On January 12, 2009, the United States Mint adopted a pricing policy which allows them to adjust prices for their numismatic gold and platinum products as often as weekly in response to changes in precious metals prices. Today, the US Mint broke with their policy and failed to reduce prices for available gold coins.
Prior to adopting the new policy, the Mint had been required to publish notice of any pricing changes for numismatic products in the Federal Register. This repricing process could take several weeks, during which products were temporarily unavailable for sale. The new policy was formulated after a particularly volatile year for precious metals prices, which had resulted in the prolonged suspension of numerous gold and platinum numismatic products. The change in policy was presented as a way to improve transparency, agility, and customer service.
Under the new policy, the average price of gold and platinum are calculated each Wednesday based on the London Fix prices from the previous Thursday AM through the current Wednesday AM. This average price is applied to a schedule which lists product prices across different price ranges set at $50 intervals for gold and $100 intervals for platinum. If the weekly average price moves into a higher or lower range, products prices are increased or decreased on Thursdays at 10:00 AM ET. The pricing policy as published in the Federal Register can be found here.
Note that this policy applies to numismatic gold and platinum products, not bullion products, which are sold through the US Mint’s authorized purchaser network.
Until now the Mint has followed the pricing policy, making the necessary price adjustments, either higher or lower. The price changes have typically been implemented on Wednesday mornings, rather than Thursday as stated in the policy.
This week, the Mint failed to adjust prices lower, as provided in the policy. The average price of gold for the period was $1,190.39, as calculated from the following London Fix prices.
|Thurs AM, May 20||1,187.25|
|Thurs PM, May 20||1,192.00|
|Fri AM, May 21||1,183.50|
|Fri PM, May 21||1,179.75|
|Mon AM, May 24||1,183.75|
|Mon PM, May 24||1,187.00|
|Tue AM, May 25||1,189.50|
|Tue PM, May 25||1,198.25|
|Wed AM, May 26||1,212.50|
Prices for available numismatic gold products remained at levels based an average price of gold within the $1,200 to $1,249.99 pricing range. These prices actually represent the highest levels on record for numismatic gold products, following a price increase on May 12, 2010.
Currently available precious metal products include the First Spouse Gold Coins featuring Letitia Tyler, Julia Tyler, Sarah Polk, Margaret Taylor, and Abigail Fillmore. These coins each contain one-half ounce of 24 karat gold. The proof versions of these coins are priced at $779 each and the uncirculated versions are priced at $766 each.
Prices should have been reduced to $754 for proof coins and $741 for uncirculated coins.
The United States Mint did not provide any explanation to its customers regarding the break with policy. Requests for an explanation remain unanswered, although the US Mint has confirmed that prices will not be lowered this week.
Update: The US Mint has provided a statement included in this follow up article.