I left out an important part of history in yesterday’s post on Silver…that is, the origination of the phrase: “When the cops raid the brothel, everyone is arrested, including the piano player.”
I first heard this phrase at the CBOT in early 1980 in direct reference to the Silver market collapse. On the chart below you will note that Silver topped at 5056, dropped quickly to 3025, recovered to 3970, then was destroyed to 1080 and eventually 4 (that is $4 per oz.) for a total decline exceeding 90 percent.
The reported reason for the decline was the failed attempt to corner the physical market by the Hunt brothers of Texas. Today’s equivilant would be a combination of JP Morgan and the small speculators through the ETFs. The CFTC stepped in January 1980 and hiked the margin requirements. The rest was history.
The real reason for the decline was that Silver had no business being at $50, that Silver is a COMMODITY, and that commodities have boom and bust cycles.
Many, many investors got wiped out by the drop. During a meeting at the CBOT, a member made the statement, “Isn’t it too bad that not only the Hunts got wiped out, but little investors who had nothing to do with the manipulation also lost the family farm.”
To this comment, and old-time trader made the statement…”Well, you must remember, when the cops raid the brothel, everyone gets arrested, even the piano player.” I will never forget the phrase or the meaning of the phrase.
By the way, the conventional wisdom during the advance of 1979 (extending far into the 1980s) was not much different than it is today. Inflation concerns, worries about fiat currencies, fed policy, etc. These were the reasons the small investor bought Silver then and the reason they bought Silver in this cycle. Margin call after margin call later, the small investor always plays the role of the piano player.
By the way, a good way to play Silver in stocks is to short the ultra long, AGQ. Of course, pick your spots and use stops. Even if Silver develops into a broad trading range, AGQ will decline.