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Count Up October's Losses
October 31, 2008



It is the end of October. Many of us are licking our financial wounds. What do we have to show for it?

I remember talking with my parents and grandparents about how the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression affected the family.

There was no compellingly interesting story of great wealth lost, jobs vanishing or huge suffering. Everything occurred on a relatively ordinary scale. There was some money lost in a bank failure. There was some loss of money in stocks, but nothing too dramatic. Life got harder but it went on.

The one exception perhaps was my oldest uncle who bought some very cheap 3M stock, which in the early 1930s served as a kind of scrip in the area he lived. The profits on it helped pay for his college education. He was clever.

What will I be able to say to family members down the road about the financial crash of 2008? Perhaps it is too soon to tell, but life goes on despite the shrinking balance in my company 401(k) account.

I had my hair cut yesterday. The woman who cuts it said she heard that silver might be a good investment. I told her I didn't think it would be a good fit for her.

The experience reminded me of something I had read about Joseph P. Kennedy, father of President John F. Kennedy. He sold out before the crash in 1929 because he was hearing stock tips from barbers and shoe shine boys. He figured the boom on the market had gone on too long when that started happening.

Is yesterday's silver conversation a similar warning? It is worth considering the possibility.



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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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