Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Walmart (WMT) Executive: "There are Families Not Eating at the End of the Month"

Not much sarcasm or spin to put on this one; in an increasingly bifurcated US society we are seeing a lot of fraying of the seams.  We've been pounding the table on the "real economy" for 2+ years, as the number of Americans on food stamps surges from 1 in 11, to 1 in 9... and now even Costco is rolling out food stamp programs [Oct 30, 2009: Costco to Roll Out Food Stamps Nationwide] but the country is obsessed with very different measures in calculating our domestic "prosperity". 

This line by a Walmart executive will take it's place as a candidate for quote of the year [Sep 1, 2009: China Sovereign Wealth Chairman with Quote of the Year 2009]

There are families not eating at the end of the month,” said Stephen Quinn, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Walmart Stores, and “literally lining up at midnight” at Wal-Mart stores waiting to buy food when paychecks or government checks land in their accounts.

Regular readers at FMMF will not be surprised by this quote; we're usually "early" around here.  I've written about this multiple times, but I'll keep posting to keep people aware of what is happening out there in America's "under class" (which increasingly was its former middle class). Some of our earlier comments:

We also have noted over the past year, Walmart saying they see a huge rush of grocery purchases around "pay periods" (whether that comes from actual work, unemployment checks, food stamp card debited, etc). In English this means people are literally living paycheck to paycheck, and cannot buy minor items... such as food, in part of that space between pay periods.  [Dec 26 2007: Target Shoppers Turning into Walmart Shoppers]

Food retailing consultant Bill Bishop, of Willard Bishop Consulting, said Costco's decision shows how pervasive the pressure on consumers has become. He said more and more grocers are seeing their sales peak and fall based on when assistance benefits are distributed.

Effectively this is our modern version of the 1930s soup lines.  Enjoy....

As more wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, under the guise of "only these few people have talent or ability" this is what our system has created.  It's not Democratic, it's not Republican - its systematic.  Period. I would doubt the founding fathers (who are cited as a reason to defend the status quo) envisioned a society where 90%+ of national wealth is in so few hands.  Which now forces more and more of the masses to depend on the "state".  [Jun 5, 2009: 1 in 6 Dollars of Income Now Via Government; Highest Since 1929] Oops, I'm sorry - per dogma, everyone not in the top 0.2% is "lazy" and wants to live off the state.

Unlike the Depression of the 1930s which (painfully) redistributed wealth by "market forces", (setting up some of the best decades for America's middle class int the 50s and 60s), this crisis has done the exact opposite... it's concentrated wealth further into the hands of those who have the puppet strings. Quite amazing really. The next step will to be tax like mad those in the 2nd to 10th percentile to support the bottom 80% - Cramerica baby. Eventually this will lead to a point of social unrest (by then I assume the top 0.2% will have 'self relocated' to a safer country), but for now printing away all our problems can help create the facade that everything will be just fine.

I'll put my "socialist" hat away now and go back to our normally scheduled dog eat dog programming.  Perhaps someone from a Wall Street investment bank can line up at Walmart stores on the 31st of each month to let these folks in line know GDP is up, the stock market is up, (both of which signal America is "working") and the common folk (especially those in lines) are simply lagging indicators.  In fact the more people in line waiting for the stroke of midnight... the more easy money policies from the Fed; hence in market logic it's a "good thing".

Speaking of quotes of the years... Mr. Jiwei nailed it in September

It will not be too bad this year. Both China and America are addressing bubbles by creating more bubbles and we're just taking advantage of that. So we can't lose.

Hat tip to Calculated Risk

[Jan 18, 2008: One Lonely Voice Agrees with Me on Food Inflation - Food Bank Needs Surging]
[Nov 14, 2008: Wall Street Journal - A Run on (Food) Banks]
[Feb 20, 2009: NYT - Newly Poor Swell Lines @ Food Banks Nationwide]

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