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Year begins with my downbeat forecasts

My forecasts for the coming year have a more negative cast to them than those of recent years. I call them as I see them. The only consolation for readers is that my record is such that half might just prove wrong. So read the following 10 with that in mind.

1. Let’s take gold first. I think it will drop in 2009. A $600-an-ounce price for the close of the year looks right to me. I simply do not see how gold can hold up with housing down, oil down and other metals down. Sooner or later gold will rejoin the pack.

2. With the turn lower for gold, the incredible demand for gold bullion coins will dry up and blow away. By the end of the year a lot of buyers are going to be wondering what they were thinking and the U.S. Mint will be wondering what to do with all the extra coin blanks.

3. Silver will follow gold lower. It might get back to $5 an ounce, though for the end of the year $6 looks like the right number to me.

4. With metals down, the U.S. dollar will go up. We just might see parity with the euro this year. The euro is currently $1.34. I will call it $1 even by the end of the year. The 16 euro countries are not immune to the present recession.

5. As a generalization, coin prices will be down this year. Collectors can buck outside economic trends for a while, but history shows that this ability lasts only about a year. The economy went into recession a year ago.

6. Bullion coins won’t be the only ones to see declines at the U.S. Mint. Presidential dollar mintage totals will fall to little more than collector-only totals by the fourth issue of 2009.

7. The U.S. Mint with fewer coins to produce will have to adjust the work hours, or number of employees to match the reduced demand for coins.

8. Not all is gloom. Collectors will get even more excited about Lincoln cents and this part of the hobby will run counter to the weakness in other areas. Many hobbyists started with Lincolns as I did and this bicentennial year of Lincoln’s birth will be the opportunity to get back in touch with our roots.

9. The American Numismatic Association can’t catch a break. A dues increase will  likely  be built into the budget that starts April 1.

10. The dues hike won’t be enough for the ANA budget. With the costs of the lawsuits draining the ANA endowment and no help coming from rising stock prices, the ANA board will have no choice but to lay off staff.

Have I gone off the end of the gloom meter? You might think so. I am naturally an optimist. I look always for the best outcome.

What I do know is that the hobby will continue to thrive over the long term. Any pullbacks in prices, or activity simply provides opportunities for astute collectors to get good buys or to stake out new areas to work in. Baby Boomers are at the peak of their coin collecting years and there are enough of us to keep it going for another decade.

Also, what better time is there to look through change for interesting coins? It costs nothing and like a lottery, you might find something worth a little money.

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