If you believe the gold story but lack the balls to come in at the US$1300 level, why not try silver? The Economist sets out the case.
[S]ilver and gold have much of the same allure. The combination of a weak dollar, low interest rates and economic uncertainty that has convinced some to buy gold and pushed its price up to around $1,300 an ounce has also encouraged them to put their money into other likely-looking stores of value. Silver not only offers investors diversity but it is also supported by real industrial demand.
… 25-30% of gold is bought by investors, only about a tenth of global silver production goes the same way. Roughly half the world’s silver goes to industrial users (the balance is accounted for by jewellery and other silverware), although their identity has undergone a huge shift over the past decade.
Granted film (which uses a lot of silver)-based photography has been made extinct by digital photography but New uses for the metal plugged the gap left by film. Silver is widely used in electronics, whether in buttons for TVs, in membrane switches in computer keyboards or as a coating for CDs and DVDs. But the great hope for silver is the solar-power industry. Photovoltaic cells, the technology used in 70% of solar panels, contain silver. Although other technologies that do not use silver are on the rise, heavy government subsidies are forecast to help keep the solar industry growing.
Demand for silver is likely to keep rising in developing countries in particular: China, which used to export the metal, now imports it. The same cannot be said for supply … three-quarters of the world’s supply comes as a by-product from copper, lead and zinc mines. So ramping up production is difficult. Total supplies of the metal in 2009, at 27,650 tonnes, were barely higher than in 2004.
But do remember that Warren Buffett has sold off the silver he bot in 2008. He could have some left but the bulk were sold last year.