Archive for February, 2018

February 14, 2018

Inflation Heats Up, Stocks Tumble

Consumer prices rose more than expected in January, sending Treasury yields higher and stock futures lower on Wednesday morning.


In January, consumer prices rose 0.5% over the prior month and 0.3% over last month on a “core” basis, which excludes the more volatile costs of food and gas, according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wall Street was looking for a 0.3% and 0.2% increase in these figures, respectively.

Compared to last year, the core consumer price index (CPI) was up 1.8%, more than the 1.7% increase that was expected by economists.

Markets on Wednesday were taking this as a sign that inflation pressures may indeed be perking up in the economy, re-kindling market worries that surfaced earlier this month about an overheating economy. Fears over inflation pressures, and in turn more aggressive interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve, was seen as the initial impetus for the stock market sell-off that roiled markets last week.

Following Wednesday’s inflation data, stock futures were sharply lower with Dow futures down as many as 330 points, or 1.3%, with S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures also down more than 1.2%.

Treasury yields were also higher, with the 10-year hitting 2.87% and the 2-year hitting 2.14% as bond markets anticipate potentially more aggressive action on interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve this year. As of December, the Fed expected it will raise interest rates three times this year.

Including all items, CPI rose 2.1% over the prior year in January, more than the 1.9% that was expected by economists. Markets more closely track the “core” numbers as the Federal Reserve prefers to strip out the more volatile costs of food and gas.

Torsten Sløk, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank, noted in an email on Tuesday that economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect core inflation to average 1.8% in the second quarter of the year, up from 1.5% in the first quarter. Wednesday’s report will likely pull forward expectations for faster inflation even more.

“I currently spend significant amounts of time on the phone, emails, and in meetings explaining this coming jump in the March and April inflation data,” Sløk said. “And I have come to the conclusion that this is not priced in to rates at all.”

Wednesday’s post-report reaction shows the market re-pricing these expectations. Quickly.

February 14, 2018

Not Chump Change: Rare Coins Could Outperform as Investments This Year

Coin collecting isn’t just for nerds anymore.


Coins typically have a higher correlation with inflation than other asset classes.

With inflation expected to rise this year, and a concurrently strengthening U.S. dollar seen eating into any gains that might be made by pure gold, investors may want to consider a niche asset class as a protection against market turbulence: rare coins.

With inflation expected to rise this year, and a concurrently strengthening U.S. dollar seen eating into any gains that might be made by pure gold, investors may want to consider a niche asset class as a protection against market turbulence: rare coins.

While such a strategy may seem akin to putting your money in baseball cards, coins have long been used as an investment, and one that could be particularly beneficial in the current economic climate.

“Rare coins deliver a higher annual return than gold, and they provide an excellent hedge against inflation,” said David Beahm, chief executive officer of Blanchard and Company, a rare coin and precious metal investment firm. “We believe that with President Trump and some of the policies he’s set forth, that we should see inflation, possibly double-digit inflation, in the very near future.”
Trump has proposed massive corporate tax cuts and fiscal stimulus, both of which are expected to stoke inflation this year. That could increase the appeal of gold, which has traditionally been viewed as an inflation hedge.

Investable coins are defined as ones minted between the late 1700s and 1933, when gold ceased to be an ingredient in their construction. Prices are determined both by their scarcity and their condition, and they’re scored on a scale of zero to 70, with Blanchard focusing on the ones graded above 50.

Between 1979 and 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, coins with a minimum score of 65 posted an average annual return of 11.9%, according to a study by Penn State University. That’s near the average annual return of 13% posted by equities SPX, -0.22% and more than twice the 5.5% average annual gain of gold bullion US:GCZ7 Coins with a lower score, between 63 and 65, had an average annual return of 10.1%.

Coins posted a higher correlation with inflation than other asset classes, according to the study, with the relationship about twice as strong as for gold. The correlation between coins and inflation is 0.58 (perfect correlation would be 1.0). It’s 0.27 for gold bullion and 0.15 for stocks. The higher the correlation, the better it works as a hedge.

“The rarity factor builds on the actual value of the gold, increasing its value,” Beahm said.

He added that the more common rare coins, such as Morgan dollars, could be had for as little as $20, while the scarcest ones, including Brasher Doubloons, the first gold coin minted for the U.S., have sold for more than $7 million.

“There’s a wide range, so this is really for everyone,” he said.

February 13, 2018

Buyers of Coin Bargains Active in Marketplace


Bargain hunting may be the watchword within the scarce to rare segment of the coin market. There are indications a significant number of collectors and perhaps speculators who know what they are doing are purchasing better date and superior condition coins at today’s somewhat depressed price levels.

These buyers do not appear to be willing to pay premiums above current pricing, but they aren’t dragging prices lower, either. Since current price levels are significantly lower than they have been in the not-too-distant-past, this may inadvertently signal a future rally in this important segment of what I will call the “collector coin” market.

The spot price of gold and silver bullion continues to take center stage in the overall business of coins. Currently, the value of the majority of the coins being traded in the business are being impacted by the intrinsic value of what is bought and sold.

The modest appreciation in gold has been a catalyst for the First Spouse coins, with likewise modest price increases, and with sales nearly doubling from one month earlier.

Gold and silver bullion did increase modestly in price when the stock market recently sold off but did not make sufficient gains to grab much attention from potential investors.

Bottom line this week is that the market for coins is healthy, but it is still far from earning a label indicating it is robust.