Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Safe Story

There's a stupid story which started up over the weekend in the US business news over Germans.  The story is hyped.....Germans dumping banks, buying safes for their homes.

What the original reporter got....I think....is some report that indicates an increase in home safes being sold and he assumes that folks are quitting bank accounts.....to keep their cash at home.  Oddly, the story comes out of the Wall Street Journal.

Well.....it's a false story.

Over the past decade, if you travel around Europe (or Australia for that matter)....if you stay in a four-star hotel.....there's a safe in the room.  I admit....it's not the kind of safe that Americans imagine, but it's big enough to put a shoe-box into.  It's usually bolted into the closet and runs off a battery device where you put in a four-to-six number sequence (off a telephone-like pad) and it's fire-durable.  Germans travel and see it constantly.

So the hardware shops in Germany have started to market and sell these.  A typical cheapo-type would run around 100-to-150 Euro.  A better choice would be in the 300-to-400 Euro range.  All of them are about the same size....,maybe one to two shoe-boxes fitting into it.

What does the German put into it?

1.  Because of increased break-in's.....jewelry collections and expensive watches are usually kept there.....bolted into the floor or into the wall.  The punk might find the safe but if he's got just ten minutes in the place to feel safe about robbing it.....he doesn't have the time or resources to waste on the safe.

2.  Coin collections?  You do find a fair number of Germans who either have small coin collections or collect on gold.  So it makes sense to keep in a safe.

3.  Some cash.  I'm not saying the average guy is stowing cash there....just the guy who deals in cash a good bit and maybe does work on the "black".  Hint: there are lots of plumbers and carpenters who do work for cash, and at the end of a year.....have 50,000 Euro in their hands that is unreported income.  Rather than deposit the money, which would get the bank/tax folks attention.....you store the "loot" at home and spend the money out of the safe.

For the price-range, it's affordable now.  Not like the 1980s where you had to spend a huge amount of money to get a regular sized safe.

Quitting bank accounts?  No.   I do agree.....the price hikes now on regular accounts have made Germans peppy and frustrated.  Most banks now require you maintain a certain amount of money in the account....like 1,500 or 2,000 Euro.  Some require you maintain a savings account connected to the checking account and at least a couple thousand Euro in it.....to avoid the monthly fees.  The banks with the regular fee business?  Probably double or triple what it was a decade ago.

But here's the thing.....for you paycheck, your pension check, and for regular bill-paying....you absolutely have to maintain a bank account.  You can go line up a hundred Germans, and I would take a guess that 98-percent of them have an account somewhere.  Even homeless guys will have an ATM card and get their welfare or pension money out via some bank.

So, yeah.....it's mostly a bogus story.  The safe trend will continue and even I.....eventually.....will probably get a safe as well (if the wife deems this as necessary).  So don't worry.....German banks are safe and still have a thriving business.....as do the safe guys.

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