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Tales of two crises

Back at the height of the financial crisis after the 2008 presidential election, Rahm Emanuel, the current mayor of Chicago but then the so-to-be chief of staff of the White House said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.

Gold seems to be wasting the current crisis in Greece – unless, as is often the case, the market collectively knows something that we individuals are still not able to see.

Gold was $1,164.70 an ounce when I turned on my computer this morning and checked the Kitco website.

That is basically what it was on Thursday, before I turned my computer off for a long 4th of July holiday weekend.

Perhaps the obvious answer is too many people have been away for the holiday and they have not yet focused on the state of the world’s economy this morning.

The story could be different this afternoon.

Or perhaps Chinese stock investors who have been getting killed in the market route there have been selling their gold to raise the money to shore up their holdings.

Who knows?

But for a change, the collector market is actually focused on something in the collector market.

It is another in the ongoing series of Mint reputational problems, perhaps we can call this a mini-crisis.

The quick sellout of the Truman Coin and Chronicles set has irritated – to put it mildly – hobbyists who failed to get their orders in on time to nab one of the 17,000 sets that contain the first-ever reverse proof Presidential dollar. They sold out in 15 minutes June 30.

Heretofore these Presidential sets have had standard proof dollars and collector interest has been tepid.

The Mint was quite correct in its statement pointing out that the Franklin D. Roosevelt issue that immediately preceded it couldn’t even manage 14,000 sets sold since it went on sale in December.

However, even though the Mint is the source of the variety of coins that they offer to collectors, they seem to be caught by surprise when collectors react differently to coins with different kinds of finishes.

This is not a problem when sales bureaucrats can look at historical trends of ongoing series, but when something new comes along like a reverse proof Presidential dollar, they are blind sided by the lack of previous sales data.

So as not to waste this mini-crisis, the Mint can:

1) Continue to do as they do and keep falling into these reputational holes.

2) They can stop issuing new products.

3) They can find a collector somewhere who can explain to them how the rest of us are likely to react.

Which option do you think the Mint will choose?

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."