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The silver-gold ratio has ticked back up to historically high levels of late.
As I write this article, the ratio stands at just over 88:1. That means it takes 88 ounces of silver to buy an ounce of gold. To put that into perspective, the average in the modern era has been between 40:1 and 60:1.
Terms - Silver - Gold
In simple terms, historically, silver is extremely underpriced compared to gold.
Last summer, the ratio climbed to nearly 93:1 as gold rallied. Silver closed the gap in the fall and the ratio dropped into the low 80s’ to one. But in recent weeks, we’ve seen the gap widening once again.
Ratio - % - Years - Era - US
In 2019, the silver-gold ratio averaged 86:1. That ranks in the top 2% all-time, dating back to 1687. Only two years in the era since the US government unpegged the dollar from gold have seen higher ratios – 1991 and 1992.
Here’s some historical perspective.
Geologists - Ounces - Silver - Ounce - Gold
Geologists estimate that there are approximately 19 ounces of silver for every ounce of gold in the earth’s crust, with a ratio of approximately 11.2 ounces of silver to each ounce of gold that has ever been mined. Interestingly, the silver-gold ratio in ancient Egypt was 1:1.
In 1792, the gold/silver price ratio was fixed by law in the United States at 15:1. France mandated a ratio of 15.5:1 in 1803. Faced with the challenges of a bi-metallic monetary system with fixed exchange rates and the aftermath of a worldwide financial crisis, the US Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1873. Following the lead of other Western nations, including England, Portugal, Canada, and Germany, this act formally demonetized silver and established a gold standard for the United States.
Role - Metal - Ratio - Average - Century
With silver playing a smaller role as a monetary metal, the silver-gold ratio gradually spread. The modern average over the last century has been around 40:1.
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