The whole point of investing in precious metals is that they are physical assets and they have no counter party risks. Paper assets have counter party risks, physical metals have no such counter party risk.
So what's the point of buying precious metal ETFs such as GLD, SLV, CEF,which are supposed to be backed up by physical metals. But you are not in physical control of the metals, and you just have to trust the sponsors of these ETFs.
Counter party risk, any one? DIND DING DING DING!
Check out page 1698-1722 of the SLV silver bars list. They have got some silver bars from China. The brand is Great Wall. The supposedly unique serial numbers are from No. 1001 - No. 1460. With many duplications.
The ETFS's silver bars list also contains silver bars of the same Great Wall brand. The serial numbers are also the same: No. 1001 - No. 1360.
Ah oh! Hmmmmm...?
I want to draw no conclusion and say not one more word here!
Full Disclosure: The author is heavily invested in palladium mining stocks SWC and PAL, hold shipping stocks EXM, EGLE, TBSI, DRYS, GNK, significant positions in UNG, a natural gas ETF. I have no position in GLD, SLV or CEF.