May 28, 2022

Gold American Eagle Bullion Coin Sales Soar 37% in June – Will Gold Outperform Stocks in 2014?

2014-proof-gold-eagleSales of the US Mint American Eagle gold bullion coins soared in June to 48,500 ounces from the previous month of May during which sales totaled 35,500.  Demand for gold bullion coins, however, has been relatively soft compared to previous years.

June sales of the gold bullion coins were down from the year ago period when 57,000 ounces were sold during June 2013.  At the current sales pace 2014 annual sales of the gold bullion coins would come in at roughly 500,000 ounces down significantly from total sales of 856,500 ounces during 2013.  Sales of the American Eagle gold bullion coins hit a record high of 1,435,000 ounces during 2009 when the financial system was still in intensive care and the Federal Reserve initiated a massive money printing campaign to “save” the world.

Gold should always have a presence in an investment portfolio but since mid 2011 stocks have become a powerful competing investment alternative to precious metals. The easy money policies of the Federal Reserve have served to inflate asset values of stocks and bonds to dangerously overvalued levels according to many analysts.

Will stocks and bonds continue to enjoy easy gains of 20 to 30 percent a year or will the entire house of cards built on easy printed money come tumbling down when the world least expects it?  Just this week the Bank for International Settlements (a consortium of the world’s biggest central banks) issued an alarming warning about growing levels of debt and the dangerous unintended consequences of zero interest rate policies.

The report issued by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) noted that “Overall, it is hard to avoid the sense of a puzzling disconnect between the markets’ buoyancy and underlying economic developments globally.”  The head of the BIS’s economic department further noted that  “Financial markets are euphoric, in the grip of an aggressive search for yield…and yet investment in the real economy remains weak while the macroeconomic and geopolitical outlook is still highly uncertain.”  The BIS noted the obvious when it cautioned that the ultra low levels of interest rate due to financial repression by central banks is encouraging further borrowing but an eventual rise in interest rates will amplify the problem of excessively high levels of debt, a consequence that no one seems prepared for.

So who needs gold when stocks are heading straight up and the consensus is that this wealth machine of easy money and asset inflation is unstoppable?

Gold, silver and stocks

At some unknowable point in time and for some unpredictable reason the euphoria of the credit bubble created by the central banks will burst just as all bubbles in history have burst.  The resulting financial chaos that ensues from the bursting of a central bank induced credit bubble will be calamitous since the situation could well become uncontainable by world monetary authorities.  As the BIS notes, “keeping interest rates unusually low for an unusually long period can lull governments into a false sense of security” whereby they continue to borrow vast amounts of low cost funds to such excess that further expansion of government borrowings become impossible.  Governments that are unable to finance additional borrowings when the next economic downturn comes will turn to their only savior – the central banks.  Unable to stimulate the economy through rate cuts since rates are already at zero, central banks will be forced to monetize government debts on a monumental scale and when this day arrives we should all want to have a heavy percentage of our portfolios in gold.

The current mania for paper assets seems to have even infected China and India who have historically turned to gold as a safeguard against profligate governments and paper money backed only by the promises of lying politicians.   According to the Wall Street Journal demand for gold is expected to decline in both China and India during 2014.

The crowd seems to be leaning heavily towards paper assets and away from gold, suggesting that a turnaround is probably forthcoming.  Gold has already had its correction and is now on track for what will probably be a historic rally.  Consider that despite widespread bearishness on gold, the price during 2014 has held its own and is actually up on the year.  From a price of $1,225 per ounce at the start of the year gold has moved up to $1,326, not exactly a sign of weak demand.

Silver American Eagle Bullion Coin Sales Plunge in June

silver eagleSales of the one ounce American Eagle silver bullion coins plunged in June from both the previous month and previous year.  After hitting sales of almost 4 million ounces during May the US Mint reports that sales of the silver bullion coins for June totaled only 2,682,000.

June sales plunged by over 32% from the prior month and by almost 18% compared to June 2013  when sales were 3,275,000 ounces.  Monthly sales of the silver bullion coins can show dramatic month to month changes based on supply and demand so it is difficult to read much into the current month’s sales figures.

Reflecting the drop in current demand the US Mint recently suspended its allocation program which had been implemented a year ago in the face of soaring demand for silver bullion coins during 2013.  Sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coins reached a record during 2013 with sales of 42,675,000 ounces, up 26 % from 33,742,500 ounces during 2012.

The American Eagle silver bullion coins remain extremely popular with small investors and sales have remained extremely robust ever since the near implosion of the financial system during 2008.  Sales of the silver bullion coins prior to 2008 ran from eight to ten million ounces per year compared to yearly sales of 30 to 40 million ounces per year after 2008.

Sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coins could easily hit another all time record high during 2014 if sales continue at their current pace.  If sales for the next six months match the first six months, sales of the silver bullion coins for 2014 could come in at close to 50 million ounces, shattering last year’s record high sales of 42,675,000.

The American Eagle silver bullion coins cannot be purchased by individuals directly from the U.S Mint.  The coins are sold only to the Mint’s network of authorized purchasers who buy the coins in bulk based on the market value of silver and a markup by the U.S. Mint.  The authorized purchasers sell the silver coins to coin dealers, other bullion dealers and the public.  The Mint’s rationale for using authorized purchasers is that this method makes the coins widely available to the public with reasonable transaction costs.

Shown below is a graph of sales of the silver bullion coins by year since 2000.

American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Demand Remains Strong – 2014 Should Shatter Previous Sales Record

proof-silver-eagleThe American Eagle silver bullion coins produced by the US Mint remain extremely popular with retail investors.  During 2013 silver bullion coin sales hit a record high of almost 43 million ounces and would have been even higher if the US Mint had been able to keep up with demand.  The US Mint actually ran out of silver bullion coins late in the year and suspended sales for most of December and part of January 2014.

Sales of silver bullion coins exploded in the wake of the financial crisis during 2008 when investors began to seriously question of value of paper money which could be manufacturing at will and in unlimited quantity by a profligate government.

Prior to the financial crisis yearly sales of the silver bullion coin ran between eight and ten million ounces.  Since 2010 yearly sales exploded to over 30 million ounces per year and during 2013 exceeded 40 million ounces.

According to the US Mint May sales of the silver bullion coin totaled 3,988,500 ounces up by almost 12% from the previous month and up by 15% from the comparable prior year month.

Sales of the silver bullion coins are shown below by year with 2014 sales through May 31st.

The American Eagle silver bullion coins cannot be purchased by individuals directly from the U.S Mint.  The coins are sold only to the Mint’s network of authorized purchasers who buy the coins in bulk based on the market value of silver and a markup by the U.S. Mint.  The authorized purchasers sell the silver coins to coin dealers, other bullion dealers and the public.  The Mint’s rationale for using authorized purchasers is that this method makes the coins widely available to the public with reasonable transaction costs.

If the US Mint is able to keep up with demand, 2014 should be another record breaking year for sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coins.  If the pace of silver coin sales continues at the current rate sales for 2014 could easily top 50 million ounces, an increase of about 16% from last year.

Gold Bullion Coin Sales Steady In May But Plunge From Previous Year

2014-proof-gold-eagleThe sale of gold bullion coins by the US Mint remained steady in May compared to the previous month but declined sharply from year ago levels.  There are numerous theories on why gold demand and prices have not recovered in 2014.

The world seems to have regained confidence in paper money despite the fact that the financial system is now more leveraged than before the financial crisis and the debt problems which caused the financial crisis have simply been papered over with more debt.  Meanwhile, investors in both the stock and bond markets perceive risk to be low and the bulls outnumber the bears by a margin reminiscence of the pre-crash year of 2007.

The only asset class with a preponderance of bears seems to be precious metals.  When the crowd is leaning in one direction, it’s a perfect setup for an eventual price reversal suggesting that long term precious metal investors currently enjoy the opportunity to be greedy when others are fearful.

Despite the constant bearish rants, gold has been relatively stable during 2014.  After starting the year at $1,225 per ounce gold reached a high of $1,385 on March 14 and is currently at $1,244.50 for a gain of 1.6% on the year.

Gold Bullion U.S. Mint Sales Since 2000 as of May 31, 2014
         Year                            Ounces Sold
2000 164,500
2001 325,000
2002 315,000
2003 484,500
2004 536,000
2005 449,000
2006 261,000
2007 198,500
2008 860,500
2009 1,435,000
2010 1,220,500
2011 1,000,000
2012 753,000
2013 856,500
2014 217,500
TOTAL                                                9,076,500

During May the US Mint reported sales of 35,500 ounces of the American Eagle gold bullion coins, down from 38,500 ounces in the previous month.   Gold bullion coin sales plunged from last May when the Mint sold a total of 70,000 ounces.

Since monthly gold bullion coin sales can vary dramatically a look at the average monthly and year to date sales can give a more enlightened view on demand.  As of May 31, 2014 a year to date total of 217,500 ounces of gold bullion coins were sold by the Mint compared to 572,000 ounces in the comparable year ago period, a decline of 61.8%.  Average monthly sales of gold bullion coins during 2014 through May 31 were 43,500 ounces compared to 114,000 ounces last year.

Based on year to date sales, annualized sales of gold bullion coins for 2014 are projected at 522,000 ounces or a decline of 39.1% from the 856,500 ounces sold during 2013.

Silver Remains in a Tug of War Between Supply and Demand

proof-silver-eagleAfter a fierce correction from the highs of 2011 have  the market forces of supply and demand resulted in a stabilized silver price?

On the demand side the industrial use of silver is at a nine year high with fabrication usage expected to rise to over 890 million ounces.   A wide variety of businesses use huge amounts of silver in the production of such items as jewelry, solar panels, electronics, cars, tableware, and photography.

Although silver is most commonly associated by many people as a precious metal investment the industrial demand for silver far exceeds investment demand.  For example, sales by the U.S. Mint of the ever popular American Eagle silver bullion coins hit a record last year of almost 42 million ounces (see Silver Bullion Coin Sales Soar) but this amount is a fraction of industrial usage. Since 2000 to date the U.S. Mint has sold over 292 million one ounce American Eagle silver bullion coins which amounts to only 32% of  estimated industrial demand for just one year.

Even as industrial demand for silver booms, Bloomberg News reports that investment demand for silver has diminished due to tapering of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve, reduction of the safe haven appeal of silver, reduced demand by China, and the correlation coefficient between gold and silver.

Silver is being undermined by its association with gold.

gold-bullion

While makers of everything from jewelry to solar panels are buying the most silver in nine years, prices are languishing. Investors are dismissing industrial demand and instead focusing on the waning appeal of precious metals as a haven, with the Federal Reserve paring economic stimulus measures, inflation muted and equities rallying.

Silver has been dragged down by a yearlong slump in gold, the commodity most widely held by investors in exchange-traded funds, following a decade-long rally that saw prices for both surge more than sixfold. The five most-accurate precious-metals analysts tracked by Bloomberg over the past two years predict silver will average $18.80 an ounce in the third quarter, the lowest since 2010, and gold will drop 7.3 percent.

“The industrial driver can help, but I don’t think it’s as influential as the investor,” said Robin Bhar, head of metals research at Societe Generale SA in London and the most-accurate forecaster tracked by Bloomberg. “Investors were bullish silver because gold was in a bull market. Now that we have gold in a bear market, there’s less enthusiasm coming from investors.”

The correlation has been strong. From December 2008 to June 2011, silver tripled and gold surged 70 percent, with both touching all-time highs, as the Fed pumped more than $2 trillion into the financial system and cut interest rates to a record in a bid to boost the economy. Last year, when signs of economic growth sent gold down 28 percent, silver plunged 36 percent. The declines were the most for both metals since 1981.

Goldman said in an April 13 report that in the long term, silver tends to track gold, and its forecast reflects the historical ratio to gold. An ounce of gold bought 67.21 ounces of silver in London on April 30, the highest since July. The average over the past 30 years is 64.8.

The link with gold is stronger than that with industrial metals. The mean of silver’s 30-week correlation coefficient to gold was 0.86 over the past five years, compared with 0.51 with the London Metal Exchange Index of industrial metals, data compiled by Bloomberg show. A figure of 1 means two assets always move in the same direction.

“The precious-metal characteristic is likely to dominate,” said Barnabas Gan, an analyst at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore, and the second-most accurate precious metals forecaster over the past two years. “The risk of higher real interest rates may likely magnify in the middle-long run, and thus raises the opportunity cost for holding silver. The improving global economic picture is also likely to pale safe-haven demand.”

Concern over the value of haven assets is trumping signs that industrial demand is improving. Half of silver supply is used to make things, more than the 10 percent for gold, and demand is picking up as economic growth fuels sales of electronics and cars from China to the U.S.

Since precious metals generally earn returns only through price gains, silver investors were “disillusioned” by the slump over the past year and put their money elsewhere, New York-based researcher CPM said in an April 29 report. Investment demand tumbled 42 percent last year to 105.3 million ounces, the lowest since 2008, according to CPM, which forecast average prices in 2014 will be lower for a third straight year.

SILVER DOLLARS

At the same time, fabrication usage including by makers of cars, jewelry and tableware will rise 2.9 percent this year to 890.7 million ounces, the most since 2005, CPM said. Silver content is increasing in vehicles with more electronics, according to Metals Focus Ltd., a London-based research company. After dropping last year, demand from electronics and battery makers will rebound in 2014, CPM forecasts.

Most industrial metals will get a boost from growth. The world economy expanded 2.1 percent in 2013 and will increase 2.8 percent this year and 3.1 percent in 2015, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. While that will help spur a 2.1 percent gain in industrial and photographic demand for silver, investors will sell 250 metric tons from funds backed by the metal, Barclays Plc estimates.

“Silver is not benefiting even though it has so much industrial use as people still call it a precious metal,” James Paulsen, the Minneapolis-based chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, which oversees about $357 billion in assets, said. “Its a tug of war between its safe-haven appeal and its use as industrial metal.”

Hedge funds have cut their bets on higher silver prices by 90 percent in the past two months on the Comex in New York, holding a net-long position of 2,620 futures and options in the week to April 22, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. The five-year average is about 20,510 contracts.

Despite a huge appetite for silver by industrial users, the reduction of investment demand and a production oversupply may continue to pressure silver prices. During 2014 HSBC is projecting an increase in silver supply to 1.09 billion ounces with demand remaining flat at 938 million ounces.

Until the financial system blows up again, the tug of war between supply and demand in the silver market is likely to restrain silver prices for the immediate future.

Sales of Platinum American Eagle Coins Slow Down After Fast Start

2013 Platinum ProofUS Mint Resumes Production of American Eagle Platinum Bullion Coin

The United States Mint first began minting the American Eagle platinum bullion coin in 1997 but suspended production in late 2008 when demand for gold and silver bullion coins skyrocketed in the wake of the financial crisis.  With its production capacity strained by huge investor demand for gold and silver coins, the US Mint decided to suspend the production of platinum coins.

In 2007, the year before suspending production, annual sales of the platinum bullion coin totaled only 9,050 ounces.  During 2008, the platinum bullion coin was sold up until November and a total of 33,700 ounces of coins were sold.  The coin had been available in one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce sizes with legal tender values of $100, $50, $25, and $10, respectively.

In addition to the bullion version of the American Eagle platinum coin a numismatic proof version of the coin was also available from 1997 to 2008 in all four sizes.  Despite suspending production of the bullion platinum coins in 2008 the Mint continued to annually produce one numismatic version of the platinum coin for collectors.  The numismatic proof version of the platinum coin undergoes a specialized minting process at the Mint where they are struck multiple times with special dies that result in the coin having a softly frosted finish with detailed images that seem to float above the mirror like surface of the coin.

AE Platinum Proof Reverse

AE Platinum Proof Reverse

The 2014 American Eagle Platinum bullion coins are produced by the West Point Mint and only come in a one ounce size.  In March, the first month that the coins were available, the Mint sold 10,000 coins as authorized purchasers built up inventories for sale to the public.  Just as with the American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins, the public cannot buy them directly from the Mint but must purchase them through US Mint authorized purchasers or coin dealers.  April sales of the platinum bullion coins totaled only 1,200 ounces.

Platinum is one of the rarest of precious metals with annual production through mining and recycling of only about 7 million ounces.  The vast majority of all platinum mined comes from South Africa and Russia both of which have unstable political situations which has resulted in frequently curtailed production.  Platinum consumption is expected to exceed supply during 2014 with the deficit coming out of platinum stocks.

Resumption of the production of platinum coins by the US Mint now allows investors the opportunity to diversify their precious metal holdings

Gold Bullion Coin Sales Rise, Silver Bullion Coin Sales Could Hit All Time Record High in 2014

american-silver-eagleGold and silver bullion coin sales by the U.S. Mint during April turned in mixed results with gold sales up and silver sales down.  Despite the fact that gold and silver are in the bargain basement due to price declines, investment demand remains relatively subdued due to tapering of money printing by the Federal Reserve and the apparent recovery of the U.S. economy.

Investor perceptions of precious metals as a safe haven appear diminished despite the ongoing and unprecedented monetary easing by central banks and unrestrained government borrowings.  Gold began the year selling for $1,225 per ounce.  After reaching a high of $1,385 on March 14 gold  declined to a current price of $1,281.25 leaving it up on the year by 4.6%.

The U.S. Mint reported that sales of the American Eagle gold bullion coin in April totaled 38,500 ounces up 83% from 21,000 ounces sold in the previous month but down by a substantial 81.6% from April of 2013 when the Mint sold 209,500 ounces.  After dropping for three years in a row since 2009, sales of the American Eagle gold bullion coins increased in 2013 to 856,500 ounces up by 13.7% from total sales of 753,000 ounces in 2012.

(Sales figures for gold bullion coins on the charts below are as of April 30, 2014.)

 

Gold Bullion U.S. Mint Sales Since 2000
         Year                            Ounces Sold
2000 164,500
2001 325,000
2002 315,000
2003 484,500
2004 536,000
2005 449,000
2006 261,000
2007 198,500
2008 860,500
2009 1,435,000
2010 1,220,500
2011 1,000,000
2012 753,000
2013 856,500
2014 182,000
TOTAL                               9,041,000

Total sales of gold bullion coins year to date total 182,000 ounces.  Based on the current sales rate through April 30th, annualized sales of gold bullion coins would come in at 546,000 ounces, the lowest amount of sales since 2007 when only 198,500 ounces were sold.

Silver Bullion Coin Sales Could Reach Another Record in 2014

Sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coins remained strong in April with a total of 4,590,500 coins sold, down slightly from the previous month’s sales of 5,354,000.

The one ounce American Eagle silver bullion coin remains extremely popular with investors.  Total coin sales during 2013 reached an all time high of 42,675,000.  The previous record sales year going back to 2000 occurred in 2011 when investors scooped up 39,868,500 coins.  If the current sales pace continues, total sales of the silver bullion coin during 2014 could reach a record breaking 55 million ounces.

Silver Supply Glut Weighs on Silver Price – Time for Some Contrary Thinking?

proof-silver-eagleAnyone who has purchased silver in the past three years is now holding a losing position.

The price of silver soared from its low of around $10 during the height of the financial crisis to almost $50 per ounce in May 2011.  Since that time silver has had intermittent rebounds but the price trend remains in a distinct downward channel.  Is it time to double down or wait until silver breaks out of its current downtrend?

Contrarian minded thinkers may do well to keep in mind that the in and out speculators in silver are long gone and that there is still a steady worldwide demand for silver by both industrial users, jewelry makers, and investors.  Although it is easier psychologically to buy anything when the price is sharply increasing, that is not the road to big gains.  Most investors will admit that their biggest winners came from buying something when every “logical instinct” was telling them to sell.

kitco.com

kitco.com

Barron’s added some anxiety for silver bulls this week with commentary about the apparent supply glut in silver production that could keep a lid on silver prices.

Prices are sliding toward 10-month lows, as supplies of the metal are set to outpace demand for the sixth straight year.

For investors, that means betting on lower prices or picking another metal entirely. “Silver has the worst story of all the metals,” says Adam Klopfenstein, a senior market strategist with Archer Financial Services, citing the bountiful supplies and silver’s tendency to move in tandem with gold.

ON TOP OF THE POTENTIAL for higher interest rates, the silver market has been inundated with supplies of the metal. HSBC expects a 3.4% increase in the silver supply to 1.09 billion troy ounces in 2014, while demand will remain nearly unchanged at some 938 million ounces. Part of what’s fuelling that growth is that prices remain above the cost of production. On Friday, silver for June delivery settled near flat at $19.718 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are down 10.6% off their Feb. 24 high of $22.051 an ounce.

The all-in cost of production for silver falls somewhere between $15 and $17 a troy ounce, making the metal highly profitable when the price hovers around $20 an ounce or above, according to Howard Wen, a precious-metals analyst with HSBC. This creates an incentive for producers to continue ramping up silver output, even while prices slip to much lower levels than a year earlier, he says.

In all probability, the so called over supply in silver has already been priced into the market and silver looks like it’s making a triple bottom in the $20 area.

1 year silver

Over supply situations can quickly turn to a shortage when investors recognize that the current price of silver is at bargain levels.  Meanwhile, purchases of U.S. Mint silver bullion coins continue at very strong levels with March sales up by 43% from the previous month.  Investors eager to scoop up silver at bargain prices bought an all time record amount of almost 42 million ounces of American Eagle silver bullion coins in 2013 and this year could see another record based on year to date sales.

Precious metal investing should not be a short term trade but rather a long term wealth preservation strategy.  A quick glance at any long term debt chart shows that the false prosperity of asset appreciation that occurred since the U.S. went off the gold standard was built on the shifting sands of credit creation and liquidity.  How long the Fed can keep the Frankenstein credit machine going is anyone’s guess but parabolic increases of debt (or anything else for that matter) become mathematically impossible to continue at some point.

CONSUMER CREDIT

Silver Bullion Coin Sales Soar In March, Gold Coin Sales Slump – Are Coin Buyers Stupid?

2014-proof-gold-eagleThe March sales report of American Eagle bullion coins by the U.S. Mint showed a large drop in gold bullion coins while sales of the ever popular silver bullion coins soared.

Sales of the American Eagle gold bullion coins in March totaled 21,000 ounces, down by 32% from February’s total of 31,000 ounces and down by a dramatic 66% from March 2013 when 62,000 coins were sold.  Year to date sales through March of 143,500 ounces of the American Eagle gold bullion coins plunged 51% from the comparable period last year when the U.S. Mint sold 292,500 ounces.

The decline in sales of gold bullion is in marked contrast to last year when sales boomed despite an almost 30% decline in gold prices, the worst performance since 1981.  Investors in physical gold across the globe viewed the decline in gold as a buying opportunity.  Sales of gold coins in 2013 by The Perth Mint soared over 40% while sales by the Royal Canadian Mint surged over 80%.  Sales of American Eagle gold coins by the U.S. Mint in 2013 jumped by 6.3% to 800,500 ounces.

Are Gold and Silver Bullion Coin Buyers Stupid?

While gold rebounded in 2014 from a low of $1221 to as high as $1385 before pulling back to a current price of $1284, perhaps buyers are waiting to see if the rally in gold will continue or if gold will decline again in 2014 as predicted by the likes of Goldman Sachs.  Long term it does not matter since the entire concept of fiat money has never ended well over the long term.  According to Bloomberg, the “long term” may be upon us sooner than many think.

Sound money and sound banking policies of governments have always been suspect but since the financial crisis of 2008, the entire concept of sound money has been utterly abandoned on a global basis as central banks printed trillions of dollars to support a financial system that imploded due to over indebtedness.  “Curing” the problem of too much debt with more debt and printed fiat money has in many people’s mind saved the world financial system, a tenuous theory at best.

1881-CC-Morgan-Dollar

According to the Bank for International Settlements, the amount of global debt (primarily government borrowings) has soared by a staggering 40 percent to $100 trillion since 2008 with the U.S. in the lead increasing the national debt to $12 trillion from $4.5 trillion at 2007 year end.  Fast forward to the next recession which could have its roots in a variety of events from the collapse of Japan’s epic empire of debt to the start of a serious military conflict over Ukraine driven by the warmongering military industrial complex in the U.S.  Another serious economic crisis, whatever its genesis, will result in money printing on an unimaginable scale as central banks do the only thing they can do which is to print more money.

Buyers of physical bullion are long term investors who understand what’s happening and are buying the only true money that cannot be debased by government profligacy and rapacious tax policies.  In the meantime, fluctuations in the price of gold caused by speculators such as hedge fund operators who can push around the price of physical gold without ever owning it through the use of futures contracts or options merely provide fantastic buying opportunities when they slam down gold prices.  Long term gold and silver are the only protection to preserve wealth against governments determined to debase fiat money to keep the highly leveraged financial system from imploding.  Current gold buyers will at some point will be holding an asset that soars in value as confidence in central banks completely evaporates as the value of paper money collapses.

American Eagle silver bullion coins meanwhile continue to soar and are a much more affordable option for many buyers compared to gold.  March sales of American Eagle silver bullion coins soared in March to 5,354,000 ounces, up by 43% from the prior month’s sales of 3,750,000 ounces and up by 60% from the March 2013 sales of 3,356,500 ounces.   Sales of silver bullion coins also increased dramatically in 2013 to a new record high of almost 42 ounces, up from almost 34 million ounces in 2012.  Based on annualizing the year to date sales of silver bullion coins, 2014 could turn out to be another block buster year with sales approaching another record of over 55 million ounces compared to 42 million ounces in 2013.

Buyers of physical gold and silver are long term investors who are intelligently protecting their wealth against governments hell bent on inflation and debasement of the currency in order to keep the house of debt cards from collapsing.  Accordingly, short term declines in the sale of gold bullion coins is totally irrelevant.

U.S. Mint Bullion Coin Sales for February 2014 Show Silver Up, Gold Down

2013-w-gold-eagleSales of bullion coins by the U.S. Mint were mixed in February with silver bullion coins showing an increase and gold bullion coins a decline.

After hitting all time record sales in 2013 sales of the American Silver Eagle bullion coins are off to a slower sales pace in 2014.  According to the U.S. Mint a total of 3,750,000 silver bullion coins were sold in February, up by 381,500 ounces or 11.3% over the comparable prior year period.  February 2014 year to date sales of silver bullion coins total 8,525,000 ounces, down by 2,341,500 ounces or 21.5% from the previous year.

Retail investors have long regarded silver bullion coins as an excellent investment.  The price pullback in silver since 2011 provided an excellent opportunity to make additional purchases at bargain prices and investor took advantage of the situation.  Silver bullion coin demand soared last year to almost 42 million ounces and the U.S. Mint could not keep up with demand.  Demand for silver coin was so great that the U.S. Mint ran out of coins and suspended sales for most of December and part of January 2014.

Sales of silver bullion coins are shown below by year.  The sales for 2014 are through February 28th.  Sales of silver bullion coins have exploded since the financial meltdown of 2008 when the Federal Reserve began printing trillions of dollars out of thin air, a program which continues to this day.

Sales of the American Eagle gold bullion coins slowed dramatically in February compared to last year.  Total sales of gold bullion coins was 31,000 ounces compared to 80,500 last February.   2014 year to date sales through February totaled 122,500 ounces compared to 230,500 ounces for the comparable prior year period.

Gold coin sales can fluctuate considerably from month to month but sales have exploded since the financial crisis in 2008 and remain very high by historical standards.  After declining for three years in a row, sales of gold bullion coins strengthened during 2013 with sales above 2012 levels.

2014 totals through February 28th.

According to Reuters the decline in gold bullion coin demand was due to large sales of coins by hedge fund speculators and other large investors.  As the sale of these coins flooded into dealer vaults they had less need to purchase coin from the U.S. Mint.

american-silver-eagle

The American Eagle silver bullion coins cannot be purchased by individuals directly from the U.S Mint.  The coins are sold only to the Mint’s network of authorized purchasers who buy the coins in bulk based on the market value of silver and a markup by the U.S. Mint.  The authorized purchasers sell the silver coins to coin dealers, other bullion dealers and the public.  The Mint’s rationale for using authorized purchasers is that this method makes the coins widely available to the public with reasonable transaction costs.

U.S. MINT BULLION COIN SALES
MONTH GOLD SILVER
2014 2013 2014 2013
JANUARY       91,500   150,000    4,775,000     7,498,000
FEBRUARY       31,000      80,500    3,750,000     3,368,500
TOTALS     122,500   230,500    8,525,000   10,866,500

With economic and political turmoil spreading across the globe and central banks standing ready to flood the world with paper currencies, gold and silver continue to remain a safe haven for many investors.  It would not be surprising to see gold and silver surge in price this year in defiance of the bearish calls of many analysts.