Saturday, January 7, 2017

6/1/17: U.S. Mint Gold Coins Sales in 2016: One Solid Year for Hedging

Updating the data set for U.S. Mint sales of Gold coins (covering both Buffalos and Eagles) for 2016, here is the end-of-the-year data:

  • In 2016, U.S. Mint sold 1,204,500 oz of gold coins, which is 17.9% increase on 2015. Remember that in 2015, sales of U.S. Mint gold rose 45.6% y/y. The series are generally quite volatile, but 2016 total sales by volume marked the best year of U.S. sales since 2010 and the third best year on record (since 2006).
  • Sales of coins totalled 2,188,000 coins in 2016, up 6.2% y/y, following a 55.8% jump in sales in 2015. 2016 marked the busiest year on record for the U.S. Mint in terms of number of coins sold.
  • Despite increase in the number of coins sold, average weight of coins sold came in at impressive 0.551 oz/coin in 2016, up on 0.496 oz/coin in 2015 and the highest average weight sold over the last three years.

Chart below illustrates the trends:

Gold prices tend to have very insignificant impact on demand for U.S. Mint coins, as much of purchasing of these assets is non-speculative and used for longer term store of wealth function. There is, statistically, zero relationship between changes in gold prices and changes in demand for gold coins. To see this, here is an updated chart plotting log-change (m/m) in demand for gold coins from the U.S. Mint against log-change (m/m) in gold prices:

Overall, 2016 has been a strong year for sales of gold coins.

While some of the improved demand is quite possibly being driven by increased interest in gold as a store of value and a longer term safe haven against such matters as increased geopolitical tensions, monetary and currency wars etc, much of this increase in demand is probably also down to more prudent savers taking some of their cash and putting it into the U.S. coinage.

Which, in turn, implies that gold is acting as a counter-cyclical buffer: taking out surplus savings during the period of recovery and setting these aside against potential larger scale risks.

Exactly as it should be, thus.

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