Best Christmas Shopping Season Ever*

J: On December 14, the Census Bureau absolutely blew away all analysts, forecasters and undoubtedly most retail executives with its phenomenal news on retail sales in November. As the chart shows, total retail and food services sales hit a record $492.7 billion in November on a seasonally adjusted basis. This was an increase of 0.8 percent from October and, far more impressively, a leap of 5.8 percent from November 2016. That was the biggest year-over-year increase since the 6.3 percent of March 2012. Even more amazing was the fact that every major category posted increases from November 2016. The largest rise was 16.7 percent for “Building equipment, garden equipment and supplies.” Tha

Something Is Afoot in the Fiscal Follies

J: Congress surprised most analysts by passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) yesterday to avert a partial government shutdown that would have happened today at midnight. The vote was 235-193 in the House and a whopping (and equally surprising) 81-14 in the Senate. However, you should probably wait a while before you celebrate this latest avoidance of the dreaded “fiscal cliff.” All that this CR accomplished was to keep the government running until December 22. The affirmative votes in the House included 221 Republicans and 14 Democrats. A total of 175 Democrats and 18 Republicans voted against it. In the Senate six Republicans voted against the bill and four more did not vote. Seven De

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