2009: The Year in Review
So many dollars, so few people interested
“Washington, the nation has a problem: the growing glut of dollar coins,” notes Beth Deisher in an editorial in Coin World. “And it’s time that you-government leaders who are responsible for creating and administering policy for the nation’s circulating coinage-sit down and honestly and forthrightly find a solution for what is happening (and not happening) with the current dollar programs.” It seems that the Federal Reserve Bank is sitting on 857,000,000 dollar coins in its vaults and in storage areas. The government admits that this is enough to take care of the public’s “transactional demand” for the next twelve years. Most of these are Presidential dollars. Further from Beth Deisher:
“The law authorizing Presidential dollar coins requires the U.S. Mint to honor every deceased president with a coin, as long as the president has been dead for at least two years, at the rate of four coins annually. 2010 will be the fourth year of the program. The Native American $1 Coin Program requires a dollar coin bearing a new commemorative reverse to be issued each year and began in 2009. In addition, the authorizing law mandates that twenty percent of all dollar coin production struck, which includes the four Presidential dollars annually, be Native American dollars.”
Now that 2009 is over, we lament (once again) that the Treasury did not produce many hundreds of millions of the new cent designs-beyond what was put out. This would have done a lot for numismatics. One can imagine millions of citizens buying “penny folders” and looking through change to see how many they could find.
On a more practical basis, the U.S. Mint returns large profits to the government through the sale of commemorative, Proof, bullion, and other coins. An increase in the number of collectors would mean an increase in profits.
Small business ignored
The past year has been one of great economic difficulties in the United States, indeed the world. Interest paid on deposits has dropped to a record recent low, banks are being very cautious in giving loans, and the erratic distribution of TARP and related funds has not made the situation any better. Banks, brokers, and insurance companies “too big to fail” have been given hundreds of billions of dollars, delivering the unintended consequence of increasing their advantage in the marketplace. A local or regional bank that did not require government funds and received no assistance now has to pay more on deposits to get funds than do banks that were helped out. Partly as a result, over 150 small banks have failed this past year, again an unfortunate recent record. Remarkably, although various financial institutions deliberately falsified mortgage records and the like, there seems to be no government interest in prosecuting anyone involved.
The above is rather strange when one considers that an estimated 65% of new jobs are created by small businesses. And, the small business categories-stores in shopping malls and up and down Main Street, plus various professions-have received little or no help from the government at all. In fact, it’s almost as if small businesses do not exist.
One reason is that small businesses do not have armies of lobbyists in Washington to influence Senators and Representatives. Their concerns are largely unheard.
That said, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the United States, despite difficult times. Most of us expect that 2010 will be a better year.
Books in the news
It is an electronic world out there, but, somehow, numismatic books are in the greatest demand ever. The field is dynamic in many ways, with more titles published in the past five years than in any comparable five-year period in numismatic history. We didn’t check this-but likely it is correct.
The e-Sylum website conducted by Wayne Homren and sponsored by the Numismatic Bibliomania Society brings lots of book news each week, although, of course, this is electronic information.
We all love our computers, but it is likely that in 2010, as in 2009, a little library of interesting and useful numismatic books will bring you comfort, enjoyment, and profit. There is no substitute for knowledge, and the very best way to obtain knowledge is by reading. Fortunately, there are a lot of great titles out there. See our New Year’s resolution under Dave’s Notes.