
PSLV
Silver
Sprott Physical Silver Trust tends to have share-price performance similar to the price movements of silver.
SGOL
Gold
ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares tends to have share-price performance similar to the price movements of gold.
SIVR
Silver
ETFS Physical Silver Shares tends to have share-price performance similar to the price movements of silver.
CEF
Gold & Silver
Central Fund of Canada tends to have share-price performance similar to the price movements of a proportional amounts of gold and silver.
UGL
Gold
ProShares Ultra Gold tends to have share-price performance similar to twice the price movements of gold.
AGQ
Silver
ProShares Ultra Silver tends to have share-price performance similar to twice the price movements of silver.
GLL
Gold
ProShares Ultra Short Gold tends to have share-price performance similar to twice the price movements of gold in the opposite direction.
ZSL
Silver
ProShares Ultra Short Silver tends to have share-price performance similar to twice the price movements of silver in the opposite direction.


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