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Run little hamster, run

Is this the year of the hamster wheel – running harder just to stay in the same place?

Until this morning, the prices of precious metals were basically where they were in the second week of December.

This peculiarity was called to my attention when I updated bullion prices for World Coin News, which went to press yesterday, compared to the prices in the issue from the month before.

Bullion slid sharply late last year and now is rebounding sharply.

Will we find ourselves with more swings in the next 30 days only to return to roughly the same point?

We could.

Times are uncertain.

Traders first push metals one way, have second thoughts and then push them the other.

For them, movement is the motivation.

They can’t trade with steady prices.

It is times like this when a collector’s internal guidance system is critical.

It might be desirable to buy examples of American Eagles with the new year date on them to be slabbed for collectible purposes, but it might not be very wise to pay current prices for large numbers of coins that are being purchased solely as investments in gold and silver.

The object of bullion investment is to get the maximum number of ounces for the minimum price.

Jostling with collectors to get those very first new coins does not usually add to the bottom line.

If investment buyers feel bullion is in a new uptrend, it would be wiser to buy older dates or bullion in different forms with less premium attached.

That is the hard-headed business evaluation.

For collectors, it is indeed fun to be the first one on the block to have 2015 Eagles. I will ooh and aaah over the first ones I see, no question about it.

But to join in this annual dance, we do need to pay the piper.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."