J. D. Heyes
May 11, 2012
There’s plenty of economic uncertainty to go around these days, and most of us know that the banking industry has taken it on the chin these past few years. But is it so bad that it’s time to start stuffing mattresses with cash? Yes, say an increasing number of Americans.
As the economic morass continues on a number of levels for tens of millions of Americans more than four years after the collapse of the housing and financial sectors, uncertainty over what the future will bring is on the rise. Though some economists will tell you that “things are getting better,” more and more people aren’t buying that.
Safes, in fact, are becoming high-demand items,according to some reports, with retailers reporting a 40-percent increase in sales and installation from just a few years ago. And they aren’t taking the shape of the typical boxy, squareobvious-looking safe. Instead, a sort ofboutiquesafe business has sprung up, giving people a wide range of options for where they can stash their cash.
Uncertainty, not crime, driving sales
Some are showpieces that appear to blend in with the rest of the decor. Others are decoys. Still others are what you would describe as “offbeat” – such as a hide-away lockbox that resembles a pair of men’s skivvies,SmartMoney.comreported. Others are what you would call “no kidding” safes: in-home vaults that cost upwards of $100,000.
“None of our safes should be hidden in a closet,” Markus Dottling, principle at a German specialty safe manufacture bearing his name, said. Some of his designs can cost more than most Americans pay for their homes.
It’s not crime that is driving this craze for securing our most valuable commodity. U.S. burglary rates all over the country have been falling for years. No, what is driving it is a general feeling of fiscal uncertainty that has engulfed the country since the early days of the 2009 fiscal meltdown.
Tyler D. Nunnally, founder and CEO ofUpside Risk, an Atlanta-based company that evaluates investor psychology, toldSmartMoney.comthat squirreling cash away in a safe – orsomewhere safe– is just a natural reaction to volatile economic times.
“People dislike loss twice as much as they like gains. They want to protect what they have,” he said.
And why not? Nothing anyone is doing in Washington seems to instill confidence. Europe seems like it faces a new economic crisis daily because of the crushing debt most Eurozone nations have accumulated. And Wall Street seems about as stable as a painter on a one-legged ladder.
No frills – just security
Indeed, anApril 2010Gallupsurveyfound that Americans’ trust in U.S. banks was at historic lows, with four in 10 saying they had “very little” confidence in them in general.
“Gallup has measured banking confidence in various surveys dating to the late 1970s. Since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Americans’ confidence has reached new lows, falling below the readings near 30 percent during the 1990-91 recession that reflected the fallout associated with the savings and loan debacle of the late 1980s,” the polling firm said.
Regarding safes in general, Americans aren’t worried about extravagance. In fact, they are looking for practicality and usability.
“When somebody is building a $100,000 custom closet, they don’t want a safe that looks like it belongs in the back of a delicatessen,” Robert Tompkin, president ofPrestige Safe, a high-end New York manufacturer, said.
While most economists and financial advisers are not recommending their clients stuff cash in a safe or, for that matter, inside a mattress, the fact is those trusted with our financial future aren’t doing much to win our confidence.
“It is not that the public in the United States does not want a good healthcare system, programs that provide employment, quality public education, or an end to Wall Street’s looting of the U.S. Treasury. Most polls suggest Americans do. But it has become impossible for most citizens in these corporate states to find out what is happening in the centers of power,” writes political observer Chris Hedges.
“The sound bites by Republicans or Democrats, the Liberals or the Conservatives, are accepted at face value. And once the television lights are turned off, the politicians go back to the business of serving business.”
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This article was posted: Friday, May 11, 2012 at 3:12 am