tirsdag 3. oktober 2017

Silver! On the Run

by Robert Wood - Sociologist
Wages, commodities and service. Bits and pieces, which were horrible expensive 100 years ago, cost next to nothing today. But what about the price of silver? What has happened since 1917?

Norway, In Days of Old
The First World War was drawing to a close and the wages for delivery of wood for fire-setting had risen to 10 kroner a day in 1917. The workers had a nine hour day.  ($ 41-/9h adjusted for inflation 2017) at The King’s Mine, Kongsberg, Norway. Fires were set against a rockface to heat the stone which was then doused with liquid, causing the stone to fracture.
   The workers also had long weekly hours 100 year ago. 9 hours a day, 6 days a week turned out to be 2700 workhours a year. Sundays they were allowed to rest, but expected to go to church. The concept “Saturday off” was still 50 years in the future and only the rich leisure class enjoyed holidays.

Kongsberg Silver Mines 1917
The Chief Executive Officer for Kongsberg Silver Mines hoped that silver production for 1917 –18 would be impressing 12 000 kilo (385 815 oz), but he ended up with measly 8 505 kilo (272 160 oz.). However, he found some consolation in high silver prices, and in 1917 he received 110 kroner a kilo (32 oz) or ( $ 10/oz - adjusted for inflation 2017).
   However, workers in Norway could not under any circumstances afford to buy silver. Their wages were hardly enough to get by with. Many children were the norm and food and commodities were very, very expensive.
   Anyhow, workers’ wages can, to a certain degree, illustrate the development of both wages and the piece of silver. In short… A worker in 1917 had to work 100 hours to buy 32 ounces of silver.

Kongsberg Silver Mines 2017
After 330 years of continuous operations The Silver Mines in Kongsberg are no longer operative. They were closed down in 1958 and turned into a fascinating tourist magnet. Kongsberg Silver Mines
   In 2017 the average monthly pay in Norway is 48 000 kroner (US$ 6800), and the average working year is 1400 hours (Down 1300 h/year from 1917).
   A warehouseworker at IKEA and a newbee trainee with a Master’s degree in the business world get 175 kroner an hour (US$ 22,50/h) before tax. With 25 % tax, the above mentioned workers are left with 130 kroner an hour. (US$ 17/h). This implies that a worker must work 42 hours to be able to afford 1 kilo of silver. 58 hours less than the 1917 worker had to toil.

Wages versus Silver price
Workers’ wages have risen considerably over a 100-years period and the standard of living has also risen. But, what about silver? If we consult Statistics Norway Consumer price index it shows that the price of silver has been fairly stable over a 100-year period.
   If your great-grandfather had invested in silver in 1917 you would have cashed in a profit to day. If he had left you a bank account with the same amount of money he invested in silver, the money would have lost their value due to a 3194 % price rise (inflation) the last hundred years.
   If the white metal had followed the consumer price index it should have cost $14,27/oz in 2017. But the value of silver has beaten inflation and become more valuable. Today, silver is sold for $ 17/oz at the spotmarked and an American Eagle silver dollar is sold for $ 20 over the counter in Oslo.

Silver shines on
To sum it up… silver is more valuable in 2017 than in 1917 and relatively much cheaper for todays workers. They must work fewer hours to get the money to buy one kilo/32 oz of silver. And, what is even more important – Norwegian workers have the extra purchasing power to buy silver as a backup for leaner times.

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