Under the Glass 2009 Gold Rise
by By David L. Ganz
Predicting the future
is what newsletter writers, pundits and seers do
for a living. For the past 43 years, I had the
best part-time job, ever: writing this “Under
the Glass” column dedicated to covering the
entire numismatic field. Last year, I did a
“Seer” column with a number of predictions about
the coin market and some other things of
interest to our community.
In looking through my clips, the first reference
I can find to this line of work is an article
that I wrote on these pages in May 1971,
entitled “The unmasking of a seer.” It was never
a regular feature of this column, though I did
it from time to time, but starting around 1980,
I regularly did a feature once each year for the
other periodical magazine.
Historically, I’ve spent a lot of time in the
“Seer business” when it comes to market
analysis. I’ve always, for example, predicted
the price of gold, silver, platinum with varied
degrees of success. The same is also true of my
famous predictions for 1881–S silver dollars in
MS–65 condition, something I view as a
bellwether of the marketplace as a whole.
Less accurate is my plea for Indian Head cents
to be given their fair recognition and
representative pricing. (Okay, finding a 1906
Indian Head cent in pocket change in 1960
changed my life – and yours).
As my own life has changed and evolved, I became
an elected official serving first as mayor of my
community (fourth-largest in New Jersey’s
largest county, Bergen) for seven years, and
subsequently during the past six years as a
county commissioner or supervisor known as a
My interest in politics went from local concerns
to national predictions and some very close
calls on presidential races in this century
(mostly accurate but finally off by only a
couple of electoral votes).
So, for the 28th consecutive year, I’ve brought
out the Ganz Crystal Ball to offer you a window
to the future. For the next couple of minutes,
you can check out my scorecard in the seer
business from last year – a respectable .650
average – compare it with some whoppers from
years past, and see what I believe the future
When I quote my seer record – it usually is 50
percent or better – I am reminded that great
players like Ty Cobb (.367 lifetime batting
average) couldn’t master his craft six times or
more in 10 chances. May being a seer isn’t so
bad after all.
As many readers know, in real life I am a
lawyer, so take a lawyer’s cautionary note:
everything that I write should be viewed with a
grain of salt. My track record in predicting
precious metal prices is pretty dismal – though
not this year – zoo monkeys tossing darts might
do as well. But on some compelling hobby and
other issues, my overall track record borders on
the semi-skilled. Recently it has been better
than in years past.
No one has suggested I give up my day job as a
lawyer and local political figure (except for
the local voters who voted for the other guy in
the 2005 mayor contest). (I didn’t predict it,
but I was re-elected this past November as a
Freeholder, obtaining a record 171,000 votes).
This seer business is actually tough and takes a
lot of research, twice. The first is the datum
necessary to read the tea leaves of the future;
the other is checking on what happened in the
past. Both are time consuming, but also a lot of
fun. I hope you enjoy the Swami’s musings as
much as the seer enjoys writing them.
In gearing up for this year’s article, I drew on
a 2006 visit Kathy and I made to the Oracle at
Delphi. That journey was incredible and took us
around 120 miles North of Athens – three hours
by tour bus. I can almost imagine the soft glow
of the Oracle. Sit back now and let’s predict
1. Gold. Spot as of this writing is $802. My
belief is that the compelling market realities
will cause a shift of more than 17 percent in
the next 12 months (by December 2009); that is,
gold will rise above $938.
All of the traditional rules seem to be broken,
but gold is an asset of last resort and in tough
economic times like these, is traditional
storehouse of value should be a winner. We’ll
2. Silver. Silver is now $10.16, or half of what
it was (more or less) in March. Silver has
industrial and commercial uses, and my guess is
that this inexpensive metal has a run up of at
least 25 percent during the year. So that there
is no misunderstanding, that means that silver
will exceed $12.70 during the year.
My real target is higher, but I can afford to
play it safe. That means I can tell you I really
think that silver will go above $15 an ounce,
but who can argue with someone who says a 25
percent return on investment is what’s being
predicted at a minimum.
3. Platinum. Today, spot price for platinum is
$827; it has fallen $1,400 in the course of just
a couple of months. Since one of the major
industrial uses of platinum is for catalytic
converters for automobiles – a pollution
impediment – I look at the debacle concerning
Ford, Chrysler and GM and say platinum is going
to stay depressed but will move $50 an ounce to
$877 or more this coming year.
As a percentage, this is a little more than 6
percent – but look at other vehicles for return
and see how it compares. Platinum isn’t a bad
4. Next Mint director. My vote goes to Reed
Hawn, the Texas collector and political
activist. Ed Moy, current director, has a
five-year statutory term, but it is likely that
he will depart in the spring. It won’t even take
the president’s request; it will happen on a
much lower level.
Many other directors with long term Senate
appointments have had to interrupt their tenure
to move on. Among them, William Brett
(1954-1961), who left when JFK took office; Eva
B. Adams, director 1961-1969, who left shortly
after Nixon took office (and the Philadelphia
Mint opened); and Mary Brooks, who succeeded her
(1969-1977), who departed as Jimmy Carter took
Then came Stella Hackel Sims (1977-1981), who
departed as Ronald Reagan entered, and Jay
Johnson, appointed by President Clinton in May
2000 and departed mid-2001 as George Bush
nominated his Mint heads.
5. End of the cent. The economy, stupid! The
powers that be are going to look at saving a few
bucks and in the end are going to decide that in
these economic times, symbols do matter, and the
cent will be safe, again, for a little while at
6. Mint will produce less. A large number of
cents and other denominations aren’t in
circulation. About $10.5 billion, or $93.75 per
household, is sitting idle, according to
Coinstar, which hosts coin-counting kiosks in
grocery stores, banks and other locations.
Bet those coins continue to get turned in at
record rates; that inevitably means that the
Mint will be producing fewer coins.
7. ANA politics. Presidential contest this year
is between Clifford Mishler and Patty Finner,
both of Iola, Wisconsin. It’s a small town – I
lived there once (1973-74)– and this is one
instance where there may be some real
campaigning (perhaps at the new Crystal Café).
My prediction of the end result: Mishler, in a
8. Coin market. It will hold its own against the
national economic trend and change upward by
more than 5 percent. Compare that to the Dow,
Standard and Poors or even farmland.
9. 1881-S bellwether silver dollar. Priced now
on Dennis Baker’s NumisMedia MS-65 at $185, the
price will go over $200 in 2009. That’s a modest
8 percent. In 2006 it was valued at $152. It’s
Well, that’s it for this year. See how these
predictions work out by checking out these pages
same time next year.
How the Seer did with predictions for 2008
1. Political predictions. First, California will
retain the traditional winner-takes-all
electoral block. The Democrats will take the
White House in a close (state-by-state votes for
electoral vote) contest, widespread popular
vote. No Supreme Court challenge this time. My
guess is 391-157.
California kept it, Dems won, vote was 365 to
173. Three full points!
2. Gold is on the way to $1,000 an ounce and
will reach it in November, 2007 and December,
2008, a 13 month window. But once $800 an ounce
was breached, my crystal ball says a run on
$1,000 is likely. As this is written
(Thanksgiving, 2007) gold’s price is $803 an
ounce. That’s a 24 percent increase. Watch for
Gold briefly topped $1,000 on March 17. Bingo. 1
3. Silver, now at $14.66, will rise to $16 or
more in the next 13 months.
Silver did hit $16 and then some, topping out at
$21 on March 17th. I am starting to look like I
have a real crystal ball.
4. Watch for platinum to rise to over $1,600 an
ounce in the next 13 months.
Platinum went to over $2,300 an ounce on March 4
and stayed above $1,000 until early September.
It was a nice ride.
5. Congress is going to try and give up on – or
abdicate– its constitutional responsibilities in
setting weight, size and composition of the
nation’s coinage – but will retain rights to
name the coin and define its design. Oddly, it
will pit Ds versus Rs – with the Democrats
willing to sign rights over to the Mint, in
evident violation of Article I, Section 8 of the
federal constitution – which gives Congress non-relegable
power over the nation’s coin and currency.
They tried but the bill, H.R. 5512, made it in
early May in the House, but could not pass the
Senate. Half a point.
6. Watch for hearings and a vote on elimination
of the cent and the nickel – on the faulty logic
that it costs more than a cent to produce the
1-cent coin and nearly a dime to produce a
nickel, when overhead is added in.
Woulda, shoulda, coulda, mighta, nope. The Mint
will back a compositional change – they’ve
expected it for a while – but the Seer notes
that they also favor giving administrative
authority to make the change.
7. Law suits and administrative hearings are
likely to occur over the use of the word “Mint”
in 2008, now that regulations have been issued
to clarify that in the U.S. Mint’s view, no one
but they or another lawful government facility
can use the word “Mint” in advertising.
The Mint has trademark status on the phrase
“U.S. Mint” and a host of other product names
including “U.S. Mint Proof Set”, “UNcirculated
set”, and so forth. Watch for (1) the law suit
an (2) the suit to cancel the trademarks on the
basis that they are longstanding generic names
that have lapsed with common usage.