As cash runs low for people around the world who are deeply impacted by coronavirus closures gold possessions are helping them keep food on the table and a roof above their heads. Pawnshops, from Michigan to Malaysia, are serving as an emergency lifeline to those who had been living paycheck to paycheck and now find themselves out of work.
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In suburban Kuala Lumpur pawnshop owner David Yew recently complained of “too many” people pawning gold. “We had 140 customers today. Most of them pawned their gold for cash. They had run out of money,” he told The Straits Times.
“I’ve seen more gold probably in the last few months,” Brett Fine of Sandel’s Loan in Youngstown, Ohio told WFMJ. “It seems like they’re dipping into some things that they’re able to get money on to help themselves out a little more.”
In India, home to the world’s second largest consumer gold market, banks accept gold as collateral on loans. Farmer Umesh Patil used gold jewelry weighing 40 grams to receive a 130,000 rupee (just over $1,700) loan to purchase supplies he needs to plant crops. “I got a loan from a local co-operative bank in just an hour,” he told Reuters.
Italy’s consumer gold stores, which number about 6,000, saw a booming business earlier in the year when the country was shut down during the worst of the Italian coronavirus outbreak. The manager of “Compro Oro” (I buy Gold) shops Massimiliano Barrotta told Reuters, “We have seen an increase of about 50 percent in our purchases of gold from private customers this year.”
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