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

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/not-chump-change-rare-coins-could-outperform-as-investments-this-year-2017-01-31

Coin collecting isn’t just for nerds anymore.

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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.

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