Irish Financial Review

Debt crisis: Italians turn to cash-for-gold shops

Italy has seen the number of cash-for-gold shops multiply significantly in recent years as citizens there are forced to sell jewellery to pay bills.  

According to media reports, the Eurispes think-tank estimates that the number of gold-buying shops has quadrupled in the last two years.

As has been happening in Ireland and other countries, citizens in Italy are finding the ongoing austerity programmes is resulting in less and less money to pay basis bills. Buying gold has become one of the boom industries.

It is estimated that there is an estimated 28,000 “cash for gold” outlets in Italy, according to Gianni Mancuso, one of six centre-right MPs who last month presented a request in parliament for the government to regulate the sector more strictly.

As with many growth sectors, the Government in Italy is now looking at how it will regulate the industry there…a codeword for how it plans to generate additional tax.

Tesco offers mortgages in the UK

Tesco Bank, part of the retailing giant that carries the same name has announced that it is to begin offering mortgages for the first time in the UK. Its foray into the mortgage world is likely to be as timid as an injured athlete returning to training for the first time. Conservative lending will be the order of the day.

The bank, which said it aimed to offer products for the “majority” of its supermarket customers is not going to be offering any mortgages to those with deposits less than 20%, in other words, 80% maximum loan-to-values. This will rule out much of the first time buyer market, where lower deposits tend to be the norm.

“This is a prudent place to start,” said David McCreadie, managing director of Tesco Bank. He acknowledged that Tesco bank currently had no plans to offer mortgages to first-time buyers with smaller deposits, even though he expressed confidence that Tesco Bank is planning a full service that would rival high street banks.

The range of mortgages include two-year, three-year and five-year fixed rates. Mortgage experts in the UK have questioned the Tesco Bank offers and claim they are so uncompetitive, it is unlikely that many consumers would ever end up taking the Tesco Bank loans out.

The entry of Tesco Bank into hard-core lending is likely to continue to be done on a step-by-step basis as the grocery giant learns the complexities and dangers associated with lending. However, it’s entry into the mortgage market should be an interesting exercise that is likely to closely watched by similar operators such as Sainsburys, who also promote their own ‘bank’ services.

Here in Ireland, it is probably safe to say that we are stuck with banks that we already have. With just two lenders, AIB and Bank of Ireland doing minimal levels of lending, other banks continue to lick their wounds on the banking sidelines. A return to mortgage lending is a while away, even if the property market begins to stage a meaningful recovery.

Evander Holyfield loses home to foreclosure

Evander Holyfield can again serve as a case study for every child in Ireland.

This month, Mr. Holyfield lost is 109-room home in the southern US state of Georgia to foreclosure.

In addition to losing his home,  Mr. Holyfield has taken to selling the boxing gloves from the heavyweight bout in which Mike Tyson bit off part of his ear, auctioning medals, championship belts and other memorabilia after losing his home to foreclosure.

Holyfield’s bronze medal from the 1984 Olympics also will be included in the sale,

Holyfield, 49, moved out of the sprawling 109-room mansion this month after it was sold for $7.5 million in a March foreclosure auction. According to newspaper reports, he owed more than $14 million on the house. He’s earned an estimated $250 million during his career.

His personal finances appear to be intotal  chaos and with a large child support bill that is estimated to be in arrears to the tune of several hundred thousand US dollars, Mr. Holyfield appears to have taken to literally selling the family silver (and gold…and bronze) to keep the bailiffs away.

While losing a home is sad, are 109 rooms really necessary? Or, if the bills mount, couldn’t Mr. Holyfield perhaps planned his personal finances a little better. For kids, his is a classic case is not what one OWNS, but what one OWES!

But back to Mr. Holyfield. The auction to sell off his personal possessions, his memorabilia will include over 20 pairs of fight-worn gloves, robes and trunks; championship rings and belts; and autographed posters, according to the release.

The auction, which has over 500 items, also includes parts of Holyfield’s life outside of boxing, including furniture, clothing, jewellery and his red 1962 Chevrolet Corvette.

The items will be sold in two sessions on Nov. 30. Bidders can participate in person, online or over telephone, according to the statement.

Debt takes no prisoners. The successful, the powerful, the gifted and even world champions cannot fight it off, especially when it gets out of control.

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