17 Dec 2004 Yes Virginia; California, Florida, Wisconsin, and everybody else, there is a Santa Clause
So far the Holiday spending season is outshining the more pessimistic prognostications of the more Scrooge and Grinch-like analysts. On Monday the government reported that retail sales rose for the third straight month, despite rising fuel costs. The end of the negative political ads, the highest job growth since 1999, and the recent drop in gasoline prices have all likely contributed to the improved mood and spending.
The business sector of the economy remains in an improving trend as well, although it continues modest. Industrial Production rose more than expected, but less than last month. The share of industrial capacity put to use rose to the highest level since May of 2001. TheU.S.trade deficit rose in October to a record $55.5 billion on record oil import prices. Some investors worry that foreign investors will at some point lose interest in holdingU.S.assets, reducing our ability to fund the deficit. Countering these trends though are a cheaper dollar which makesU.S.goods more affordable abroad. And global economies are improving, improving the demand forU.S.goods. The report showed that American industrial machinery exports increased by 5.7% while aircraft sales outside the country increased by 8.2%.
On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve continued its program of returning short term rates to levels they deem appropriate to the strengthening the economy. They increased the overnight bank lending rate by .25% to 2.25%. It was the fifth quarter-percent increase this year. They reiterated their view that the economy was healthy saying that “output appears to be growing at a moderate pace.”
The housing market which has been a steady sustainer of the expansion continues to show strength. The National Association of Homebuilders found the highest level of optimism among homebuilders this year as mortgage rates below 6% continue to bring home buyers into the market.
As earlier noted, things look bright on the jobs front too. The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits fell by 43,000 last week to a five-month low. The Federal Reserve pointed out that companies are holding onto more workers while some are hiring to rebuild inventories necessary to meet demand.
From a commercial and economic standpoint, things appear bright this holiday season. The U.S .economy and investors should well benefit from it. But broader questions and fears persist throughout the world. Some situations show promise of resolution while others remain seemingly hopelessly impossible. As for me during the Christmas season I am especially reminded that God sent us all the love and hope we will ever need through His son Jesus Christ.
As for the world, Christmas is celebrated by millions in all kinds of manner. An almost universal quality of the season though, is the childlike faith that things will get better. From more than 100 years ago through his now famous editorial appearing in theNew YorkSun of 1897 “YesVirginia, There is a Santa Claus,” Francis P. Church speaks as though he were our contemporary. The editorial is reprinted below in its entirety. Please enjoy it and have a very special holiday season with your loved ones. Our office and the exchanges will close next Friday, in observance of Christmas Eve. The Brief will return the following week.
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897
We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus? Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.