Saturday, February 07, 2009

Signs from a Swedish Recession

Sweden is in a recession. Along with plenty of other countries. People are getting laid off. Struggling with debt. Being evicted. Some people made poor choices. Some people are victims of the situation. Either way it’s not the prettiest financial situation I’ve ever seen. In Sweden the headlines have focused on the big companies laying off workers. Sweden being a welfare state, this puts a sizable burden on the government.

Luckily though, the market economy lives on in Sweden to some extent. And those who need to make an extra crown here and there can do just that. By selling their crowns. Because jewelry stores are buying metals. Like silver. And gold. From your teeth.

I was walking along in the middle of Stockholm today near Östermalmstorg, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in all of Stockholm, when I came upon this lovely sign in a jewelry store window. Tandguld köpes. Basically, tooth gold is purchased here. The fact that it was near Östermalmstorg made it so much better for some reason. Now, I don’t know if this sign is always up. It very well may be. It looked somewhat temporary but I’m no sign expert. But considering the economic climate, seeing a sign advertising the purchase of gold from your teeth was noteworthy. Of course, you’ll notice the old lady peering in through the window is wearing a fur coat. Maybe even admiring a nice pair of earrings made from the finest Swedish tooth gold.

Buying tooth gold just kind of creeped me out. Harvesting your body for money. I know you can sell sperm and eggs and all of that good stuff, but for some reason that seems less greedy because other people benefit in a profound way. Like with a baby. Tooth gold? Someone might end up with a nice new ring. It’s just not quite the same thing.

Welcome to Sweden. Where little old ladies buy recycled tooth gold during the recession.

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  1. I rather seriously doubt that anyone would pull out their gold tooth for the money they'd get from the gold. For one, the gold in the form of a tooth would've cost them a heck of a lot more than the gold value of it. But...I know that my dad used to have a gold tooth. But times change and the dental industry came up with better alternatives. Like platinum with ceramics e.g. Hardly cheaper - but a lot better I'd say. I think my dad's still got that gold saved in some drawer though. Might be a bunch of other people do too?

    Still, I too find these sort of signs somewhat distasteful somehow. But these sort of things (as well as pawnshops) - are still a whole lot better than the loan shark type of deal that the "sms lenders" offer. Those I truly abhor.

  2. that could very well be. either way, kind of a gross sounding sign.

    and youre right, the sms loans are pretty ridiculous.

  3. As both an amateur dentist and a expert sign maker, I can honestly say I never thought I would see the day when my profession and hobby overlapped in this manner. The sign seems completely temporary, and most likely a sign of the times (you see what I did there?)

    My mom happens to have a couple of her old gold crowns in a drawer for the aforementioned reason of getting them replaced by ceramics. Who knows, this may be a huge industry.

    And what is a SMS Loan? I'm familiar with SMS of course, but a loan via SMS?

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  5. Amateur dentist? Expert sign maker? I'd be more comfortable with someone presenting themselves the other way around! Though reading this makes me wonder if maybe the dentist I went to before my current one might not have been an expert sign maker.

    Sms loans are small amount, short time loans that applied for via sms. You would e.g. send an sms to one of these lenders and 15 minutes later the money would be in your bank account. These lenders (it has been reported) doesn't care much about your credit rating. They claim to charge no interest, only a "fee" based upon the amount, to be payed in full in 30 days. Calculated as interest, these fee's usually translate to something like 800% or more. Desperate people send a lot of sms's to a lot of different sms-lenders.

    Unfortunately, when the Riksbank (Swedish central bank) hiked interest rates up to 500% in 1992 in a futile attempt to defend the value of the SEK, they also pretty much rendered our loansharking laws null and void.

  6. @the good dr. - I almost checked with you about the nature of the sign, so am quite glad that you put in your two cents.

    sms loans are ridiculous. and jacob m does an excellent job of explaining them just below.

    @leonard - thanks, will do.

    @jacob m - the good dr has a wide range of skills. perhaps he is just downplaying his abilities as a dentist. from what Ive heard in sweden though, your sentiments about amateur dentists seems to be a common theme.

  7. Perhaps more companies get into buying tooth gold these days, but I'm positive I've seen similar (and more permanent) signs in the windows of some otherwise fashionable-looking jeweler's stores...

    To add to your creepy feeling, I've always imagined it was the gold teeth of deceased people being bought. Or that of people getting a set of dentures.

  8. I went back to this this weekend actually and checke it out. it is most definitely a temporary sign.

    and that is creepy. dead people tooth gold becoming jewlery... gross.

  9. Well, on the other hand, maybe it would bother me more if that gold wasn't recycled at all. The raw materials for gelatin (gummy candy and other foodstuffs) is probably more revolting.

  10. yea I suppose you might as well use it. but the idea is still a bit creepy.

    its important not to think about what goes into making gummy candies. mostly because they are so delicious that it would be a shame to ever be grossed out by it.