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Coin Clinic: Do you favor hard assets over fiat money?

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By Richard Giedroyc

I’ve noticed you refer to fiat and specie money regularly in some of your answers. Are you a hard asset person? Do you favor specie over fiat money?

I am a pragmatist who has studied economics, marketing and banking history. Today fiat money is used worldwide, not just in the United States. The system came into being during the 1960s when silver was removed from circulating coinage. Since that time we have found a number of innovative ways to create money, all of it being fiat. This includes credit cards, electronic money and much more. I still consider this to be an experimental economic model. We don’t know for certain this worldwide system will continue to be successful. It has only been applied for about a half century. We have seen problems originate from it. Fiat money does give us the flexibility to expand the amount of money in circulation when necessary, which can’t be done with specie. Only time will tell if our current system will prove to be a success.

People popularly purchase their Proof and Mint sets directly from the Mint. Has there been any survey of how many people buy these for themselves, and how many purchase them as gifts for others?

I haven’t seen any survey, but this doesn’t mean the U.S. Mint hasn’t conducted one. From my own observations as a coin dealer it appears many Mint customers buy these sets both for themselves and for young relatives whom likely would be happier receiving a toy as a gift. I have clients who bring in large quantities of these sets they accumulated directly from the Mint (or from a relative who was a Mint customer), and are now taking up space in their house. None of them indicate they have attempted to purchase earlier sets.

I watched a late night television coin program where they were selling 25 years of Proof or Mint sets for one money. Why wouldn’t they try to sell these sets individually?

It isn’t cost effective to sell these low value sets individually. The typical customer buying these is an entry-level collector or a speculator who doesn’t understand either the coin collecting or the coin investing markets. This is an expensive way to purchase these sets. Someone has to pay for the television time. That someone is the customer.

Can you define “limited-edition collectible?”

Alongside the word “treasure” the term “limited-edition collectible” is a marketing hot button when hawking something to the mass markets. What is a limited-edition collectible limited to? Typically it is limited to the number of orders that can be filled. What this means is that the secondary market will likely be thin since the initial demand has been filled regardless of how big that demand might have been. It takes a marketing effort to create a secondary market for something, be it coins or anything else that is collectible.

 

E-mail inquiries only. Do not send letters in the mail. Send to Giedroyc@Bright.net. Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions.

 

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