Monday, 18 July 2011

Coiney Prophets of Doom and Gloom

The world looks different from inside a coin collector's mind. Over on the (closed access, you have to register or know a computer hacker to see it) the signing of an US-Greece cultural property agreement is being pictured by the doomandgloom mongers as a terrible Sword of Damocles which will bring awful tribulations upon the nation and lead to the downfall of the Obama government. Jorg Lueke started it:
Between the recent arrests and the increased number of MOU's including coins causing more and more dealers to avoid bringing coins into US, the marketplace seems posied for a change.
He predicts that the demand will not diminish which means that "the increased risks will be taken by less scruplous and law abiding dealers increasing prices". Oh dear, so coins will no longer be imported with the customs declarations saying "ancient coins from Greece, value $5200", but "painted wooden box value $3,00"? Well, we know where that is likely to lead don't we? So the exclusion of coins illegally exported from Greece and Italy may lead to shortages on the market (really?) but then if that is compensated for by the future jailing of cheating dealers misrepresenting items on customs declarations, then an equilibrium will be reached, n'est ce pas?

ACCG's paid mouthpiece John Hooker concurs. He reckons that if coins are included among the items whose import will be restricted pending proof of legal export:
about the only certainty is that the illicit search for coin hoards in source countries will increase exponentially. Merely smuggling European coin dealer's stock would not give the needed profit to risk ratio.
That is the sort of statement that only looks logical after more than a few beers and being a coin collector. The rest of us might have trouble following the argument. Why on earth would legitimate stock from other European countries have to be "smuggled" into the US to make the coins saleable? It is notable that to neither of these gentlemen has occurred the option that US coin dealers could stop (I'm sure they'd prefer me to say "not start") importing smuggled coins illegally exported from the source countries. Like Lueke, Mr Hooker also sees a Darwinian resolution to the problem.
Larger honest U.S. dealers would simply move out of the country and compete in the European market.
But warns darkly: "The main loser would be Greece". That remark remains unexplained. He then adds:
I dare say that the most dedicated of U.S. Greek coin collectors would move elsewhere as Greek coins in the U.S. would become expensive while the loss of the U.S. market to European dealers should reduce the prices in Europe -- then, a larger volume of sales would be required.
Good grief, collecting Greek coins sounds almost like an affliction like drug abuse ("can't getta fix here, gotta move house to go where I can"). Then another disconnected dark warning of what will ensue:
Restrictions of any sort are always good news for organized crime -- history has confirmed this. Interesting times might be ahead.
Funnily enough some of us connect the illicit transport of illicitly obtained items with organized crime. Cleaning up the market will make this trade more difficult for criminal gangs.

Perhaps buying coins from criminals is what Lueke and Hooker see as driving prices up. There is no other reason for it, all the CCPIA requires is a piece of paper to accompany coin imports of certain types from certain places. Why should a piece of paper cost more than a piece of paper costs? And is that extra cost not worth it for the peace of mind that a responsible collector has legally acquired coins in their collection?

But it gets worse. Hooker (a Canadian resident) says this is going to bring down the US government. Yessiree. You see:
With a 70% public disapproval rate for the MOU including coins[...] it would be somewhat risky for the Obama administration to do so -- it gives a strong message that the people's wishes are being ignored -- I dare say a number of politicians will jump on this in the next election.
Well, a few thousand coin fondling US citizens conducted a fax-bombing campaign to show they wanted to continue collecting dugup archaeological artefacts without worrying about where they came from and whether or not they were legally exported. Yet 163 million US citizens did not support them. And that is going to lose Obama votes? I suppose to anyone who'd see moving to another country to be able to collect coins of a particular type as the actions of a rational man, might well indeed believe that the US electorate gives a hoot about their geekish coin fondling hobby. Especially as they all shut themselves off from interaction with the real world by closing public access to their discussion forums and blogs. That really does make it look as if behind the public façade, they have a great deal to hide. Oh yessiree.

Vignette: Harold Camping, prophet of doom.

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