Desperate Indians are selling their gold jewelry as the pandemic pushes them further into poverty.
Many take out doorstep gold loans in the hope they’ll find a way to repay, but increasing numbers are defaulting, and end up forfeiting their valuables.
One of India’s biggest gold loan companies, Manappuram, which has over 4,000 branches, says it auctioned $54m of customers’ gold in the three months to March.
That compares with just over $1m in the previous nine months, according to a Bloomberg news report.
These “distress sales” are likely to increase even more if India suffers a third Covid wave. More than 200m adults in India earn less than the $5-a-day minimum wage.
The net effect of gold loans and increased sales of gold direct to jewelers is that India will become less reliant on imports from Switzerland, its main supplier.