From Sky News:

It is a store that has always had the reputation for selling something a little different for those willing to splash their cash.

Harrods gold

Anyone got a spare £248,000? Maybe head to Harrods…  So despite enduring the worst recession in decades, shoppers to the luxury Knightsbridge shop Harrods can now buy “off the shelf” gold bars.  The price of gold has soared in recent weeks as the dollar weakens, reaching another record high of US$1,063.60 an ounce on Thursday…Chris Hall, head of Harrods Gold Bullion, said: “The financial environment has kindled a new demand for physical gold amongst private investors in Britain.

But, as Business Week points out, you don’t get a really good deal at Harrods:

But as any serious shopper knows, don’t expect a bargain at Harrods. The store says its premium on Krugerrand gold coins is currently set 11% above spot price—more than twice the average mark-up already paid by retail investors using typical U.S. and European coin dealers.

And it is also possible that the price of gold has peaked for now – when the “shoeshine boy” is giving tips…

The National Asociation of Business Economists NABE has just released its survey of 45 well known economists. 24/7 Wall Street is skeptical, but how can you go against 45 experts?:

“Nearly 75% of those who responded to the survey said that the recession will end next quarter. Not a single economist thought that the recession would move beyond the first quarter of 2010.

Hailing a recovery may be a little premature. Several things could happen in the next quarter and each one could contribute to a continuing contraction of GDP.

Oil prices may still go up much further. Some OPEC members say that they expect oil to be over $70 by the end of the year. Exploration and production of crude is demonstrably down. A prolonged period of low oil prices took away the incentives for spending money to increase supply.

China is using more crude than it did in the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of this year. There are two theories as to why that is true. One is that the economy in the world’s most populous nation is improving more sharply than expected. The other is that the country is increasing its strategic oil reserves in case of a supply interruption. Oil prices would also rise if there are credible forecasts that the upcoming winter will be unusually cold in the northern hemisphere.

In general high oil prices mean less disposable consumer and business spending which is not conducive to rising GDP.

A third quarter recovery is not likely. And, the economy could actually get worse early next year.”

Swamp Report is feeling a little Contrarian, or maybe just plain contrary too… What is NABE’s track record? Well here’s what the WSJ reported on February 28, 2008:

“U.S. economic growth will slow to a crawl but avoid recession during the first half of this year while inflation will continue to rise, economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics said.

The association’s latest quarterly survey shows 55% of respondents expect the nation will avoid a recession. But they expect growth of the gross domestic product of just 0.4% at an annual rate in the first three months of 2008, followed by a 1% pace over the following three months.”

Hmmm… “stagflation and avoid recession”…Looks like NABE’s track record is questionable at best…Maybe better to bet opposite from whatever they think…