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Quarters make me worry

I did a story last week for Numismatic News about January coin production.

It was fairly routine. The January 2016 total of just over 1.5 billion pieces was almost identical to the number struck by the U.S. Mint's production facilities in January 2015.

If every month this year sees the same number produced, by the end of the year output will have reached a bit more than 18 billion pieces, which would make it another strong year.

But is it strong enough to signal good economic times?

I have long written that the earlier new dates are seen in change, the stronger the economy is.

There has been a gratifying outpouring of reports from my readers of their finds of 2016 cents, nickels and dimes.

All these are good signs for better times. Some of the emails even began with something like, "This is the earliest I have ever seen a new date."

All this is good and rosy for the economy.

There was, however, one troubling statistic in the January Mint report.

Quarter production dropped.

The decline was 34 percent.

That is not an insignificant number for the workhorse of the American economy.

The recovery in quarter output since the recession lows in 2009 has been part of the American story of economic revitalization.

Is it over?

That is my worry.

One month does not make a trend.

However, if you add weak quarter production to the weak start to the year by the world's stock markets and that causes a little bit of anxiety.

Now I eagerly await the February figures that I hope will prove to myself that my touch of worry is unfounded.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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