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Viewpoint: Tame ‘bullion bulls’ in hobby journalism

The April 14 “Numismatic News Friday Edition” e-newsletter contained a story by Patrick A. Heller headlined “Uncertain world good for gold.”

By V. Kurt Bellman

After mowing my lawn on April 30, I sat down with a beverage and started going through emails on my portable device. This can absorb an awful lot of time some weeks. I only ever read about a quarter of the emails I receive, but those from Numismatic News always are kept for more intense attention later, if all I’m doing is paring down the list.

This particular culling included yet another bold prediction from your frequent contributor, Patrick Heller. Mr. Heller and I have met, and we have exchanged pleasantries along with an acknowledgement that our views on economics, particularly monetary economics, and most particularly of all the role of precious metals in modern monetary policy, could not possibly be more divergent if it were our aim to make them so. In short, I like to pick on, and poke fun at, Mr. Heller’s prognostication skills, or what I view as the lack thereof.

There is a need for ideological bulls in the precious metals field, and Mr. Heller fills that need magnificently, as do many blog writers and website publishers. What seems to me to be missing from numismatic literature is a more subtle and nuanced view of monetary economics, if not downright opposition to the “hard money” or “gold bug” ideology. Alas, I’m just one voice in the wilderness.

The email that inspired this piece is the April 14 “Numismatic News Friday Edition” e-newsletter with articles on the Trump “dollar,” 2017-P cents and a bold, if not foolish, prediction about where gold and silver were likely heading in the ensuing two weeks. This last piece, by Patrick Heller, recounted his prediction of the week before that gold would more likely than not exceed $1,300 by the end of April, and silver would surpass $20 by that same time. He seemed to be gloating that gold was already getting close to his mark, while silver was down slightly.

Mr. Heller then reported a “major attempt to suppress precious metals prices,” his usual explanation for anything other than straight-line increases. Mr. Heller seemed convinced that world events would finally force metals upward. Well, the results are in: Mr. Heller has been proven wrong yet again. As I sit here writing this, admittedly well into the afternoon of May 1, spot gold is at $1,256.90 and silver is at $16.87, and both at present seem to be headed south. I shall not fall prey to the attempt to predict what will happen in the following two minutes, much less the following two weeks.

The lesson here is, as Yogi Berra once observed, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” World events often turn on a dime, a modern clad dime, and potentially cataclysmic world events can resolve and deteriorate several times in a fortnight. I suggest it is high time we lose this nostalgia for precious metals based money, and our hobby’s focus on obsessing about bullion’s ups and downs. There is a rich world of numismatics that needs sound journalism. It’s what I come to Numismatic News to read; not the imprudent predictions of a bullion bull.

This “Viewpoint” was written V. Kurt Bellman, a hobbyist from Harrisburg, Pa.

Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to david.harper@fwmedia.com.

 

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 More Collecting Resources

• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000 is your guide to images, prices and information on coinage of the 1900s.

• When it comes to specialized world paper money issues, nothing can top the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Specialized Issues .

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