“You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose?” said Scrooge.
“If quite convenient, Sir.”
“It’s not convenient,” said Scrooge, “and it’s not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used, I ‘ll be bound?”
The clerk smiled faintly.
“And yet,” said Scrooge, “you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.”
The clerk observed that it was only once a year.
“A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!” said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. “But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning!’‘
We have a holiday-shortened week this week, with relatively little to make Scrooge smile. Today, the only indicator of importance, the Chciago Fed National Activity index, fell to -.30 in November from 0.17 in October, indicating a slowing economy. Employment was up, meaning that Mr. Scrooge might have to give his clerk a raise, but housing and consumer spending were down.
Tuesday, we have gross domestic product, expected to dip slightly in the third estimate for the second quarter. This could indicate relatively low inflation for the rest of the year, something that will make trading commodities a bit more problematic for Scrooge.
Also Tuesday: Existing home sales for November, also expected to fall somewhat, thanks to the declining fortunes of the oil patch.
Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.
Wednesday is the EIA petroleum inventories report, which could prompt Scrooge to switch from coal to oil. Oil prices continue to plunge, and home heating bills should be modest this year, should it ever get colder.
Also on deck Wednesday: University of Michigan consumer sentiment, which has been on the rally recently, thanks to increased hiring and low gas prices. This will not impress Scrooge.
“A few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth,” said the gentleman. “We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.
“You wish to be anonymous?”
“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
Finally, on Christmas Eve, we have jobless claims, currently at their lowest level since 1972. Expect the four-week average to remain at those levels. And, of course, be on the lookout for ghosts.