How the GFC will affect the coin market
I got a query from a client the other day asking my thoughts on where I thought the Australian coin and note market may head in 2008. Given the softness in the real estate and equity markets in the past few months, that's a pretty fair question!
I think there's more of a correlation between the property market and ours than the share market and ours, reason being that they are both tangible assets that people from different socio economic groups put surplus funds into.
The property market in each of the various states is quite different, however from what I understand, there are substantial differences between the different levels of the market - high end properties (ie $3m +) as well as the suburbs that include them are doing quite well growth wise, while less valuable properties and suburbs have shown price volatility at best and declines at worst.
The numismatic market appears to be healthy at all levels at present - I trade quite actively in modern issue and inexpensive Commonwealth coins on eBay (here's a link to my current listings, and although I thought that market had softened considerably in October / November, it certainly seems to have recovered since then. I gauge that market my the prices that I get - all of the products are homogenous (a 2001 proof set is exactly the same product in September as it is in January), so all things being equal with the way that I operate, if the price changes then that indicates to me that demand is changing. I'm quite satisfied with the prices that I get on eBay (overall, there are always anomalies), this says to me that disposable income hasn't been significantly reduced for the average collector just yet. Just what the further interest rate rises and fuel price rises will do, only time will tell.
Even in a bullish cycle, the upper end of the numismatic market will often appear to be illiquid when compared to other asset classes - it can take some time to get full market value for all but the hottest items, so I believe price volatility should always be seen not as a negative market factor per se, but just a characteristic of a market that operates of it's own accord. Unlike the market for banknotes, I haven't seen any indication yet that the market for high end rare coins is even starting to top out - rare items in top quality are consistently making strong prices, so at present it is business as usual. I won't change my opinion on the overall health of the market until I start to see volatility in the prices I'm able to realize or that are being realized at auction. We ain't seeing anything like that at all yet!