Perhaps I should have called in sick the day I wrote the forecasts for 2009 that filled my Jan. 27 column last year. Certainly, I couldn’t earn a living as an investment advisor.
1. I forecast gold at $600 an ounce, following the economy lower. It didn’t happen. It closed the year at $1,095.20, up almost 24 percent.
2. With gold down, I figured demand would go down for U.S. gold bullion coins and the Mint would end up with extra gold coin blanks. Had you asked me in June when the Mint seemed to be catching up with demand, I might have thought this forecast had a chance, but as you know now, this was totally wrong.
3. My faulty bullion trifecta had me assigning a $6 price to silver by year end 2009. This was an even larger mistake than gold. It closed at $16.82, up over 49 percent for the year.
4. I forecast the U.S. dollar would get stronger. This was accurate until March. Then it got blown into the land of the wildly incorrect. The dollar declined for the year, though it was down just 2.43 percent against the euro. Don’t make me mention the Canadian dollar, Australian dollar or Brazilian real, against which the dollar declined by 13.6 percent, 20.8 percent and 24.7 percent, respectively.
5. I forecast coin prices would be down. On balance, this can be judged to be true, but it feels wrong because top end coins have held up and even gained value while anything related to gold and silver followed the metals higher. Meat and potato coins that average readers would have did not do well. I will count this as half right.
6. I forecast Presidential dollar mintages would decline to little more than collector-only totals by the fourth issue of 2009. The fourth issue was down about 24 percent, but still at 78.26 million for the two mints combined. Accurate direction, but wrong magnitude. Half right charitably interpreted.
7. I wrote, the U.S. Mint will have to adjust work hours or number of employees to match the reduced demand for coins. With coin production down by two-thirds, in 2009, this I will call correct.
8. Collectors will get more excited about Lincoln cents. This is a slam dunk winner. Collectors were and still are excited about Lincolns. The many frustrations felt by collectors in finding the coins last year show how important the series still is to today’s active collectors.
9. Dues increase by the American Numismatic Association. This is true. Things have been going much better for ANA lately and the membership has taken a $10 increase as a positive investment in the future rather than a negative.
10. I forecast that the ANA would have to lay off staff because of its budgetary woes. There certainly weren’t mass layoffs, so there is no carnage to point to, but on average staffing did come down. If I can call this fully correct, I can scrape up a 5-5 forecast tie. That’s what’s called putting lipstick on a pig.
Anybody else evaluating this list would probably say wrong on all the really big things and right on the lesser issues. I did mention that I thought the hobby would continue to thrive over the long term. Perhaps that is all I should have written.