A ‘Green’ Christmas won’t save the Economy
by Rick Ackerman
Posted originally Dec 20, 2010
IT’S COME DOWN TO THIS: Economically speaking, our very survival depends on how many flat-screen TVs, major appliances, sweaters and pearl necklaces are sold by Christmas. That, at least, is the apparent view of the mainstream media, whose obsessive focus on signs of a “green” Christmas has more than the usual whiff of desperation about it this year. Do they not trust the simple fact that the stock market has been rallying for nearly 21 months, or that the Dow Industrial Average is currently trading within 19 percent of its all-time high? If those are not signs of a robust economic recovery, then what would be?
We ask this question facetiously, of course, since no one outside of the nation’s newsrooms could possibly believe that Christmas sales, no matter how strong they appear, are in any way indicative of economic recovery. And no economist other than Keynes (the quack!) or his misguided disciples could possibly mistake a seasonal surge in charge-card consumerism for the growth in savings and capital investment that alone can restore America’s economy to health.
Still, old habits die hard, and so we weren’t surprised to see this headline above an AP story about “Super Saturday” featured on Bloomberg: “Shoppers Crowd the Malls in Christmas Countdown”. The article went on to report that shoppers came out in “droves on the last weekend before Christmas, tackling their gift lists and driving traffic up at malls across the country.”
On what evidence? The reporter, one Mae Anderson, apparently checked in with Mall of America’s public relations office to substantiate her presumably pre-ordained conclusion. One suspects that mall parking lots would have to have been virtually empty for Ms. Anderson to have concluded otherwise. As it happened, we were at the mall yesterday ourselves, buying a $40 set of skateboard wheels for our son. The wheels were manufactured in, of all places, the USA, but this is hardly the kind of merchandise whose sale, even ten sets apiece to each and every American, will help bring unemployment down and get the factories humming again.
Still, there was our car, helping to fill the Flatirons parking lot. And there we were, two shoppers doing our bit to further the appearance of a throng. Perhaps the AP should be conducting exit polls, checking bags to see whether it is pearl necklaces and cashmere scarves that shoppers are bringing home rather than bric-a-brac?