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Silver and Gold, Prices and Ratios

Silver and gold prices continued to rise today: In New York, silver futures almost hit $50 an ounce, which would be a thirty-year nominal high, before settling at $47.15. Meanwhile, after breaking the $1,500 mark for the first time last Thursday, gold futures also climbed, hitting $1,508.60 per ounce at the end of trading. Traders pointed to "a falling U.S. dollar, inflation fears, worries about mounting government debt burdens and continued unrest in the Middle East and North Africa" as reasons for the rise in silver and gold prices. For centuries, silver and gold had a stable relationship. For example, in the early 18th century, Issac Newton set the gold/silver ratio at 15.5, a ratio that held for over 100 years. But is the relationship still stable?

No, says Cetin Ciner of Northeastern University. A decade ago, Ciner looked at the long run trend between the prices of gold and silver futures on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange. Contrary to previous studies, Ciner found that the stability of the gold-silver relationship disappeared during the 1990s, and an investment strategy should no longer use one market to predict the other's price. Still, at least we can sing about silver and gold.