Given the fanfare and billions of dollars in spending it generates, you might think Christmas is the best thing to happen to the economy all year. But some economists say we would be better off without it.I'll disagree. Christmas means buying stupid shit for other people that they don't need. Without Christmas, American consumers would just buy stupid shit for themselves that they don't need. As long as we're becoming a nation of debtors buying stupid shit that nobody needs, we might as well generate goodwill by giving to others.
In the cold, hard analysis of the dismal science, Christmas is a highly inefficient way of connecting consumers with goods. Squeezing a big chunk of people's spending into a year-end frenzy of gift-buying generates an abundance of ill-considered presents -- millions of unwanted ties, picture frames and toe socks that, had they found the right owners, could have brought a lot more satisfaction.
Economists call that foregone benefit the holiday's "deadweight loss."
"The economy is better off" if fewer gifts are given, says Tyler Cowen, a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who riffs on economic topics in a popular Web log, or blog, called Marginal Revolution. "Most gifts are not enjoyed much anyway."
Economists: Christmas is stupid
From today's WSJ:
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