Don’t buy less, buy better. After all, being wise and bearing gifts is part of the Christmas story
To the modern cynic, the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem uncannily foreshadows how Christmas would become primarily about the giving of useless gifts. According to this, revisionist reading, our contemporary offerings are now made not for the worship of God, but to placate Mammon, since our economic salvation depends on this ritual of excessive spending. The narrative that Jesus came to save our economic skins was given extra credibility with news that retails sales in November were significantly up on last year, thanks to the shopping scrum that was Black Friday. This is a myth now more potent than the story of the baby of the manger. It persists, however, because it’s a story that is equally convenient for both defenders and detractors of the economic status quo.
It’s easy to see why the cheerleaders of laissez-faire should like the narrative. What better way to beat back the puritanical enemies of consumer goods, designer brands and throwaway fashion than to remind them that without all this there wouldn’t be the tax receipts to fund the hospitals, schools and art galleries that they cherish?
Higher tax receipts boost public finances, taking borrowing so far this financial year to £75.8bn, £500m less than in 2013
George Osborne has been handed a small early Christmas gift as government borrowing fell in November, bucking a recent run of bad news on the deficit.
The Senator’s anti-Wall Street campaign is gripping Washington
Labour law reforms giving small firms more freedom to hire and fire have prompted protests among union members in India.
Once again, the markets prove that nobody knows nuthin’.
Following a bit of oil-driven turmoil the past few weeks, financial markets took off on Wednesday and Thursday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index had the biggest daily back-to-back gains since March 2009. Underinvested fund managers, short-sellers and even long-only, fully invested money managers worried that they didn’t have enough global equities.
Once again, Mr. Market has confounded so many of the world’s smartest investors.
Capital markets are thought of as a mechanism for buying and selling long-term debt or equity-backed securities, but that definition falls short. Mr. Market is a philosopher, a patient teacher to those who come to class aware of the wisdom on offer. The lessons for those who pay attention to this graduate-level philosophy class are rich, deep and highly counterintuitive.
As you read the many predictions for 2105, do you remember how many strategists were forecasting a collapse in crude oil prices at the start of the year? That’s right, precisely zero.
Recall the beginning of 2014, when 72 out of 72 economists were anticipating higher rates and lower bond prices. How did that work out?
Minsk imposes 30% levy and also doubles interest rates to 50% as Russia turmoil starts to bite
For 2014, there is evidence to suggest more people than ever have shopped online, especially in rural areas where 9 out of 10 people shop online.
Apple has said it is “deeply offended” by a BBC investigation into conditions for workers involved in manufacturing its devices.
Nigeria’s central bank brings in further measures to support its currency, the naira, which fell to record lows this week.