Thursday, February 11, 2010

What could possibly go wrong with this plan?

The mighty House of Saud has no love for Valentine's day. The holiday is banned in the magic kingdom and:

The religious police launched Thursday a nationwide crackdown on stores selling items that are red or in any other way allude to the banned celebrations of Valentine's Day, a Saudi official said.

Members of the feared religious police were inspecting shops for red roses, heart-shaped products or gifts wrapped in red, and ordering storeowners to get rid of them, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Red-colored or heart-shaped items are legal at other times of the year, but as Feb. 14 nears they become contraband in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom bans celebration of Western holidays such as Valentine's Day, named after a Christian saint said to have been martyred by the Romans in the 3rd Century.

Wow, so the Wahhabi dudes think that the date of Valentines day is a surprise to their citizens? That they wouldn't just buy their evil red items the week before?

Even the AP can call BS on this:

Each year, the religious police mobilize ahead of Feb. 14 and descend on gift and flower shops, confiscating all red items, including flowers.

Many Saudis, who still want to mark the popular Valentine's, do their shopping weeks before the holiday.

See this is why you have to put rational expectations in your model. Otherwise you get these silly "fool people systematically" results that defy common sense. As bad as people think macro is with RE, trust me it was way worse before RE.

PS: Maybe what's really going on is that the Wasabi-Wahhabis just don't want to pay for their Valentine swag, so they "ban and confiscate" on the eve of the holiday.


PLW said...

It's a tax on procrastinators. I sure am glad we don't have it here!

Shawn said...

I don't think I've ever wanted to live in SA...but...

Unknown said...

I'm not following your "rational expectations" logic. Are you saying: if the Saudi gov had better anticipated for the rational reaction of actors on the market, they could have been more successful in implementing their prohibition of Valentine paraphernalia? If not, please correct me. If so, it seems more of an argument against macro than for RE.

Angus said...

I am saying the Saudi government is not actually deterring anyone from buying crap with which to celebrate Valentines day, much like macroeconomists who believed in the exploitable Phillips curve, didn't get people to work more when they goosed inflation because in both cases PEOPLE KNEW WHAT WAS COMING AND ACTED ACCORDINGLY!!

But of course, everything is always an argument against macro, so your point stands nevertheless.