Thanksgiving is a truly great American holiday. It is a time when people from all over the world blend their traditions into one religious holiday celebrated by Christians, Jews, Moslems, and every other faith alike. To give thanks is universal, and what better way to celebrate deliverance to a land that to many is indeed the Promised Land.
But why is it in November? The very first day of Thanksgiving was held right after the harvest, on a day very similar to the Canadian Thanksgiving on October 12th. Why is it on a Thursday? The answer is that the nation itself was delivered from the horrors of war and recognized by the Treaty of Paris, owing a bit of time for the time it takes to cross the Atlantic and bring the joyous news. It was indeed a time to be thankful – but the story has the Hand of Providence all over it.
Black Friday. It’s worth $59B in sales this year, if you believe the projections. More importantly, it’s a financial and cultural reference point, the day when the Holiday Shopping Season officially starts.
The psychology of the day is what matters most, as the excitement and crowds fueled by a small number of loss leaders gets people to spend far more than they otherwise should on other not-so-great deals in the stores. That’s how shoppers are manipulated by a system that sees them as nothing more than pawns to be used up on a game where the take on one day is really just a way of keeping score.
One week from now, the holiday shopping season fires up in a big way. Predictions for how good or bad it will be have been all over the place, ranging from a net drop in spending according to Morgan Stanley to a record-bursting rise if you believe accounting firm Deloitte. It’s been impossible to figure which was more likely, although Barataria staked a claim to the stronger end before anyone else. We’re starting to get some data in and it looks like the optimists were right. This might be a good year after all.
2017 is still over three years away, but we can already say a lot about it. We know that there will be a new President, although it’s not clear yet which party has the edge this far out. It’s likely that whoever is elected she (as it well could be) will try very hard to take the partisan edge off of Washington and get things done. There may even be a new Congress by then with a completely different configuration. But as big as the political changes are likely to be, the real change will be away from Washingtoon.
That will be the year that the peak Baby Boomers, born from 1952-1959, hit 65 years old and start to retire. Ahead of them are at least 15 million Boomers who will have passed that threshold, with probably 10M or more retiring. With slow growth inflation should still be low and unemployment will suddenly and sharply decline. The Millenial Generation will hit the workforce (and the electorate) in a big way. Combine that with the rising optimism coming on slowly and the boom should fire up.