There's a whole lot of hoarding going on. Of course, if you're among the poorest of the poor, you don't have anything to hoard -- nor do you have the means to get the money to buy something to hoard.
HOARDING FOR THE APOCALYPSE
But, if you're rich you could be "hoarding up for the apocalypse." That's what Baltimore Sun writer Dan Rodricks says about CEOs' desire for even more wealth being a preparation for "end-times luxury."
The concentration of wealth in America has accelerated in the last decade, with the gap dividing middle class and rich becoming bigger and bigger, and the division between rich and poor has become "so vast as to be immeasurable," says Rodricks. That sounds familiar Dan -- the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, right?
But, it does become shocking when you realize that the ratio of total CEO compensation to average worker pay increased from 24:1 in 1965 to 262:1 in 2005, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Four years ago, in 2005, a CEO earned more in one workday (there are 260 in a year) than an average worker earned ($41,861) in 52 weeks.
An example of hoarding for the apocalypse is the decision by JPMorgan Chase to go ahead with plans to spend $138 million on new jets and build "the premiere corporate aircraft hangar on the eastern seaboard" to house them, says ChattahBox. It fits into Rodrick's theory about why the corporate rich continue to indulge and reward themselves despite a public uproar amid financial crisis. Hoarding for the apocalypse calls for belief that the end is coming and that wealth will insulate the wealthy from the misery that will befall the rest of us, he says:
"The apocalyptic rich have hoarded cash and assets -- and they continue to accumulate as much as possible -- and they've built retreats to allay a deep fear that, when the world starts to fall apart, they will be at the top of a mountain, in a secure compound with its own source of energy and potable water (and a decade's supply of Cabernet), isolated from the screaming, rioting masses" writes Rodricks.
This secret hoarding of the corporate rich -- at least it starts out being a secret -- reminds me of Alzheimer's patients who have a habit of hoarding or collecting things. They have hiding places that they can't remember later and which are so secretive their caretakers can't find them either. Hope the JPMorgan Chase guys don't get in their jets and fly from one mountain top to another trying to find their retreats full of hoarded delicacies.
Looming tariffs have whet the appetites and hoarding of delicacies from Europe, especially gourmet foods. The "retaliatory" duties, threatened for late April, stem from a festering trade dispute between the U.S. and the European Union over an EU ban on imports of American Beef treated with hormones, writes The Wall Street Journal.
Among the wide range of European gourmet foods being hoarded in the U.S. are: jamon ibericos -- Spain's cured hams that sell for approx. $800 for an average 14-pound ham; lingonberry jam, a staple in Scandinavian cuisine; foie gras, pate from goose or duck liver marinated in Cognac with truffles; luxury French chocolates; and that stinky blue cheese, Roquefort.
The pungent raw sheep's milk cheese has its fans really worried -- Roquefort is the only item on which the duty rate is scheduled to rise 300 percent. The rest are slated to rise 100 percent. The tariff change will make the venerable French blue too expensive for most. Cheesemongers say Roquefort most likely will disappear from American shelves.
The strictly regulated French Roquefort is made by only a handful of producers near the village of Roquefort sur Soulzon in southwestern France where it is aged for at least three months in the limestone caves of neighboring Mount Combalou, according to The Wall Street Journal. France isn't worried about losing U.S. business -- the American market accounts for less than 2 percent of all blue cheese produced.
With the new tariff, imported Roquefort will cost around $60 a pound. Rather than saying adieu to Roquefort, retailers who can afford it are ordering extra wheels of the blue cheese to stockpile for those customers who can spend that kind of money. Perhaps that will include the corporate execs with those new jets. Suppose they will store a wheel or two of Roquefort on board for hors deurves?
HOARDING GUNS AND AMMO
Manufacturers and retail shops cannot keep up with the demand for guns and ammo. The shortage of ammunition is nationwide, as shelves often go unstocked. When shipments do come in, retailers are frequently sold out within hours, and claim that sales have been phenomenal -- ammunition, reloading supplies, guns, gun accessories -- everything is selling at record rates.
Ever since the November election, gun-owners fear that with Barack Obama as President he may ban guns or make guns and their ammunition unaffordable.
Apparently the National Rifle Association has spent a lot of money on an advertising campaign to get new members, focusing on the fears of gun-owners that they could lose their second-amendment right to bear arms. The NRA ads described Obama's historical positions on gun issues, including having said they he would support a 500 percent federal tax on guns and ammunition. In addition to gun owners feeling threatened by the potential for new restrictive gun laws, they are fearful that the increasing loss of jobs could boost the potential for crime.
A number of local gun shops, along with Wal Mart and sporting goods stores claim sales have doubled since the election. When a store gets a shipment of ammo, particularly for 9 mm and .45-caliber bullets for semiautomatic pistols, and .38-caliber bullets for revolvers, people go in and buy it all.
"There's also a strong interest in 'black guns,' military-style rifles, both from people who want to buy them 'because they can' as well as others who believe they'll be able to sell them at higher prices someday soon,"reports Ross Kaminsky in the article "Are You Hoarding Ammo?"
Gun sales have risen significantly since the November election, as indicated by the 31 percent increase in FBI firearms background checks performed since then, reports the Columbus Dispatch. A NRA firearms instructor told the newspaper: "The ammo is being snapped up as soon as it comes in...It's kind of like that run on Elmo dolls. People are in a frenzy." Owner of a shooting center said that in the first three months of the year, he has already sold the same amount of ammunition that he typically sells in an entire year, adding:
"We've never seen anything like this before. We've had spikes in demand before with other administration changes, after 9/11 and when people were preparing for Y2K, but nothing like this."
The following stats, reported by Kaminsky, are evidence of the increased gun sales across the country: In February it was reported that Florida was buried under a backlog of 95,000 applications for concealed-weapons permits; in Georgia, firearm permits were up 79 percent in 2008 over 2007; in Oklahoma, firearm permits rose some 90 percent; and in Ohio, the number of concealed carry licenses issued in the 4th quarter of 2008 was 111 percent higher than the 4th quarter of 2007.
Santa Feans are buying gold, guns and generators reports the Santa Fe Reporter : "Freaked out New Mexicans are putting their money where they can see it -- at home, under lock and key. And they're packing heat, just in case."
At one Santa Fe gun shop, assault rifles are back-ordered nearly seven months, reported the news paper, quoting a shop employee. Following the nationwide trend, demand for guns has been "out of sight," he says describing gun-purchasers as feeling "paranoid, rightly or wrongly."
Calling the current recession a "survivalist economy," the paper reported a bizarre trickle-down effect -- not only are sales of gasoline-powered electrical generators up, but sales of wood stoves for home heating have spiked, along with a surge in chain saw sales.
HOARDING GOLD INGOTS IN HOME SAFES
The last time gold sales jumped as high as they are today (near an all -time high at $1,000 per ounce in mid-March) was the year prior to Y2K, when "Armageddon-minded Americans stashed gold -- along with guns and cans of beans -- in their basements and back yards," says Newsweek.
People started buying gold again in November when the credit crisis was accelerating. "It's primarily moms and pops, people who have seen their 401(k)s deteriorate over time," said Scott Thomas, president of American Precious Metals Exchange (APMEX).
And how much gold are these moms and pops buying? Americans bought 600 tons of gold bars and coins last year, a 42 percent increase over 2007, according to the World Gold Council.
And where are today's gold hoarders stashing their gold ? For many, it is not a safe-deposit box in the bank. "..the mentality of gold hoarders is that they want it close by; in an emergency, they don't trust the banks," says Newsweek.
They are buying their own home safes, which they hide in the basement, a closet, bolted to their home's foundation or buried in the back yard. Sales at Cannon Safe rose 43 percent in 2008. The company -- which asks on its website "Can't Trust your Bank?" -- estimates some 30 percent of new safe owners are holding precious metals.
SMOKERS FUME AND HOARD CIGARETTES
What a drag to be a smoker and have the government make the biggest federal tobacco tax hike in history. That's what happened last week when the tobacco tax jumped from 39 cents to $1.01 a pack. (That's almost $10 a pack in New York City.)
The days before the tax increase kicked in, smokers lined up outside discount cigarette shops where they waited hours to purchase many cartons of the cheaper brand cigarettes to hoard.
"Increasing the tobacco tax discourages youth from smoking and encourages longtime smokers to quit," said Jim Knox, vice president of government relations for the American Cancer Society in Sacramento, CA. Every 1 percent price increase causes 3 to 4 percent of adult smokers to quit and about 6 to 7 percent of youngsters who smoke quit -- they have less discretionary income than do adults and haven't been smoking as long, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
(Hey -- if it's true that youngsters don't have much discretionary money, why do product advertisers prefer this age group and spend millions to influence their buying choices?)
Military personnel are going to become particularly popular since cigarettes purchased by soldiers at the PX (commissary) are exempt from taxation. And those motivated to quit, may buy the new electronic cigarettes with liquid nicotine and no smoke.
LAW PARTNERS HOARD ASSOCIATE'S WORK
Another "natural phenomenon" in a recession is a different kind of hoarding -- the hoarding of work. The law blog JD Underground discusses the "hoarding" of associate-level work by partners -- who are expected to maintain a particular level of productivity, like the associates. This type of hoarding can lower associate morale and reduce training opportunities.
"When work begins to dry up, the partners tend to hoard it, and you see precipitous drop offs in hours of associates," says a law firm management consultant, who advises senior partners that it's a bad idea.
HOARDING DONATED TOYS FOR TOTS
Last week in San Diego, the president of a foster parent organization was arraigned on charges of grand theft and embezzlement for stealing, hoarding and selling thousands of toys that were donated to the Toys for Tots charity.
The 73-year-old woman, a foster mother of four and president of the Latino Foster Parent Assn., is accused of stashing away some 11,000 toys in three different locations, from which she sold the toys at garage sales. Apparently, in her mind, there just weren't enough needy children for all those toys. After all, everyone knows it's better to hoard for your own future benefit than to give a needy child more than one toy at Christmas.
TO READ THE PART ONE ARTICLE ON HOARDING, CLICK HERE.