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Classroom vs. Real World
September 25, 2008

The scramble for American Eagles and other bullion coins continues on the market. Supplies just don't keep up with the insatiable demand from buyers who believe they are a hedge against the financial crisis afflicting the country.

Perhaps the interesting thing revealed by the news media in the last few hours is the level of skepticism expressed by average Americans about the crisis. Calls to Washington, D.C., congressional offices seem to be running against the bailout proposal of the Treasury secretary and the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Is this an example of the "What, me worry?" attitude of Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman? Is it disbelief that a crisis exists? Or is in disbelief that the bailout will do any good?

All of the above?

When I was taught economics in college 35 years ago, the professors often mentioned how much more economically sophisticated we were today as compared to the time of the Great Depression when the Federal Reserve and the Treasury did not act to prevent the 1929 stock market crash from becoming the Depression it became with unemployment at a quarter of the work force in 1933 and a home foreclosure level that is used as a yardstick of horror in the present day.

Are we witnessing the fact that we are not any more sophisticated than we were in 1929 and further action to try to prevent the serial collapses of banks will not be taken?

Bullion coin buyers seem to be saying that with their money.

What would my professors say now?

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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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