Bully for Us: Consumerism Soars

Summer is here. The housing market has gained strength, jobs and incomes have risen, and overall consumers are feeling bullish. Seeing most of us have had to adjust to the “new normal” since the turn of the millennium, recent conditions are the relative equivalent to “happy days are here again.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Economic check-in: Good backdrop for stocks,” at Fidelity, May 16, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Sales of New U.S. Homes Increase by Most in Six Months,” at Bloomberg, May 23, 2014.]

As it turns out, we’re also pretty good at turning a negative event into a positive force. For years we’ve been reading about how the “graying of America” will leave shortfalls in the workforce and medical field while spending will increase exponentially in health and long-term care. Fortunately, the market tends to follow demand.

According to Chief Investment Officer Chris Hyzy at U.S. Trust, baby boomers are the largest demographic force we have in terms of volume, wealth, consumer spending and jobs. He observes that older Americans are emerging as a tremendous economic asset – working longer, buying more goods, and generally propelling economic growth.

Here are a couple of examples of how markets have adapted to our aging workforce. In the U.S., one drugstore chain noticed that senior customers felt more comfortable asking older employees for assistance. As a result, the chain offered retiring workers who planned to spend their winters in warmer climates the opportunity to split their time between store locations and work more flexible hours. In Germany, one factory made physical changes to accommodate older workers so they would stay on the job longer, including softer wooden floors, adjustable worktables and orthopedic shoes. The changes yielded significantly lower absenteeism and productivity soared.

One forecasting firm has estimated that the products and services Americans over 50 consume, and the industries that serve them, generate about $7.1 trillion annually. This number is expected to increase to $13.5 trillion within 18 years, at which point they will represent more than 50 percent of our gross domestic product.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The End of Old,” at Merrill Lynch, retrieved May 23, 2014.]

A couple of the challenges we can expect moving forward are relatively new to us; the impact of adult children — or boomerang children — returning to the proverbial “empty nest” for financial reasons, and the dominance of large corporations. On the surface, you would think more breadwinners under one roof would provide a stronger fiscal picture. In reality, perhaps not.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Your kids will never let you retire,” at Marketwatch.com, May 23, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The biggest economic threat? Big companies,” at Marketwatch.com, May 22, 2014.]

The U.S. economy and many households have come a long way. Not just since the recession, but since the beginning of the millennium when progress was thwarted by the technology industry bust and the events surrounding 9/11. While financial markets seem to teeter on 24/7 exposure to news stories, most of us have worked hard toward improving our fiscal house and creating a more cautious plan to help foster a future unfazed by fleeting headlines.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “America’s Lost Decade Turns 12: Even the Rich Are Worse Off Than Before,” at The Atlantic, Sep. 17, 2013]

As is usually the case, past events breed insight and wisdom, and Americans have plenty of that going forward. If we can assist you in harnessing that wisdom for an income plan to help facilitate your future, please contact us.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

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