Once again, Peon is proved right. Christmas sales did not indicate that the economy was going to pick up, but that people had decided, by whatever mean necessary, that their kids were going to have Christmas. Even if it meant they didn't spend a sou on things that weren't absolutely necessary for the next six months. If you follow the link and scroll down to my comment, you'll find that I noted that people had blown their budgets for the next six months.
What irritates Peon is that the practitioners of the Ruling Conventional Wisdom didn't see this. It wasn't that hard. Did we suddenly get a bunch of good-paying jobs? Did employers start passing out bonuses to everyone? Well, not unless you're one of the big boys at the banks. And while I wish I could say that it is clear that those paid large sums of money to add and subtract with competence had blown it, I'm not sure it's true. It's that they live in a world populated by their own kind, and don't see the condition of the vast majority. I see it only because I live it, and I'm not afraid to say so. In fact, I relish saying so, and do so as often as possible.