COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE CHAMBERLIN

George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

Stocks are falling sharply this morning and it has nothing to do with the outcome of yesterday's election. Well, maybe a little. The big reason for the 300-point drop in the Dow Industrials in the first hour of trading is news out of Europe showing the region's economies continue to decline. Even Germany, the sole bright spot in the EU, is in trouble. The government there reported today its industrial output fell in September and advisers said the economy would grow by only 0.8 percent this year and next. To be sure, investors -- like just about everyone else -- are trying to get their arms around the implications of yesterday's voting. It appears little has changed in the makeup of Congress and, obviously, the White House. Now we have to see how the leaders will deal with urgent matters like the fiscal cliff. Stay tuned.

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The Labor Department reported yesterday there were 3.56 million job openings in the United States at the end of September, down 100,000 from the previous month and a five-month low. It works out to one job for every 3.4 people looking for work. At the end of the recession, June 2009, there were only 2.4 million job openings available.

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It looks like Superstorm Sandy will have little impact on holiday spending this year. A survey from BDO USA anticipates retail sales this year between Thanksgiving and the New Year will go up 3.7 percent, the biggest increase since 2007. Gift cards continue to be a gift option for many uncreative shoppers. BDO says 58 percent of retailers expect gift card sales to increase this year. The National Retail Federation is anticipating overall sales this year to top $586 billion.

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Another survey finds consumer spending is at a five-year high. The Discover U.S. Spending Monitor posted its biggest monthly gain in October to the highest level in the five-year history of the report. Fewer consumers viewed the overall economy as poor and 37 percent rated their own personal finances as good or excellent, up significantly from the same month a year ago.

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You will soon be seeing Amazon Lockers at local retailers such as 7-Eleven, Walgreens and Staples. This new service will allow customers who make a purchase online to have the item sent to a secured location where it can be picked up at their convenience. The order will include a code that applies to each purchase and designate the spot where it can be picked up. Returned items can also be processed through the Amazon Locker sites.

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There was a good college football game on TV last night, providing a distraction from the election coverage. Ball State upset the Toledo Rockets, 34-27. The Cardinals snapped Toledo's eight-game winning streak. The Rockets were ranked number 23 in the coaches poll going into the game. There sure are a lot of cool college football uniforms out there these days. The Rockets have always had a very stylish uniform but they looked especially cool last night.

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