Object of the Week

Why Silver Isn’t a Stonk

The meme investor mob came after a physical commodity, and it didn’t go well

Rob Walker
Published in
5 min readFeb 4, 2021


Object of the Week is a new column exploring the objects a culture obsesses over and what that reveals about us.

Over the past week or so, the meme-crazed, Reddit-fueled “stonk market” phenomenon careened in a new direction. Instead of aiming to drive up the share price of yet another business with a dubious financial future, the mob went after silver. This hasn’t worked out — largely because of the nature of silver itself as a physical commodity whose value can be difficult to untether from its materiality.

The run on silver seems to have been sparked by users of Reddit’s now-infamous WallStreetBets group, calling for a short squeeze — running up the price on silver and forcing short interests to cash in their silver futures positions at a punishing loss. This “ignited a buying frenzy that roiled precious-metals markets and squeezed physical supplies,” says one report, causing the U.S. Mint to ration sales of silver coins. “We have seen unprecedented demand for physical silver,” one dealer commented. Shares of mining companies went up, and futures prices did spike, reaching an eight-year high on Monday.