Monday, 12 December 2011

Hard-up Greeks swap their gold crosses for cash

Angeliki says her clients sell their gold crucifixes, baptism tokens or other religious objects, along with watches and pieces of gold. “When you are unemployed and have to pay the bills or taxes ... there is often no other solution,” she said.

3 comments:

Guanyu 道 said...

Hard-up Greeks swap their gold crosses for cash

Agence France-Press in Athens
12 December 2011

Greece has seen an upsurge in small companies and shops offering to buy gold, driven by record prices and the needs of many people to raise cash during hard times when jobs are uncertain and money scarce.

“Sell your gold”, “We buy your jewels”, the signs read in Ermou Street, a pedestrian precinct in the heart of Athens thronged with people doing their Christmas shopping, as money changers and jewellers get in on the act too.

In recent months it has become common to see leaflets handed out around the city suggesting that Athenians might want to sell their old baptismal cross so they can afford their dream holiday.

Details of the amount of gold bought, where it ends up or what profit is made are hard to come buy but Angeliki, who works in a jeweller’s, puts the margin at “between 5 and 10 per cent”, while complaining about the stiff competition.

Gold hit a record high of US$1,921 an ounce in early September as nervous investors bought the precious metal as a safe hedge against the euro-zone debt crisis, which has spread remorselessly from its centre in Greece.

The price has fallen since then to around US$1,700, but that is still very high compared with the historic range, making that old gold necklace or ring kept in a drawer surprisingly valuable. GoldBuyers, which has opened several shops in and around the capital, plays up this angle.

“The gold price has risen 300 per cent in the past five years,” it says on its website, arguing that now is the time to sell before it falls again.

The Greek market gets a boost because the economy has been in recession since 2008, and as the government adopts stinging austerity measures to meet the terms of the country’s European Union-International Monetary Fund bailout accords, times are only getting harder.

Unemployment has risen sharply as a result of the cutbacks, and lower pensions mean many people are finding it hard to make ends meet.

There were two types of client, one GoldBuyers employee said: “Those who are taking advantage of the rise in gold prices to sell some family jewellery to buy something else,” such as the latest mobile phone, and then “there are those who have to sell because they need the money”.

Angeliki says her clients sell their gold crucifixes, baptism tokens or other religious objects, along with watches and pieces of gold. “When you are unemployed and have to pay the bills or taxes ... there is often no other solution,” she said.

“I have seen some of them crying,” Angeliki said, describing most of her clients as women aged 30 to 50 who sell their gold as a last resort and often unbeknown to their family.

At the same time, the authorities are beginning to show an interest in these small shops, with reports that they recently dismantled a network shipping gold to Germany and were also cracking down on tax evasion by some shop owners.

ahnn said...

Cash for gold has been one sources of money when you needed it. Life has been so hard on them but think positive, they will definitely over come it. :)

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