NEWSFLASH! In September I will join The Conversation as its Business and Economy Editor. I have been honoured to work at The Age for the past ten years, originally alongside the legendry Tim Colebatch, and for the past four years as economics editor in my own right.

At The Conversation, my job will be to make the best thinking from Australia's 40 univerisites accessible to the widest possible audience. That means you. From the new year I will also write a weekly column.

On this site are most of the important things I have written for Fairfax and the ABC over the past few decades. I recommend the Search function. The site is a record for you, as well as me.

I'll continue to post great things from The Conversation and other places here, and also on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scroogenomics - the Christmas debate writ large

Adam S writes:

"At the risk of being accused of being a bah-humbug Christmas hater, the amount of money we pour into that day is ludicrous. I just don't get it."

We're going through the same debate in our family.

I wrote about it here, quoting this guy, Joel Waldfogel who has now published a book, Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays.

"Christmas is a time of seasonal cheer, family get-togethers, holiday parties, and-gift giving. Lots and lots--and lots--of gift giving. It's hard to imagine any Christmas without this time-honored custom. But let's stop to consider the gifts we receive--the rooster sweater from Grandma or the singing fish from Uncle Mike. How many of us get gifts we like? How many of us give gifts not knowing what recipients want? Did your cousin really look excited about that jumping alarm clock? Lively and informed, Scroogenomics illustrates how our consumer spending generates vast amounts of economic waste--to the shocking tune of eighty-five billion dollars each winter. Economist Joel Waldfogel provides solid explanations to show us why it's time to stop the madness and think twice before buying gifts for the holidays."

Bah! Humbug to Joel, I say.

As I wrote at Christmas 2006:

"We continue to give presents notwithstanding what may be their economic inefficiency. We like to be pampered, and usually we're too stingy to do it ourselves. I know exactly the double CD I want for Christmas, and I have dropped a fairly unsubtle hint about it. Normally I'd be reluctant to spend the money, but at a time of indulgence, what the heck? And the look of pleasure on my wife's face at the look of surprise and pleasure on mine will make it all worthwhile."

Scroogenomics chapter below. Enjoy.

Scroogenomics Chapter



Related Posts

. Might we spend even more this Christmas?

. Could Christmas gifts be bad?

. What's it all cost?