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Metal Market Report June 2018 - Week 4 Edition

June 2018 - Week 4 Edition

Billionaires Bid Up Top-End Rare Coins, Helping the Entire Rare Coin Market (Part 3)

Gold is at its lowest point of the year, due mostly to a strong surge in the U.S. dollar over the last two months.  As we approach the end of the first half of 2018, gold and silver are slightly down, but the stock market is relatively flat, with the Dow Jones down 1.9% and the S&P 500 up about 1.6%.  With that in mind, it’s more refreshing to be able to report that the high-end rare coin market is doing much better than that!  Call us to learn more!

Watching the coin market these days is a little bit like watching “Clash of the Titans,” witnessing multiple billionaire buyers competing for the top-tier coins that turn up in the marketplace.

In June, for instance, an 1804 Dollar graded PR-62 by PCGS traded hands for $2.64 million to a collector attempting to assemble a nice example of every coin ever made, an accomplishment only ever completed by the great Louis Eliasberg.

In a separate deal, another billionaire closed a seven-figure deal to acquire a unique early gold coin. In other recent action, a famed example of the 1913 Liberty Nickel graded PR-63 traded hands for between $3 million and $4 million, and another higher-graded PR-66 is expected to hit the market soon.

Not very many people can afford the finest-known specimens, of course, but the point is that these high-end buyers pull up the prices for second-level coins, too.  Since there can only be one “best” coin or a few tied for highest-known grade, billionaire collectors begin to bid up the next-best coins, then those right below that range.  These coins can range from thousands of dollars to millions of dollars.  Recent transactions have seen a CAC 1951-S Booker T. Washington half dollar graded by PCGS as MS-67+ bring $12,500, five times as much as expected by experts.  It had a graded population of only three, with none finer.  There seems to be nothing out of reach for the insatiable appetites of billionaires and multi-millionaires who compete for the finest rarities with the greatest stories.  The end result is that some of this new money also circulates in the overall coin market, strengthening many other areas of numismatics, which helps us all.

This search for the finest-known, or next best in line, is affecting all of numismatics, giving more dealers more resources to buy more products. This helps all types of coins, across the board in every series, in high grades and even coins graded somewhat lower, since it gives dealers more resources, so they can stock more coins.  They can then advertise more, store more inventory and expand their businesses. 

I Win “Best Radio Talk Show” Award from the Press Club of Southeast Texas

At their June banquet, I won the “best radio talk show” award from the Press Club of Southeast Texas for my monthly coin show on KLVI, 560-am, which I have been doing the last 20 years.  This is the third top award for my radio show I have received from the Press Club of Southeast Texas.  Voting for awards is done by a different area press club.

Charles Krauthammer, a Voice of Moderation, is Stilled

I was saddened to hear that Charles Krauthammer died last Thursday, just 13 days after he informed the nation that he had “weeks to live” due to cancer.  I watched Charles on TV often and met him once at an investment conference in New Orleans, where I chatted with him for about five minutes. My good friend Gary Alexander was the moderator of several panels with Charles at that conference over the last decade and he told me about some great debates that Charles had with James Carville, Dick Armey and others.

The most refreshing aspect of hearing Charles talk was that he never indulged in name-calling or disrespect for the other side of an argument. His sense of humor was always refreshing. Even though he was a trained psychiatrist, he never indulged in psychoanalysis of politicians.  Knowing that, my friend Gary still dared to ask him to “diagnose” President Obama during his time in office. Here’s his answer:

“I took a pledge when I left psychiatry to avoid publishing any psychiatric insights into public figures, so all I will say is that Obama, like all politicians, has a high opinion of himself, but his self-love is excessive, even among Presidents.  Before turning 45, he had written two books – both about himself.  And remember, this is the man who said in 2008 that history will remember the day he secured the Democratic nomination as the day ‘the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal.’”

One of our nation’s biggest problems is the huge and growing budget deficits each year, which is mostly due to “entitlements,” primarily Medicare and Social Security, which will be insolvent by 2026 and 2036, due to aging Baby Boomers and fewer young workers paying into the system, but in one New Orleans panel, Charles offered a common-sense solution: “With Social Security, you must raise the retirement age and index it to longevity. When Social Security was introduced, life expectancy was just 62.  Now it is 82.  You have to change the cost-of-living formula and you have to “means test” the benefits.  If you’re rich, you shouldn’t collect benefits. To contain medical costs, we must have tort reform. Malpractice suits account for 25% of medical costs, yet the 2,000-page Obamacare bill didn’t mention tort reform once.”

In that particular panel, former Republican House Majority Leader (1995-2003) Dick Armey disagreed, saying, “If any pension manager proposed that cockamamie scheme of ‘means testing’ one’s pension benefits, he would be thrown in jail,” but Charles calmly responded, “It’s not fair, but it’s the only way to balance the budget. Social Security will become like any other welfare benefit – only for those in need.”

In 2016, Krauthammer didn’t vote for any major candidate.  He said “Trump won the nomination on his name recognition and antagonistic rhetoric. He is a liberal posing as a conservative,” while “Hillary Clinton carries more baggage than Delta Airlines. She couldn’t legitimately beat a socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union (and never came back, politically).  She lies badly (Bill lied well).” He said he would write in a name, probably “Paul Ryan.” After Trump won, he was critical of the President in his writings, which ended last August. We didn’t hear from Charles at all until June 8, when he wrote:

 “I believe that the pursuit of truth and right ideas through honest debate and rigorous argument is a noble undertaking. I am grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.

“I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life – full and complete with great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”

In this noisy, polarized and often too-profane world, Charles’ voice of moderation will be missed.


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