I am not looking for an increase in the number of commemorative coins to be produced in 2013, but reflecting on the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve’s creation put a few crazy thoughts in my mind.
The obvious idea of a centennial silver dollar or some such coin is out of the question in 2013 because it should have been looked at as a theme five years ago.
Another thought was a set of coins commemorating the 14 individuals who have served as chairmen.
That number is too large to be realistic, so I looked at ways of paring the number back.
To do this I started zeroing in on length of service
William McChesney Martin Jr. was chairman for 19 years, 1951-1970.
Alan Greenspan’s 1987-2006 term of office was almost as long.
Interestingly, in both cases, the economy went off the rails not long after both men left office.
In Martin’s case we experienced the recessionary and inflationary 1970s after he left office.
In Greenspan’s case we saw a financial crisis and the Great Recession.
What is it about the aftermath of these long terms that led to disaster?
Do financial markets place such great faith in individuals at the Fed that once they leave, all “you know what” breaks loose?
Then there is Ben Bernanke, the present chairman. His is a name every hard money advocate loves to hate.
We don’t know how his saga will turn out, but he is scheduled to leave office next year. Though he did not serve as long as Martin or Greenspan, I expect there are many who would forecast economic problems of similar magnitude to follow his departure.
These individuals would make an interesting three-coin set.
Perhaps the coins could be made of gold. That would be the ultimate irony.
All three served all or part of their terms when the U.S. dollar was no longer as good as gold.
We could denominate these commemoratives in units called “Bernankes.” Of course, then we would argue about to how many zeroes would follow the “1.”
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”