Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tony's News Feed Notables

As Yesterday was an interesting day in my news feed, I wanted to share a couple of articles that caught my eye.

A German company has begun building gold vending machines:

"Instead of buying flowers or chocolates, which is gone after two or three minutes, this will stay for the next few hundred years," Geissler told the Associated Press. But he also envisions that the machine, which is making its North American debut at the upscale Town Center Mall in Boca Raton, will draw “serious investors” who don’t want to buy gold at pawnshops or over the Internet.

Shoppers insert cash or credit cards and use a computer touch-screen to choose the weight and style they want (American Eagle Gold coins or Swiss bullion bars that range from one to 250 grams). The machine spits out the gold in a black box with a tamper-proof seal.

And, it is just in time for Christmas. It's the perfect gift for the pirate on your list.

In other news, the wealth gap is especially apparent this Christmas. According to this article, high-end retailers are doing well while low-end retailers are doing poorly.

Among shoppers with a college education, for example, the unemployment rate is about 5 percent; for those without a high school diploma, it's 16 percent. Wages for upper-income consumers are rising; for those at the bottom, they're falling. The average bonus on Wall Street could top last year's level -- both because profits are up and because there are fewers bankers and brokers left with jobs to split the bonus pot.

That gap is showing up in the bottom lines of American retailers, some of which generate as much as half their annual profits from the holiday season. Though retail sales are expected to show healthy gains of 4 to 5 percent this year, retailers who cater to households at the bottom of the economic ladder are seeing very different results as their customers struggle to make ends meet.

Global discounter Wal-Mart posted lower revenue at its U.S. stores in the third quarter as fewer customers turned out, and those who did spent less. (Overall profits were higher, the company said, thanks to cost-cutting and booming sales overseas.)
For those of you turning green with jealousy of the wealthy, the article has a nice quote for you too.
"The more high-end you go, the less promotional it's been," said McGranahan. "The real high-end guys -- the Burberrys of the world -- they don't have any inventory. Business has been so good, they've actually had to shut down some of the stores some days because they didn't have anything left to sell."
That is, the wealthy are doing well this Christmas, but at least they're paying full price.

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