This article is part of our Best ETFs for 2012 series, in which we're seeking out the top-performing ETFs for the coming year.
It's time to face the music, Fools. The forces that have propelled gold and silver prices higher over the past decade continue to gather steam.
The United States kicked the can down the road by attempting to bury toxic debts beneath mounds of new debt, and now here we stand with a bloated Federal Reserve and a national debt that has already exploded from $5.6 trillion to more than $15 trillion here in this very young century of ours. Europe is frantically recruiting boots from around the world to help it kick its own can of debt contagion back into the so-called "periphery" nations, though it's anyone's guess where that can will land next. Like a strand of trans-Atlantic telephone cable, the insidious nature of counterparty risk may yet connect Europe's can to the one that remains airborne over U.S. soil.
During times like these, I believe Fools can ill afford to turn a blind eye to the likelihood that gold and silver will continue proving their mettle as reliable safe havens while cans of debt distress are predictably kicked to and fro. As I prepare to navigate my own way through 2012 as an investor, I would not dream of stepping one toe into the new year without my gold and silver exposure firmly intact, and I remind my fellow Fools to view the recent pullback -- particularly among the glaringly undervalued miners of these metals -- as a timely opportunity to initiate or build such exposure. Because I believe silver is poised to deliver a superior percentage increase to even that of gold going forward, I hold a particularly bullish outlook for the stocks of quality silver miners.
A silver bullet for silver exposure
Although I have personally constructed my own silver exposure through a basket of individual stocks, I noted after the launch of the Global X Silver Miners ETF
Thus far, my CAPS pick for this ETF has outperformed the S&P 500 by 47%, even after a tough 2011 for several of the ETF's constituent stocks. The corresponding trajectory of the iShares Silver Trust shows that silver prices have outperformed the miners over the period, so thus far my pick has failed to deliver investors even a bullion-beating performance to compensate them for the operational and geopolitical risks that accompany mining operations. Needless to say, I expect that trend to reverse sharply as market valuations adjust to reflect even a modicum of their looming profitability. To illustrate this point, let's dive into a few of the ETF's major holdings.
Turnaround stories galore
The roll call of silver miners held within this ETF contains a number of names that have been absolutely steamrolled lately for a variety of reasons. Hecla Mining
Coeur d'Alene Mines
Shares of Pan American Silver
As we prepare to close the book on a tumultuous 2011 for equity investors, and look to the coming year for reliable gains within an unreliable economic landscape, I consider the Global X Silver Miners ETF a terrific one-stop shop for effective exposure to the persistently bullish long-term outlook for silver. Please bookmark this link to track all my Foolish coverage of the miners of silver and gold, and sound off in the comments section below to share your own precious metals investment strategy.
Stay tuned throughout our series on the Best ETFs for 2012 to find out about all of the picks our Foolish contributors have made. Click back to the series intro for links to the entire series.
Fool contributor Christopher Barker can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He tweets. He owns shares of Coeur d'Alene Mines, Hecla Mining, and Silver Wheaton. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.