If you had asked me just last week how this year's ANA show was going to turn out, I'd have told you it was going to be an unqualified success. But with the recent topsy-turvy (to say the least...) state of the stock market and economic fears in general, I'm afraid I may have to temper my earlier views. Somewhat. I still think this year's ANA is going to be successful. No, I don't especially like the location (being so close yet so far to downtown Chicago is sort of heartbreaking for me) but it makes sense and I like the fact that O'Hare airport (and the show) is within a three hour plane ride from just about any location in the country. Unless I'm mistaken, I think the attendance at this show will be excellent.
I've read in other blogs/newsletters about the show that Chicago is a "great coin town." While I can't argue with the long and glorious numismatic history of The Windy City (Hello Virgil Brand!), I've never had a great coin show in all of the major conventions that I've attended in Chicago. Frankly, I wish all ANA shows were in New York City as the two best ANA's that I've ever had, by a huge margin, were the last two held in The Big Apple. But I digress...
Back to the predictions.
Based on my sales so far this summer, which have been better than I would have expected, I think the coin market is reasonably healthy. But it is more two-tiered right now than at any time I can recall and it is clearly biased towards gold coins.
Which is good if you are a rare gold coin specialist.
There are some very odd dichotomies in the economy and the coin market right now. The first has to do with the spending habits of the very wealthy versus everyone else.
I read an article the other day in the New York Times that discussed spending on luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton versus spending at Wal-Mart and Costco. The luxury retailers have had amazing years so far and are raising prices. $1,250 shoes are flying out the door and there are waiting lists for trendy $8,000 coats. But at Wal-Mart, prices are being cut and already-stretched paychecks are having trouble buying essentials by the end of the month.
We are seeing a sort of microcosm of this in the coin market. Super high-end coins are very strong right now and I think you'll see some amazing prices in the pre-ANA and ANA sales for great coins. Expensive coins that are off-quality or not especially interesting have been weak sellers for the last few years and I expect this segment of the market to get hit hard at Chicago and beyond.
But the collector market remains very strong and, based on my personal experience, should continue as such for a while.
I'm not noticing the sense of fear that pervaded the economy in 2008. In September 2008, it was nearly impossible to sell any coin, no matter how great it was. This time around, I get the sense that in September 2011, collectors WILL be receptive to making purchases. But I think these purchases will be even more selective than in the past.
The run-up in gold prices isn't really fueling interest in the rare coin market the way I'd expect it to but I anticipate that this will change in the near-future. If even 1% of the new gold buyers become interested in rare gold coins, this surge of demand could have a real impact.
Will we feel this in Chicago? Probably not. I can't imagine that there will be packs of gold bugs roaming the aisles looking for Proof Liberty Head eagles. But I would be pretty surprised if there weren't a number of potentially serious newbies who've made the decision to go to ANA.
A few weeks ago I would have predicted that on the DWN-o-meter, this year's ANA would have been at least an A- show and it had the potential to be an A. Now, I'm thinking it will be a solid--if unspectacular--B show with the potential to maybe attain a B+ if the stars align properly.
Unlike other ANA shows in the recent past, I think there will be a decent supply of nice coins available for collectors and dealers to buy. The auctions are full of interesting, fresh material and I have the suspicion that some cool, fresh coins will appear on the floor as well. And I have the hunch that, in spite of economic fears, these good coins are going to bring very strong prices.