Friday, November 25, 2005

Just One Day's Shopping Spree And We Think This Will Be Forever

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Just one day's shopping and stocks are way up because everyone thinks there is a pot of gold here somewhere. I examine the truth of what is going on and why this day's shopping is a disaster in disguise.

From Yahoo:
The pre-dawn sales frenzy is over — and now the tally begins. Steep discounts and expanded hours drew hordes to the nation's malls in what merchants hope are signs consumer spending will be lively for the holidays. More people jammed the stores early, according to early reports, and more than a few testy shoppers scuffled in a rush to grab bargains, from notebook computers to cashmere sweaters.

Several major retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Macy's, as well as mall operator Taubman Centers Inc., estimated they drew bigger crowds on the official start of the holiday season than a year ago. Lena Michaud, spokeswoman at Target Corp., which had a strong holiday season a year ago, said traffic was at least as heavy.
Every year, the discounts and sales grow bigger and bigger and the profit margins smaller. Comparing dollar amounts versus last year is a totally false reading of events. For inflation has set in, places where it can't be easily cut. To fill and run the big box stores costs more this year. To make up for this, no pay raises for the workers at any level.

Indeed, workers are losing jobs at an accelerating pace, most spectatular being Delco and now General Motors as well as Ford. This is bad, very bad. The high energy costs are lurking there right behind it all. The entire planet is cutting back on energy use and trying to keep the energy inflation out of the things they plan to export to America who is now running an amazing trade deficit. From Yahoo:
Heating oil and other energy prices are up to 40 percent higher than three years ago. That translates into bad news for Northern Hemisphere consumers whose budget is already stretched by a summer of high prices at the gasoline pumps — and into opportunities for those who cash in on the cold.

In South Korea, where a vigorous save-energy campaign is under way, the clothing industry expects a 10 percent rise in profits from sales of warm apparel. But not only manufacturers see an opportunity.

"We have seen a lot of thefts of heating oil ... stolen from private properties and construction sites," says Peter Josephsen, a police officer in Ringkoebing, 140 miles west of Copenhagen.
Half of America doesn't give much of a hoot about winter so they feel they can keep the spending expanding. In the northeast, we are buying...Things to survive a colder winter. Also, the bad news about declining housing values is only barely setting in. Banks are getting cold feet but thanks to the draconian bills passed by Congress, credit cards are pouring out the debt instrumens at an amazing pace now they know they have consumers on the hook for literally forever.

People across the planet will shiver this winter because we have decided to consume to the max yet again for our consumption is what is making fuel so expensive for everyone. In Japan, China and Korea, our main suppliers and inflation sinks, they can't manipulate their currencies out of this mess because being artificially cheap, they have to pay more for fuel so they are getting people even in seemingly "rich" Japan to stop the energy use and bundle up so they can continue shipping stuff to Americans. Oh, isn't this going to be popular in the end!

From the BBC:

Large parts of Italy's transport system have been brought to a halt by a nationwide strike.
The protest led by the country's three largest unions has also closed banks, post offices and government buildings.

The action by the unions, which have 12 million members between them, is against the government's proposed cuts in next year's budget.

After the morning rush hour, demonstrations began in squares across Italy, including Rome's Piazza Navona.

The political temperature has been rising here since the government announced its budget for next year.
Exports are down and fuel prices up. No nation dares to run a trade deficit like America's. It is worse, many have to import most of their energy like Japan, Italy or Germany, but they have to counterbalance it with a trade surplus with the only country running up the bill: America.

And this gravy train is doomed. Right now, we are simply churning out the dollar bills and shipping them out to everyone. These IOUs are being collected in the form of lost American jobs. The job loss is now so fabulous that if you look for anything made in America and not some off-shore "America" which they get away with these days, it is few indeed. Very few items.

Note how the Italians are dealing with the situation. They are being quite loud about their unhappiness. Of course, Italy always has had snap strikes, it is infamous. Germans joke about it, how trains seldom run on time even when they are not on strike, gads, look at the USA. No striking train personnell, indeed, no decent train service, it is in the state of "perpetual strike" as morale and service collapses year by year.
Protesting musicians will also be playing simultaneous renditions of Verdi's Requiem in cities across the country.
Heh. They should play Wagner to punish the Italian populace (opera joke time here).

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