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Utahns turn to gold, silver coins in uncertain times
Nationwide » The trend seems to be the same.
By Steven Oberbeck
The Salt Lake Tribune

There is a gold and silver rush of sorts going on in Utah these days.

Worries over the future of the nation's economy and the looming possibility the federal government's trillion-dollar deficits may ignite inflation has many Utahns fleeing to the perceived safety of gold and silver.

The result is a shortage of some of the more popular bullion coins throughout the state.

"Where we have really seen a shortage is in the 'fractional' coins -- the American Gold Eagle, Canadian Maple Leaf and South African Kruggerand coins that contain a tenth, a quarter and half-ounce of gold," said Bob Campbell, owner of All About Coins in Sugar House.

A year ago, Utah coin dealers could hardly give away such coins, said Campbell, a former president of the American Numismatic Association. "Now they are in high demand and we can't seem to get enough."

The shortage, however, isn't just in Utah.

"It is a nationwide shortage," said Peter Grant, senior market analyst at USAGOLD-Centennial Precious Metals Inc. in Denver. "We're seeing a huge unprecedented demand for gold as a safe haven asset."

Gold and silver (known as the "poor man's gold" because of its much cheaper price) are widely viewed as offering a hedge against inflation and a store of value in uncertain economic times.

Gaylen Rust, owner of Rust Rare Coin in downtown Salt Lake City, said he is seeing an increasing number of retirees and those nearing retirement who
are quietly purchasing silver and gold coins as insurance against what they fear will be an eventual fall in the value of the dollar.

"A lot of them are approaching their (gold and silver coin) purchases almost like a life or fire insurance policy," Rust said. "It is something they want to have, but pray that they never have to use."

While the shortage of gold and silver bullion coins may be nationwide, Utahns seem enamored with the metals.

Campbell said a year ago only about 30 percent of his business was bullion coin sales with 70 percent centered around the sale of rare coins to collectors. Since last fall, though, those percentages have reversed.

"The shortage does seem to be a little more prominent here in conservative Utah," Campbell said. "I know when we do manage to find a supply of coins, a lot of times they come from the more liberal eastern states."


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