Retailers and investors are bemoaning the fact that Black Friday sales failed to put stores back in the black for the year. In fact, this year, it might as well be called Red Friday, in regards to the ledger balances that stores were reporting Monday morning. Many excuses have surfaced, including the populist notion that stores angered their would-be shoppers by opening on Thanksgiving Day. In reality, given the economic “health” of America in the age of Obamanomics, a holiday spending splurge was never really in the cards for 2013.
While some people like to direct their anger toward the profiteers of productivity, the truth is that our fiscal policy (combined with easy monetary policy) is largely responsible for a widening “wealth gap.” And that wealth gap translates into reduced consumerism among middle class America. Obamacare, as it turns out, also played a large role in consumer trepidation as its fumbled implementation put a damper on consumer optimism.
For starters, there is a record number of Americans who are no longer in the work force. It is usually fairly difficult to justify that big-screen TV purchase if you don’t have some sort of steady household income. Household wealth has also been on the decline. As of 2013, the average household's overall wealth has failed to recover from the recession's lows. Again, it becomes mildly difficult to justify a big-ticket purchase when a majority of family savings have been wiped from bank accounts, and overall assets are diminished.
Even household incomes have been plummeting. According to the Census Bureau, incomes have been dropping faster during Obama’s “recovery” than during the actual recession. Even the Obama Administration has admitted that only 5 percent of income growth has benefited “the 99 percent”. (Someone call up Occupy Wall Street!)
In addition to the impact of Obama’s disastrous economic stewardship, his signature piece of Legislation has added to economic uncertainty and malaise. More than the general deterioration of America’s wealth and prosperity, the economic uncertainty of Obamacare has crippled much of America’s inclination to engage in fanatic shopping sprees. Look, it’s pretty simple: If people are unemployed, under-employed, or exceptionally anxious about the upward trajectory of their health insurance, it makes it rather difficult to engage in the American holiday craze of massive spending. Even if interest rates are incredibly low, who wants to rack up a credit card bill when insurance costs are an unknown moving forward?
Despite the fact that the Stock Market has been hitting new record highs, and wealth (in aggregate) has been on the rise, much of America remains in a Jimmy Carter 2.0 style of economic stagnation. Quantitative Easing, and loose monetary policy have done wonders to push the Bulls on Wall Street, but it has failed miserably at creating jobs or economic revival for average American families. And without jobs, economic health is little more than a dream. When you then add to that cocktail of depressing economic news the fact that more than 100 million Americans will soon be dumped from their beloved insurance coverage, disappointing holiday sales suddenly don’t seem too unexpected.
By all traditional metrics, we live in an America with a diminished potential for growth. Not because the people have become more dependent on government (cough*SandraFluke*cough), but because the policies that are coming from DC are crippling the nation’s chance at economic revival. As Americans discover their insurance premiums are rising (remember Obama’s fantasy about a $2,500 cut to premium prices?) and millions are losing their coverage altogether, it is no wonder there has been a dip in consumer confidence.
It’s kinda hard to spend thousands of dollars at your local Target or Walmart on Black Friday when you’re not sure how Tiny Tim is going to pay for physical therapy, now that the Scrooge employer insurance has been canceled due to Obamacare.
So, yeah… The people that can afford to purchase their spouse a new car will not reign in their holiday spending much. But that level of luxury spending is largely out of reach for families that have had their insurance cancelled, their wealth diminished, and their employment opportunities severely restricted. (Read: Middle Class America.) Despite optimistic trends in the government-provided unemployment stats (smoke) and Gross Domestic Product metrics (mirrors), there is still a general unease in America about economic conditions… And with good reason.
Obamanomics, it would seem, is doing its best to steal Christmas. But, then again, Progressives were never all that big on the whole “Christmas” thing anyway…