From the Owners

What a wonderful month to start the official Rocklin Coin Shop Newsletter.  Just as the year ends, and a new year gets ready to begin.

Business has certainly seen some marked changes from the earlier months this year.  Now that President Obama’s re-election has been confirmed, those who have been waiting to protect their wealth with precious metals have started coming forward, sensing increased government spending on the horizon. 

Agree or disagree with the current administration.  Love or hate Obama.  Ambivalent, or cynical to it all.  No matter what your position, the simple facts are that the country is not brining in enough money to cover its expenditures, and there is no true fix on the horizon.  Taxes will almost certainly go up, but historically speaking, tax increases do not equal an increase in revenue.  Those taking on the extra tax burden usually make changes in their lives to compensate for the extra capital demanded by the government.

Most typically, that difference comes at the cost of jobs.  The fact is, that without radical and severe cuts to spending across the board, and serious reforms to funding for entitlement programs, the most likely scenario is the continued printing of US Currency to pay off debt.  More inflation.  Less value to your hard-earned dollar.  Higher prices on the hard commodities. 

We saw it over the last four years.  We’ll see it over the next four.  Our predictions:

1)   Look for precious metals prices to be fairly volatile over the next few years, but with a strong upward trend.

2)   Expect 1 Troy Ounce Generic Silver Rounds to get scarce as demand goes up—by scarce, we mean that for orders, turnaround times can go from a few business days, to several weeks.  In April 2011, we saw demand for silver skyrocket, and orders were taking as long as 3-4 weeks to turn around.  That said, we’ve never seen those delays on 10 Troy Ounce Silver Bars or Junk Silver. 

Precious metals investing is not a timing game.  You don’t get into it with the anticipation of getting rich, you get into it so that you can protect your wealth against the decreasing dollar.  If you have capital that you want to protect, do it sooner than later.  You can’t believe how many times we hear “I with I would have bought with it was (insert cheaper number here).” 

PROMOTIONS:

For the last three years, during December, every customer who purchases gold will also receive some frankincense and myrrh.  It’s not really worth anything, but it’s a fun way to honor the gifts that the three wise men presented to the newborn Christ on the first Christmas. 

REMINDERS:

When we made the shift from employees to employers, we promised ourselves that we would not open our shop during those days that were particularly difficult or cumbersome (or just miserably boring) during the year.  As such, we are not only closed on Christmas, but also on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas.  We will also close early, at 2:00PM on New Years Eve, and be closed all day on New Years Day.

SUGGESTIONS?:

If there is a particular subject you would like us to explore, or would like to provide feedback on the publication (good or bad…we can take it), send us an e-mail to newsletter@rocklincoinshop.net.

If we don’t see you during this month, and especially to our friends and family who don’t live in the area (as we slowly make our way from Rocklin Coin Shop to The World Famous Rocklin Coin Shop), we would like to take this opportunity to with you a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.

All the best,

Matt & Ariana Vickers
Owners – Rocklin Coin Shop

Coin Joke of the Month!

Our insider coin collector joke of the month.  You have to know your coins to get it.  That doesn't mean you'll think the joke is funny.  But you will get it.

Alternative Fiscal Preparation for a Natural Disaster

by Ariana Vickers

 

During the recent “superstorm” Sandy, I was contemplating how ready our family and business was for a major disaster or emergency.  Like many people, we have a short supply of food, water, first aid kit, etc.  That’s great for the immediate “first hour” needs after a disaster.  However, as one moves into the “first day” needs, basic human comfort begins to take priority over mere survival.  It is important to an individual’s psychological well-being to “feel human.”  Humans have evolved a need and desire to separate ourselves from the ways in which animals exist by embracing living indoors, clothing, and other basic amenities.

My first question after a disaster strikes will, naturally, be, “Is everyone okay?”  Once I am satisfied that, physically, the answer is yes, my next question will be, “What now?”  I also know that my loved ones and employees will be asking the same question.  I am not the kind of person that is comfortable relying on anyone else to provide those answers, not charities or the government.  The answer has to be given by me and, therefore, I am responsible for taking the action necessary to bring the solution to fruition.

First of all, I have to consider what my likely answer to the “What now?” question will be, as well as, the answers my children, spouse, and others relying upon me will also give.  Assuming life has been stripped down to its barest existence, most people would have pretty similar desires.  For example, humans share a desire for shelter from the elements.  Although it is certainly not unheard of, relatively few people would seek to live in the outdoors and apart from any protection from cold, heat, rain, snow or wind.  So part of the answer to “What now?” would be, “Let’s find suitable shelter.”

The easiest way to find suitable shelter would be to go home and stay there.  But what do you do if your home is destroyed or so badly damaged it cannot protect you?  Most people would go to a friend or family member’s home.  Obviously, many of us would find those in our circle had also lost their suitable shelter, that we could not travel to their home, or some other logistical difficulty in getting to a location where we could stay for free.  The other problem is that staying for free or relying on a charity or the government to pay for your shelter is that you have turned your power for your own well-being over to someone else.  How many times just since Sandy hit have you heard, “Where is the government?  Why is FEMA not helping us?”  Charities must rely on donations, and although they are generally more efficient than government agencies, they, too, face logistical problems getting aid to victims.

Obviously, I could follow the same logic with numerous other basic comforts and short-term survival needs that people desire and require.  What about decent food, water, clothing, toys for the kids, medications?  The list goes on and on.  It just doesn’t seem prudent to me that I would look for someone else to meet such unique and profound necessities for me or my family.  Well, then, how can I make sure that I am prepared to do it myself?

There is one commonality to all of these needs; someone has to find a way to meet them.  If I have already decided it won’t be anyone else but me, then how can I make sure that I am prepared to fulfill them?  The answer, as it is in good times, is money or something of value to trade to those who have what I am looking for.  All of us agree that price gouging is wrong, but businesses need to make money to stay in business and provide goods and services.  One of the biggest disasters in the aftermath of a tragedy like Sandy is the economic damage.  Sandy could end up causing an estimated $50 billion dollars in economic damage, according to Eqecat, a forecasting agency (Huffington Post, huffingtonpost.com. November 1, 2012.)  Shouldn’t we do what we can to preserve the operation of our economy by allowing businesses to continue to operate, as normally as possible, after such a calamity?

Well, if I need money so soon after such a major disaster, how can I get it?  You could keep physical cash on hand.  But, physical cash would need to be kept in accessible place, probably at your home, and it is subject to the same physical destruction that your home was.  Even if it survives in a safe, what do you do if you can’t safely get back into your home?  Evacuating with a large amount of physical cash is also problematic due to its physical frailty, too.  As one who has evacuated many times, evacuation is usually a time of great physical and mental stress and property does get damaged.

One could keep cash in a bank.  Everyone knows it can be a real challenge to get our rightfully owned cash out of our bank during normal business hours.  What happens when the bank is now without power, staff, or, possibly, even a building?  Banks will simply not be able to give their customers a way to withdraw money within hours of a disaster.

Like cash, credit cards are easily prone to physical damage or destruction.  It is also difficult to imagine that if you are trying to use them in an affected area that any merchant will have the power or phone lines available to operate credit card terminals.

Checks are much less likely to be accepted as a form of payment than either cash or credit card because there is no way for a merchant to be guaranteed payment.  Due to power and phone line outages, they will face the same problems as credit cards with no payment verification.  Like cash, they are also subject to physical destruction.  Many merchants will also consider those who have just lost everything that they own a poor credit risk, and will not take a promise to pay.

I’m not saying that it is not wise to have a little of many forms of payment, cash, credit cards, checks, etc. but there is another option that many people simply have never thought of keeping on hand.  This payment method carries intrinsic value, not just a promise to pay.  It is physically sturdy.  It does not rely on a third party to complete the transaction.  Nor does it require electricity or any other utility to make it usable.

I am thinking of precious metals.  Many of us have heard the pitches to buy them as a way of hedging against inflation, helping to diversify your financial portfolio, or protect against financial insecurity.  Many more of us may have intentionally ignored the ads because we think of precious metals ownership as something that “those rich paranoid people do.”  However, I think that those of us in the middle class may need it even more than the “rich” in a time of desperation and difficulty.  They are easy to store discreetly at your home.  They are easy to transport during an evacuation.  They are easy to buy and sell.  Even in times of such disorganization, it is easy for those of us in the business to buy your metals from you with virtually no infrastructure. 

So what do you do before the storm comes ashore?  Do your research.  Find out all you can about the different forms of precious metals, what are typical premiums for each variety, how easy it is to sell each kind, etc.  Secondly, identify and investigate local sources to buy and sell.  Check out their reputation, their retail location, and, if possible, go in and talk to them.  Ask them how they compare to others in the area.  Will they give you a better deal when you sell if you bought the metals from them?  You will feel much better, if the time comes that you have to liquidate, that you are sure you can trust your dealer.

As you may have guessed, and for the sake of disclosure, yes, my husband and I own a coin shop where we buy and sell precious metals.  However, the reason I felt so strongly about writing this article is that I don’t want to see people endure avoidable suffering.  We contribute to Red Cross regularly, and it is an invaluable organization, but wouldn’t anyone feel more secure knowing that they had availed themselves of every opportunity to secure themselves and their loved ones?  I know I do.

 

 

 

US Currency: Rise of the Hundo

by Matthew Vickers

Once upon a time, whilst looking through a list of publically available information on the US Federal Reserve’s website, I came across a chart that I found very interesting—both in content and presentation.

To summarize, this chart displays a valuation of US currency that was in circulation during a specific year, from 1990 through 2011.  It is presented in a very strategic view, clearly intending to show a very gradual increase, as if there are no problems at all.  However, upon closer inspection of the actual data table (also available at the Fed’s website), some very interesting details come to light.

The first interesting thing about this chart is that it also breaks down the value of the circulated currency by denomination.  Let’s look closely at the specific numbers of how the currency denominations increased in circulation between 1990 and 2011.

$1 Bills increased by 96.08%
$2 Bills increased by 137.5%
$5 Bills increased by 87.3%
$10 Bills increased by 36.51%
$20 Bills increased by 104.49%
$50 Bills increased by 105.31%

Here’s the interesting part:

$100 Bills increased by 458.2%!

Overall, in the twenty-two years listed, the entire value of the circulated monetary supply has increased by 285.72%.  Now, of course, this isn’t all due to the bad type of inflation.  Population growth, fiscal growth, GDP growth, all of these factors and more can lead to growth in the overall circulated currency.  For the interest of brevity, I really only want to focus on a few specific factors.  Primarily, what has me scratching my head is why the largest denomination of bill in circulation has such a drastically larger increase in circulation.

Regardless of population growth (24.13% from 1990 to 2010, according to the US Census data), the largest class has remained the middle class.  This means that there’s not a bunch of new rich dudes flooding the market and throwing around hundos (my favorite term for one hundred dollar bills that I learned back in my days of banking in more urban areas).  The drastic increase in printing of our largest denomination bill means that the demand for large bills outweighs the demand for smaller bills.  Demand for that printing would necessarily be driven by more goods costing near or in excess of $100, so that either a small amount of change comes back, or a small amount of change is needed to complete the transaction.  In 1999, the value of hundos was about double that of twenties in circulation.  In 2011, hundos outweigh the twenties by 5.5 times!  Clearly, twenty dollar bills—in days past, the most popular bill—are much less useful than they used to be.

It’s a fairly elegant example of what I refer to as “hidden inflation.”  I define “hidden inflation” as a phenomenon that has occurred due to the recent drastic increases in the use of cashless systems for commerce.  Sure, there are still people that complain about price increases for certain items.  But there are dramatic price increases across the board, and the average consumer fails to take as much notice to most of those increases because they have but to “swipe” a single card that never goes away.

In days past, we’d fill our wallets with cash, and take more active note of our spending as the size of our wallets decreased with each transaction.  Not today.  Today, our credit and debit cards provide what we need, and while most of us may pay attention to our decreasing balance, I would argue that the psychological impact is not the same as having a physical supply of cash dwindle before our eyes.

Assume that you switch yourself to a cash system.  Where would you go without taking a few “hundos” with you 

Gas station?  Not me.
Grocery store?  Forget about it.
Office supply store?  Mall?  Movie theatre?  Restaurant? 

The reality is that it’s not the goods that have gotten more expensive, it’s just that the dollar has lost that much power.  And, in our opinion, we have yet to see the really dramatic effects.

Here at Rocklin Coin Shop, we get to watch the precious metals fluctuate every day, and attribute those fluctuations (in many ways) to the rising and falling of the US Dollar.  But, what many often fail to consider is that most commodities react the same.  Look for drastic increases in prices at grocery stores in the next few years.

It seems a more gradual increase than it really is, primarily due to the growth of the cashless society.  But in the next five years, I’m willing to bet that your average grocery bill will double.  Watch for it, and make sure that you have plenty of “hundos” handy to feed your family.

This Month's Prize!!!

As you probably know, all subscribers to the Official Rocklin Coin Shop Newsletter earns you automatic entry into our monthly prize giveaway.  This month, we're giving away three (3) 1 Troy Ounce Silver Rounds.  Best of all, they're special CHRISTMAS ROUNDS.  Hurray!!!  Since, at current market value (at spot) of these rounds are valued at $33.03 each, which is less than our guaranteed $100 prize value, we're throwing in a proof silver state quarter, slabbed and graded.

We will do the drawing (via random number generator) at the end of the month, and contact the winner by e-mail.

Good Luck!!

Rocklin Coin Shop Staff

Meet the Crew!

In this Newsletter, we introduce co-owner, Ariana Vickers.  While all of us at Rocklin Coin Shop can handle any of the transactions, we all have our specialties.  On the back end, Ariana handles the vast majority of our administration, bookkeeping, payroll, and human resources. 

On the front-end, Ariana is our resident numismatist, specializing in the side of our business that deals with collectible and rarities—those items which have retained a value above their commodity value. 

Born and raised in Yucaipa, California, Ariana married her husband in the summer of 1998, and together they relocated to Davis, California.  Fourteen years, 3 kids, and multiple jobs later, she now resides with her family in Penn Valley, California. 

She enjoys being a mom, both to her kids and her pets, playing flute, crochet, and volunteering. 

Her favorite thing about working at Rocklin Coin Shop: “I like helping find value in an unrecognized place, and being able to give good news to people about what they have or are trying to find.”

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Have something to add to our conversation?  Want to get our opinions or insight on something specific.  E-mail us anytime at newsletter@rocklincoinshop.net.