It's good to be back home after being on the road for what was pretty much 2 weeks straight - two auctions and a trade show across two different states is enough to keep anyone busy!
Although there was quite a lot of material on offer (the Status auction had over 5,000 indlvidual lots in it, while Roxbury's had over 1,000 lots as well), the general consensus among the dealers and collectors I've spoken with over the past few weeks is that there isn't a whole lot of exciting, fresh material available at the moment. I don't know what the clearance rates were for either of these two auction houses, but I'd be surprised if they weren't significantly down on their most recent previous sales.
Despite the rising cost of living, from fuel to mortgage payments to food, there certainly aren't many forced sellers out there yet! The sellers that are in the market at the moment to raise cash for whatever reason appear to be well aware of market values and the level of demand for their material, and most are refusing to budge from their expectations. Liquidity is a combination of price and time however, and if one factor doesn't give then generally the other does.
Something of an analogy could be the real estate market in suburban Perth - although it has led the country in terms of capital growth for the past few years, I believe it now takes an average of 70-90 days to sell a home here, and even then often only at a discounted price. Just whether the spiralling cost of living, rising cost of debt or even margin calls on stock portfolios will lead to distressed sellers in the coming months remains to be seen.
The fortunate fact about the numismatic market is that it is largely untouched by leverage - I don't know of any collectors, investors or even speculators who gear themselves to get into a specific numismatic item. Although impulse purchases of modestly priced collectibles are invariably funded by credit cards, in the main this tends to be only for a short period of time, which means in turn that market drops are muted by sellers choosing to hold onto their collections rather than dispose of them at a reduced amount. This in turn means that average prices can appear to be better than they otherwise would be - if every seller went ahead with a transaction at the level that the buyer was prepared to pay, then median values would turn out to be lower, perhaps even much lower, than otherwise would be the case.
It would seem then that the people in the box seat in the coming months will be those buyers that are cashed up, know exactly what they want and are in the right place at the right time when buying opportunities present themselves. I know of a few clients and dealers (myself included!) that are very happy thanks very much with the purchases they've made at auction in the past month - the bargains may be far and few between, but as Malcolm Fraser said well before he got caught without his pants in the foyer of a seedy Memphis hotel, life wasn't meant to be easy.
The Brisbane ANDA show was also a rather tame affair when compared to the blockbusters we've had in recent years - I haven't read the attendance figures just yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were down by 20% to 30% on last year. Not only that, but the number of buyers in the room was also well down - pity the poor collectors looking to have a quiet wander around the bourse floor checking out the material on offer when they come across an incredibly bored Andrew P. Crellin leaping for their credit cards!
The next show ANDA has is in Perth in mid June, given the perception that our economy here is going gangbusters relative to the rest of the nation, it is shaping up to be a far more active event.