I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! I am finally back, after a bit of a winter hiatus. We had some pretty fantastic weather in Seattle, with over a foot of snow! It was fun–we built a snowman and frolicked in the snow, but not being able to drive and being cooped up in the house meant less gifts (I had planned to do some of my shopping at the last minute but was unable to venture out, and no packages arrived on time from my online purchases) and a serious case of cabin fever (we ended up doing every jigsaw puzzle we had in the house!). It was a very fun time though, and I am sad that Christmas is already over.
And with the sadness that marks the end of Christmas I was also sad to return to bad news about retail sales. According to this article, retail sales were down 4% despite deep markdowns and clearance prices. Analysts had orginally forecasted that they would only *increase* 1-2% (last year they were up 2.4%) so the 4% decline is really quite big. This is going to translate into more layoffs, less consumer spending and I can only guess that things are likely to start improving in the beginning of 2009. So put on your seatbelts, this is going to be a really unpredictable and wild year.
As for investments, I am betting on a bear market for the short while. Although there are a lot of good stocks that are certainly bargains, I think things are going to get worse before they start to improve.