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…

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance company bought gold ($400 million) for the first time in its 150+ year history.  Swamp Report is unsure whether to bet with them or against them…

FT reports that China now has almost doubled its holdings of gold since 2003.

“This is probably the most significant central bank announcement since the Central Bank of Russia announced at the LBMA gold conference in Johannesburg in 2005 that it wanted to hold 10 per cent of its foreign exchange reserves in gold,” said John Reade of UBS.

Hou Huimin, vice general secretary of the China Gold Association, said China should build its reserves to 5,000 tonnes.

“It’s not a matter of a few hundred, or 1,000 tonnes. China should hold more because of its new international status, and because of the financial crisis,” he said. “The financial crisis means the US dollar’s value is changing fast, and it may retreat from being the international reserve currency. If that happens, whoever holds gold will be at an advantage.”

We wonder whether China can add gold and still keep buying so much US debt in the face of declining surplus…