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I Wouldn't Want to Price Sets Either
August 12, 2008

The bullion markets are moving too fast for the U.S. Mint to keep up with pricing. Platinum has been in almost free-fall and the platinum American Eagles, both proof and uncirculated, have been unavailable for many days.

Law requires that prices be published in the Federal Register and this only slows thing down. Internally we can only guess at how many prices Mint staff members have considered and rejected as the decline continues.

With automobile sales down, it is no surprise that platinum, which is used in catalytic converters, would sooner or later go down with them.

A co-worker, Tom Michael, pointed out a very curious thing about bullion prices the other day. An ounce of platinum was 100 times the value of an ounce of silver. This morning, when I decided to write this, I checked the Kitco Web site and found platinum at $1,478 and silver at $14.78. How long this will continue is anybody's guess.

There are no historical relationships such as the one enjoyed by gold and silver, so this platinum-silver pricing relationship will simply last until it changes.

Gold at $825 an ounce is down also, but it is not an industrial metal. Its price swings tend to be more constrained than either platinum or silver. That is because so many people own it and view it as a haven. It is also popular in jewelry so that demand helps even out the fluctuations.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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