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Published: Wednesday, 4/6/2005

What's wrong with a sound investment?

May I coin a term for my exasperation with liberal Democrats in general and The Blade in particular? How about "Just say Noe"?

I need not recount the whole story here. You've covered it in excruciating and exaggerated detail. Suffice it to say that Tom Noe's rare-coin business turned an approximate $10.3 million profit for the state on money invested in it by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

What a novel concept - the state actually realizing a financial gain from something other than soaking us working taxpayers and our employers. Apparently it's too radical a notion for a bunch of Democrats, as indicated in The Blade's incitement - excuse me, discussion - of their ire.

Governor wanna-be Michael Coleman calls it "reckless, a very bad precedent." Since when is it a reckless, bad precedent for the state to realize a substantial profit on investments made in a legitimate business run by an expert with a sound reputation for success in his field?

This shouldn't surprise anyone. These folks are from the crowd that thinks American workers are too stupid to safely invest a portion of their Social Security benefits for a greater return than Uncle Sam can offer.

The sheer madness of this bunch was epitomized by Rep. Edna Brown, who asked in puzzlement, "How do you convert (the coins) if you need to?" Evidently, the basic principle of commerce that businesses make money by selling goods is lost on her. What does she think Mr. Noe's rare-coin business would do - dump them into one of those supermarket change machines?

From all appearances, those poor souls are more upset that a Republican and not one of their own can be credited for doing the state a great financial service.

Thomas Berry

Watova Road

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation invests $50 million in rare coins (from a company owned by Tom Noe, the former chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party), even though the initial proposal admitted that such investments were "speculative and involve a high degree of risk."

Perhaps the bureau should diversify its portfolio by plowing some of its money into other, similar investments.

Does Mr. Noe have any expertise in the highly profitable and exciting world of Beanie Baby futures?

David Fleitz

Bowling Green

I have read your recent stories regarding Tom Noe and the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation's investment in rare coins and tangible assets. I am a past president of the American Numismatic Association, a national nonprofit organization chartered by Congress, and have known Tom Noe for more than 20 years. He is a man of integrity and vision.

Mr. Noe is a highly respected leader in the rare-coin industry; I served with him as a board member while he was chairman of the board of a national organization, the Industry Council for Tangible Assets, and as a member of the Professional Numismatists Guild, during the dozen years I was that organization's general counsel.

The State of Ohio is extremely lucky to have Mr. Noe growing its investments through his knowledge of rare coins. If I read your analysis correctly, his astute handling of this alternative investment vehicle has made a profit of $10 million for the people of Ohio.

As for the political nature of your story, let me say that as the Democrat mayor of Fair Lawn, N.J., and as an elected member and vice chairman of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Bergen County, New Jersey, I am embarrassed by other elected officials trying to make an issue where none exists. This appears to be a simple case of sour grapes.

David L. Ganz

Fair Lawn, N.J.

The Ohio governor invests in rare coins with Tom Noe and realizes a healthy return. The Michigan governor invests in Canadian garbage with whomever handles that sort of thing and realizes - well, I guess I don't exactly know what she realizes.

But I realize Ohio is way ahead of Michigan on this one!

Delmer O. Gasche

Morenci, Mich.

I commend The Blade for exposing the State of Ohio's deal with Tom Noe. I am only surprised it didn't come sooner.

As a lifelong Republican, I am embarrassed that my party, especially Gov. Bob Taft, could become involved in such a speculative venture with the public's money. I hope this exposure will result in an early termination of this type of investment.

This might also be a good time for Ohio to join the 45 other states in getting out of the Workers' Compensation business.

CARL TEIPEL

Sylvania

The unexamined investment is not worth owning.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation chief investment officer has lost sight of the economic function of an investment, which is to provide capital to an industry (stocks/bonds) or government agency (debt instruments) for a fair return.

Commemorative coins, like paintings and dot.com companies, produce no earnings, have no competitive advantage, and have an uncertain future.

BWC auditor Keith Elliott is merely saying "Show me the earnings." Investments without earnings cannot be valued. The questions he raises must be answered. The arrangement's language is bad and the math (five-year returns and profit splitting) stinks. I understand it's a small percentage of BWC's $18 billion fund. But to not grade Capital Coin because there were no similar managers to compare with is poor due diligence.

Why did Thomas Noe turn to stocks, a private real estate trust, and mortgages? And what do coins and real estate have to do with being an emerging manager? Real estate investment trusts have returned over 19 percent annually for the past five years and small cap value funds are over 15 percent for the same period. Mike Wilkinson and Jim Drew did good reporting. Keep asking questions.

JOHN KOLBECK

Perrysburg

Mr. Kolbeck is a retired portfolio manager and past president of Toledo Financial Analysts.

What about all those other coin dealers in the State of Ohio, not only business owners but payers of taxes? When do they get a piece of the Bob ("we have no money") Taft coin budget?

Once again Mr. Taft shows the rest of the country what Ohio is about.

Brian Smith

Indian Knoll Drive

In compliance with Gov. Bob Taft's investment policy, I would suggest that the State's portfolio be diversified to include baseball cards.

By the way, I have a 2004 Bobby Higginson card for sale.

Alan S. Konop

Sulphur Spring Road

I hope nobody reads the recent articles to President Bush regarding the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation's investments.

I am afraid that the Republican-controlled Congress will run with Ohio's investment wizardry and use coins, Beanie Babies, and baseball cards to "save" Social Security.

Bret Howland

Whitehouse

I have some rare stamps and a large beer can collection. I will donate tens of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates if the State invests $50 million with me.

Mark Ehrenfried

Plum Leaf Lane



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