Archive for the ‘Retail’ Category

Retail dot co dot uk

Retail is something on which I harp(ed) often. Specifically, throughout the semester. My students must think I’m the most miserable bastard they’ve ever come across.

But. Like interest rates vs. inflation, I’ve found the English (or rather, the English media) to be more sincere and open about risks in the economy. The Big Picture, for example, routinely comes down on the scam of retail numbers, or that of housing sales (which he has been doing long before this piece popped up in the Wall Street Journal). Perhaps the Guardian is just staffed with miserable bastards like me. It would explain it.

Well. After exporting their sub-prime mess, it was inevitable that the retail mess would follow.

Britain’s retailers experienced tough trading conditions at the start of their crucial Christmas period and expect weak consumer demand to persist through the January sales, the CBI reported today.

In its monthly snapshot of the high street, the employers’ organisation said shops and stores had recorded their weakest sales growth in more than a year during the first two weeks of December.

While 42% of firms said business volumes were up on a year earlier, 33% said they were lower. The rounded balance of +8 percentage points was the weakest since November 2006 and the fourth successive month in which retailers had seen their sales expectations disappointed.

Should be interesting. I’ve explained frequently to students that the UK and the US have similar, and similarly, wicked problems: massive levels of unsecured debt holding up a retail-heavy economy. The problem is how to ‘fix’ both public and private dissavings without bringing the walls down around our ears (this was a question on the final exam, in fact – few students did a good job with it, though).

Apparently the Bank of England is also ready for another go-around. Add that to yesterday’s enormous intervention by the European Central Bank and to the US’ now-negative real interest rates. I’d be interested to see, around next February or so, some numbers on the total cash pumped into the OECD economies – dollar-terms, but also relative. I’d like to see the percentage increases in the money supply during this period (it’s that Austrian thing again).

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