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For more help with investing in gold or silver , consider getting the help of a financial advisor. The biggest thing that differentiates precious metal investing from other commodity investing is utility. For most other commodities, investors judge value based on supply and consumer demand. If you want to invest in coffee beans, for example, you can judge prices by how much coffee people are currently drinking, how tastes are changing, etc.
Precious metals are different in that they have relatively low commercial utility. Compared with other metals, here are relatively few consumer or industrial uses for assets like gold and silver. However, silver does have much more industrial and commercial use than gold.
Approximately half of all silver bought and sold on the market is used commercially, with applications ranging from dentistry to electronics. This is still quite small compared to other metals, which are almost entirely used for production. By contrast, gold has very few commercial applications aside from jewelry. This gives investors a basis on which to judge and predict price movements for silver, since you can make decisions based on factors such as industry need and how the global economy is moving.
While the details vary, the gap is consistent. Gold is historically much more expensive than silver. This is in part because silver deposits are nearly 20 times as common as gold. This leads to two outcomes for investors. First, it's much easier to invest in silver than gold. You can buy more of it for less money, meaning that less liquid investors can get into silver more easily. As with all financial assets this can also expose you to greater potential gains and losses, since you're likely to see more change relative to the scope of your investment with a portfolio of silver.
However, that's also the textbook definition of volatility. Low-cost assets tend to also be highly volatile specifically because small price changes have outsized effects on the underlying investment. Volatility isn't necessarily a bad thing but it is something to watch out for, especially if you're seeking a long-term investment. Gold is what's known as a "countercyclical investment. Historically, the worse the stock market does the more investors flock to gold.
By contrast, when times are good, investors tend to pull their money out of gold and put it into assets with greater links to the overall economy. As a result, many investors hold gold in their portfolio specifically for if they need liquidity during a downturn. For example, a recession is the worst time to sell stocks but the best time to buy them.
Having a pre-existing investment in gold can give you a valuable asset to sell during a recession so that you can buy other people's undervalued assets without selling your own. By contrast, silver tends to move with the economy overall, at least more so than gold. This is in significant part because of the same commercial applications that make silver a more predictable asset.
When the economy slows down, industries need less silver for manufacturing, driving the price down. There's no such thing as an objectively "better" investment. It all depends on your market position and the state of your portfolio. A good rule of thumb is this: Buy silver if you're investing for when times are good. This is a semi-predictable speculation asset that can make you some real money. Buy gold if you're investing for when times are bad.
Gold and silver are especially popular commodity investments, in large part because of their historic relationship with money. Governments once used gold and silver to make their currency. While no major economy uses gold or silver as the basis for its currency any longer, investors still see these two metals as active stores of value. Silver is more volatile, cheaper and more tightly linked with the industrial economy.
Gold is more expensive and better for diversifying your portfolio overall. Either or both may have a place in your portfolio. Arguably the best use for gold as an investment is to mitigate portfolio risk. This is a good asset for market downturns, since it can give you a source of value at a time when other investments are cratering.
A financial advisor can help you decide if gold or silver would be a good part of your portfolio. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you.
If you're ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. The post Gold vs. Silver Investments: Which Is Better? Anyone positioning their portfolio for a recession could be making a big mistake.
Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources , and more. Learn More. When the economy is tanking and inflation is high, investors often rush to gold. Silver is also viewed as a safe-haven investment, though it gets a lot less hype. Both precious metals have been sought after throughout history, so they're appealing when stocks and currencies are losing value. In August, pandemic worries coupled with a weakening U.
Silver has also rallied. Even in good times, many investors keep a small percentage of their assets invested in gold or silver as a portfolio diversification strategy. While gold and silver have similar boom-and-bust cycles, there are a few key differences to consider when you're deciding whether investing in gold vs.
Gold can be prohibitively expensive if you want to buy physical metal. Let's look to the gold-silver ratio , which tells you how many ounces of silver you'd need in order to purchase a single ounce of gold. The gold-silver ratio was around to-1 at market close Sept. That means ounce for ounce, gold was 70 times more valuable than silver. Back in March the gold-silver ratio was actually much higher, breaking to-1 for the first time in history , though the 21st century average is about to Translation: Even when silver is expensive, there's a reason it's known as "the poor man's gold.
Gold is more expensive because it's by far the rarer metal. Worldwide, just 3, tons of gold were mined in , compared to 27, tons of silver, according to the U. Geological Survey. More than half of the demand for silver is driven by its countless industrial uses. It's widely used in electronics, automobiles, solar panels, medicine and manufacturing, to name a few. Because it's so vital to industrial activity, demand for silver tends to rise and fall with the overall economy.
When production picks up, silver prices are likely to increase. If it slows, silver often tumbles. Gold usually surges when stocks are down. Not only do investors drive up gold prices in a bear market, but the yellow metal is relatively insulated from slowdown in economic activity because industrial uses are so limited. While short-term fluctuations in gold prices get a lot of attention, gold is relatively stable as a long-term investment.
The silver market's small size relative to the gold market makes it susceptible to wild price swings.