The combination of surging prices and surging supply is an inevitable buildup of inventories. This is due to the fact that higher prices (eventually) constrict demand, while continuing to stimulate higher and higher levels of supply. This means that as investors we are always provided with a clear warning on when any bull market for a commodity is about to end: Inventories swell well above historical averages.
The length of time that any such bull market will last is based on a combination of the commodity's "supply elasticity" and "demand elasticity". Don't be intimidated by the jargon. All this refers to is how quickly supply and demand for the commodity adjusts to changes in price.
What makes silver unique as an investment opportunity is that it has both highly inelastic supply and highly inelastic demand -- something perhaps never before seen in the world of commodities. In terms of supply, because most silver comes onto the market as a byproduct of other mining, it was (and is) impossible for the supply of silver to respond quickly to price-increases.
Meanwhile, because silver is consumed in small quantities (even trace amounts) in many of its industrial applications, it also exhibits high inelasticity of demand, as even huge increases in the price of silver result in only small/moderate increases in the price of silver-based products.
Going back to the 1990s, silver has never been so underpriced in all of history. Since silver was first discovered in the New World 600 years ago; it has never been so underproduced. Yet despite these literally unparalleled parameters, silver has never been so underowned by investors in all of history.
To refer to this as an investment paradox is the epitome of understatement. In the conclusion of this series, readers will see how the (sinister) market paradox in the silver market is directly responsible for this incredible investment paradox.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.