Warren Buffett on why he bought silver (1998)


Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, exhibits the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and reflectivity of any metal. The metal is found in the Earth’s crust in the pure, free elemental form (“native silver”), as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining.

Silver has long been valued as a precious metal. Silver metal is used in many bullion coins, sometimes alongside gold: while it is more abundant than gold, it is much less abundant as a native metal. As one of the seven metals of antiquity, silver has had an enduring role in most human cultures.

Other than in currency and as an investment medium (coins and bullion), silver is used in solar panels, water filtration, jewellery, ornaments, high-value tableware and utensils (hence the term “silverware”), in electrical contacts and conductors, in specialized mirrors, window coatings, in catalysis of chemical reactions, as a colorant in stained glass and in specialised confectionery. Its compounds are used in photographic and X-ray film. Dilute solutions of silver nitrate and other silver compounds are used as disinfectants and microbiocides (oligodynamic effect), added to bandages and wound-dressings, catheters, and other medical instruments.

The earliest known coins were minted in the kingdom of Lydia in Asia Minor around 600 BC. The coins of Lydia were made of electrum, which is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver, that was available within the territory of Lydia. Since that time, silver standards, in which the standard economic unit of account is a fixed weight of silver, have been widespread throughout the world until the 20th century.

The ratio between the amount of silver used for coinage and that used for other purposes has fluctuated greatly over time; for example, in wartime, more silver tends to have been used for coinage to finance the war.

Today, silver bullion has the ISO 4217 currency code XAG, one of only four precious metals to have one (the others being palladium, platinum, and gold). Silver coins are produced from cast rods or ingots, rolled to the correct thickness, heat-treated, and then used to cut blanks. These blanks are then milled and minted in a coining press; modern coining presses can produce 8000 silver coins per hour.

Silver prices are normally quoted in troy ounces. One troy ounce is equal to 31.1034768 grams. The London silver fix is published every working day at noon London time. This price is determined by several major international banks and is used by London bullion market members for trading that day. Prices are most commonly shown as the United States dollar (USD), the Pound sterling (GBP), and the Euro (EUR).

Buffett Books:
Intelligent Investor:
Warren Buffett: 43 Lessons for Business & Life:
The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America:
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life:
The Warren Buffett Way:
Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist:
Security Analysis: 6th Edition, Foreword by Warren Buffett:

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1 gedachte over “Warren Buffett on why he bought silver (1998)”

  1. Does the guy sitting next to Warren need a nap? Medical attention? A beer?

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