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An Unbiased View Of The Holiday Shopping Season

Tyler Durden's picture




 

We present an independent perspective on the 2009 holiday shopping season courtesy of a third-party retail advisor. “The discounters and off-price chains will continue to do well,” Alan Cohen
of Abacus Investors says. “People will be shopping this Christmas, but they will be very
cost-conscious and trading down. Instead of buying five items, they
will buy three. Instead of buying an expensive item, they will go with
a moderately priced one.”  When all is said and done after the
holidays, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection may be the only
option for many chains
, Cohen added. Then again, maybe retailers can rely on Cramer's optimism that everyone is massively underestimating the unemployed consumer who has bet the house and the dog on those one hundred shares of Amazon stock.

SLIM PICKINGS AT ONCE-ROBUST OUTLETS OFFER A CLUE TO THE 2009 HOLIDAYS
--A cautionary mood prevails among retailers, lenders and landlords alike,
but ‘this, too, shall pass’ says retailing veteran Alan Cohen of Abacus Advisors

CLOSTER, N.J. (11/xx/09) – The line between outlet stores and mainstream retail is blurring this holiday season as even upscale and luxury chains ratchet back their inventories and slash prices. The success or failure of these value-focused strategies will determine whether some operators manage to stay afloat in 2010, according to Alan Cohen, Chairman of Abacus Advisors, a Closter, N.J.-based turnaround and restructuring firm.
 
“You can learn a lot simply by walking into stores and observing,” said Cohen, who has more than 30 years of experience working with distressed businesses in all aspects of management and operations. “Throughout the summer and fall, stores at outlet malls like Woodbury Common [in Central Valley, N.Y.] typically are full of great stuff. However, this year inventories appeared to be light at the likes of Neiman Marcus’ Last Call or Saks’ Off 5th. Since these and other better retailers were discounting heavily in their mainline stores, they didn’t have as much excess inventory to send to their outlet locations.”
 
Deep concern about both the credit crisis and cutbacks in consumer spending has translated into retail strategies marked by caution, Cohen noted. “Manufacturers produced less, and retailers ordered less. In the run-up to the 2009 holiday season, everybody was in a conservative mood.”
 
In the past, for example, retailers like Nordstrom would bring in holiday merchandise early and reorder the best-selling items. This strategic tool likely will not be available to them this year. “Reorders will be down significantly this year, simply because the merchandise will be unavailable amid these inventory cutbacks,” Cohen explained. “That puts retailers at a strategic disadvantage, and it means shoppers will have a harder time finding certain popular items.”
 
Naturally, the discount powerhouse Wal-Mart, with its robust grocery sales and aggressive promotions on categories like toys, books and entertainment products, stands to benefit in this cautious environment. “The discounters and off-price chains will continue to do well,” Cohen says. “People will be shopping this Christmas, but they will be very cost-conscious and trading down. Instead of buying five items, they will buy three. Instead of buying an expensive item, they will go with a moderately priced one.”
 
When all is said and done after the holidays, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection may be the only option for many chains, Cohen added. “I certainly see more bankruptcies down the road,” he said. “And we will also see vacancies going up at shopping centers and malls across the country. With a limited number of conventional retail, restaurant or entertainment tenants actively looking for space, landlords will be exploring alternative uses like dental or emergency clinics or, in the case of large big-box spaces, flea markets.”
 
Despite some stock-market gains and a few positive economic indicators, Cohen believes the recovery will be a hard, long slog and is anything but right around the corner. “Most of the profit increases you are seeing at publicly held companies are not being driven by traditional revenue improvements,” he said. “These gains are related to cost-cutting, and you just can’t cut costs forever to improve profits.”
 
It is telling that Wal-Mart is expanding faster in Europe today than in the United States, he added. “These are the times Wal-Mart says it lives for,” Cohen said. “But apparently Wal-Mart sees more opportunity overseas than in its own backyard.”
 
As a veteran retailing observer, however, Cohen has seen his share of recessions. It is all too easy to lose sight of the cyclical nature of retailing—just as irrational exuberance can make a boom seem ever-lasting. In other words, so, too, can fear and cynicism make a nasty recession seem like a new reality that will never change. “Outlet retail will always be here, and shopping centers will, too,” he said. “There may be some long memories that affect consumer spending habits on luxury brands, but the economy eventually will recover and people eventually will go back to their old ways.”
 
Banks would do well to remember this: Slash-and-burn approaches that emphasize foreclosure over preserving and stabilizing assets make little sense, in part because it is the lenders themselves who end up footing the bill for property taxes, insurance, security and more. “The bankers who are financing distressed real estate ought to have a little more patience and common sense and give people some more leeway with their debt structures,” Cohen said. “Over time, this situation will work itself out.”

 

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Mon, 11/23/2009 - 21:56 | 140096 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Personally am boycotting this season. Am starving The Beast on all fronts. Better to save now and reward later than spend now and suffer later.

Unless of course you are practicing the new favorite past time of racking up massive CC debt and then default on it all and walk away. Jungle mail and CC default and all that. Call it a personal stimulus package.

Alas, am too honest so am starving the beat instead. ChrismaHanukQuanzBoxer day gift giving has been cancelled. A 100% copper penny saved today is four pennies earned and all that.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 00:10 | 140220 primus
primus's picture

"Unless of course you are practicing the new favorite past time of racking up massive CC debt and then default on it all and walk away."

What do you guys honestly think about racking up the ol' CC and defaulting? Personally, I view it as a 'nuclear option'. I have impeccable credit and am fairly secure in my job. However, I haven't closed any of my credit accounts and none of my limits have been trimmed. If something were to happen, to my income or some sort of 'disruption', I can honestly see how someone would run up massive unsecured debt to purchase nessecities and then default. After all, the banksters fired the first shot in this war.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 01:31 | 140276 Lou629
Lou629's picture

Ten years ago i was in the middle of a no-win situation where i'd lost my job and was very quickly thereafter in over my head with a mortgage and other living expenses. 

With no other choice at the time, i did what i had to do, and used the CCs for cash to pay the bills and credit to buy groceries.  I finally reached maxout and couldn't continue and had to file for the big B.

I felt terrible about this for a couple years afterward but, after seeing what has happened in the past 2 years, i've managed to forgive myself.  Now it seems to me that though i didn't see it this way at the time, i managed to prempt the banksters at their own game. 

Today i'm glad i did and in fact i'd do it again in a heartbeat if the situation called for it, without giving it a second thought. I'm even considering doing it anyway, just because i can.  They've been doing it to all the rest of us for years, if not generations, so, why not fuck the bastards back?!?

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 01:43 | 140287 primus
primus's picture

I certainly wouldn't blame you Lou. I think that people should do the best that they can and not borrow money one cannot pay back... however, desperate times call for desperate measures. If the bankers are going to run the entire system into the ground, purchase the governement to bail themselves out and then have the fed wantonly debase the currency, I truely don't see the harm in protecting yourself with their money. Like you, I would only use the money to stock up on essentials or pay bills. I don't see it as a 'investment stratagy" or anything, although, this feels like open warfare, banksters vs middle class.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 11:09 | 140468 Lou629
Lou629's picture

..."although, this feels like open warfare, banksters vs middle class."

Exactly!

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:29 | 140559 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Uh, you guys need to learn about Fractional Reserve Banking. Yeah.

No, really. You may think you know, but if you're talking like this then you really don't. I'm not trying to be mean in any way. I'll explain in simple terms:

1) They generate money out of thin air without any labor or effort.

2) You borrow money from them and pay interest.

3) Repeat steps one and two.

---

There are three very, very important concepts to grasp here (among many others with more lengthy explanations):

a) Central Banksters (legalized counterfeiting operations) prefer that you never pay off the loan in full and continue to make interest payments on money they created out of thin air.

b) You pay interest by working; your sweat becomes interest paid.

c) Central Banksters (legalized counterfeiting operations) have run many systems into the ground - and they are always the ones to come up with a new system to 'save us'.

(definition of 'legalized' in this context: with a gun pointed at you for compliance. Think a gun is a little extreme? Stop paying your taxes (buck their control system ) and resist arrest - then you'll get a gun pointed at you - it's really simple once you see how they maintain control.)

---

Therefore: you work for them and they only have to 'press the button to print more'.

You are a slave if you borrow from them - they have already won.

End the Fed!

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:40 | 140584 D.O.D.
D.O.D.'s picture

Here's a pretty good vid on Fractional Reserve / Federal Reserve and others

Money IS Debt / Debt IS Money

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOOJpxfkjZ4

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 13:19 | 140637 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

I assign this to my students. Worth everyone's time. Not sure about the solution they offer at the end though.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 13:51 | 140654 Lou629
Lou629's picture

..."1) They generate money out of thin air without any labor or effort.

2) You borrow money from them and pay interest.

3) Repeat steps one and two..."

WW,

I get it, believe me, that's what i was getting at above in my reply to Primus.  I have less and less objection to anyone pulling the 'nuclear option' as Primus puts it.  Why not at least try to fuck the bastards back by running up the balances and then refusing to pay?  They create money out of thin air, and that's exactly what they'll get back.  And if they come for me?  They'd better be packing...

 

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 14:51 | 140779 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Agreed, agreed, agreed. 'Vicious Defaulters'

 

Here is some information to get you started:

http://www.creditinfocenter.com/rebuild/debt_validation.shtml

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 21:56 | 140097 keystroke
keystroke's picture

Useless goods bought with fake money. Here's to America!

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 11:18 | 140479 Slewburger
Slewburger's picture

Isn't it all fake money...

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 22:25 | 140115 D.O.D.
D.O.D.'s picture

Agreed Boycott the Beast... I mean honestly people... what would Jebus do?!?

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 14:03 | 140695 Hephasteus
Hephasteus's picture

Destroy one bank and then spend 2000 years doing nothing because the savior was going to take care of that.

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 22:34 | 140127 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Funny money is sure on the rise in S. Florida. I was in a petro station in Miami last week and a super hot (obviously Colombiana) walks in to pay for $10 on pump 5. The cashier says "ahhhh, wait one second this bill feels weird". She checks it with one of those magic pens and it was counterfeit. I asked if I could buy it for $1 and she said yes. Souvenir and all...

And in NYS.
http://www.mysouthwestga.com/news/story.aspx?id=380350

Bank robberies also. Just today someone hit a Bank of America branch here in S. Florida. I don't know about others but I was secretly cheering for the 'Bad Guy' (no I'm not talking about BOA).

http://www.fbi.gov/publications/bcs/bcs2009/bank_crime_2009q2.htm

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 22:44 | 140136 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

It will be a cash only, bargain hunting season - as it should be at this point in time. I wonder how the street will react when the consumer doesn't show up, or will they treat this like they've treated corporate earnings the last few quarters?

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 22:44 | 140137 OhBaldOne
OhBaldOne's picture

Buying cheap shit with money they don't have for things they don't need for people they don't like…it's time to pull the plug and boycott the whole mess.

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 22:48 | 140141 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Same here! My wife and I agreed -- one gift each (I prefer a book). My son gets cash and a card, Money to food banks, but that's it!

This year, let's keep the wallets tight for the schlock season. Put the "X" back in Xmas!

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 10:08 | 140426 E pluribus unum
E pluribus unum's picture

+ 1000

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 22:49 | 140142 lizzy36
lizzy36's picture

Christmas in the usa:people buying things they don't need with money they don't have, for people they are not sure they like.

Music to the Obama Adminstration's ears:

There may be some long memories that affect consumer spending habits on luxury brands, but the economy eventually will recover and people eventually will go back to their old ways.”

 

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 22:50 | 140144 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Same here! My wife and I agreed -- one gift each I prefer a book). My son gets cash and a card, Money to food banks, but that's it!

This year, let's keep the wallets tight for the schlock season. Put the "X" back in Xmas!

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 22:59 | 140152 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

I think I'll give silver this year. They will hate me but, oh well.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 01:21 | 140271 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

Personally I think that's a cool gift. Anyway in a year or two they'll look back and probably not hate you so much.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 04:31 | 140336 Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now's picture

When you care to give the very best, you are very wise MsCreant.

The reason for the season of Christmas has always been to acknowledge the birth of Christ.  When you consider that Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver paid by the chief priests, this is very appropriate for a gift.  In fact, if it was 30 shekels, that would be the equivalent of 11 troy ounces of silver.  Now reconsider the value of silver, it should be worth much more in this historical context.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:01 | 140543 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Thanks AN. You just gave me (and others who want to do this) another gift to give.

 

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 23:08 | 140159 geopol
Mon, 11/23/2009 - 23:18 | 140168 Shameful
Shameful's picture

Give the gift of gold/silver!!!  Stick it to "the man" and preserve wealth!

I know my little nephews will be getting a roll of silver Buffalo's each...and a cartoon DVD because their mom would kill me if all I gave her 5 and 3 year old sons was silver rounds...and yes I expect their mom to keep the silver rounds away from them :)

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 00:11 | 140221 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Yes I agree give some gold, but first hollow it out and fill it with tungsten.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 01:23 | 140274 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

haha...instead of coal this year, the naughty get tungsten.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 11:57 | 140299 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

So Santa hit Fort Knox during the Clinton administration!

{Edited comment to be less crude for Christmas thread.}

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 09:34 | 140404 Shameful
Shameful's picture

I'm to lazy to do that myself. I'd just have to give Larry Summers a call and see if he can hook me up with a 400kg tungsten bar on the cheap.  Hell I'm waiting for a tungsten backed dollar, would be way better then the floating Bernake Fun Bux!

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 11:44 | 140513 Slewburger
Slewburger's picture

If I don't have Uncle Ben's Fun Bux how else am I supposed to pay to ride the dow coaster?

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 23:46 | 140193 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I gave my family members silver last Christmas. I told them it'd be worth double by this Christmas and a lot more soon after that. They laughed, but it looks like I'm right on target.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 00:08 | 140215 Reductio ad Absurdum
Reductio ad Absurdum's picture

This is a surprisingly optimistic article for Zero Hedge to post:

"...the economy eventually will recover and people eventually will go back to their old ways."

One wonders if "Tyler Durden" read it all the way through? Folks like Alan Cohen don't seem to realize that there's been a fundamental change in the U.S. (that has taken many decades to play out) and things are not going back to the way they used to be, because the people and culture of the U.S. are not what they used to be.

(I just noticed that lizzy36 commented on the same quote...)

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 00:23 | 140228 lizzy36
lizzy36's picture

Given, that Tyler Durden said  "the things you own end up owning you", one would have to believe that he read the article all the way through, probably with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

But just a guess on my part......

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 00:35 | 140242 JR
JR's picture

There may never be a return to the "old ways."  The joy and spirit and meaning of Christmas have given way to a drab month of shopping advertisements and a hateful fight over whose holiday.  It seems each succeeding Christmas (?) season begins earlier every year (intermixed with Halloween and Thanksgiving) with the main emphasis by the retailers on Black Friday with the message, If you don’t buy, we’re sunk.

Americans traditionally celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday.  The emphasis on gift giving was connected with the Christian Christmas story.  But the advent of other holidays piggybacking on the Christmas holy day has increasingly dispirited the traditional celebrators of Christmas.  More and more churches are urging their congregations not to support the holiday as a materialistic buying experience, but rather to remember its significance by giving to the needy around the world.

It’s interesting to see the following stark appraisal from a non-Christian as to the dilemma increasingly developing around this holiday.  Here is an excerpt from Micheal Chabon’s collection of essays, “Manhood for Amateurs.”  It is called “Xmas”:

“I am a liberal agnostic empiricist, proud to be a semi-observant, bacon-eating Jew, and I have only contempt for the intolerance, ignorance, anti-intellectualism, self-deception, implicit  violence, and misogyny that underlie religious fundamentalism of every flavor, from bearded to clean-cut.  But I’m all for putting Christ back in Christmas, and not only in the hope, doubtless in vain, that it might shut a few evangelical Christians up.  It pains me to say it, but the people who argue that it’s dishonest to equate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are, at least in this instance, and with very little percentage gain in their overall level of honesty or correctness, correct.

“I like to eat latkes as much as the next Jew, and candlelight is lovely, but the glorification of Hanukkah by American Jews is another example of voluntary group self-deception.  It’s an exercise in collective bad faith in which everyone agrees to ignore what everyone knows to be true: that Hanukkah is a pissant holiday elevated beyond its status and intrinsic meaning for the glorification of toy manufacturers, greeting card companies, and the makers of chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil, in an effort to battle the cultural stranglehold of Christmas, an effort that never has been and never will be successful, if only because Hanukkah songs are so painfully lame.”

Interesting isn’t it, that the word Hanukkah wasn’t even in dictionaries, until recently?

Well, Michael.  You should tell that to Warren Buffett who used part of his Wall Street winnings to buy up See’s Candies a few years back.  Seems Warren, in his See’s Candies Holiday 2009 catalog, has two blue and white specially designed “Happy Chanukah” candy boxes decorated with religious menorahs and stars of David, a silver box of “See’s favorites,” a box of chocolate gold foil coins shining through a large cutout of the star of David and a Chanukah (Hanukkah) card with a colorful star of David to “send with your gift.”

For Christmas?  Nothing.  No religious symbols, no card, no Merry Christmas—just lots of candy, snow men, candy canes, marshmallow trees, Santas and a blank card for your own photo and your “own unique message”--with this example: Dear Mom, It was so wonderful that we could all spend this time together.  Love always, Becky and the girls…

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 01:33 | 140262 D.O.D.
D.O.D.'s picture

Actually the gift giving originated with the Winter Solstice and the Roman celebration of Saturn and Mithra, a drunken orgy filled week of debauchery complete with all kinds of gift giving.  Some suspect that Christ wasn't even born in Dec. (or in a manger for that matter), but Dec. fit the Romans need to sway the people into adopting the new religion... Nothing really changed, just the name of the deity, but a rose by any other name, or so they say. So realistically are we celebrating Christ or Saturn, or Mithra?  Something everyone should really ask themselves these days...

If you want to skip the tree story just go to 3:00

History Channel - Christmas Unwrapped : The History of Christmas

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5T5ibb2E9I

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 01:35 | 140282 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

+1, thanks for injecting a little history.

The Pagans had this season all wrapped up. And then all the Christians did was change some names and add some baggage. Puritanism did not help a bit.

Also look up the history of Santa Claus...he's more than just the guy in the 'Visit from St Nick'.

Personally, I think gift-giving is an integral and special part of the Yuletide holiday ritual. But it's up to me as an individual to transcend the cheesiness that mass culture has inflicted upon the experience. Pretty much the same with everything involving taste (see pop music, for example).

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 02:29 | 140312 D.O.D.
D.O.D.'s picture

Agreed, gift giving is a very personal thing and it seems it has been part of the winter solstice long before Christianity was around. 

What I get sick of, is the zealots that don't even know what they are celebrating or why; dawn of the dead at the mall kinda stuff.  I worked at the Gap one Christmas, and I shit you not 2 grandmas were inches from a fist fight over the last of a certain sweater. It made me sick, and I've never looked at Christmas the same.  Although I think this year may be different, it may not be either.

I plan on using my artistic side, and making something special, and unique for ma peeps...but I refuse to buy anything... although silver IS a good idea too... decisions, decisions.

Here's to wishing ZH and all transcend the cheesiness mass culture has inflicted upon all of us!

Cheers!

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 02:36 | 140315 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

"transcend the cheesiness mass culture has inflicted upon all of us!"

Amen!

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 10:52 | 140459 JR
JR's picture

 

It’s kinda hard to find a birth date that the pagans weren’t celebrating.  “The cheesiness mass culture”?  Call it what you will, the culture I’m acquainted with eventually was used by the Founders of this country to create the most significant society the world has ever seen. It has provided the standards of who we are, a morality entwined with such permanent principles as the worth of an individual and the equality of opportunity that has attracted peoples from all around the globe.  Detract from it all you will, the celebration of Christmas was a central part of this culture.

Merry Christmas.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:21 | 140472 D.O.D.
D.O.D.'s picture

And there I thought it was the freedom of religion. Which translated to "You are free to celebrate any religion, as long as it's mine."

Individual equality huh... ever heard of that whole slave thing, and how about the Indigenous People that were slaughtered en masse?  Wasn't that all done in the name of Christ?  Is that the morality you are referring to?  Guess they don't count?  America was raped and pillaged into existence using deceit, treachery and outright genocide.  But no need to concern yourself with the facts.  I wouldn't want to ruin that deception you call reality.

Permanent principles?!? Ok... I guess myopic rose colored glasses aren't just for style. Whatever makes you feel safe...

p.s. don't you feel the slightest sense of hypocrisy when you use Merry Christmas as an insult?  Or are you just so full of ignorance you don't see that?

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:33 | 140576 JR
JR's picture

There are no Berlin Walls and sentries with guns, yet, that prevent anyone from leaving the United States of America.  Those who find America adhorrent or who are intolerant of her history are free to leave, or, as you and many others are doing, are free to change her to their own designs or to those of the countries they have left. As Samuel Johnston said: "Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves."  But as to what built America and to America's roots in Christianity, they are well documented:  

William Bradford

• wrote that they [the Pilgrims] were seeking:
• 1) "a better, and easier place of living”; and that “the children of the group were being drawn away by evil examples into extravagance and dangerous courses [in Holland]“
• 2) “The great hope, and for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world"
The Mayflower Compact (authored by William Bradford) 1620 | Signing of the Mayflower painting | Picture of Compact
“Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together…”

John Adams and John Hancock:
We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus! [April 18, 1775]

John Adams:
“ The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
• “[July 4th] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”
–John Adams in a letter written to Abigail on the day the Declaration was approved by Congress

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and a religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." ." --October 11, 1798

"I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen." December 25, 1813 letter to Thomas Jefferson

"Without Religion this World would be Something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell." [John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, April 19, 1817]

Samuel Adams: | Portrait of Sam Adams

“ He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all… Our forefathers opened the Bible to all.” [ "American Independence," August 1, 1776. Speech delivered at the State House in Philadelphia]

“ Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity… and leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.” [October 4, 1790]

John Quincy Adams:
• “Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [the Fourth of July]?" “Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity"?
--1837, at the age of 69, when he delivered a Fourth of July speech at Newburyport, Massachusetts.

“The Law given from Sinai [The Ten Commandments] was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code.”
John Quincy Adams. Letters to his son. p. 61

Charles Carroll - signer of the Declaration of Independence | Portrait of Charles Carroll
" Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments." [Source: To James McHenry on November 4, 1800.]

Benjamin Franklin: | Portrait of Ben Franklin
“ God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel” –Constitutional Convention of 1787 | original manuscript of this speech

“In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered… do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?” [Constitutional Convention, Thursday June 28, 1787]

In Benjamin Franklin's 1749 plan of education for public schools in Pennsylvania, he insisted that schools teach "the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern."

In 1787 when Franklin helped found Benjamin Franklin University, it was dedicated as "a nursery of religion and learning, built on Christ, the Cornerstone."

Alexander Hamilton:
• Hamilton began work with the Rev. James Bayard to form the Christian Constitutional Society to help spread over the world the two things which Hamilton said made America great:
(1) Christianity
(2) a Constitution formed under Christianity.
“The Christian Constitutional Society, its object is first: The support of the Christian religion. Second: The support of the United States.”

On July 12, 1804 at his death, Hamilton said, “I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me.”

"For my own part, I sincerely esteem it [the Constitution] a system which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests." [1787 after the Constitutional Convention]

"I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man."

Patrick Henry:
"Orator of the Revolution."
• This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.”
—The Last Will and Testament of Patrick Henry

“It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” [May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]

“The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed.”

Thomas Jefferson:

"The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man.”

“Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus.”

"I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” (excerpts are inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in the nations capital) [Source: Merrill . D. Peterson, ed., Jefferson Writings, (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1984), Vol. IV, p. 289. From Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, 1781.]

Samuel Johnston:

“It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans (Muslims), pagans, etc., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President or other high office, [unless] first the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves.
[Elliot’s Debates, Vol. IV, pp 198-199, Governor Samuel Johnston, July 30, 1788 at the North Carolina Ratifying Convention]

Jedediah Morse:
"To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them."

George Washington:

Farewell Address: The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion" ...and later: "...reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle..."

“ It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible.”

“What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” [speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs May 12, 1779]

"To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian" [May 2, 1778, at Valley Forge]

During his inauguration, Washington took the oath as prescribed by the Constitution but added several religious components to that official ceremony. Before taking his oath of office, he summoned a Bible on which to take the oath, added the words “So help me God!” to the end of the oath, then leaned over and kissed the Bible.

ET CETERA…………

Happy Chanukah?  And, a Happy Thanksgiving!  Or is that, also, hypocritical?

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:43 | 140586 D.O.D.
D.O.D.'s picture

HAHAHAHAHA !

Classic, "If you don't agree with me, get out of MY country"

You are officially beneath my notice, tool.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:52 | 140601 JR
JR's picture

I suggested that you and others have a right to change this country, and if your observations and criticisms catch hold more and more, I guess I may be the one leaving YOUR country. 

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:55 | 140604 D.O.D.
D.O.D.'s picture

"I may be the one leaving YOUR country"

One can only hope, the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:59 | 140610 JR
JR's picture

Which lord is that?

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 13:04 | 140616 D.O.D.
D.O.D.'s picture

I knew I would flush out a zealot, thanks for letting us all know.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 13:38 | 140662 Shameful
Shameful's picture

What I think you are missing is people who do love the United States and her history of freedom and liberty are the ones leaving!  I was told off by a very liberal socialist "If you don't like it, you can get out".  Hell I ended up thanking her for that suggestion, as it opened my eyes that I could leave.  I love what the USA used to stand for and I'm ashamed of what it is now.  I plan on leaving, and I'm considering places now. If I could find a nation on this planet half as free or as great as America used to be I would fall on my knees, thank God, and run there as fast as my legs could carry me.

Also that is not a slam against the Red or Blue team in particular.  I'm disgusted by both political parties, as they are nothing more then thieves and crooks.  There are exceptions, but the system is totally corrupt to its core.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 16:15 | 140925 Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now's picture

The only issue with using the winter solstice is that the timing is off from Dec 21st since Christmas is celebrated on the 25th, and is just a date chosen for remembrance - we really don't know if it lines up perfectly with Christ's birth.  Thanksgiving could be celebrating the fall harvest and being grateful, but I am not sure that there is much significance to the date used.  If anyone embracing the ancient mystery religions would like to celebrate winter solstice they could do it on the exact day of winter solstice. 

I am sure that mankind has, throughout many civilizations, celebrated most of the days of the year for birthdays or other significant dates they felt important enough to commemorate.  I found this quote by Napolean, reflecting in his exile, to be interesting. For some reason individuals are drawn to powerful people like Alexander the Great or Napolean that conquered the world:

Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend?  Upon force.  Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him.... I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man:  none else is like Him; Jesus Christ was more than man.... I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me.... but to do this it was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice.  When I saw men and spoke to them, I lighted up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts.... Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. 

Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother.  He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. 

He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted.  Wonderful!  In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ.  All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him.  This phenomenon is accountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man's creative powers.  Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range.  This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it.  This is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 07:08 | 140353 Brick
Brick's picture

I think there might be a miss judegment here in that part of the attitude change may be from being selfish to being generous. This may work through in terms of retail sales as lower volume but higher quality gifts funded through credit cards and savings. If you are one of the lucky ones in your family won't you be doing the best you can to bring a little cheer to your relatives. Yes many will be looking for bargains and will do their best within their means.
My take would be that christmas retail sales will hold up quite well with a devastating tank after christmas. Key indicator for me is the fact that US savings rates showed a surprise drop last month.

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 11:11 | 140470 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Just a thought about the impact of this particular Christmas on the economy.

The big change IMHO is that people will be de facto investing in personal productivity. Weird, but I haven't seen this point mentioned by any of the retailers or economists.

I agree that people will probably be spending less dollars and buying less gifts (specifically, they will be organising this during the Thanksgiving meals). But the big impact is that most of those "gifts" will actually be investments that will reduce spending needs for many years to come.

MsCreant and Shameful are in this thinking space with the idea of giving "a gift that keeps on giving" (like silver) and a token consumer item. "Tools" (and books about how to build useful things) achieve the same purpose for people who need value now, not later.

Many people will effectively be buying tools. Things for growing food, things for making clothes, things for building furniture, tools for making soap and other cosmetics : the list is endless.

Overall, the impact on the retailers will be huge over the next few years. Many tools produce value over many years. And, in the spirit of Christmas, many activities for making things are fun for the family. For instance, the economic and freedom value of making useful stuff with kids (over their lifetime) adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings, thousands of hours of work saved and increased personal freedom.

This is the Christmas where what I call "The Great Disconnect" becomes "armed" (with productivity tools). The Great Disconnect is where people disconnect from their leaders. They become passively and actively aggressive in defending their freedom. In the comments, people mention the three main strategies : boycott, investing (in gold, silver, tools and skills) and deliberate default.

If the Obama team doesn't come up with an idea that taxpayers can relate to then this can only lead to the "final act of aggression" next year - a taxpayer revolt.

IMHO the retailers are going to get crushed this year. They are focused on "selling whatever at all costs" instead of "contributing to freedom" by consciously and deliberating making it easier for people to improve their personal productivity.

This Christmas will just be the beginning of the systemic boycott of wasting time, money and liberty (as opposed to de facto investing in something productive) for all the major "cultural hysteria days" (Valentines's Day, Mother's Day, birthdays, Easter, Halloween, etc).

Anyway, I decided to post this comment because I think that this major trend has been completely overlooked. If the sales results show that people bought a lot of personal productivity tools this Christmas then it becomes easier to predict the successful retailers for the next few years.

And one of my pet peeves - they are not "consumers". They are people. Cancer is a "consumer".

What I really like about Zero Hedge is that there is so little "learned helplessness" in the comments! Thanks!

I hope this helps with portfolio positioning and a very Merry Christmas for all the fine folks at Zero Hedge!

Namke von Federlein

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 13:53 | 140681 Shameful
Shameful's picture

Right on!  I can only hope that people investing in themselves and their loved ones is actually a trend.  The disposable consumer culture financed on credit has to end, and it will. 

The whole idea of consumerism is kinda nuts when you think about it.  I see every purchase as me having to sell myself for that item or service.  We all only have some much time on this earth and that time is irreplaceable and precious.  For the majority of us, we have to convert that valuable time into money via labor.  When we waste money on trinkets and frivolity we are literally sacrificing part of our life for them.  I have to believe the majority of people would change their outlook on our consumer culture if they realized that they are trading in time they could be using by being with their loved ones, or learning, or seeking enlightenment, or having meaningful experience they will carry with them far beyond the life of an IPod. 

Now is not to say that material things do not have their place, hell I own a PS3 so I cannot say that all gadgets are bad, but in our culture we have taken it to an extreme.  I'd like to think that people would be happier if they could step back from the consumer culture for a moment and think about what they really want out of the short amount of time they have.

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