The United States financial panic of the 1930s and gold
With the United States in the midst of severe depression in 1930s, gold naturally became the asset of choice. With people seeking to exchange all forms of paper securities, including bank notes, for gold, the financial sector and the Government itself experienced a run on their gold reserves. To prevent this, in 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the infamous executive order 6102 that criminalised the ownership of gold and made all government issued paper instruments non-redeemable in gold. From 1933 onwards, a new financial era began in the US, where pieces of green paper became the cornerstone of the country’s monetary system.
Sales of American Eagle coins surges
Roosevelt’s executive order that penalised ownership of gold was in place for 41 years before President Gerald Ford repealed the law in 1974. It would take another eleven years for the United States Congress to pass the Gold Bullion Act of 1985, which authorised the creation of legal tender gold and silver coinage. Subsequently, in 1986, the United States Mint issued the first gold American Eagle coin. Considering that this was the first legal tender gold coin released by the United States in over five decades, there were many buyers waiting on the sidelines. In fact, in its first year of release, the United States Mint had to mint 3.6 million pieces, or 62 tonnes of American Eagle gold coins, to satisfy the demand from investors and coin dealers!
The gold American Eagle coin – the perfect hedge
With its prestigious legal tender status granted by the United States Government, American Eagle bullion coins have since 1986 been one of the most preferred gold coins of investors who wish to hedge their portfolio against falling stock markets and economic turmoil. Figures from the United State Mint related to demand for American Eagles clearly show that investors markedly increased purchases of these coins during the stock market crash of 1987, right before the peak of the dot-com bubble (also referred to as the internet bubble) of 1999 – 2000, and more recently in 2008 – 2009 when the US and other major economies plunged into severe recession. In fact, on an annual basis, demand during these periods increased on average by almost 100%, proving that in turbulent times in the market, the gold American Eagle coin becomes an asset of choice.
By witnessing the growing popularity of other countries’ 24 karat gold bullion coins, of which Canada’s Maple Leaf and Austria’s Philharmonic gold coins are good examples, the United States Mint decided to issue for the first time in its history its own version of a .9999 fine legal tender gold coin. Until 2006, the only American legal tender gold bullion coin available for purchase was the gold American Eagle which, unlike the Gold Buffalo, is a 22 karat coin and is made of gold and a copper - silver alloy. The introduction of the gold American Buffalo coin was also a historical moment for the United States Mint which for the first time issued two separate legal tender gold coins that contained different gold purities.