Retail Observer

May 2017

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 45 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM MAY 2017 46 O n November 8, 2016, the message was clear, American voters wanted change in Washington. What we have been witnessing however, is not change, but revolution. By mid- February it became apparent that chaos is now the new normal and that the expectations we had about economic stability must be reevaluated. The Consumer Confidence Index, a measure of how Americans feel about their future, spiked nearly 10 points in December and January, some called this the Trump Effect. Business confidence also soared, reflecting the hopes that a deep cut in corporate taxes will bring foreign profits of American corporations back into the U.S. economy. A tax cut, as is being proposed, will precipitate an expansion in consumer spending. If domestic spending is combined with planned infrastructure spending, massive tax cuts and deregulation, America has a recipe for 4% plus growth in GDP and significantly increased wages of American workers. For this plan to work, tax reform, deregulation, and massive spending on roads and bridges would have to be assiduously handled to avoid the pitfalls that have driven some of the Administration's recent decisions. It will be critical that Trump's team look at each opportunity in light of how it can improve the opportunities that have potential to expand our economy and avoid the obvious hazards. The chief concern among economists about such a plan would be a rapid rise in inflation. An overheated economy will force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, this would cause the dollar to spike dramatically. The debt crisis that would develop among nations holding American dollars — due to the dollar's status as the world's reserve currency — would create instability in foreign economies. The probable recoil into the U.S. economy would have an extremely negative impact on consumer spending, GDP and our financial markets. Secondly, it is hard to know if the new administration is serious about trade wars but if the U.S. does decide to put 20% to 35% tariffs on goods from major exporters like Mexico, China, and has been discussed, the European Union, it could roil world markets in a way that could take years to recover. Keep in mind that the United States has spent the last half-century putting together a coalition of countries as economic and military partners. This vital work has helped to develop economies of friendly nations and created alliances that have benefitted America. There are serious concerns about these plans over the next few months, and how the U.S. moves ahead will determine the future of our economic success. A quick look at the latest economic news at the end of January was promising; job growth came in at 227,000 new hires and unemployment rose a tenth of a percent to 4.8%. With wages up 3.5% in 2016 and America's labor market nearing full employment, the outlook for this year is fairly optimistic. The Commerce Department reported that housing starts increased 11.3% last month and the consensus among economists has housing starts at 1.2 million in 2017. Increasing home sales and rising equity are a good indication that consumers will continue remodeling at a brisk pace this year. Consumer spending in all of 2016 was up 3.5% but the largest increase came from the purchases on long-lasting manufactured goods like automobiles, furniture, and appliances. Consumer spending will be a reliable predictor for growth in our industry this year. So when asked at conventions about our economic future in 2017, my answer is simply this: we have strong momentum, consumer confidence is the highest it has been in nine years, Americans are spending money like they did prior to the 2008 recession, automobiles had record sales in 2016 and housing is still in a growth mode. There is both great opportunity in America with new leadership, and considerable uncertainties that we will face over the next 12 months. AMERICA'S NEW NORMAL Great potential in 2017 but uncertainty abounds Joe Higgins Economic Viewpoint Joe Higgins began his career with General Electric with a degree in economics. Joe left GE and joined Whirlpool as National Director of Sales. Joe retired from Whirlpool in 2012 in a career that spanned two companies and 43 years in the appliance industry. For the past two years, Joe has been speaking at conventions, seminars, and sales meetings across America. His work includes presentations on the United States economy, leadership, creating a high performance culture, healthy teams, and customer service. Visit RO

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Retail Observer - May 2017