Thursday, August 11, 2011

Roller coasters and Rip Van Winkle

OK!  Tomorrow is Friday and I am ready to have two days off from insanity.  The stock market fully reflects public sentiment, namely confusion, anxiety, fear, amazement, and disgust.  It has been a roller coaster of feelings and money, possibly good for day traders and computer-driven automated transactions, but not for us mere mortals.  Trillions blown and trillions recovered, while most of us stand about with our mouths open in amazement. 

We read reports in the media that the rich (maybe the super-rich) continue to spend lavishly, and some retail sales reports show strong trends.  (Macy's reports that jewelry was one of their strong categories.)  On the flip side, some vendors of high end goods say business is awful.  Mass market retailing in July was weak.  We will see what the reports say. 

We see the stunning rise in diamond prices weakening in some categories.  And gold has become an emotional commodity, as even sovereign states are heavy buyers, hedging against weak currencies.  Down in the trenches, where we live and work, gold prices are killing ranges of product.  Tiffany is using very light 18 karat chains as sort of loss leaders at $175.  How about heavy gold mountings and chains?  Almost prohibitive in price.  Sales, yes.  But a trickle of units.  Will the public accept this season's radically higher prices?  We just don't know.

We approach the fall season apprehensively and carefully.  No matter what, it will be rocky.  With a presidential election next year, and seriously contentious parties, we will see political paralysis just when we need action.

Think we could hibernate through this one, like Rip Van Winkle? 

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