How About That Economy?

With all the noise after the election, it’s been a while since we checked in on the state of the economy. There’s a reason for that. Will the election results change what has been a slow but steady march to a strong economy? Will 2017 still be the year when we look around and realize that everything has changed?

It seems that, so far, it’s all still marching along. There is a good chance that jobs and general growth will indeed strengthen, making Trump look like a genius. Last Friday’s employment situation survey showed that it is still moving forward – and combined with a strong holiday season there is at least some reason to cheer as a dreary 2016 starts to fade into what promises to be a crazy 2017.

Continue reading

Holiday Shopping 2015

Like the stores that put out Christmas decorations before Halloween, it’s become a Barataria tradition to put up holiday sales projections in mid-October. Don’t blame us, that’s when they come out as retailers gear up for the mid-November rush.

Last year just over $600B in sales went out the doors at retail establishments, about 19% of their total for the year. $90B of that was online. 2014 was a big turning point, marking the biggest selling season since 2009. Will 2015 come in even bigger?

Retailers are counting on it, and that’s the prediction. A big holiday shopping season to launch us into a happier 2016.

Continue reading

Happy Christmas, Happy New Year

The holiday has come. If you’re safely tucked in to your warm winter bed the last thing you may want to think about is shopping. If it ain’t done by now, well, it may not be done. It’s all good. But that is what defines the season for many people and the success of it determines whether or not visions of sugarplums dance in your head about now.

Even if you’re not into the whole rush-rush buying frenzy, a good strong retail season is good for everyone. We can say that this year because if you’d rather think back on the blessings of the year, as any righteous person should, this has been a very good year for the economy. All that remains is for people to accept it and move forward with glad tidings of the season. The shopping sesaon, that is.

Continue reading

Glad Tidings

If you need a dose of Christmas cheer, it’s best to look in a very unlikely place. The business and financial press is positively melting down over the most recent jobs report, which showed an impressive 321k net increase in jobs. Given that Barataria has been very positive on the US economy in 2014, you would expect us to join in the merriment.

Sure, why not. Just don’t over-do it, because this is only a make-up call. There is nothing reported this week that hasn’t been true for a year, and the noise in the data makes it look especially strong for November. The truth is that job growth has been strong all year and we are on pace for a good 2015.

There are plenty of reasons to cheer, but like the office Christmas party a good time is no reason to get crazy.

Continue reading

Black Friday – Dead?

Did you hit the stores for “doorbuster” deals and a mad rush for great deals? If you did, you’re one of a smaller group every year as Black Friday and its even darker sibling on Thursday become a feature of Thanksgiving past.

The final data is not in, especially with “Cyber Monday” still in front of us. But this weekend was particularly weak and, if the past is any indication, a sign of a bleak holiday shopping season. But no one thinks this will hold as shopping patterns are changing. The forecast remains for a robust gain of 4.1% year over year.

The death of the Black Friday frenzy is a big story of the year if this pulls out.

Continue reading

Holiday Shopping, 2014

It’s just about shopping season! Last year, 19.2% of all retail sales were holiday sales – the stuff outside of food, gasoline, and other consumables that took place in the 28 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  That’s a total of $597B. This year, there’s one more day in that period and retailers hope for a decent increase.

Will this be a good holiday season that finally shakes off the blues that have plagued retail for the last six years? We’re about to find out.

Continue reading

Credit Card System: Fail

As we head into the holiday shopping season, one thing that everyone is looking forward to is the flash of plastic sliding out of wallets all across America. It’s the make or break time for retailers everywhere and season for dedicated shoppers to show their prowess for hunting down bargains. All of it is fueled by credit cards, both online and in person.

But before you whip out the card is there someone waiting to give the term “swipe a card” a different meaning? You may think you can trust a retailer, but can you be sure that they aren’t already a victim of a hacker? The short answer is no, you can’t be sure of anything this year. And a series of high profile hacks throughout 2014 have shown us that the entire credit card system needs to be judged as insecure by everyone.

And hardly anyone in the mainstream media is talking in these terms, probably to avoid the reasonable panic that would ensue.

Continue reading