Well, we know how small businesses are feeling about the prospects for the economy.
According to the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, they’ve only been more confident once in the last 45 years and when it comes to expansion plans, this is, apparently, the most favorable environment ever.
We also know that inflation just ticked up to a six year high.
What else do we know? Well, we know that Donald Trump was getting increasingly concerned about the extent to which rising prices at the pump would end up imperilling his MAGA economy by eating away at the assumed windfall that would accrue to consumers from the tax cuts.
That’s why he felt it necessary to tweet-shame the Saudis and instruct OPEC to put a lid on oil prices lest he should have to, I don’t know, tweet at them some more or worse, make them host him for a state visit which is a fate worse than fucking death.
The next logical question here is how Main Street (i.e., consumers) are feeling about things and while there are all kinds of gauges you can look to for insight on that, BofAML recently started publishing a series of notes called “Word from Main Street” that are worth a read.
In the latest installment, the bank notes that according to their proprietary survey, “42% of respondents reported that the economy is in a better place today than it was a year ago compared to 31% who reported that it had worsened” as of the week ending June 2nd.
On the labor market front, those surveyed generally affirmed what everyone already knows, which is that attempts to find cracks in the facade or otherwise call bullshit on the BLS (which, you’re reminded, now produces data that is very “real” according to Donald Trump, and that would be the same Donald Trump who, prior to becoming President, said that very same data was “fake”) notwithstanding, the market is pretty tight.
Although it is worth noting that those with Associates degrees or lower and those making less than $50K/year aren’t feeling as “tremendous” about things as everyone else (imagine that):
Most relevant, in light of inflation and rising oil prices, was the bank’s “special question” which asked what risks are top of mind for consumers.
And while the results weren’t surprising, it is worth noting (in light of the above) that with “official” inflation just now moving sustainably to target, the fact that 71% of respondents flagged “high cost of living” seems to underscore the notion that what matters to consumers in terms of rising prices isn’t fully reflected in what policymakers are paying attention to.
That’s not exactly a revelation or some kind of deep insight, but I guess it’s worth asking whether, if 71% of consumers are already pissed off at the high cost of living when “official” inflation is just now high enough to please the Fed, what are those same consumers going to think if it continues to push markedly higher and wage gains fail to keep pace?
Anyway, I’ll leave you with the chart on that and a brief excerpt from BofAML:
While overall sentiment remains upbeat, in this month’s special question, we wanted to see what risks or concerns were on consumers’ minds. The usual concerns around high cost of living (71%) and oil/gas price (60%) topped the list while risks around tightening credit conditions and deterioration of the labor market seemed limited.
Oh, one more thing: you can count on corporate America to spend their tax windfall on ensuring employees’ wages keep pace with the cost of living, right?
Of course you can…