Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Price Trends

After a bad retail year, the holiday season failed to turn things around, and sales were the worst in decades despite aggressive Christmas price cuts. General retail saw a downward trend even compared to previous months, and online sales saw year on year reductions of 3%. So, stores on the edge hoping for a seasonal reversal probably didn't get it. Recent bailout measures have shown no signs of invigorating the general economy, not this holiday season at least. Strong deflationary trends continue.

On housing, recent S&P/Case-Shiller data show year on year declines of 18% over 20 metropolitan areas, with Phoenix, Las Vegas, and San Francisco leading the way with price drops over 30%. Case-Shiller numbers continue to fall off a cliff with no sign of flattening yet.

Otherwise, the DJIA has been hovering in the mid-8000's for weeks now, which reflects a huge year on year loss from its 14000 peak in Oct '07. Foreign currencies and gold are a mixed bag and showing relative strength due to debasement of the dollar, still the dollar has advanced slightly over the year in these areas. I anticipate the U.S. dollar index will strengthen as other countries follow suit in debasing their currency. Gold remains to be seen.

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