According to the latest survey from the Consumer Electronic Association, about 60 percent of adults plan to shop in stores or online during the holiday weekend, with the average person indicating they'll fork over $218 for gifts and merchandise from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.
This is a sharp increase from 2011, where shoppers said they'd spend $159.
For the ultimate gold lover on your shopping list, one amazing purchase you can nab is a Christmas tree complete with Disney characters and gold leaf ribbons made of 88 pounds of pure gold from a jewelry store in Tokyo, according to Reuters.
The ornamental tree will set you back $4.2 million, but there's also a smaller version available for $243,000.
But that's not the only thing that has grabbed my attention this holiday season. Here are 5 other amazing consumer trends that are happening around the world.
And two recent columns in particular on gold generated a larger-than-normal response.
The comments were related to the two-parter on gold prices that we published on Nov. 5 ("The Secret Gold Standard") and Nov. 13 ("Why Obama's Victory Means Higher Gold Prices").
Let's take a look at what you had to say.
The comments related to the "Secret Gold Standard" column were especially intriguing because a number of you thought I was advocating a literal return to the "gold standard."
I wasn't, of course. I employed the term as a convenient metaphor to try and help folks understand how the world's central banks were adding gold reserves for the first time in nearly a quarter century.
In fact, a global return to the gold standard isn't possible - there literally isn't enough gold to allow that to happen. It would crimp money-supply growth in such a way that global economic growth would be stymied.
A number of you wrote in to make that same point - including one reader who actually performed all the necessary calculations to make his case.
Al K. wrote in to ask: "Some analysts believe gold will drop further & others believe gold has bottomed out now. What do the experts of Money Morning believe?"
Since Al requested an "expert" opinion - a fair request - I put in a call to Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald.
The Outlook For Gold PricesRight now, Keith explained, there are two separate outlooks for gold - one for the near-term and another for the longer-term.
In all, gold has made 11 short-term bottoms since May 29, the lowest being a close at $1,552.40 an ounce on June 28. Meanwhile, subsequent rally attempts have all quickly run into resistance, stalling out at near $1,620.
This start-and-stop action makes it extremely difficult for investors to avoid being "whipsawed."
Fortunately, there's a way around this dilemma: Just use an options trading strategy that lets the market itself tell you exactly when to buy gold.
And, here's the best part: This clever options trading strategy will cost you only a few dollars.
It can be used on gold futures - e.g., the standard 100-ounce CME Group contract, on any of the gold mining stocks or on the much more affordable gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on which options trade.
Taking the Guesswork Out of Gold Prices
For ease of explanation, I'll base our example on the most popular and actively traded of the gold ETFs - the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEArca: GLD).
Recently quoted at $155.75, the price of a single GLD share usually tracks the price of one-tenth of an ounce of gold (discounted by 2.5%-3.0% for fund expenses and storage costs for the metal that backs the shares).
Here's how you would initiate the strategy, based on actual prices available last Friday:
In fact, each day that passes brings us closer to what could be the day of reckoning for those holding massive short positions on the ETFs for gold, silver, copper and related investments.
You see, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in late August will host an economic policy symposium in Jackson Hole, WY. Speaking at the conference, as he did in August of 2010 when he introduced the second round of quantitative easing, will be Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
There is much to believe that QE3 - if not declared sooner - could be announced at Jackson Hole. Should this happen, the prices of gold, silver and copper will likely soar like back in 2010.
That means anyone holding shorts on gold ETFs or similar investments could find themselves scrambling to cover their positions.
Would a "golden dividend" be enough to get you interested in gold stocks?
If not gold, what about silver?
Neither one of these options even existed when I first started talking about them just three months ago.
But thanks in part to billionaire resource investor Eric Sprott, today's investors can benefit from a dividend payable in physical gold or silver.
Sprott had sent a letter to silver producers, suggesting they reinvest some 25% of their earnings back into silver, rather than in cash at the bank.
That took my earlier discussion about gold and silver dividends to a totally new level: dividends in kind.
These aren't paper profits, but real, hold-in-your-hand gold and silver dividends.
For precious metals investors, these "hard asset" dividends make perfect sense.
Today, one innovative gold and silver producer offers investors the best of both worlds.
Finally: Physical Gold and Silver DividendsIn a bid to gain the "first mover" advantage, Gold Resource Corp. (NYSEAmex: GORO), a low-cost gold producer, is launching a gold and silver dividend program on April 10, 2012.
The company has already paid out $41 million in dividends to its shareholders over the past year and a half.
But now they are offering shareholders a unique option by partnering with Gold Bullion International (GBI). GBI is a New York-based precious metals provider to individual and institutional investors, with storage vaults in New York, Salt Lake City, London, Zurich, Singapore, and Australia.
Essentially, GORO shareholders can elect to convert their cash dividends into Gold Resource Corp. "Double Eagles" consisting of one ounce 0.999 fine gold and/or one ounce 0.999 fine silver rounds.
These "Double Eagles" will be drawn from GORO's physical treasury and placed into the shareholder's "individual bullion account" with GBI.
Without question, both are worthy of note - but the real star over the past eight months has been silver.
Stocks, gold and silver all hit cyclical lows during the final week of August 2010. The Dow Jones Industrial Average bottomed on Aug. 26, closing at 9,985.81, while June Comex gold futures closed at $1,223.30 an ounce on Aug. 24, and July Comex silver contracts settled at $18.121 per ounce on Aug. 23.