Alternative Black Friday

Black Friday at WalMart

On Monday, bargain hunters across the internet rabidly devoured the leaked Wal-Mart “Black Friday” flyer.  For non-U.S. readers, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, and a big shopping holiday as retailers offer deep discounts to kick off the holiday shopping season.

I have mixed feelings about Black Friday.  On one hand, I do love good bargains, but on the other hand I am opposed to buying stuff needlessly.  I’m also opposed to wasteful gift-giving.  And I’m a bit leery of participating in a no-holds-barred pure celebration of consumerism.  It’s one thing to buy, but it’s another thing to celebrate buying.  Maybe it’s like the difference between reading comic books and dressing up to re-enact famous superhero battles.

This year for Black Friday, June and I are going to do something different.  We’ll shop, but for charities.  We have some money saved up in our CGF, and we’ve been meaning to invest in MicroPlace, so we’ll spend some time online and make donations and loans to nonprofits.  As for celebrating by handing out turkeys while dressed as pilgrims, well… maybe next year.


6 thoughts on “Alternative Black Friday

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that most actors in the U.S. economy have huge incentives to get the American consumer to spend, whether it be the government, the consumer herself, firms, and even foreign actors like the Chinese manufacturer.

    On an unrelated note, I must add another contrarian note to the discussion about microfinance. I think it’s important to understand that each developing country person/household has an optimal level of debt they should take on to pursue their income-generating/labor market activities. To the extent that microfinance, and especially subsidizing microfinance, helps liquidity-constrained households achieve this optimal level, microfinance will be helpful. But once microfinance begins encouraging households to take on suboptimal amounts, (i.e. too much) the effects can be quite negative, especially in the event of an economic downturn… precisely the time when poor people are most vulnerable. This article illustrates some of the negative consequences….

    • Thanks for the references Christina. Nevertheless, despite the weaknesses/inefficiencies/drawbacks of microfinance, I still feel strongly that microfinance for the poor is way way better than the alternative–no access to credit at all or being dependent on super-exploitative village loan sharks.

      So I guess I’m a chastened but still very enthusiastic fan of microfinance in many but not all situations.

      How about you?

  2. It is appropriate time to mmake a few plans for the
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