Monday, December 12, 2011

Hoarding And Stealing Dr. Copper

Hard assets devotees believe commodities help diversify a portfolio.  Some people take this to extremes.  Penny hoarders accumulate mini-mountains of the copper coinage in the hope that the coins' metal content is a better investment than the face value of the currency.  Folks are plotting ROIs on proposed changes in federal law that would allow them to liquefy these assets for their melt value.  That seems like a very long-shot chance but high copper prices encourage people to try their luck. 

Hoarding copper pennies is a benign form of investing in liquid hard assets.  They would be useful in a hyperinflationary scenario if low-denomination currency became worthless and copper recyclers were willing to risk melting them down.  The second-hand copper market may already tolerate lawlessness given the sharp rise in recent incidents of copper theft.  All of those torn-out copper wires, pipes, and fixtures are going somewhere.  There's a buyer for every seller.  I'm disappointed that law enforcement agencies aren't staking out metal recycling centers.

Penny pinching is one thing; penny hoarding is a big thing.  There can be too much of a good thing. 

Nota bene:  This author does hold a small amount of pennies, in a tin can at the world headquarters of Alfidi Capital.  They are currency, not a spare store of metal.  I typically drop a few into the hats of street musicians in San Francisco, especially if they're talented.