Despite a fourth week beneath $1700, physical gold continues to inspire confidence, remaining a safe haven during this rather frantic close of the year. Gold closed up Friday at $1657.50 while silver closed up at $30.15. With the country now coming ever so close to going over the fiscal cliff, many analysts believe that the U.S. will end up doing just that. Meanwhile, forecasters are calling for the European Union to remain intact, but with significant shocks for 2013. Renewed unrest in the Congo throws Chinese mining interests in the region into flux. Ongoing tensions in Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Palestine and Syria complicates the future of oil, rare earth and precious metal prices creating a fiscal time bomb in the region. In Asia, Japan’s growth has come to an almost complete halt, but South Korea is seeing surpluses. The Chinese business sector is chomping at the bit for a stabilized stock market, looking to initiate a backlog of IPOs. Brazil’s economy is on fire, but they are importing gold. Bolivia has made good on nationalizing a few mines and Peru may finally make that move in early 2013. The world continues to spin, and precious metals and rare earths continue to be its axis. Have a prosperous New Year.