Guest Post: Santa, Please Let This Be the Last Christmas in America That 'Saves' The U.S. Economy

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Santa, please, please, please strangle the idiotic fantasy that Americans buying a bunch of junk (or gift cards for after-Christmas purchases of junk) will "save" the imploding U.S. economy.

My Christmas wish to Santa: please let this be the last Christmas in America that is dominated by the propaganda that holiday retail sales have any more impact on the $15.8 trillion U.S. economy than a moldy, half-eaten fruitcake left over from 2009.


Fact: the 2012 GDP of the U.S. is about $15.8 trillion. (BEA estimate) Gross Domestic Product, 3rd quarter 2012.

Fact: total holiday retail sales are expected to reach $586 billion this year. Holiday sales--National Retail Federation.

That means holiday retail sales are a mere 3.7% of the U.S. GDP.

Despite the Financial and Mainstream Media's pathological obsession with holiday retail sales numbers as proxies for the "health" of the entire U.S. economy, holiday sales don't really change much:

  • 2007: (pre-recession) Holiday sales: $516 billion - Holiday sales as percentage of annual retail sales: 19.5%
  • 2008: Holiday sales: $495.5 billion - Holiday sales as percentage of annual retail sales: 18.6%
  • 2009: Holiday sales: $504.8 billion - Holiday sales as percentage of annual retail sales: 19.4%

So the start of the 2008-09 recession saw a drop of $21 billion in holiday sales: statistical noise in a $14.7 trillion economy (2009 GDP).

Now the propaganda machine is cranking up to announce that a 4% increase in holiday retail sales means the U.S. economy is off and running. Santa, please, please, please order your reindeer to stomp the life out of the idiotic fantasy that Americans buying a few billion dollars more needless junk from China is any sort of evidence that the U.S. economy is "growing at a healthy clip."

According the the BLS inflation calculator, $512 billion in 2007 is equivalent to $572 billion in 2012. Adjusted for inflation, the highly touted $586 billion in holiday sales expected in 2012 is within statistical-noise range of 2007 sales.

So sales returning to where they were five years ago is "strong growth"?

The entire retail sector is 7.9% of the GDP compared to a 21.4% share for the FIRE tranch (finance, insurance and real estate) of the economy.

Does anyone seriously believe that 3.7% of the economy can possibly leverage up the entire GDP with a razor-thin increase of a few billion dollars in holiday sales?

Santa, you have my deep gratitude if you could jam the propaganda machine so that this is the last Christmas in America where trivial retail sales are hyped as the savior of the $15.8 trillion U.S. economy.



My new book Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It is now available in print and Kindle editions--10% to 20% discounts.

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cougar_w's picture

Never happen. Christ and corporate profit are now bound at the hip for eternity.

Flakmeister's picture

How soon till Fox News  morphs "The War on Christmas" into "The War on Capitalism"....

Shit, now that I think about it that is old news...

Dr. Engali's picture

What news, who news? You watch that rot gut shit?

cougar_w's picture

FM, taking one for the team.

Muppet of the Universe's picture

You got the fiscal cliff didn't you?  That's enough.  Go to sleep like the sheep and let Benny go to work.

Freddie's picture

He is a moron who still watches TV.  He thinks there is any difference betwen any of the networks.  Someone has to keep The Matrix alive and it is serfs like him.

Flakmeister's picture

Do you ever post anything that is not a complete fabrication of your overactive imagination?

Yes_Questions's picture



Only until it isn't Cougar.

The Alarmist's picture

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

max2205's picture

Obamerrama and the pope will declare 2 Christmas to help out

Jack of All Trades's picture

Do the increased gun sales count as holiday retail sales??

willwork4food's picture

Yea, I always wondered about cocaine sales.

Yes_Questions's picture



Different Holiday/no season required.

Can involve Making it Rain, in that Reverse ATM sort of way. 

Or, just bored and feel lilke pinching yourself to see if you're still alive.

Debtless's picture

Is this part of the War on Xmas?

ebworthen's picture


Hostess made a great little fruitcake, but it wasn't churning enough cash for the vulture investment fund I suppose.

The insanity of what used to be Christmas at retail stores is almost beyond belief; piles and stacks of useless crap from China that will be in the landfill in a year or two or sit in a closet or attic for ten.

The society has lost it's mind.

Yes_Questions's picture



Hostess made something other than Twinkies for the Roaches to fight for?



q99x2's picture

Yea Santa. Take your fruitcake and shove it.

gnomon's picture

I think they should call Christmas off except for the kids.  The adults need to go "cold turkey" and reflect on the mess that they have wrought.

Hair shirts and self-flagellation are in order.

Dr. Engali's picture

Don't you have to make stuff to have gross domestic product ? We may consume 11.6 trillion dollars worth of goods and services, but we don't produce it. WE do produce debt like no other country can though.

Atomizer's picture

The Birth Of A Flower is an autonomous cycle of growth.


After neglecting stewards lay claim by needing more money to nurture all flowering plants, the life cycle of growth ends. Welcome to the simple analogy to engage fear amongst peasants. Make use of this insider Central Planning bag of tricks tactic. By choreographed bubble creation/deflation plug-in Apps & fiscal cliff scenario fears, special interests groups work hand in hand to seek further involuntary [taxpayer] donations.

Temporalist's picture

If people wanted the truth they wouldn't believe in reincarnated mystical beings from the beyond or propigate myths of fat men in red suits cruising the ionosphere.


Google, Microsoft, NORAD...tracking santa.  Maybe Google and Microsoft can instead track the drones that will be dropping bombs on poor children's heads.


At least Vietnam will never forget if Americans choose to:

40 Years Later, Vietnam Remembers Nixon’s ‘Christmas Bombing’

Seasmoke's picture

Santa wishes you all a Happy Hannukah.

erg's picture

If some kid-loving old geezer, wandering around in his jammies breaks into my place, there's going to be trouble. Just saying.

cougar_w's picture

Have some sympathy; alzhiemers is tragic.

erg's picture

Someone junked you and forgot why.

pragmatic hobo's picture

we need more holidays.

Hacked Economy's picture

Actually, to break ourselves of the rotgut, we need FEWER holidays.

(...but more family vacations...)

Cabreado's picture

In the spirit of Christmas...

I suggest you all direct your attention to those in places of influence and control,

as by definition it is incumbent on them to...

give a damn.

When they do not,

Hell comes into play, eventually

as it should.

This is not a creepy thing --

it is reality,

and in the spirit of Christmas,

I wish you all well...

and though I do not pray, if I did,

it would be for Humility first.

JR's picture

“The entire retail sector is 7.9% of the GDP compared to a 21.4% share for the FIRE tranch (finance, insurance and real estate) of the economy.”  Enlightening comparison, Charles. Thanks!

And just to mention, reported yesterday that there is a “Christmas sales slump in downtown McAllen (Texas).”  McAllen is a border state with Mexico and a regional retail destination for Northeastern Mexican states. It is the twentieth most populous city in Texas.

This supports my experience in coastal California earlier this week. I happened to mention to the owner of an empty, but usually crowded, Carmel retail store that “It doesn’t seem like Christmas!”and he immediately took this to mean his lack of customers.  He became very animated and wide-eyed and boomed: “No! And I’ve been around to several other stores and they’re experiencing the same thing!I then proceeded to a major shopping center that usually has cops directing Christmas traffic – no cars and no cops -- and headed for Buffett’s candy store. Lo and behold, instead of a line I was the only customer!

This doesn’t a scientific Christmas survey make but it’s probably as accurate at the BLS.

As for Texas, Brett Crandall writes:

December 18 --While stores appear to be more crowded during the holiday shopping season, one small business owner in downtown McAllen says his business has seen far fewer sales.

Louis Levin just celebrated his 50 year anniversary since Amigo Stores Inc. opened in downtown McAllen back in 1962.

But this holiday season, Levin, now 82, says has been one of his worst.

"I’m going to be off by about $15,000 for the month of December."

Historically August is Levin's busiest month with back to school shopping.

"November and December have been my worst month,” Levin said. “I did very good business all the way up to September."

But the decrease in holiday sales is a noticeable trend.

"And last year was less than the year before. The business is just not there," Levin said.

Levin says 85 to 90 percent of his customers come from across the border.

"We come for Christmas shopping," said a shopper from Tamaulipas.

"Everything here is cheaper and has better, more beautiful things,” said another shopper.

 But Levin says they are now coming with less money.

"The people are just not coming across and spending."

While big box stores like Wal-Mart use holiday discounts to make more sells, Levin says that doesn't mean the business makes more money.

"They may do more business but they have to lose more money,” Levin said.

And as the big box stores gain more business stores like Amigo continue to see less.

He may be 82 years old but Levin says he doesn't plan to retire for another five years.

Freddie's picture

...and headed for Buffett’s candy store. Lo and behold, instead of a line I was the only customer!


He is talking about Warner Buffert's candy store as he owns See's and another candy store chain.

Hey F you Buffet.  You love the islamic.  You shilled for him, you raised money for him Buffet.  You told us all that we need to pay more taxes while you owe $1 billion.  Allah even gave you a medal.

Now Warner - you and your pal Charlie Mungo (the guy who hates gold) - give us a real Christmas present and go take a dirt nap.

toomanyfakeconservatives's picture

Brass and lead in my stocking please!

Yes_Questions's picture



Well Chuck, given we are almost in a new age (actually starts 12-21 and we leave Pisces) which signals Jesus's retirement from SUN GOD status.  It may very well be the last ChristMas.

What will today's Council of Nicea vote on for Aquarius?

CheapBastard's picture

But during the final weekend before Christmas, shoppers should expect to see more "70 percent off" and "buy one, get one free" signs as stores try to salvage a season that so far has been disappointing.

Teen retailer Aeropostale Inc. has slashed prices on everything in its stores by 60 percent. Rival teen chain American Eagle Outfitters is offering 40 percent off all purchases. Saks Fifth Avenue is cutting prices on some designer clothing up to 60 percent. And Children's Place, a children's clothing chain, is offering up to 75 percent off on its website.


70% drop in clothing prices is not enough. Give me 90% off and I'll consider it. Same with houses.

Intoxicologist's picture

Do you guys know what the difference is between a bartender and Santa?

Santa only has to look at 8 assholes when he goes to work....

tony bonn's picture

"...Santa, please, please, please order your reindeer to stomp the life out of the idiotic fantasy that Americans buying a few billion dollars more needless junk from China is any sort of evidence that the U.S. economy is "growing at a healthy clip." ...."

thank you charles hugh-smith!!!!!!!!!! god i could puke everytime christmas comes around....and while the reindeer are stomping on the propaganda, they should take a healthy reindeer shit on the heads of every news anchor uttering these imbecilities....

and thank you for distinguishing between statistical change and of my biggest gripes is listening to hit/miss stories when the changes are within margin of error....