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Quarter Flashes Economic Signal
September 03, 2008

Everybody is worrying about the economy. It is so pervasive that it has become as ubiquitous as the weather.

What if the economy doesn't slow down anymore from where it currently is?

Looking at some state quarter mintages might give us a clue.

Mintages have actually begun to rise again. The bottom seems to have been reached with the first state quarter design early this year. The Oklahoma quarter had a combined Philadelphia and Denver mintage of 416,600,000.

The next design of 2008, the New Mexico piece, rose to 488,600,000 pieces. The third design, the Arizona quarter, rose more, to 509,600,000. This total inched just ahead of the Utah mintage at the end of 2007.

Coin demand follows the economy. The Mint strikes coins to fill that demand. The mintage of quarters has gone up.

Does this mean the economy has reached a turning point this year? Could be.

The quarter is the workhorse denomination of the economy. It actually serves a purpose beyond simply making change from a larger sum. People pump them into vending machines and there are other uses for them, but the vending machine is something I am confronted with every time I pass through the company's main break room to get my mail.

If the economy is indeed in the process of turning around, it will have ramifications for the value of the dollar, precious metals and collector coins. Let's keep watching.

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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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