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Economic indicators. July 31, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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Far be it from our friend Ben to lay claim to the economic acuity of Ben Bernanke, or even Ben Franklin. But by keeping my eyes open and using some common sense—both of which Dr. Franklin, our hero and blog mentor here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, would heartily approve of—I think I can say that there’s good news and bad news.

Why do I think there’s still bad news? It’s all over the local paper, in the form of giant “Cash for Gold!!!” ads plastered on practically every page. From local jewelers and coin shops to out-of-towners who set up for the day in hotels, it seems like everybody’s buying. And though they all claim to be paying top dollar for Grandma’s engagement ring or Great-Uncle Harry’s collection of silver dollars, our friend Ben suspects that sticker shock would quickly set in when the dealers delivered their final offers. (“What do you mean, you’ll give me ten dollars? Cousin Bert paid $2,000 for that ring!”)

Even so, the enthusiastic competition means that these guys are getting business, and plenty of it, no matter how little they’re offering. And since people aren’t usually eager to dispose of their heirlooms, our friend Ben would say that hauling off the family jewels (so to speak) for cash is a sign that times are still very tough, and people are trying to meet their financial obligations any way they can.

Don’t think Silence Dogood and I haven’t thought about it, either, and been tempted to see what’s lying around. But our relations would rise from their collective graves if we attempted to part with any heirlooms. We may die broke, but our heirs will be getting Great-Great-Grandma’s platinum cocktail ring, even if the chances of their wearing it are no greater than Silence’s. (She says she’ll wear it for Prince Charles’s next wedding.)

So what’s the good news? The past few weeks, our friend Ben has been finding dropped coins again. When the economic crunch was at its worst, you could not see so much as a penny on the sidewalk. If somebody dropped a coin, it was worth their time to bend over and pick it up. Now, it looks like things are getting back to normal. Our friend Ben has seen a number of pennies, as well as several dimes and even a quarter, while heading around the tiny town near us doing routine chores. Dropped change may not seem like much of an economic indicator, but our friend Ben thinks it’s a sign that things are finally starting to look up, or at least, that people are no longer so hard-pressed that they’re looking down attempting to retrieve their change.

A cause for (guarded) optimism? I hope so! Meanwhile, if anyone is trying to unload any collections of gold coins, please let our friend Ben know. I’d be happy to give you face value in cash for each and every one. What a steal, I mean, deal!!!



1. Lzyjo - July 31, 2009

WOW! The change theory. That’s a real economic indicator! I once found like $10 worth of change on the street with my grandpa. I think he planted it for me.

Ha! I’ll bet he did, too, Lzyjo! How adorable!

2. Ali - July 31, 2009

Don’t know of you read the NY Times, so thought I’d share this great Ben Franklin piece by Maira Kalman.

Thank you, Ali. How delightful! I do get the NYT via e-mail daily, but am lucky if I have time to scan down the main page, so I’d never encountered Maira Kalman’s work before. Someone should really turn that post into a children’s book!

Ali - August 1, 2009

I am pleased you enjoyed it. I just love her work — I really enjoyed the posts on Lincoln and Jefferson, too. And so I’m trying to bring Maira Kalman’ blog to the attention of others who might also enjoy it as I do.


Geez, Ali! Sounds like she should either do a book on the Founding Fathers or a series. Wow!

3. cooperii - August 1, 2009

We can’t even find aluminum cans by the side of the road in our town. Change never hits the ground. As for the gold brokers, they are parked in front of every Dollar store in the county. Change may be in the works, but it isn’t evident here on the western edge of Appalacia.

As for the way ahead looking better… Nothing has changed! The cycle will be shorter this time. We will still be around, probably looking at life on retirement when the system fails again. Don’t know who will survive that one. The “throw more money at it so it doesn’t fail (in the next four years)” approach isnt fixing anything. It is just keeping the peasants from revolting and the fat cats fat enough that they will keep bankrolling the politicial system.

And the worst of it is that the money they’re throwing is worthless paper!

4. Bill - August 3, 2009

I would strongly suggest checking out the Silver and Gold Exchange before selling gold or silver to ANYONE. I did a great deal of research, online and offline, and learned a lot about this business. I checked pawn shops, jewelers, “gold parties”, hotel “buying events as well as the online buyers, including the “as seen on tv” guys. I found that the Silver and Gold Exchange paid more than anyone else I could find. I liked the fact that they post the prices they pay per gram (beware of the places that quote in pennyweight/DWT) on a live price chart at http://SilverAndGoldExchange.com I also checked out their Better Business Bureau report and found they have never had a single complaint as opposed to HUNDREDS of complaints some other companies have! I recommend them 100%

Thanks, Bill! Anyone contemplating this, listen up!

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