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September 11 Memorials are Coming Soon – and I’ll Be There

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

The 15th anniversary of the attack on America on 9-11 is coming soon.  I am pleased to be honored as one of the invited guests to the “9-11 Memorial & Museum” benefit dinner in New York City on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, held at Cidriani Club 55 restaurant. The host will be former New York mayor and financial publisher, Michael R. Bloomberg, who is chairman of September 11 Memorial & Museum.  The Master of Ceremonies will be the comedienne Samantha Bee, capped by a special performance by Jon Bon Jovi.   


I will be appearing at that dinner representing our company and our role in fund-raising for victim families and first responders.  There will be a marker honoring us as donors. Nearly 15 years ago, our company was selected by a national bank to market coins found beneath the Twin Towers in storage by Iron Mountain Depository.  The price of the coins was set by the owners, with a certain percentage of sales to be donated by us to the 9-11 Memorial & Museum.  We ended up donating over $400,000, selling all 50,000 2001-dated silver American Eagles.  The coins were certified by PCGS as coming from the ruins of the World Trade Center.  Those coins today sell for over triple what we sold them for in 2002.    

This kind of increase in value for special-situation coins reminds me of another historical coin, the $10 Indian minted in 1908 without the motto, “In God We Trust.”  President Theodore Roosevelt took off the motto because he believed it disrespected God, but there was such a public outcry over the removal of the national motto from the $10 and $20 gold coins in 1907 and 1908 that Congress passed legislation restoring the motto in May of 1908.  That’s why the 1908 no-motto $10 Indian only had a mintage of 33,500, the second lowest mintage in the series.  The 1908 with-motto $10 Indian had a mintage more than 10 times larger, 341,370.  Whenever you get a chance to acquire a specimen of the 1908 no-motto $10 Indian, don’t hesitate to acquire one, as we can only find them once in a long while.  We might go a couple of months without finding one.  They only surface sporadically.


The history of the national motto is one of my passions.  I spoke on the subject at the ANA World’s Fair of Money earlier this month.  Once, while visiting my daughter, who is taking classes at the University of California in Riverside, I went to church there in Riverside.  The pastor told me after the services that the largest-ever attendance at their church came in the six weeks following September 11, 2001.  Times of uncertainty like this tend to bring people together, in search of a higher power or meaning during trials.  

The Civil War was another such time.  After the war broke out in 1861, a Baptist minister, the Reverend Mark R. Watkinson of Pennsylvania, wrote a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase urging that provision be made for “the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.” Watkinson stated “This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism and place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed.”  Soon after that, Treasury Secretary Chase specified the inclusion of the national motto “In God We Trust” on the two-cent piece.  Crisis times call for trust in the Almighty.

Gold enters its Best Time of Year

August through November mark gold’s best time of year.  Over the last 20 years, September is gold’s best month, followed by November at #2.  This trend is based on the fact that gold jewelry fabricators must order their gold for the high demand during India’s wedding season and Diwali festival, followed by Christmas in the west and then the Chinese New Year.  Gold’s slowest times are from March through July, but the late summer and fall months are generally the best season of the year for gold, historically.    


What are the chances that gold will have another good September and rest of the year?  There are some indications gold will keep rising between now and the end of the year.  Here are four bullish factors

(1) If the Federal Reserve fails to raise rates in late September (now considered to be a 43% bet on the “fed funds futures market”), gold will likely rally.  The Fed is unlikely to raise rates in its early November meeting, since that is right before the election, so the major betting is that they will raise rates only once this year, in mid-December.  If they raise rates, we’re likely to stay around $1,300 to $1,350 by year’s end, but if the economic statistics are weak and they postpone again, gold could close 2016 at $1,380.

Like us, one of the world’s most noted gold analysts, Barnabas Gan, commodity economist for the OCBC Bank, sees gold at $1,350 to $1,400.  “Despite our expectation for the Fed to hike rates by 25 basis points (0.25%) in December, we think that sustained risk aversion from the suspense will continue to lift gold demand on safe haven demand.” Gan sees gold at $1,350 if the Fed raises rates and $1,400 if it doesn’t.

In addition, (2) a surprise election of Donald Trump would likely send gold soaring.  Right now, a win by Clinton is more likely and her victory is “baked into the cake” of gold prices.  Donald Trump’s policies would be more radical and unprecedented, leading to widespread concerns, which could boost gold prices.


Overseas, (3) India is liable to make up for an earlier jewelry strike and two years of drought conditions to buy more gold for the upcoming wedding season and Hindu holy days.  Monsoon rains returned to India in July, and exports of gold jewelry from India shot up 14% in July.  Experts at the India International Gold Convention expect gold demand there to reach 380 to 400 metric tons in the second half of the year.  

And finally, (4) negative interest rates are spreading and going lower, giving gold a global advantage in Europe and Japan, where negative rates are now long established.  Combined with the very-low rates in the U.S., gold has an advantage over most currencies, since it can grow in value as currencies erode.

Gold Lost $20 Last Week

Gold lost $20 last week as both stocks and gold had a “schizophrenic” reaction to Fed chair Janet Yellen’s major policy address last Friday at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  At about 10:00 am Eastern Time, when the speech transcript was released, gold fell $6 (from $1,330 to $1,324), then it shot up to $1,340 in a very few minutes before careening back down to $1,320 by noon.  The same thing happened to stocks, as the S&P 500 rose in the morning then fell in the afternoon.  The most likely explanation is that some words by Fed Vice-Chair Stanley Fischer on TV after the Yellen speech tended to undermine her well-planned waffling.  Fischer’s hawkish remarks tended to strengthen the U.S. dollar and undermine gold.


More Food for Thought – On Turning the Other Cheek

It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice – or at least polite, and respectful.  I have noticed that there have been violent demonstrations at rallies for Donald Trump, but no equivalent violence at pro-Hillary Clinton events.  Many pro-Trump signs have been vandalized, but very few Hillary Clinton signs have been destroyed.  I am not endorsing one candidate over the other, but the difference in behavior is clear.  Left-wing advocates tend to be more violent than right-wing partisans.

Take a “Google” sample or look at the social media (like Facebook) and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  I’ve noticed the same trends in my several meetings with National Rifle Association (NRA) and Republican groups.  These people are far more polite than those protesting against them.  Over the years, secret service agents have told me that Republicans are kinder and more thoughtful to law enforcement.  Having attended 10 NRA conventions, I have often been told by city officials, hotel operators and restaurant owners that our group is some of the most well-behaved conventioneers they have ever seen.

I went on a family vacation to Jackson Hole last month.  Our prominent fly-fishing guide told us that the most disrespectful celebrities that he has guided over the past couple of decades have been National Basketball Association (NBA) athletes. I was disappointed at this since I have been very involved in basketball on several levels and am a season ticket holder for the Houston Rockets.  I asked him how NBA players compare with NFL players, movie stars, country-western singers, rap artists and any other celebrity groups and he said. “There is no comparison. NBA players are in ‘a league of their own’ as far as being high-maintenance celebrities.”  Once again, I say, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”  Nobody is so special or famous that they can treat the “little people” around them with disrespect. 


Talking about kindness, I met a retired secret service agent who had served many Presidents. When I asked him how the households compared, he said Barbara Bush was the kindest, most thoughtful, most caring among the First Ladies.  Then, he said that the least kind and caring was Hillary Clinton.  Bill was easy to get along with, he said, but when Bill didn’t want to deal with her moods, he would call for his dog Buddy. It was his “Hillary repellent.”  She did not like that dog. She would do a 180 and leave.  

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