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Help hurricane victims then help yourself

The devastating hurricane Florence that struck North and South Carolina late last week demonstrates the importance of being prepared.

Whether residents chose to get out ahead of the storm or to hunker down, they still face the results of their life-and-death decisions.

Those who got out will eventually have to go back to survey the damage.

They and those who stayed will have to literally pick up the pieces of their lives.

My heart goes out to all of them. I know the nation will rally to get them help.

Flooding has greatly magnified the logistical challenge of moving people and supplies.

Logistics is something most of us don’t have to think about except when it fails.

Fortunately, for most of us most of the time, logistics failures are not a matter of life and death.

Where they touch coin collecting, they are only matters of potential financial loss or gain, as well as irritants.

Consider the Mint’s current lack of silver American Eagles.

It announced it had run out of silver American Eagle bullion coins Sept. 6.


Demand had fallen dramatically this year.

Then suddenly demand increased to the point where the number sold in the first few days of September exceeded the monthly sales totals for six of the eight months of this year.

For someone who wants a 2018 silver American Eagle right this very minute, it is a failure of logistics.

So far in this period of shortage, the price of silver bullion has been stable, not far above $14 an ounce.

What would happen if the price of silver rose $1 or $2 while the lack of new coins persists?

Then we would hear real complaining.

Fortunately, that has not happened.

But it could.

Such an eventuality would be a failure of logistics.

It is understandable that the Mint does not want to hold high inventories of coins investors will not want to buy.

That costs the Mint money.

It is also understandble that investors do not want to buy silver Eagles when the price of bullion is falling sharply.

That costs them much.

In the past three months, silver bullion is down roughly from $17 to $14.

Both parties are acting rationally in their own interests.

But when something changes suddenly, like demand for silver Eagles, it takes the logistics time to catch up.

I imagine there will be other logistical questions.

How many North Carolina silver investors stored their coins in the basement?

Soaked uncirculated coins could end up looking bad, but they will still contain one ounce of silver.

What about collector coins?

Flood waters treat the fancy packaging much worse than the coins themselves.

Whatever storage decisions were made leading up to the storm, the consequences, both good and bad, cannot be undone.

So after lending our friends in the Carolinas a helping hand, think about how logistics failures could affect your life.

Then make appropriate decisions before it is too late for you.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."