It's a little over a week away now. Black Friday, which sounds kind of like a horror film. No doubt it kind of is. Lots of women (and more than a handful of men) pushing and shoving, clamoring for deals so that they don't disappoint loved ones next month. They can disappoint them every other day of the year, but that holiest of holy days better be the day they finally pull the fuck through and bring smiles to everybody's faces for at least a half hour or so.
Steven Stahler, of The Stahler Group, is not one of the cheerleaders for the stock market. He thinks it the recent rises are nothing more than mere speculation again. He also notes the discrepancies between Wall Street and consumers, and admits that the consumers who may get their jobs back (something he finds "unlikely") won't be spending big anyway. Ta-da. The way to fix the bind we are in, he states, is not Xmess shopping. It's jobs. The jobs need to come back. However, there is a problem: 12/31/09.
That's the day he thinks the honeymoon is over. The real numbers (which don't include Cash for Clunkers subsidy program and speculation) come out. The discussions about Social Security begin. The rally we've been seeing (which only exists on Wall Street) will be revealed for what it is, and things won't be roses and wine.
Should this affect your spending over the hellidays? Only if you are spending what you can't afford (which is far too many people). At my job I get to see the outcome of doing things like that and not planning ahead. Hell, I get to see people who do everything right but are still sucker punched by reality. It's not a place most people want to be. Most people don't want to ask for government assistance for matters of pride, hassle and general paranoia (not a valid reason, but if you suffer from this you may want to go for disability).
If you got the money and want to spend it, go for it. AK Press has some great political books you may want to check out (the link is on the right hand side of this blog). There are plenty of other deserving merchants, too. They'll thank you, your family may thank you, the economy will thank you. People like shopping. It gives them a sense of satisfaction, freedom and self-worth. Since we aren't exactly a society of hunters and gatherers anymore, this takes its place. The problems arise when it is taken too far.
Black Friday. 8 days away. Once the real numbers are out, I think the U.S. consumer will be in for quite a shock. This year's hot toy? The box the big toy came in. It doubles as a home.