Friday, December 26, 2008

On the first day after Christmas...

Merry Christmas everyone

It's not so merry if you are a retailer... Or is it happy if you are British (Happy Christmas!)

Retailers have had such a hard time they want some tax free days to pedal their goods, now.

At one now famous-Christmas party Santa showed up and starting shooting people then torched the house.

Merry Christmas

It's been that kind of year.

Housing starts are weak home sales are pathetic and existing sales are very weak. Foreclosures are as high as an elephant's eye... hmmm not a Chirstmas song, sorry.

There is little chance of the economy getting stronger sooner than expected. The consumer is pulling back. The auto sector is likely suffering a more sustained form of damage. Lower gas prices are not just goging to re-start SUV sales.

And...things are not always what they seem. I'm in Seattle (WA) where the city 'fathers' saw global warming coming and sold their snow removal equipment.

Brilliant...or not?

More like or not. Or too smart by half... Seattle is hilly city. And although I grew up in Detroit where snow is common, the worst winter roads I ever have seen have been in Seattle, since the city 'fathers' got it all wrong. It's humid here. Puget sound is here. Mountains are here. All sorts of snow creating conditions. And when it snows and snow is not cleared Fuuugetabboudddit. Or stay home.

The US eocnomy is like that.

Best laid plans gone awry.

Everybody must get stoned...or buy a house. We chose the latter. Maybe Bob Dylan's advice on the former would have been preferred. Or maybe the bankers were stoned: no downpayment? No proof of income? Negative amortization? Woo Hoo! Eddie Murphy's dud song: 'All I want to do is party all the time' turns to "All I want to do is potty all the time.'

Bankers are mad about having no bonus. The rest of us have no more house. No job. No income. And then there is the Benrie Madoff story. God help us if there are more of those out there.

The end of the year is closing in. And we should be happy - happy that it is ending.

2009 will be more of the same. It will be a slow recovery. There is more pain in transit. Unemployment will go up much more. And we have sowed the seeds of moral hazard in banking a big way. The structure of banking will have to change a lot to blunt that.

After-Christmas sales are like things I have never before seen, 70% off and 90% off.

Look forward to 2009, but be careful what you wish for.