“Commerce and religion and patriotism are all part of what we have come to know as the holidays,” opines Leigh Eric Schmidt, a humanities professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
“Consumption during the holiday season has come to have a kind of patriotic quality in the United States,” he tells The New York Times.
And it didn’t start with George W. Bush — who, as it turns out, never did tell Americans after Sept. 11 and in the midst of the 2001 recession to “go shopping.” What he did say in December 2006, as it was obvious to everyone the housing market was rolling over, was this:
“As we work with Congress in the coming year to chart a new course in Iraq and strengthen our military to meet the challenges of the 21st century, we must also work together to achieve important goals for the American people here at home. This work begins with keeping our economy growing. …and I encourage you all to go shopping more.”
“Party on!” we ad post-epochally.
As with many unintended phenomena in America, the idea that we can consume our way to wealth rooted itself firmly during the administration of the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“FDR,” says Harvard historian Lizabeth Cohen, “and many who advised him, felt that the best route out of the Depression was putting money in consumers’ pockets so they could, in a sense, buy us out of the Great Depression.”
In 1939, he went so far as to move up Thanksgiving that year by one week — from Nov. 30 to Nov. 23 — thus extending what’s come to be known as the “holiday shopping season.”
Eighteen months later, he acknowledged the scheme failed. “The experiment had not worked,” The New York Times reported in May 1941. People bought no more in 1939 than in 1938, extra shopping days notwithstanding.
The myth that consumers can spend their way out of a recession goes along with a half-truth repeated every time the media reports retail sales figures.
“Consumer spending drives nearly 70% of economic activity,” said a CBS News report when the numbers came out last Friday.
Well yes… if you consider the formula for GDP to be a valid measure of “economic activity.” Which, for various nefarious reasons we explored yesterday, it’s not.
But far be it from us to bust economic myths this holiday season. Our friend John Papola makes the point far more entertaining… and helps puts today’s 5 in the holiday mood:
Program note: We’ve recently teamed up with John and his crew at Emergent Order for several video projects. Among them is our documentary project Risk!. They’re going to help us take Risk! over the finish line. We plan to begin airing episodes of the new film early in 2013… stay tuned!
The preceding article was excerpted from Agora Finacial’s 5 Min. Forecast. To read the entire episode, please feel free to do so here.
Addison Wiggin is the executive publisher of Agora Financial, LLC, a fiercely independent economic forecasting and financial research firm. He's the creator and editorial director of Agora Financial's daily 5 Min. Forecast and editorial director of The Daily Reckoning. Wiggin is the founder of Agora Entertainment, executive producer and co-writer of I.O.U.S.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, the 2009 Critics Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature, and was also shortlisted for a 2009 Academy Award. He is the author of the companion book of the film I.O.U.S.A.and his second edition of The Demise of the Dollar, and Why it's Even Better for Your Investments was just fully revised and updated. Wiggin is a three-time New York Times best-selling author whose work has been recognized by The New York Times Magazine, The Economist, Worth, The New York Times, The Washington Post as well as major network news programs. He also co-authored international bestsellers Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt with Bill Bonner.
From the National Weather Service, Sacramento, Calif office issued 10:33AM, Dec 15th: snow may fall to-day at many Sacramento Valley locations beneath 1000 feet beneath elevation.
One-thousand dollars per month for a heating/cooking/hot water bill on natural-gas; an inexpensive commodity on the futures markets and in surplus. The house is big, but the house is cold. We wear sweaters….. Is this another joke by the Sierra Club and Greenpeace gentry to have everyone spend thirty-thousand dollars and buy their own solar panel roof and several tens-of-thousands more for their own windmill farm? This is where we are now in California, isn’t it: a war on the middle class for home energy?
And why so? What does the gentry gain by waging class war against the middle class and classes underneath that class, all in the name of greenery?
Pingback: Mossberg 590A1
Pingback: moved here
Pingback: chris hemsworth muscle
Pingback: Dating CPA Network
Pingback: used cars columbus oh
Pingback: تداول السوق - تداول السوق السعودي
Pingback: Sewer line repair Denver
Pingback: plastic surgeon vancouver wa
Pingback: roofer kansas city
Pingback: التحليل الفني
Pingback: How To Grow Taller Naturally
Pingback: grammarly review
Pingback: try this website
Pingback: why not try this out
Pingback: taxi majorca
Pingback: Stop Shin Splints
Pingback: add comment
Pingback: hotmail account creator
Pingback: terapia magnetica
Pingback: Boliger i Tyrkia til salgs
Pingback: watch video here
While 2013 has been a very good year for the markets, in general, the rally has come with its fair share of skeptics. Of course, they won't stay skeptics forever. And as Greg Guenthner explains, by the time your neighbor decides to get in on the action, you'll want to make sure you're ahead of him. Read on....
It's no secret that the Fed loves to print money. With "QE" this and "stimulus package" that, it's no wonder the dollar's purchasing power has been in steady decline for over 100 years. But is all this Fed money printing inflationary? And is gold really the best way to hedge against it? Chris Mayer explains...
"There are two sides to every coin," as the saying goes. And nowhere is that phrase more apt than in matters of money, especially as regards the U.S. Federal Reserve. Today, Mark Spitznagel squares off against none other than Paul Krugman to discuss that very topic. What follows is sublime entertainment. Read on...
Like it or not, size does matter. But contrary to a popular saying, bigger is not always better. Especially when it comes to the size of the state. Marc Faber explains why a world of smaller states might function better than one dominated by excessively large "superpowers." Read on...
Pope Francis recently warned people to beware the "tyranny" of capitalism. Hmmm... Would that be true capitalism and trust in free enterprise? Or the crony capitalism we're currently saddled with? Bill Bonner explains why, even though capitalism is easily corrupted by the capitalists, that doesn't necessarily mean it is a bum creed. Read on...
The average postwar U.S. expansion has lasted 58 months. In the midst of major policy dislocation in Congress and at the Fed, we are at month 52 of the current expansion, which began in June 2009. But we are running out of time – and luck.
As long as markets exist, there will people who try to predict where they are headed. Of course, no one can know for sure. And as Greg Guenthner explains, their prognostications can sometimes do more harm than good. Read on...