Sunday, December 30, 2012
In 2004, Uzbekistan issued a souvenir sheet celebrating the Summer Olympics (Scott #387). Only 20,000 were issued, and Scott '13 prices it unused at $3.00.
The sheet makes an interesting and low-risk speculation based on its appeal as a Sports/Olympics topical, and as a bet on the economic growth of Uzbekistan and the development of a stamp market there. This recommendation is consistent with my belief that one of the best ways to play the new and newly resurrected countries of Europe and Asia is to focus on popular topicals with low printings.
A nation of about 28 million, Uzbekistan relies mainly on the production or extraction of commodities, including cotton, gold, uranium, potassium, and natural gas. The government is slowly relaxing state control of the economy, although it remains hostile to allowing the development of a significant private sector. Average annual GDP growth has been outstanding, averaging 8% over the last 5 years. However, average income has remained low, at around $610 per year (2006), largely due to the fact that much of the country's prosperity has benefited a tiny ruling elite of corrupt bureaucrats. Reforms are obviously necessary, although given the country's abysmal human rights record, the road to change will probably be a bumpy one.
Those interested in becoming part of an international community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are welcome to join the "Stampselectors" group at Facebook. The group hosts lively discussions concerning stamp investment and practical aspects of collecting, as is also an excellent venue for those who wish to buy, sell, or trade stamps.