Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday 12-22

An article in the Business section of Sunday's Chicago Tribune showed that we are nowhere near learning our lessons from the credit crunch and the economic downturn. The article detailed how businesses catering to teenagers have been largely unaffected by the recession.

Stores selling "teen fashion" like The Buckle saw an increase in sales and profits during the third quarter--unlike many other retailers--including discounters like Target and Kohl's. The article also pointed out that sales of IPods, IPhones and other personal electronic devices have seen little dropoff in sales--despite the difficult economy.

What was most distressing in the article were the interviews with parents who refused to cut back their spending on their kids--despite a loss of income or higher prices for necessities like food and utilities. One mother didn't want her teen to know that the family was struggling--and how it was important they still have "cool" clothes like their friends. The first line of the story quoted a teen who didn't even know what the word "recession" means.

Isn't this how we got ourselves into this mess? Keeping up with the Joneses...spending money we don't have...placing priorities on material things instead of the basics? Now that the chickens have come home to roost--we still live in denial. And continuing to send the message that "you deserve everything you want as soon as you want it even though we really can't afford it and we are mortgaging your future to get it for you" just keeps us spriralling further into the abyss.

You know how everyone complains that schools don't teach enough about personal finance? Well here's a terrific teaching opportunity for parents in their own homes. "Son/Daughter we don't have as much money to spend--or we are no longer going into debt to buy you junk that you don't really appreciate anyway. If you want the latest electronic gizmos or gas for your car you can go out and get a job to pay cash for it."

There were a few teens quoted in the story as saying they were cutting back on their spending--if only because their parents were giving them less. Apparently, they weren't able to find anyone in The Buckle or the IStore who said they were putting all of their money toward paying for college. That's an answer that would have shown some hope for the future generation.


  1. Is it fair to say that consumer confidence is low and that consumers are holding back on spending at that that is crippling our economy?

    If so, then how can we be critical of spending or is it just the type of spending that we should be critical of?

    I think that both are true and that our econimy is a "house of cards" that has seen enormous growth over the past decade because of overspending and that a good portion of that growth has been spent overseas because of poor trade negotiations, the belief that cheaper is better, and thefact that the US has a tendancy to over-regulate and over-pay minimum wage workers while our overseas competitors have a tendancy to under-regulate (Chinese polution) and under-pay unskilled labor.

    For free-trade to work, it seems to me that we would need to even the playing field at least to some degree and I would say that that is what tarrifs are for.

  2. What world did you come from, Jonathan? Where teenagers save their money (and their parents money) for college rather than on movies, gadgets and clothes? I think your disdain for either the teens or their parents is misplaced; I have a teen that babysits and saves her money to go every other month to the mall and buy clothes (she seldom buys items that are not on sale or on clearance). She learns the value of the dollar and we don't have to be constantly shelling out cash for clothes whenever she has a desire for a new shirt or jeans (which I am sure we would as parents). We as the parents understand the need to save for college and deposit regularly in her college savings account. I would never leave it up to any teenager to prepare themselves for adulthood (that's what parents should be doing, at least providing the assistance they can within their own means). Between boyfriends, friends, work, and school, as parents, we are lucky if our teens are grounded enough to maintain themselves

    Second, you seem critical of the success that certain areas of the retail industry are sustaining despite the recession and the worst xmas retail season in two decades. Good for IPods, Itunes, Ambercrombie, Hollister, Pacsun and all of the clothes retailers that cater to teens. For some reason you seem upset that while some of the mainstay retail industries are seeng the worst sales in 20 years, that an industry that caters to teens succeeds is an insult. I say, Good for them!

  3. Seem like this is no different than so many other areas discussed on your blog. Some things and people get alot for doing little and some people who work their butts off get nothing.
    Maybe Ambercrombie, Hollister, Pacsun and all of the clothes retailers that cater to teens are union organizations, thats why they charge so much!

  4. Was there a question in anyone's mind that some asshole would decide to make this an anti-union argument?

  5. opt st sll. The asshole always does.

  6. 4:41 nasty nasty...Santa's got you on the naughty list.