The scene on Broadway last week hardly looked like it belonged in a nation still suffering from the impact of the Great Recession. As Manhattan's main street wound through the shops and boutiques of SoHo, it was packed with thousands of shoppers spending hard-earned cash in the holiday sales.
Store after store, from tiny independents to the great hulk of Bloomingdales, advertised huge slashes in prices. It was all a bid to get wary Americans back to what the nation so often does best – shop.
It was working too. Though some of the bargain hunters were foreign tourists, there were many Americans in the crowd. "I'm not spending money like there's no tomorrow," said Jamie Johnson, a New Jersey teacher who had travelled into the city for the day. "But I feel like I can spend a little, if I am careful."
This sort of sentiment is music to the ears of the strategists plotting President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, as Iowa's voters this week kick off the long-awaited race. to pick his Republican opponent.