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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The economic Christmas 'Bucket List'

If you knew you were to pass away in exactly 30 days-  that there was no hope or cure to your ailment and in 30 days, that is that.. what would you do with that time? Would you spend them in bed?  Would you spend them watching TV or doing crossword puzzles?  Or would you Live wild and vicariously- experience things you might not seek to try and spend money wildly which you may under normal circumstances have saved responsibly?   Would you want those 30 days to be lived out with a whimper or with a Bang! ?

I had been racking my brain in futility the past few weeks trying to understand why holiday sales figures are the best in three years when not a single positive action has been taken by the government in over two years to help the bottom 98% of the population in any meaningful way.  Where was all this money that was being spent when official unemployment is at 9.8%, unofficially at 18%, people losing their credit, savings.. their homes.. banks not lending, home prices falling, etc..

And finally, after bouncing ideas off someone very smart who is pretty in tune with the mindset of people, by chance the real reason for this holiday season shopping boon dawned on me-  Holiday sales went up in 2010 not because people are optimistic or upbeat about the recovery- its actually the opposite.

Many people have given up hope.

For many people who've experienced financial suffering for the past couple years; pinching pennies and trying their best to stay afloat, many have given up and decided instead to celebrate Christmas with a Bang!  The mindset being something like this: 'I don't know what 2011 will bring.. don't know if I will have a job or continue receiving unemployment benefits... don't know if I will still be in this home next year at this time.. but I'm not going out like that..  I'm going to make this Christmas the BEST one ever for me and my family!'

And so these people shopped..and shopped & shopped.  They maxed out their credit cards.. bought things they knew they couldn't afford but figured they were going bankrupt or being foreclosed upon anyways.. people used $$ meant for their mortgage payment to buy HDTVs and PlayStation3 and iPads and clothes and jewelry..  They were determined to have lots of presents under the tree and live for the moment, because 'tomorrow' was just too bleak to consider.

Many people this holiday season fulfilled their economic 'bucket list' and treated this Christmas as if there would be no other afterwards.  AP and other news sources didn't seem to take that into account when writing their pollyanna propaganda fluff pieces touting "The Consumer is Back".

In a truly distorted way, if the 2011 Christmas shopping season is weaker than this year, it means people are rebuilding their economic lives and there's a sincere recovery taking place.  If the numbers are stronger next year, then this nation is in a world of serious hurt.

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