JIM SHARPE

Hoping for a better economy won’t get one here in time for the holidays

Nov 21, 2023, 1:00 PM

I’ve grumbled on the radio for years about how “Christmas crazy” my wife is. 

Her early start to decorating was stunted this year, though, because we just had our floors redone and most of our furniture was in the garage — blocking access to the 5,000 boxes of holiday decorations she keeps.

There are few humans out there who go quite as crazy at Christmas as my wife — unless you count the millions of Americans going crazy, feeling like they can’t buy Christmas presents.

The holiday shopping season gets underway this week, but 74% of Americans told a CNBC survey that they’re stressed about finances. A LendingClub report shows that 4 in 10 consumers consider themselves worse off now when compared to 2022 — and that 60% of adults say they are living “paycheck to paycheck” (including more than four in 10 high-income consumers). 

But, hey — inflation is slowing, right? Valley economist Jim Rounds pointed out on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News that inflation is now at 2.9% in metro Phoenix — compared with the nearly 12% rate we had at this time last year. He also says housing costs are actually going down and predicts if there’s a recession next year that it will be mild in Arizona. 

Hmmm… maybe things are getting better … but they were so bad not that long ago (at least inflation-wise), I don’t know what has to happen for us to feel right again.

Former President Donald Trump helped light the inflation fuse by signing off on two COVID stimulus/government funding packages in 2020: One for $2.2 trillion in March and $2.3 trillion in December. 

But the saying, “perception is reality,” never applied quite as much for me as it did when I worked in politics, so whether you can blame all of this on Joe Biden or not, if things don’t dramatically improve (and quickly) the 2024 holiday present he’s hoping for the most (reelection to the White House) may be something that even Santa can’t deliver. 

Jim Sharpe

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Hoping for a better economy won’t get one here in time for the holidays