The economic news this week has been amazing – at least five pieces of news that show that 2013 is shaping up to be the year that sets the foundation for a strong restructuring, as predicted here last January. It’s hard to run it all down without getting a little breathless, so … hold on to something …
The economic teachings of Pope Francis are a hot topic. People feel a need to weigh in on what he said whether they understand it or not. But it’s the simple fact that so many don’t understand where this comes from that is probably the most important point in the public debate.
To sum it up: Money should work for people, and not the other way around. That shouldn’t be controversial, but having forgotten this way of looking at things is may be at the heart of economic and social cycles. The simple answer is that it’s time we remembered. More to the point, that philosophy is at the heart of American tradition going back to our earliest days.
“There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else. Money can only be the useful drudge of things immeasurably higher than itself. Exalted beyond this, as it sometimes is, it remains Caliban still and still plays the beast.”
- Andrew Carnegie
It may seem strange to open a discussion of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) with a quote from an icon of capitalism and a self described atheist. But a deeper understanding of message requires a step back with greater context. Francis is not decrying capitalism – far from it – but he calls for wealth to serve the human spirit and be a genuine force for liberation. The distinction is not academic but is a theme Barataria has elaborated on as well.
It’s been a good Thanksgiving. I have a new project in mind, plus I have some work to do tomorrow. I hope you enjoy this repeat from 2012 as we start the Holiday Shopping season!
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
There has to be more to it, doesn’t there? Doesn’t this “Santa” guy have some ulterior motive?
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.