July 21, 2009

(The number of) Sales on eBay are up

I have noticed a marked increase in the number of successful stock and bond sales on eBay in the last two or three weeks. Within this observation, I can imagine seeing a few possible indications. (I'm not saying they are there; it is merely a way to interpret activity.)

1) There seems to be a pent-up demand. Collectors seem determined to buy. Never mind that no experts are claiming an end to the recession. Never mind that the unemployment rate has not improved. Never mind that business managers say they expect more layoffs in coming months. Regardless of somewhat dismal news, collectors are buying.

2) Prices are NOT up. They remain flat to somewhat down.

3) There are substantial numbers of eBay offerings relative to the number of successful sales. Unsold lots outnumber successful sales by two to four times. This suggests sellers are still setting minimum prices above actual market prices. However, the high number of offerings suggests we may be approaching capitulation. The stock market encounters a point of capitulation when stock holders give up and decide they can no longer afford to sustain further declines. At that point, they sell regardless of price. When they capitulate, they show they are no longer willing to wait for an upturn. We may be seeing that happening among weaker eBay sellers. While bad for those sellers, the market cannot genuinely improve until a definite bottom is reached.

4) There has been a most definite shift among the days that sales close. Probably 60% to 80% of the sales of collectible stocks and bonds used to close on the weekend. Sales are now closing in almost equal numbers throughout the week. I think that is a very good trend for sellers, but I have absolutely no idea why it is happening. (By having the majority of sales close almost simultaneously on the weekends, sellers were previously forcing buyers to ration their bids. Sellers never seem to understand that buyers try to avoid winning too many sales at once.)

5) This same trend (no discernible price improvement but more sales) is happening in two other areas of collectibles I track.

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