To hear newscasters crowing about the big surge in Christmas sales you’d think the economy was on its way to roaring prosperity. Seems many analysts are desperate to give Obama a boost, so they have latched onto the sales numbers to help plump his approval numbers.
Anytime in the Bush years that Christmas sales seemed to soar, newscasters like to report it with admonitions. It could have been better, they’d say. Sales were up, but profits were actually down. People were buying but overusing their credit cards.
Now they have jettisoned all that warning talk. Anything to make the economy look like it is in full recovery.
There are many troubling signs, however. Retail sales are not the full picture. This month saw a rise in the unemployment numbers in case anyone has forgotten. It is unlikely they will fall enough to matter in the January report.
Yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok) warned of “apocalyptic pain” if the economy is not righted in the next 3-4 years. He sees 18% unemployment and a possible catstrophe akin to Greece. In our most populated states, crises like Greece are brewing. California, New York and Illinois are in crippling debt. They doubled their number of employees in the last decade and lavished pensions and benefits on governmental and union workers. This money will have to come from somewhere and upping taxes is not a constructive solution.
In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the 2009 stimulous, is petering out. A Republican Congress is unlikely to want to help strapped states at the expense of solvent states.
Experts do not feel that the real estate crisis will improve this year. All you have to do is look around your own neighborhood to see houses that have been for sale for years. Then there are some that remain abandoned. Commercial real estate has been teetering as well.
A report today showed that inventories are high – not a good sign. Commodity prices are up as well. Oil is climbing and the price of gas effects everyone and every part of our society.
While Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal struggle with their debt problems, there are concerns about China, too. Analysists fear it is overheating. How much information we get from China is actually true is another concern. Now it looks like India is facing inflation with food and fuel prices on the rise.
I wouldn’t stop and smell the roses just yet.