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This Week's Letters (05/21/13)

For the sixth time in 16 years, the American Numismatic Association Board of Governors fired an executive director. Although the press release said that Jeff Shevlin’s contract would not be renewed, a call to the ANA headquarters in Colorado Springs revealed that Jeff had not been in the office for over two weeks at the board’s request.
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Disturbing pattern in ANA’s firing of executive directors
For the sixth time in 16 years, the American Numismatic Association Board of Governors fired an executive director. Although the press release said that Jeff Shevlin’s contract would not be renewed, a call to the ANA headquarters in Colorado Springs revealed that Jeff had not been in the office for over two weeks at the board’s request. The board can spin it any way they want, but when they ask someone to leave the office and not return, that person is fired.
We may not know why Jeff was fired since the deliberations of the board are confidential because it involves a personnel matter. What should not be confidential is how the board voted on the question whether to renew Jeff’s contract. If the board has nothing to hide, then it should reveal how the board members voted as to whether or not Jeff’s contract should be renewed.
Thinking about the ANA’s record with executive directors, there appears to be a disturbing pattern. Once could be seen as a problem with the person. Twice could be seen as an aberration. But now there have been three executive director firings in a row adding to three in the row that were fired prior to Ed Rochette’s term as executive director. This suggests a pattern of dysfunction within the ANA. There must be policies and procedures developed to ensure this pattern does not continue.
As an ANA member, I am worried that the organization will not be able to hire a qualified executive director who will see this pattern and not want to take the job.
As a candidate for the Board of Governors, I cannot help but feel that the new board installed in August will be saddled with the problems the current board either created or perpetuated.
Rather than begin the search for an executive director, I call on the ANA Board of Governors to hire an executive consulting firm to evaluate the operations of the ANA. The firm should have no connection with anyone in the ANA and should be directed to present its findings to the new board at its first meeting during the World’s Fair of Money in August.
Curiously, after it appears that Jeff was fired a security audit of the ANA computing systems was also cancelled. The only reason provided was a plain statement that was sent to the proposers.
The Information Technology Committee recommended the security audit. Initially, it was to determine the risks to the current systems as part of a future upgrade of the organizations technology capabilities. Then, it became necessary after the reports of stolen credit cards during the 2012 World’s Fair of Money. The ANA needs to know if the computing systems are compromised in order to prevent this from happening again.
As the Tech Committee’s only member whose profession is information security, I helped author the Request for Proposal that was submitted to industry for pricing. I also provided an analysis of the proposal submitted by industry and made a recommendation how to proceed. This work was openly supported by the committee, Jeff, and the board.
The timing of the cancellation is suspicious. Is there something that is being hidden from the board or the members that could be discovered in those computing systems? Is there something in those systems that lead to Jeff’s firing? It should be incumbent on the board to allow this audit to proceed in order to have the right information.
I know that writing about this could prompt wrong doers to attempt to hide or even destroy the evidence. I hope those I know to be professionals in Colorado Springs would prevent that and fully support this security audit.
If the ANA Board of Governors wants to show they have the best interest of the ANA at heart, prove their integrity, and would like to leave a more positive legacy than being another board who fired an executive director, they should embrace these suggestions immediately.
Scott Barman
Rockville, Md.

Despite drop in prices, silver bullion hard to get
On Saturday, April 21, I spoke with the owners of three different coin shops about the recent big dip in silver spot price.
All three coin dealers told me that the silver spot price, quoted at $23 per ounce on the day we spoke, was not the true market value of bullion silver. They said that they could not buy bullion silver at spot from silver refiners or the public, except from the few sellers willing to accept any price. The dealers said that they were swamped with buyers who wanted to purchase silver at the $23 per ounce spot price and had to turn them away.
In a free market, silver supply is adequate because supply equals demand at market price. In the current market, there is a real shortage of bullion silver because of the bogus low spot silver price.
When I went into each coin shop, the bullion offered for sale was priced at $28 per ounce, a premium above spot of about $5 per one ounce round. When the silver market has adequate supply, the premium is $1.75 over spot or less for a silver round.
When I asked each dealer for an opinion on the market, the answer was the same. The spot price of silver has been artificially depressed by short selling of investment paper, supposedly backed by silver.
Some silver market experts report that there may be as much as 5 times the paper silver held by investors as there is real silver in existence! Paper silver might not be fully backed by the amount of bullion that the paper is supposed to represent. The difference between the amount of paper vs. the amount of bullion held in vaults represents free money for the issuer of the paper.
If every holder of paper silver demanded delivery of real bullion for the paper held, the paper silver market would collapse because paper sellers would not be able to deliver the real thing.
Paper silver sellers have corrupted the entire silver market. They have caused shortages in silver bullion with bogus low spot price quotes. They can make money by selling paper with inadequate backing and then make more money by short selling more paper in order to panic investors into selling too cheap.
Bullion silver investors are harmed by the inability to buy bullion silver due to short supply.
Coin dealers are harmed because the shortage of silver bullion has cut the volume of their sales.
Coin sellers are harmed because buyers are afraid to make purchases above quoted spot prices.
Silver mining companies are harmed because they sell silver into a dysfunctional market.
As time goes buy, the manipulation is more blatant. The spread between quoted spot and real bullion value gets larger with each big dip in silver price. Manipulators engage in more and more egregious activities.
The smart investor should exit paper silver and invest only in real bullion. The cost of storage is less than the risk of owning paper. Paper is vulnerable to manipulation and market collapse. During the dips in spot price these past two years, paper holdings have fallen farther and faster than bullion. When paper holdings increase in value, they can never rise above the value of bullion silver. Holding real bullion silver is the safer bet because it does not fall as far as paper when a dip is posted in the spot price.
As a long term holder of silver, the wise investor will buy on dips and hold as much as possible for the long run. Unless one has inside information about what the silver market manipulators are planning to do, trading in and out of metals based on price swings is for gamblers.
Eventually, manipulation will fail and silver will take a big bounce higher. Those out of metals at the time may miss the bounce. In the recent past, the market had a big bounce to $49 an ounce. That mark will be exceeded when the public gets wise to the shenanigans of the manipulators or if silver market regulators finally show up for work.
Regulators need to stop the manipulation of silver spot and require paper silver sellers to back their product with a 100 percent silver bullion reserve, verified by physical audit.
Bruce Frohman
Modesto, Calif.

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