Christmas Hope, Trump Style

America's spirits are lifting even before Trump takes office.

In early 2008, America's economy seemed to be, if nothing like the boom years of the late '90s, nevertheless fairly solid.  The 2007 Christmas season had been good for retailers and an increase in 2008 was predicted.

America's Christmas spending is so vast and requires such an immense logistical chain that most retailers must place their orders for Christmas merchandise in early spring or even late winter.  In effect, as soon as one Christmas is done, stores need to start planning for the next.  That allows enough time for shiploads of tat to make their way across the Pacific from China in time to be fought over on Black Friday.

Since such a large proportion of America's disposable budget is disposed of in the runup to Christmas, the downside from running out of stock of something is usually much larger than the risk of having to cheaply get rid of overstocks in the post-Christmas sales.  Nobody ever guesses 100% exactly, of course, which is why there always are post-Christmas sales of something or other.

None of the retailers placing their orders in, say, March of 2008 were expecting the economy to crater a few short months hence.  Unfortunately for us all, the long-growing government-encouraged real-estate bubble finally burst, and all of a sudden, Americas were feeling a whole lot poorer.  Far from being mobbed, the stores were entirely deserted, with the inventory gathering dust and the bills coming rapidly due.

For those with jobs and confidence of keeping them after the election of Barack Hussein Obama - much the minority - post-Christmas 2008 was the ultimate bargain-hunter's paradise not seen before nor since.  Your humble correspondent had a job (albeit not the confidence) and scored some top-quality business suits at a knockdown price on the philosophy that, if job-hunting became necessary, a good suit was a legitimate investment.

This caution turned out to be well justified.  The suits outlasted the President; they're in my wardrobe to this day.  The same cannot be said for many of the stores that never recovered from their ordering optimism.

Of Profits and Prophets

There are a great many highly-paid people whose careers ride on making accurate predictions about what the economy will do.  Precious few of them saw the 2008 crash coming.  Once it did, though, ordinary Americans immediately understood the consequences to themselves and made the required cutbacks on the double, while the elites wrung their hands and expected things to quickly return to normal.

For their part, the stores over-ordered again for Christmas 2009, figuring that Mr. Obama would quickly fix the economy as he had promised.  Shoppers knew better, and sure enough, the next year's overstock sales were nearly as good.

The buyers learned their lesson eventually; these past few years have been increasingly sedate at the mall.  It seems like every year the retailers buy less, advertise less, decorate less, and generally expect less of the Christmas shopping season.

For eight years of Mr. Obama, this caution has been wise, just as for several years before Mr. Obama, expecting increased sales each year was prudent.  Then circumstances changed and opinions didn't, at least not fast enough.

The Wisdom of Crowds

A few weeks back I enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner with a distant family branch I rarely see.  I am sorry to say that not all of these relations have perfect lives, having been troubled with poor public education, substance abuse, legal difficulties, and the erratic work record that generally accompanies these circumstances.

Careful thought is required when purchasing presents - it's a shame to give the kids a gift that will end up pawned or spent for booze.  But it's been like this for as long as I've known this particular crew, so we're all used to it.  A lifetime of bad habits don't change.

Or so I thought.  Imagine my astonishment when I found them all sober and in their right minds, respectably dressed, and most of all, telling grand tales of their employment prospects!  Not just one, but all of these relatives of working age had recently found good, steady employment, even including that rarest privilege in a depressed rural area, the prospect of future advancement.

It was night and day!  I left with renewed hope for the future and for my relations' happiness and success.  The thing is, these aren't bad people, particularly; they are normal working-class Americans who are happy to work when work is offered, but are prone to bad decisions when the right choices aren't easy to understand or implement.

The fact is, most people are like that.  Most people generally do what everyone else is doing, whether that be good or bad.  There's always a few who will reject every chance offered, and also a few Dr. Ben Carsons who become immense successes in spite of coming out of the most unprivileged backgrounds imaginable.  We see these people on the news precisely because they're uncommon.

What has this to do with Mr. Trump?  Simply this: what changed between this entire millennium up through early November, vs since then?  One thing: the election of a President who claims, loudly, to care about the plight of the "forgotten man."

How did that fix the economy?  Mr. Trump hadn't done anything yet!  True, he has saved jobs in Indiana despite not even having taken office, but what is a few hundred jobs in a nation of hundreds of millions?

This rationalistic view ignores the reality that led to Mr. Trump's astonishing victory: imagery and symbolism matter.  No President can fix the economy nor much of anything else; that's not his job anyway.

The first job of a President or any other leader is to inspire their subordinates.  That was Ronald Reagan's great strength: he didn't make it be "morning in America," he convinced America that it was, and ordinary Americans made it so.  Same with FDR - in fact, he was so much the master of inspiration that he persuaded Americans that he was making things better even when his Keynesian policies in fact made the Depression worse.

The point isn't that Mr. Trump can personally save every job or create new ones - he can't.  But ordinary Americans now believe that he can, and that philosophy is trickling up.  Mr. Trump has persuaded Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son that it's worthwhile to invest his billions in a revived American economy, creating 50,000 jobs in the process.

How many other unsung people, American and foreign, will decide to follow his lead and invest their own smaller fortunes?  With each investment, jobs become more plentiful, people have more money to spend, and more investments become worthwhile in a virtuous cycle that helps us all.

Maybe that's why some stock forecasters are predicting a large jump in the market once Mr. Trump finally does take office.  Homebuilders are planning more new houses than they've done in years, which will directly help the less-educated American worker, especially if Mr. Trump fulfills his florid promises to deport the illegals who've taken over so many of our unskilled construction jobs in recent years.

In short, ordinary Americans are feeling Christmas hope for the future.  It's just the leftist media that's weeping as if the world is about to end.

Most of our rich and powerful elites earnestly supported Hillary and hate what Mr. Trump has come to stand for.  They want him to fail and will do all they can to make this happen, but they've already been trying their hardest and are getting nowhere.  As a whole, the Democratic party and their donors fear desperately that Mr. Trump will in fact make American great again and that his success will demonstrate the economic idiocy of their nostrums and lock them out of the White House for generations.

Will Democrats and our liberal elites bet their own fortunes and their futures against Mr. Trump, and in doing so, against America?  Or will they recognize his unique abilities, cut their losses, and invest in Mr. Trump's America like Mr. Son?

Let's hope they put their money where their mouths are.  It'll serve them right to miss out on the Trump boom they worked so hard to prevent.  For everyone else here who is already seeing their personal prospects improving - Merry Christmas, and a happy and successful New Year!

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Economics.
Reader Comments

Why are the liberal taking heads going out of their minds? Time Magazine published Joe Klein's article

He;'s convinced the Russians were trying to swing the election to Mr. Trump, which is silly - they had already bought Hillary, and knew what she cost. He has a decently sensible warning about the media - if they go out of their minds before Mr. Trump does anything, what will they say if he does something? And where will they be if he succeeds?

December 24, 2016 6:31 PM

Well written piece; thank you.

January 1, 2017 9:52 AM
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