On this week's Stansberry Investor Hour, Dan and Corey are joined by Patrick Yip. He's the director of business development at the American Precious Metals Exchange ("APMEX"), the largest online precious metals dealer in the world. Patrick also helped launch the Bullion Card, the first precious metals rewards credit card.
Dan and Corey kick off the podcast by discussing the latest news surrounding the U.S.'s credit downgrade. Dan voices his skepticism about the significance of this downgrade, suggesting that it's kind of a joke. Next, they cover the recent jobs report and the implications of unemployment levels reaching a historic low. Corey says that if unemployment stays low and salary growth keeps accelerating, the Federal Reserve will hold rates where they are and possibly even raise them. He comments...
If we continue down this path where inflation is higher... rates go higher... where does that end up? The higher stocks go in the meantime, I think the riskier things get.
Then, Patrick joins the conversation to talk about the silver and gold markets and their respective prices. He notes that there's almost a lack of interest in precious metals right now, which has led to them being undervalued. Gold is still doing relatively well despite this, but other precious metals may need more of a boost. Patrick believes that a recession would give them the chance to appreciate significantly in the coming years...
I think there's a point in time when the U.S. is going to go into a recession. When the Federal Reserve starts reducing interest rates again, I think you're going to see gold run... and then silver [will run] after gold to a greater extent.
With regard to the role of the U.S. dollar as a global reserve currency, Patrick raises concerns about the dollar being weaponized for political agendas. This would prompt investors to seek refuge in gold and silver. Patrick also delves into the nuances of choosing between coins, bars, and rounds in the precious metals market. And he offers practical advice for investors based on their individual preferences and investment goals.
Then, Dan asks Patrick about the idea of minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin as a way to avert the debt ceiling...
There's a legal loophole allowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination the secretary chooses. Yes, it was intended to allow commemorative collectors' items. But that's not what the letter of the law says. And by minting a $1 trillion coin, then depositing it at the Fed, the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling while doing no economic harm at all.
To hear Patrick's opinion on whether this proposal would work and what would happen to the price of precious metals if the government were to mint such a coin, check out today's podcast.
Director of Business Development APMEX and OneGold
Patrick Yip is the director of business development at APMEX and OneGold. APMEX is one of the largest e-commerce retailers in the U.S. and provides a two-way market for buying and selling precious metals. It has a selection of more than 20,000 products that include gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Having been with APMEX for 11 years, Patrick held various roles in merchandising, sales, project management, marketplaces, and business development. Most recently, Patrick managed the company's fastest-growing platform, OneGold, which is a system that allows users to buy, sell, trade, and redeem vaulted positions of gold, silver, and platinum.
Dan Ferris: Hello and welcome to the Stansberry Investor Hour. I'm Dan Ferris. I'm the editor of Extreme Value and The Ferris Report, both published by Stansberry Research.
Corey McLaughlin: And I'm Corey McLaughlin, editor of the Stansberry Digest. Today, Dan interviews Patrick Yip, director of business development at APMEX.
Dan Ferris: But first, Corey and I will talk about the U.S. government debt downgrade and 54-year low unemployment.
Corey McLaughlin: And remember, if you want to tell us what's on your mind or ask us a question, e-mail us at [email protected].
Dan Ferris: That and more right now on the Stansberry Investor Hour.
[Laughs] The Fitch thing is a joke. Fitch Ratings downgrading the U.S. government's debt is kind of a joke, no?
Corey McLaughlin: I mean, they're saying what everybody has known, I suppose, [Laughs] if that's the joke, yeah.
Dan Ferris: Sure. Well, yeah, but the joke, of course, is that they're supposed to be rating the creditworthiness and they're saying that there's any chance in the world that the printer of the world's reserve currency might not pay its debts. It's like they're giving credence to this idea these debt ceiling things where, ooh, we're going to default on the debt, like that will ever be allowed to happen. It's pure kabuki.
I think if there's any credibility or credence or anything to Fitch, which is like, you know – Fitch is like the third tier, you know? They're not exactly the big boys in the ratings business. If there's any credence to it at all, it's simply they're saying, well, they won't default but of course they'll inflate away some value of the currency and therefore of the debt, making it less desirable, et cetera. Maybe that is it. But otherwise, it's sort of a – it's like a stunt.
Corey McLaughlin: Yes.
Dan Ferris: It's a ratings agency frat boy stunt.
Corey McLaughlin: Yes. That's a good word. That's what was kind of on my mind, a stunt. Like who was talking about Fitch Ratings a week ago, you know, before this happened?
Dan Ferris: Yeah. [Laughs]
Corey McLaughlin: Nobody, right? And now all of a sudden, somebody that's called an agency points out things that are wrong with the U.S. government financial situation, which are all true by the way, you know, the parts about –
Dan Ferris: Yeah.
Corey McLaughlin: Yeah, which is funny. You saw, you know, all the system people come out the next day and all be on the same page, like Janet Yellen and Jamie Dimon, all like this is ridiculous, blah, blah, blah, and Jamie Dimon saying, "Yeah, but these are all things we've already known." So I don't know. In one way, I'm happy just somebody – you know, there's some attention being paid to the terrible debt situation of the U.S. government.
On the other hand, yeah, I don't really know what to say about ratings agencies other than, you know, they've historically overlooked a lot of other important things.
Dan Ferris: Right.
Corey McLaughlin: Make little of it.
Dan Ferris: Yeah. Historically highly procyclical, not countercyclical. You know, they weren't downgrading mortgage-related debt in 2006 or 2005. They waited until 2007, 2008, you know? [Laughs] They waited until after Bear Stearns failed and after, you know, everything started falling apart. Oh, then we'll downgrade, you know?
So there's that. But also it's – the point you raised is true. I think it's a stunt, it doesn't mean a lot to me, but I agree with it. It's true, you know? How do they even rate AA+? You know they went from AAA to – they reduced one notch to AA+ in the ratings, and they cited a lot of stuff that you and I may have even talked about, erosion of governance, rising general government deficits, general government debt to rise, medium-term fiscal challenges unaddressed, exceptional strengths and support ratings, several structural strengths underpin the U.S. ratings, blah, blah, blah.
That's the good part. Then they get back into the bad stuff – economy to slip into recession, Fed tightening, blah, blah, blah. So I can't disagree with the move, but it doesn't mean a lot. It's a stunt.
Corey McLaughlin: Agreed.
Dan Ferris: Yeah, I feel like we covered it. [Laughs] It's just there's – all right. So what was the other thing we wanted to talk about? Unemployment being its lowest at any time since I was eight years old. [Laughs]
Corey McLaughlin: 1969 was the lowest the unemployment rate was since it is today. 3.5% as of Friday, the latest jobs report that comes out about once a month. Not exactly indicative of a weakening job market, I would say. The rate was at 3.6% the time before. So again, people are paying attention to this because of the matter for Fed policy moving ahead, and if the economy is weakening or not, and at this point you would say no based on this number even though the jobs number itself for July was a little bit less than expected.
Under 200,000 was the expectation and it was 187,000, but somehow the unemployment rate went down, so go figure there. That's some other discussion on how this stuff is calculated. Yeah, to me this means, you know, no reason for the Fed to pull back on any interest rate hike plans that they might have.
Dan Ferris: Exactly. And last week I stumbled through that very idea, and I was trying to say – I won't say what I said because it was confusing as I listened to it. I listened to it a couple of times this week, and all I meant is what you just said, the stronger the economy looks, the more emboldened the Fed will be to try to hit its target, and it will go after that target of, you know, 2% on what we assume is core PCE because that's the one they like.
They'll go after that 2% target no matter what, and if core PCE stubbornly resists getting below 4% even at this point or 4.5%, they'll go after it more aggressively. And when they see these all-time low unemployment rates, that's one of the main things they look at. That's their second part of their mandate. The first part is stable prices, second part is lowest possible unemployment, they say, and this is the lowest possible since I was eight years old.
Corey McLaughlin: Right.
Dan Ferris: So, yay, they're doing great I guess, but I think you're right, they will become more and more emboldened, and the stronger the results, the stronger the economy looks I think the more likely they are to exceed these little 25 bps hikes with something more, 50 bps, 75 again. Who knows?
Corey McLaughlin: Yeah. I wasn't thinking that but, yeah, I could see that too. Yeah, the unemployment rate is the thing that they're looking at now because the inflation numbers, while still high, have been coming down the pace of inflation, and the unemployment rate is still going sideways even lower. And another thing in this report to watch is the earnings, the wages part of it, and that was at a 4.4% year-over-year growth which is, you know, a big thing if you're looking at whether the inflation quote/unquote fight is working or not.
That is above the Wall Street estimates. So as long as wages are – you know, salaries keep accelerating, that growth keeps accelerating and unemployment stays low, the Fed has no reason not to, at the very least, hold the rates where they are, and then if not raise them if that rebound inflation that we talked about last week shows up. So I think you're seeing some of this too in the market recently with the bond yields last week up every single day, 10 years back over 4%, and it was down at 3.7%, two weeks ago. I think you're seeing more and more people wake up to the fact or believe it or trade they think the Fed is actually going to keep raising rates as opposed to anything else.
Dan Ferris: Yeah. But I would say that's more recent, right? Because if you mix equities into the equation, [Laughs] you know, so far –
Corey McLaughlin: Right. Yeah. For sure. I was talking about bonds, but yes, I mean, the stocks, yeah, it's –
Dan Ferris: Yeah.
Corey McLaughlin: Aside from the other day when the Fitch thing came out and there was a bit of a tumble, overall it's still bullish trends for stocks, and where I was thinking was, you know, if we continue down this path where inflation is higher, rates go higher, stock prices keep going higher in the meantime, where does that end up? I think the higher stocks go in the meantime, you know, I think the riskier things get as time goes on. At the same time though, all the trends have been pretty strong since last fall.
Dan Ferris: Yeah. But you're right about bonds though. I'm just looking at the TLT, the 20-plus year Treasury ETF at around 95, and basically erasing almost everything it gained off of the bottom back in October. Almost. It's erased most of that. So it's almost like the market is saying well, you know, we're going to keep shoving stocks to the moon just because.
And we're OK with this. We're OK with 7% mortgages. The housing market is OK with 7% mortgages. You know, that's structural demand, and I just saw the report of household formations are surprising to the upside, and of course certainly housing sales are doing that. I mean, people have got to live somewhere so they adjust downward. They say, well, McMansion is out this year, but we need a place to live, and we'd rather own than rent.
Corey McLaughlin: And real estate is different everywhere, but anecdotally, you know, I have a neighbor five houses down who is selling their house. They didn't even have time to put the sign outside, the for sale sign outside and it was sold. The demand is there even though mortgage rates are what they are. I think anybody buying would maybe be banking on, oh, maybe rates will go down at some point.
Maybe I can refinance at some point down the road, which isn't a terrible idea, but I think rates still go higher personally anyway over the longer run. Yeah, people need places to live and it's not – again, I think this just goes back to all of the stimulus from 2020 and 2021, just like what the impact of it is. It's higher prices. That's what it is.
Dan Ferris: Yeah.
Corey McLaughlin: It's just higher prices on everything for a longer period of time.
Dan Ferris: So I'm looking at the bank rate national fixed mortgage rate, and the last time it was at – right now it's 7.39%, and you've got to go back to 2000, 23 years to get to that rate. It's just been falling and falling and falling and falling and, wham. I don't know if you remember last October at the Stansberry conference, we had – Scott Galloway was the keynote speaker.
Corey McLaughlin: Yeah.
Dan Ferris: Really super smart guy. He was saying that he remembered I assume as a young boy – he's not as old as me – when mortgage rates came down to 10%, [Laughs] and everybody was cheering. You know, the American Dream is still alive because mortgage rates are only 10% now. [Laughs]
Corey McLaughlin: Yeah. That was back when the dollar was probably 50 times more valuable too, right? Or whatever it may be, yeah.
Dan Ferris: Probably. Yeah, that's right. Sure.
Corey McLaughlin: Yeah, 10% now would set back a few people, no? I don't know. [Laughs]
Dan Ferris: It would set a few people back, but I continue to think those structural deficits are just – you know, the shortage of housing versus demand, you can't get out of the way of it. It's like we were talking about copper last time because I had been to the Rick Rule thing and I had spoken about copper, which you can see the speech if you sign up for – you know, you can get all the speeches on video for the Rule Symposium.
Corey McLaughlin: Oh, cool.
Dan Ferris: I'm on there. And it's the same thing. It's just inevitable. You can't get out of the way of this essential thing that everybody's got to have, and there's a shortage of it and the demand just keeps going up. They're both that way. There's a lot of that going around too, and some of it COVID induced and some not, some long-term stuff in the commodities markets.
So again – again – housing is super important for the economy, right? So this demand continues to be robust in the face of short supply and it's just more stuff that the Fed can point to and say, "See, we need to raise another quarter point, 50 basis points –" whatever, you know? The strength is there. People talking about rate cuts are getting way, way ahead of themselves.
And if they're bullish based on that and they're buying the kind of garbage in the stock market that reflects that type of view, you know, they're buying bankrupt companies like Yellow and near bankrupt companies like Tupperware, and this stuff is up 500%, 700% in five days, you know, meme-stock ascension is still happening among companies that are zeros. So somebody thinks some cuts are going to happen somewhere, because you don't buy that stuff otherwise, right?
Corey McLaughlin: Yeah, unless you're purely speculating, like you're betting on like it's a game. That's the only reason you would do that. Yeah, yeah. Which tells you again something else about sentiment in the market if you believe that. Still all that kind of bubble action is not gone yet when you still have people still pumping these meme stocks. I mean, Yellow Trucking literally just went out of business. Their stock's having a great time because of the Internet. Yeah.
Dan Ferris: And, you know, you look at the balance sheet and it's a 400 – the shareholder's equity is negative $400 million and assets are overstated. The cash won't be there. [Laughs] You know, this was a four-month-old balance sheet or something, and the cash won't be there so it's $500 million, $600 million deficit versus liability. There's no way the equity has value. And Bed, Bath & Beyond, it became official recently. They just got wiped out.
They said this is the plan, and one of the main parts of it is we wipe out the equity. I promise you somebody, some meme-stocker, the minute before Bed, Bath & Beyond is delisted – because it is a freaking zero, and it still trades – the minute before it's delisted, some meme-stocker will buy it and think he's going to make 100X. [Laughs]
Corey McLaughlin: Yeah. There's still a lot of that going on. I mean, Yellow, a third of it's owned by the government from 2020 bailouts.
Dan Ferris: Sure. The bubble has not begun to burst.
Corey McLaughlin: Yeah. There's still plenty of air left in the markets. Hot air.
Dan Ferris: Yeah.
Corey McLaughlin: Maybe there always will be, but it's still there for now.
Dan Ferris: All right. So now we need to talk to somebody who's into something real, something tangible, something you can touch that has real value, and that, of course, is Patrick Yip. So let's talk to him about all things precious metal and coin related, and let's do it right now. Let's talk with Patrick Yip.
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Time once again for our interview. Looking forward to talking with today's guest, Patrick Yip. He is the director of business development at APMEX, the largest online precious metals dealer. Welcome back to the show, Patrick.
Patrick Yip: Hey. Thanks again for having me on, Dan.
Dan Ferris: Let's talk about a couple things today we do need to cover. One, of course, our listeners are probably as obsessed as every other normal human being with, you know, when does the price of silver go up? So maybe we should just kind of knock that out of the way and then get into the nuts and bolts of how people can buy silver because there are many, many different ways. So, you know, if I was thinking about it maybe when I was half drunk at the conference I should've asked you, hey, when's silver going up? [Laughs]
Patrick Yip: Yeah. I think that's a difficult question to start, and I'm going to kind of pivot a little bit to gold because I think silver, first of all, follows gold, and gold being the predominant and most popular precious metal. My personal thought too – and I look a lot back at history. I let the data speak for it too. There was a time in the 1970s – and I think there's a lot of parallels to this point too – in the 1970s, you had gold go from $35 in 1971 up to about $200, so it had a pretty big bull run.
But something happened in the mid-1970s, and the Fed's been increasing rates a lot. They got to a point when interest rates were positive for a brief period of time, and gold went down from $200 to $100. I'm sure you know this stuff too. But what happened in that time too was the U.S. went into a recession, and then the Fed says, "OK, well we've got to get the U.S. out of a recession." They started lowering interest rates, and then gold had this massive bull run from $100 up to $800.
So, you know, getting back to today, what do I think is going to happen? I think we're in that period in the mid-'70s right now where there's almost a lack of interest in precious metals, and we've seen in on our side too. Obviously 2020 up until, let's say, the beginning part of this year, demand was just crazy. And then in the summertime, you talk to any precious metals dealer and they would say demand has fallen off a cliff. But I think you're at that point when there's a lot of interest that softened a little bit because people are seeing interest rates are higher.
I mean, for example, I have an Interactive Brokers account. I think they're paying me 4.5% on cash right now. So, you know, it's just sitting there, so I'm keeping cash there. It's at 4.5%, which is not bad for essentially, you know, a risk-free return. So what I think is going to happen is I think the U.S. economy will go into a recession. I don't know when.
I was talking to Jeffrey Christian at the conference too and he even mentioned probably in '24, maybe even '25, but I think there's a point in time when the U.S. is going to go into a recession. The Fed is going to say we've got to get the U.S. out of a recession, because that's going to be the number one concern with everyone. Right now everyone is talking about inflation. I think if we are in a recession, people are going to be talking about job losses and so on, whatever happens.
But I think when that happens, when the Federal Reserve starts reducing interest rates again, I think you're going to see gold run. And then getting back to silver, typically what happens in these bull runs is gold runs first and then silver runs after gold to a greater extent. So, you know, kind of dodging the question. I didn't really give you a number, but I think it's going to be dependent on the Fed lowering interest rates and pivoting before a precious metals run.
Dan Ferris: Well, you and I both know, and our listeners darn well ought to know, that you can't peg time or price. You can only describe the fundamentals and, you know, you gave me some approximate timings, but they're just guesses, and we all know that.
Patrick Yip: Yeah.
Dan Ferris: But thank you for that. All right. Everybody, that's all you're going to get on that.
Patrick Yip: [Laughs]
Dan Ferris: You alluded already to a presentation you gave recently where you talked about the fact that APMEX offers 30,000 different products, and how the hell do you know which one to buy really is the question. [Laughs]
Patrick Yip: Yeah.
Dan Ferris: So now I'm going to ask you that question. Where do I even start? Let's just say I've never bought silver and I'm really interested in owning it. Where do I even begin to understand which of the coins and bars and futures and stocks, equities – like how do I figure out what's right for me?
Patrick Yip: Yeah. So as you mentioned, we have 30,000 products in stock. What I did on that breakfast presentation was I wanted to make people better precious metals investors, and the reason I say that is because we have – we're basically the largest precious metals dealer. We've done $18 billion in lifetime sales, 50-plus mint relationships, 2 million-plus registered users. So the thought is we believe that our data is indicative of the broader precious metals market.
So, you know, we could get into if people are buying gold or if they're buying silver, if they're buying bars, if they're buying rounds, if they're buying coins. We could get into the difference of those too. Are they buying the fractional sizes, are they buying one ounce, are they buying larger, are they buying bullion, are they buying numismatic? There's so many questions that anyone could ask themselves. And what was funny is at the conference everyone is saying, "Hey, buy precious metals, buy gold, buy silver."
But for a newbie, you're going to say where do I start? So I think the place where you start first of all is gold versus silver. You know, if we look at our data – and this is year-to-date data in 2023, so this is relevant data, this is not old data – we've done over $1 billion in year-to-date sales. But about 67% of our revenue dollars are into gold, and about 30% of our revenue dollars are into silver. So more than twice the dollars are going into gold.
Dan Ferris: What's the other 10?
Patrick Yip: So 67% is gold, 30% is silver.
Dan Ferris: Or I'm sorry –
Patrick Yip: The other part is your platinum and your palladium and your nonmetals. So most of the people coming to us are deciding to go for the precious metals, gold and silver. There's not a ton of interest in platinum, palladium – or we have a nonmetal. We do sell copper rounds and stuff like that. Not a ton of sales into there.
I think there's a variety of reasons people go each way. Obviously, you know, one of the reasons I'm bullish on gold is you just look at what's happening in the world. You have crazy money printing, quantitative easing, and you look at it – how does the government get out of this? One is they balance the budget.
Obviously not going to happen, right? Two, they default. Obviously not going to happen either. Or three, they print, you know? So I think they're going to go down that way too. Another thing you look at too is even central bank demand too.
I'm sure a lot of you guys have seen that central bank chart, but basically they've been buying gold for probably the 15th consecutive year in a row, probably ever since the financial crisis when the monetary system kind of changed and there was a lot more uncertainty in the world. And then you also have 2022 being a 55-plus-year high in the amount of gold that central banks have bought.
A lot of reasons this happening. I mean, one great example too is even during the event when Russia invaded Ukraine, basically the U.S. took Russia off the SWIFT payment system. And if you look at that, the dollar is supposed to be an unbiased world reserve currency. It's supposed to be the currency everyone wants, you know? It's not supposed to be a U.S. agenda.
But, you know, we're clearly weaponizing the dollar over here. And if you're Russia, if you're China, if you're Brazil, if you're any of these BRICS countries, you're going to say, hey, I want to do what's best in my interest. So I think a lot of people are seeing that and that's why I think a lot of people are leaning more towards gold and silver.
Dan Ferris: All right. I have a concrete question just for my own selfish purposes.
Patrick Yip: Sure.
Dan Ferris: What is the difference – like I buy these silver rounds that look very generic to me.
Patrick Yip: Sure.
Dan Ferris: You know, the 1-ounce silver coins. What's the difference between that and, I don't know, take your pick, like Silver Eagles, let's say? Is there a – I mean, I want to buy an ounce of silver, man. What's the difference with all these different ounces of silver? It's confusing. Why do they exist?
Patrick Yip: Yeah, it is confusing, especially for people who – I feel like I live and breathe this stuff every day and it's almost just firsthand knowledge for everyone in the industry, but there's basically three types of products. There's coins, there's bars, and there's rounds. So what a coin is, is it's minted by a sovereign government. So think the Silver American Eagle, the gold American Eagle, the gold and silver Canadian Maple Leaves, the gold South African Krugerrand, the Gold Kangaroo from the Perth Mint.
Those are coins minted by a sovereign government. They often have a face value on there. So the U.S. Gold Eagle has a $50 face value. Obviously it's not worth $50, but with any coin minted by the government, it has to have a face value, it often has a year on it, and they typically have a little more detail than the other products. So that's the first thing. That's a coin.
A bar is typically rectangular in shape and they're minted by a private mint. So just on the gold side too, some of the most popular bars are the Credit Suisse gold bars, the PAMP Suisse gold bars. The APMEX gold bars are also very popular too. But what they are is they typically come in a plastic card, which they call the assay card, and the assay card shows the refinery, has a refinery signature, shows the purity, shows the weight, but these are minted by a private company, so they don't have the details like a coin.
So it's not going to be as detailed as a Canadian Maple Leaf or a South African Krugerrand or a Gold Eagle. And then lastly, the thing is we can get into rounds, and what rounds are, they're minted by private companies. So this could be Sunshine, it could be Silver Cat, it could be our own private mint, 9Fine Mint. It's basically you're buying silver or gold for the weight. The downside about some of the rounds too – and we could get into what people are buying too – is let's take the Buffalo round, which is the most popular round.
You could have a Buffalo round minted by 9Fine Mint, Sunshine, and SilverTowne, and guess what? They're all going to look a little bit differently. So when buying rounds, I would say one of the most important things you need to be concerned about is are you buying from a good company that's going to be buying these rounds directly from the mint, directly from the source and not just an individual because it's hard to authentic a round because they're all different as opposed to a coin or a bar where they're all consistent.
Dan Ferris: All right. Good. Good answer. And, you know, it makes me want to just buy the coins now and never the rounds again. [Laughs]
Patrick Yip: We can get into what people are buying too if you're interested to see the percentages.
Dan Ferris: That's what I was going to ask you. What are people buying now and why do you think?
Patrick Yip: Yeah, so starting on the gold side, what we see – and like I said, this is year-to-date data, over $1 billion in retail sales, about 62% of the dollar value on gold are going into coins. So the majority of the people prefer coins. About 35% of the dollar value is going into bars. If you look at rounds and other products, basically about 2%. That's the gold side.
So what I think is people who are buying gold want almost like the best. They want something that's highly recognizable, highly liquid. If you've ever held a Gold Eagle, you know what a Gold Eagle looks like. You're going to easily be able to tell if it's real or not. Then shifting over to the silver side, it's a little bit different. Coins still by far are the most popular.
So about 48% of our year-to-date sales are coins, so almost half, 31% is the bars, and about 20% is the rounds. So rounds are the least popular in the silver side, bars are kind of in between, and coins make up about half of the demand.
Dan Ferris: I just realized when I talk to you, in my mind, you're like my silver guy for some reason even though, you know, your firm obviously deals a lot in gold, but I'm not sure where I got that idea. I think it's my personal obsession because I've sort of made my peace with the dynamics of silver.
Patrick Yip: Sure.
Dan Ferris: You know, if I look at a long-term chart, it practically goes sideways and then you get these enormous spikes, and I'm like, dude, I'm going to be around for the next spike because I think it's going to be a doozy, you know?
Patrick Yip: Yeah.
Dan Ferris: So that's why I keep hammering you about silver. [Laughs] It's like–
Patrick Yip: Yeah, and we can get into – another thing we covered in the presentation is even the types of silver, like what the products people are buying too, because a lot of times, like I mentioned, the majority of people are buying Silver Eagles too, or silver coins, and we could get into the percentages of what people are buying too, Silver Eagles, Silver Maples, if you're interested in that too.
Dan Ferris: Oh, yeah. Do they buy more Eagles or Maples? I mean, it's supply driven too, right?
Patrick Yip: Yeah. Silver Eagles brings up another important point too, and we could address premiums too, which they have been following too. But if I look at silver coin sales, so this is just year-to-date once again, 38% of our silver coins are Silver Eagles. So once again, by far the most popular silver coin is the Silver Eagle. Next is the Silver Maple Leaf, so this makes up 14%.
So let's say a little less than half-ish or so of the Silver Eagle demand is Silver Maples. Then from there you get 90% silver coinage, makes up 11.4%. So this is the coins minted before 1965, U.S. coinage, which is 90% silver, 10% copper. From there, you've got Morgan dollars making up about 5% of the demand.
But I think the important part about when you decide to buy a silver coin is, you know, my thought is let's say you wanted to buy a couple thousand ounces of silver, right? You want to go into an Eagle, you want to go into a Maple, you want to go into one of the common silver coins. Obviously, if you're buying 5 ounces it doesn't really matter, but I'd be a little bit cautious with even some of these people promoting like, hey, I got a great deal on silver Krugerrands and they're only $3 over spot.
You might think it's a great deal, but if you look at our sales, only 2.4% of our silver coin sales are Krugerrands. So, you know, if you have a few, if you have 100, you have 200, not a big deal. You could liquidate it. But let's say you wanted to buy 5,000 ounces of silver. You don't want to put it all in silver Krugerrands, because when it comes time to sell, someone might say, "Hey, I like silver Krugerrands, but I don't need 5,000 of them." Whereas the Silver Eagles, Silver Maples, you're going to have plenty of dealers that would scoop this up.
Dan Ferris: Same considerations as securities markets. Large liquid traders are the safer bet.
Patrick Yip: Yep, 100% agree there.
Dan Ferris: Yeah. Maybe even more so. Well, that's good to know.
Patrick Yip: We could even get into premiums too. I mean, that's another thing that people often ask me too on Silver Eagles, is anyone who's followed the Silver Eagle prices know that premiums have just gone crazy. And they are going down right now. We could talk about that if you're interested.
Dan Ferris: OK. I am. But I've got something else on my mind here.
Patrick Yip: Yeah.
Dan Ferris: You know, you talked about coins, rounds, and bars. Can you paint a hypothetical picture of, you know, an investor who ought to buy coins, an investor who ought to buy bars? Maybe a better way to go at this is just to say why would I ever want to buy bars?
Patrick Yip: Sure. So I think it's different depending on if you're going on the gold side or the silver side. We'll start with the gold side too. And I'm just more focusing on a larger investor. Obviously, a smaller investor, you could buy coins, bars, rounds. It doesn't really matter at this point because it's going to be easy to liquidate a handful of these.
But let's say you had $1 million. So you're a deeper-pocketed investor. You want to go into gold. A lot of times the question comes do I buy small gold? So on one end, you can go fractional, like 10-ounce Gold Eagles. On the other hand, you could go kind of midsize, 1-ounce Gold Eagles, 1-ounce Gold Maples. Or on the other side, you could say I want gold kilo bars because I'm going to get more gold for my money because the thought is the premiums are going to be cheaper on the gold kilo bars.
And just for an example, you might be able to get a gold kilo bar for, let's say, under $10 over spot per ounce. If you look at a 1-ounce gold coin, depending on what it is, let's say it's 4% or 5% over spot – and I use that number just because APMEX is an authorized purchaser from the U.S. Mint. We currently pay 3% over spot for the coin. So let's say gold is $2,000.
We're going to pay $2,060 for that coin, and then we have to sell it above there. So let's say you're going to pay 4% or 5%. And then another side, on the fractional side, you're going to pay north of 10%, 11%, 12% for a Gold Eagle because we, like I said, as an authorized purchaser, we pay the U.S. Mint 9% over spot for one-tenth ounce Gold Eagle. So honestly, we have to sell it above that.
So the thought there too is, you know, do you want more gold? Do you want, I guess, a smaller fraction? There's pros and cons of each one. Obviously, the fractional gold, if you want a couple hundred dollars of liquidity, you could sell one or two coins. You got it.
On the large side, like I said, the premiums are by far lower than the 1-ounce coin. You're going to get more ounces, but the downside about it is obviously if you want to sell a kilo gold bar, guess what you're liquidating. You're liquidating a $60,000 product. So if you wanted $10,000, good luck. You can't get it.
But if we look at our data too, about 63% of our sales are 1-ounce gold coins in the gold side. So a lot of people, despite having, let's say, that $1 million, they're going to look at that and say, OK, well, I lose flexibility if I get the kilo, and the 1 ounce is kind of the best of both worlds. You know, you're still talking north of $2,000 an ounce when you pay the retail premium for a gold coin.
And then, you know, I think 1 ounce works there. The silver side is a little bit different. I know you asked about silver too as well. So if we look at, you know, the fractional versus the 1 ounce versus the large, about 49.4% actually according to my chart is 1-ounce products, and the other half of it is if I look another roughly 46% is bars over 1 ounce, so larger silver bars.
And personally, my thought is if you had a large amount to invest – let's go back to that $1 million example too – if you're buying coins, it becomes very bulky. Anyone who has had a Silver Eagle box knows that it's pretty large. It's like a shoebox. It takes up a lot of room. Whereas if you had 100-ounce silver bars, they're a lot smaller.
So I think a lot of these deeper pocketed investors go towards that 100-ounce silver bar, and personally that's what I like too. It's a nice quantity of silver without being too large. Obviously, you know, silver is about $25 a day. You're talking maybe $2,700 for a 100-ounce silver bar. So you don't lack the liquidity with, let's say, a kilo gold bar, but it's also small and compact. Does that help?
Dan Ferris: Yeah, yeah. So you talked about – you were ready to talk about premiums when I made you talk about that.
Patrick Yip: Sure.
Dan Ferris: So what does drive premiums? I thought it was a simple sort of supply and demand kind of function.
Patrick Yip: So the premiums are largely a factor of the supply chain. So the price of silver is obviously geopolitical, macroeconomic conditions, but what's happened in the last couple years too is anyone who's followed the precious metals market would remember the 2011 and 2012 runup in the precious metals where gold was $1,900, silver was almost $50, and then there was kind of a soft period between 2013 and 2019 where metals essentially didn't do much.
You had gold flatlining, silver flatlining, and what happened in the industry, like any other production facility or any other company, if you saw a demand normalize from 2013 to 2019, what are you going to do? You're going to turn off some of your machines, you're going to right side your staff, you're going to staff and get things ready for the production level you're going to see in 2013 to 2019. And then what happened in the pandemic is demand on the retail side doubled.
So demand doubled, supply chain now is right sized for this 2013 to 2019 time, so you had a lot of mint starting to allocate products too. So let's say the U.S. Mint. They only make X number of coins every single month. They then say, "Hey, APMEX, we'll allocate some to you, we'll allocate some to [inaudible]," whoever all their authorized purchasers are, and everyone wants more coins.
So we said, "Hey, U.S. Mint, we'll buy everything that you're willing to sell us." So we buy it all, but then we still need more coins. So we then reach out to our wholesaler network and say, "Hey, wholesaler, we want your coins," and they're saying, "OK, well, they're not selling for the $235 that the U.S. Mint is charging us. They're selling for $10 over spot."
So then we're buying them at a higher price from the different wholesalers, which is causing the premiums to go up, which at some point I think we paid north of $10 at one point from a wholesaler to buy some of this stuff. You know, premiums are going down too, and one of the things I cautioned people at the conference, and it was kind of funny just looking at my data, I prepared my presentation back in June, so a couple weeks before the conference over there in July, but what I was saying was premiums are going to go down. You don't necessarily want to get a Silver Eagle when the premiums are high.
And the numbers I had were $25 silver, $14 premium, so $39 Silver Eagle, and then I said let's say you're right and silver goes up. So silver goes up from $25 to $30, but premiums normalize, so they went down from $14 to $5 where they historically have been. You're $39 Silver Eagle is currently worth $35. Obviously this data is outdated now. It was done about a month and a half ago, and premiums are falling.
They're now about $9 over spot for Silver Eagle. So that's one thing I just caution people, is watch out for the premium. You want to bet on the spot price. You don't want to bet on the premiums, because unfortunately, you know, premiums are a function of supply and demand in the supply chain, and I think they will go down over time. I think they'll eventually hit that normal level of $5, which is what we saw prior to 2020.
Dan Ferris: But at $9, people still want silver it sounds like. I feel like they're –
Patrick Yip: People were still buying. I personally was not buying. I like the $25 silver price. I think long term you'll be fine. I just don't like that $14 premium. And even today at $9, I still think it's high compared to what it has been historically.
Dan Ferris: So to avoid that premium, can I just, you know, buy an ETF that holds silver?
Patrick Yip: So there's a couple different ways you could do that, and one is an ETF. I would say be cautious of what ETF you're buying. Obviously, the GLD and SLV are great for certain investors. But if you look at what happened in 2022, I think the GLD lost about $3 billion in AUM, and the SLV lost about $1.5 billion in AUM. I don't know the exact reasons.
There's a whole bunch of speculation where people say, "Hey, is the metal there?" I know for a fact if you look at a prospectus that it is not insured, which is kind of a concern to me. It's like, if I can't hold it, I at least want it insured, right, at a bare minimum. And ETF is one way out too.
I think if you want to stay on the physical side too, I would say the best way to avoid some of those high premiums, once again, is to get into those 100-ounce silver bars where you're paying a $3 premium instead of a $9 premium. Another way I do it is through OneGold. So OneGold basically buys the 1,000-ounce silver bars. These are currently selling for about 30 cents over spot on the wholesale market, and then we buy a lot of these in OneGold.
We store it in our various vaults around the world, so Canada, UK, U.S., and Switzerland. We then make the metal available for sale, and we sell it for 50 cents over spot. So we're only making 20 cents an ounce, but it's a volume game. We've done over $1 billion on OneGold in transactions since we launched in 2018, but I personally said, hey, I can get into OneGold, I have ownership in silver right now at an ultra-low cost of 50 cents over spot, and I'm waiting for those premiums to go down.
So when Silver Eagles are back to $5 and not $9 where they currently are right now, I'm looking at using the OneGold's redemption option where I could swap my silver at OneGold for physical in my hand. So it's a way to get the exposure to silver but avoid the premiums for now.
Dan Ferris: Wow. OK. So that also kind of answers my previous question too, like why would you ever do it one way or another? And one reason is to avoid premiums. [Laughs] You know, which are still high.
Patrick Yip: Yeah. And you could ask any of the other bullion dealers too. I think even Andy Schectman at Miles Franklin mentioned that like, hey, you could hedge metal but you can't hedge premiums. You know, if a dealer like him and obviously a dealer like us too are concerned about premiums, you know, maybe as a retail customer you need to watch out for premiums too. Don't just buy just because you think that silver is a great price. You know, make sure you're buying the right product at the right premium.
Dan Ferris: I've seen people really get upset when they knew what was going on and they didn't know it before they started buying. Years and years ago – I won't mention any names – but there was a fellow who was rather apocalyptic about the Y2K thing, and he was telling people to, among other things, buy those tenth-ounce coins. You can imagine some guy with thousands and thousands of subscribers says buy these coins that hardly anybody gives a crap about and hardly – you know, they're not around maybe at that time.
Patrick Yip: Sure.
Dan Ferris: And all of a sudden, you know, the premiums go through the roof and it was a big fiasco, you know? So I'm just glad that we're even bringing up the topic of premiums, you know? There's a premium, folks. You don't get to pay the price of silver. You pay the price of silver plus the premium for the product that that dealer is asking.
So make sure you know exactly what that is in terms of dollars and percentages and things in whatever form you buy. Patrick is just giving you an incredible way to get around that and pay really just pennies and get the exposure. Pretty good. I like that idea. I think if there's one takeaway from this interview, I hope folks wrote that part down. [Laughs]
Patrick Yip: I would just say as someone who works in the industry, I could tell you if I'm buying physical gold right now, I'm buying Gold Maple Leaf. And this is just what's right for me, not saying it's right for you. I'm buying 1-ounce Gold Maple Leaf on the gold side. On the silver side, I'm buying 100-ounce silver bars just because the premium is lower. And if those premiums are still too high for you, I also have a OneGold account where I'm primarily buying silver.
Dan Ferris: OK. So Patrick, why are they right? Why are Maple Leaf right for you?
Patrick Yip: I've always liked the 24-carat gold. And what's funny is my first gold coin was actually a 1988 Maple Leaf. So my grandfather in Hong Kong was in the gold and silver business. He had a small retail shop out there. But my first gold coin, like I said, was an '88 Maple Leaf. I just had a connection to the Maple Leaf.
I do like the 24-carat gold, so that's personally what I like. Eagles are also great as well. I also do own Eagles too as well, but I do like Maple Leaf a little bit better.
Dan Ferris: That's interesting. The first gold coin I ever heard of, I was probably in my 30s already, was Krugerrands.
Patrick Yip: OK.
Dan Ferris: And I just – I have an affinity for them.
Patrick Yip: Yeah.
Dan Ferris: I mean, I don't own thousands and thousands of them or anything, so I own what I believe is a liquidate-able amount.
Patrick Yip: Yeah. And I would say for the gold side, you can't go wrong with Eagles, Maples, Buffalos, or Krugerrands. I think those are the top four products by popularity. Any dealer would buy that stuff. Like I said, just even on the silver side, you don't want to necessarily buy a lot of – and great coins and I don't want to just bash them, but let's say you're buying a couple hundred ounces of gold.
You don't really want a couple hundred ounces of Philharmonics or Kangaroos or something like that. It's just when it comes time to liquidate it's going to be much harder than if you had those four – the Eagle, Maple, Buffalo, and Krugerrand.
Dan Ferris: All right. Let me hit you with something else here out of the blue. You mentioned earlier when we spoke, when we first started this interview, you mentioned copper rounds, which I didn't even know existed. So how much copper in a round?
Patrick Yip: Yeah. So we sell copper by the ounce or by the pound. To me, it's more of a novelty. And the reason for – I don't even know what copper's trading for right now. I think probably $4 or something like that a pound.
Dan Ferris: $4-ish, yeah.
Patrick Yip: Yeah. I don't know off the top of my head. It's not a market I follow too closely. But, you know, any time you make a product, especially a commodity, into a smaller unit – so you're thinking $4 a pound, if I make it into a round, that's now 1 ounce – it's not 1 troy ounce, it's just one normal ounce – it just becomes expensive in terms of buying copper.
My analogy too is let's say you like coffee and you go to Starbucks. I don't know what coffee is trading for, but let's say it's $3 a pound or something like that. If you went to Starbucks and said, "Hey, give me some coffee at $3 a pound, they're going to say –" they'll look at you just weird. They'll be like, "What are you thinking," right? Not happening.
Dan Ferris: Yeah.
Patrick Yip: So, you know, copper is more of a novelty that we sell. People like collecting things. We have a whole ton of different copper rounds. I don't know a ton about them, but I know people get it just for the novelty factor. I think I do have a copper bar somewhere in my desk over here at work somewhere, but just more of a novelty thing for fun.
Dan Ferris: Yeah. So if you're bullish on copper, you know, just buy Freeport stock or something and don't buy copper rounds. It might turn out like –
Patrick Yip: Yeah, there's a better way to get into copper than the physical copper. Actually, just a funny thing is I believe the melt value of 1982 and before copper pennies is actually north of 2 cents. Obviously, they're illegal to melt down right now, so I'm not suggesting that, but if the U.S. ever went away from pennies then you could essentially double your investment risk free by melting down these pennies which, like I said, currently illegal so don't do that, but if they ever get rid of the penny.
Dan Ferris: All right. Now tell me what you know about some of the more exotic precious metals, which are available in some form or another – platinum, palladium, rhodium?
Patrick Yip: I don't know a ton about them. I just know that we do sell them. Not the top products that people are buying. I mean, I'm just looking back at my data over here. 1.5% of our year-to-date sales is platinum, 0.2% is palladium. They're largely an industrial metal. I would say there's probably a better way to speculate on that.
Another thing too, and we talked about premiums too, is when you get into some of these more niche metals, so outside gold, outside silver, make sure you look at the bid-ask spread. So dealers would publish their spread at what they sell it for versus what they buy it for. You'll notice that the bid-ask spread is also wider. You'll notice that the premiums are also higher too. I remember at the conference talking to someone and they were saying they bought rhodium, which is – I forget what they bought it for, but rhodium went up a crazy amount and they said they weren't even concerned about bid-ask spread or the premiums at that point because rhodium went up so much.
You know, I would say this is more of a speculation. If you're looking to protect your assets, I would say don't go too crazy into any of these more niche metals.
Dan Ferris: Yeah. I've never understood the point of them for investors. It's too novelty-like. You know, it's not like – if you have ideas about gold being real money and so forth and silver having monetary value and all that, you know, it doesn't translate to rhodium – you know what I'm saying? – or palladium or platinum. [Laughs] It just does not.
Patrick Yip: The funny part, and we talked about the conference earlier, so we had probably about 30 or so of the top gold, silver, and platinum products at our booth, and what was funny is we had a platinum Eagle there. Obviously, that's by far the most popular platinum coin. No one asked about it. I don't even think people knew it was platinum, because I guess the normal public does not, you know, know the difference between the color of silver and platinum.
And you could tell platinum has a little more grayish, purple tint than silver, but no one even noticed it. So you get into some of these niche metals like rhodium or something – would someone even recognize it if you had it?
Dan Ferris: I wanted to ask you about something really weird. While we're covering all these topics, while I have you here, I need you as my reference on some of these things. I just want to run a lot of ideas by you, and thank you for sort of letting me help you with different topics.
Patrick Yip: Yeah, go for it.
Dan Ferris: So there was this thing back in May where Paul Krugman, the actual Nobel Laureate economist – why he won, I have no idea – but he wants to mint a $1-trillion platinum coin, and his idea was to avert the debt ceiling problem. [Laughs] I mean, I don't – I read the article. I don't even understand what he thought he was thinking. I don't understand this at all. Do you? I mean, do you have any idea what this was about?
Patrick Yip: No, I don't. It's crazy too, because even if you look at the national debt, you're $30 trillion, and at least that's a public number too. Obviously you put unfunded liabilities in there, you're north of $100 trillion, $150 trillion. I think this is just more nonsense too. I think you get back to what we said is, you know, you default, you print, or you balance a budget, and I don't think balancing a budget is going to happen too.
If you look at it, I think the last time we had a budget surplus was probably back around 2000, and the national debt still increased. So the debt's going to only increase and increase. I don't really think there's a way out of this. So I think that the easiest, least painful way for the government is just to print, and eventually all the creditors get paid back for what they're owed, but the question is what is that dollar going to be worth at that time they get paid back?
Dan Ferris: OK. So here's the key part. This was actually – this idea is back to 2014, and Krugman had an editorial that he wrote. He said, "There's a legal loophole allowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination the Secretary chooses. Yes, it was intended to allow commemorative collector's items, but that's not what the letter of the law says. And by minting a $1 trillion coin then depositing it at the Fed, the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling while doing no economic harm at all."
If he thinks that would really do no economic harm, it's just an excuse to print $1 trillion. I mean, at that point, the price of these metals we're talking about would go through the freaking roof. It's insane.
Patrick Yip: Yeah. And I haven't looked into it in great detail too, but I'm just thinking if you had debt, and let's say that was your debt, you lent the government money and they said, "Oh, don't worry, we'll just get a platinum coin," what happens to the debt? You still want to get paid back and you still want to get paid back in real money. They can't just say, "Here you go, Dan, here's a platinum coin.
And that $100,000 that you loaned the government? Oh, don't worry. You've got a platinum coin." I don't think it works that way.
Dan Ferris: I don't think so either. All right. I guess it's fun to sort of cap off the interview with a little bit of, you know, Paul Krugman nonsense, but we've arrived at the moment we always arrive in our interviews when we ask our final question. You answered this once before. You might not remember. I hope you don't remember.
Patrick Yip: I forgot. I know it's been a while since I've been on your show.
Dan Ferris: Good.
Patrick Yip: I always think these questions are fun and hopefully it doesn't throw me a curveball. [Laughs]
Dan Ferris: No. It's the identical question, the same final question for every guest no matter what the topic, even if it's a nonfinance thing. I ask the same, exact final question. So I'm glad you don't remember it because it works better that way. And the question is simply, if you could leave our listeners with a single thought today, what would it be?
Patrick Yip: Yeah, I would say check out – I mean, make sure you have an allocation into precious metals. I think the economy is in a tough bind right now. There's a lot of things you need to learn about precious metals, obviously physical side is good. If you want physical, look out for your spot price, look out for your premiums. APMEX is a great way to buy it.
OneGold is also a great way to buy precious metals and currently what I'm using to avoid low premiums. What it is just basically an online investment account that you could buy gold in a couple minutes, buy gold, silver, and platinum in a couple minutes, but I would say make sure you have an allocation to it. A lot of times, even for new people, they ask how much should I get? You know, start small, and if you think that's good then great.
If you want more or if you don't feel that's the right allocation, get a little bit more, and someday you'll feel that you have the right allocation. I think, you know, the dollar's in trouble. I think stocks might flatline for a while. We had a lost decade before. I wouldn't be surprised to have a lost decade again just because they went up so much. You know, I personally think precious metals are going to be a good investment for the next several years.
Dan Ferris: I agree. I don't think you can afford to be without them for the next several years, decade or so, for similar reasons too. I've been talking about the potential for a sideways market and exorbitant equity valuation, so we're on the same page, which I promise you, folks, I'm not just picking guests who agree with me.
But listen, man, it's always good to talk to you. I'm glad that we ran into each other in Florida and I'm glad you could make time for us today.
Patrick Yip: Great. Well, thanks again for having me on, Dan.
Dan Ferris: All right. We'll talk to you next time.
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I think Patrick's final thought was really important. I think everyone should really seriously consider some kind of allocation to precious metals. And I also want to emphasize that there's a difference between holding the metal in a form that you can get access to and everything else, whether it's, you know, futures – and if you're sophisticated enough to know about that you don't need me talking to you about it – futures or an ETF or anything else or gold stocks and silver stocks, you know, the stocks of gold and silver mining companies to be quite precise, that is a very different bet than acquiring a stock of precious metals as part of your savings, as part of your long-term holdings that you use to preserve wealth, you know, over long periods of time. The prices are going to fluctuate, but over a long period of time you will generally, I believe, still be very happy that you managed to get some of your savings into gold and silver.
I think that's the message, that's the takeaway. And of course I hope you took good notes. If not, you know, listen to the interview again because he gave us some great ideas for how to think about the premiums that you pay when you buy these things and how to avoid them right now too. So please take advantage of all that.
You better believe we'll be checking in with Patrick again sooner rather than later. He's our guy in the metals markets. You know, one of them, at least. All right.
Well, that's another interview, and that's another episode of the Stansberry Investor Hour. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. We provide a transcript for every episode. Just go to InvestorHour.com. Click on the episode you want. Scroll all the way down, click on the word "transcript," and enjoy.
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