I peruse at least two newspapers, three blogs, and one financial news program before breakfast. Once I get the official workday underway, I dive deeper into research on the Fed, consumer spending, or whatever happens to be the topic du jour.
Using my knowledge, I write mostly about economic trends and work to bring you the best forecast of where our economy is headed. In return, hundreds of thousands of readers sign up for our daily and monthly missives.
I thank you, but I also recognize that, collectively, we’re just a drop in the bucket. And that’s not uncommon.
The Wall Street Journal is among the most recognized newspapers in the world. The paper serves as something of a counterweight to the New York Times, but is clearly geared toward economics and investing. As of August of this year, just 2.6 million people subscribe to the Journal, which includes 1.8 million digital subscriptions (many subscribers read on both mediums). That’s about 10% of the adult population in the U.S., even though the numbers include people in other countries.
The Investor’s Business Daily goes to great lengths to tell you how great things are, but isn’t quite forthcoming with subscription data. Whatever the numbers, they are less than the Wall Street Journal.
And CNBC? The channel fails to capture more than 200,000 viewers on a regular basis, and its most successful segment has nothing to do with money. It’s Jay Leno’s Garage.
Few people in this country consume financial news, and we should all be thankful.
Reasons to be Thankful
If more people read about slowing business investment, they might be nervous about what could happen in 2020. If people understood the asset bubbles created by the Fed, they might start hiding cash in their mattresses. If the regular man on the street could see how the U.S. will struggle financially no matter who gets elected in 2020, he might snap his wallet shut and refuse to spend a penny.
But that’s not the world we live in.
Instead, most people get their news from the local television station, with news websites and talk radio coming in second and third. Even social media news ranks above newspapers. As for their economic outlook, the typical American has one metric: Am I employed?
On that score, things look awesome! The national unemployment rate ticked up a bit to 3.6% in October, but it remains near 50-year lows. If you want a job, you can get a job, and that makes most people feel pretty good about their personal situation. Who are we to tell people any different?
Over the next 45 days, Americans will spend an estimated $730 billion on holiday gifts, according to the National Retail Federation, a 4% increase over last year. That’s almost double the holiday spending growth in 2018, which was marred by a government shutdown and a huge selloff on Wall Street.
This year we have impeachment, but it’s hard to tell if people on the street are paying much attention. The farther we get from D.C., the more it looks like partisan posturing. I doubt it will it interfere with holiday cheer.
A Bit of Holiday Cheer
One-fifth of annual retail sales happen during the holiday season, and for many retailers, the number is closer to one-third. If you’re part of this group, bulk up and prepare for a banner year.
Americans have paychecks, the variable most closely correlated to consumer spending, and average hourly earnings increased by about 3% this year. They aren’t reading my words as I warn about looming financial storms created by central banks, and they don’t care that businesses are spending less on the factors of production. Those are stories in papers that other people read and worry about.
The wheels might come off the economic bus in 2020, but for now, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
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