We discuss the health and activity of the American Consumer often, and for a reason. The Consumer is responsible for 70% of US economic output. So the key for the economy is to make sure that Americans keep spending today, as well as investing for the future. Naturally, people spend more when they feel better about their situation. If you feel financially secure, you are more likely to take that trip, or buy that cool toy, or eat out … Pretty basic stuff.
On the second Friday every month, the University of Michigan releases its monthly study of “Consumer Sentiment”. It’s a widely followed study that began in the 1940’s by a Michigan Professor who used to interview people trying to obtain a random sample to measure psychology and predict behavior. The Financial crisis really did some damage to consumer psyche, and for good reason. We’ve been dealing with serious issues for 5 years now, and it’s been a challenging recovery. Financial wounds have healed quite a bit, but we still bear the scars. Friday’s release of the Michigan study for September was the best Consumer confidence report in years, and came in at pre-recession highs. That is very meaningful. It bodes well for the future.
These are challenging times for Americans. It’s an exciting time. It’s also a scary time. There is so much going on today, and things seem to move faster than ever. And further too. Globalization has been a game changer. Planet earth has never been so intertwined. But we keep moving forward. We have to. We have to stay motivated. We have to keep inspiring.
For inspiration, look no further than October baseball. This has been the most gut-wrenching and exciting start to the postseason in memory, if not ever. We’ve seen 8 groups of individuals that form a team competing tirelessly with one common goal: victory. It’s remarkable what can happen when we band together with commitment and purpose. Our nation’s history is littered with such examples, both big and small. This is one of those moments. And it goes far beyond the baseball diamond.
It reminds me of a quote from the legendary James Earl Jones in the film Field of Dreams.
“The one constant through all the years…, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is part of our past … It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again”.
Enjoy the weekend. Go Giants.
By: Mike Frazier