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Mint changes pricing mechanism

Collectors who have complained about how the Mint prices its precious metal collector products have been heard by Mint leadership and changes are being made for the gold and platinum products.

I had a phone conversation with Deputy Mint Director Andrew D. Brunhart yesterday about it. Prices will now be reviewed on a weekly basis and any changes will be posted by 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time each Thursday.

The new prices will be based on an average of the a.m. and p.m. fixes in London for the prior Thursday to Wednesday period.

In addition, if the average stays within a $50 range for gold and a $100 range for platinum, the product prices would not be changed.

For example, if prices were based on gold being in the $850 to $899.99 range, an average price anywhere in that range would result in no weekly price changes.

However, if the average price falls even a penny below the bottom end of the range, it would trigger new prices based on the next lower price range.

The full pricing grid will be posted on the Mint’s Web site within 30 days so collectors can see where the break points are.

Though this more active review will probably prevent sales suspensions of a kind that was frequently experienced last year, it does not mean that pricing is based solely on metallic content. These are still collectibles rather than investment products.

Brunhart said that in addition to factoring in metal prices and a 15 percent margin, prices also reflect manufacturing costs.

This is a step forward. Now let’s see how it works Thursday, Jan. 15, the first day any new pricing would take effect.