MCNAIR MONTHLY ECONOMIC OUTLOOK JANUARY/EARLY FEBRUARY 2022
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 2021 at 36,338.30, up 18.73% for the year, while the S&P 500 closed 2021, at 4,766.18, up 26.89% for the year and the NASDAQ ended the year at 15,644.97, up 21.39%. At the end of the first full week in February 2022, these major indices have given back much of their 2021 gains with the S&P closing at 4,500.53 (down 5.57% for 2022); The Dow Jones Industrial Average closing at 35,089.74 (down 4.43% for 2022); and the NASDAQ finished the week at 14,098.01 (down 9.89% so far this year).
The loss of trillions of dollars in personal and corporate wealth so far in 2022, from declining U.S. stock markets; the (hanging on) of the COVID-19 virus; continuing problems at our southern border; a disheveled Green Energy Policy; and global instability as measured by tension in the Middle East, the Russia/Ukraine border conflict and concerns over China all add up to record low polling numbers for President Joe Biden.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE SIGNS
Ironically, President Biden’s polling numbers are not stronger given recent economic data released over the last 10 days. Near the end of January, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its preliminary Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures for the fourth quarter of 2021 and overall GDP for the year. Fourth-quarter real U.S. GDP grew at 6.9%, while overall 2021 real U.S. GDP grew at 5.7%, an impressive recovery for the minus 3.4% decline in annual U.S. GDP in 2020. President Biden saw more than 6 million new jobs created in his first year in office; a monthly average of roughly 550,000 new jobs created. This is the highest monthly average for any American president in their first year in office, going back to and including Ronald Reagan. Perhaps President Biden’s poll numbers remain low due to the current fear held by most Americans of increasing inflation in 2022.
The recent news on inflation is not good with the Ten Year Treasury Bond Yield at 1.93% (more than 2.5 times where it was in early 2021); precious metals continue to climb; and West Texas Intermediate Crude broke $92 a barrel (almost double its 2021 low). Most difficult for Americans in general, is the fact that gasoline prices are at a seven-year high, with gasoline last week reaching a national average of $3.42 a gallon, up from $2.44 a gallon, one year ago. According to a January 2022 poll by the Gallup organization, only 33% of Americans were satisfied with the state of the U.S. economy. This is down from 43% at the same time in 2021, and dramatically lower than the 68% satisfaction rating the same poll showed in January 2019.
For 30 years since 1990, the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth has produced a multicultural economic report. The report has measured economic progress by tracking the increase in purchasing power by ethnic groups and the U.S. economy as a whole year over year. The report clearly shows Asian, Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans wield formidable economic clout, and corporations and their marketing firms can no longer take a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing consumer goods and services. The report for 2020 released in August 2021 shows the buying power of Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Americans has ‘exploded’ over the past 30 years, up from $671 billion in 1990 to $4.94 trillion in purchasing power in 2020. The total purchasing power of these four groups increased from 15.6% of total U.S. purchasing power in 1990 to 28.3% in 2020.
In fact, the combined purchasing power of all U. S. consumers grew from $11.3 trillion in 2010 to $17.5 trillion in 2020, up 55% for the country as a whole. We believe it is important to note that over the same time period, Asian American buying power grew 111%; Hispanic buying power grew 87%; Native American buying power grew 67%, and Black buying power grew 61%. In 2020, the Selig Report noted America had almost 21 million Asian Americans, making up 6.3% of the U.S. population and generating $1.3 trillion in buying power. Simultaneously, there are 62.1 million Hispanic Americans, making up 18.7% of the U.S. population that generated $1.9 trillion in U.S. spending power in 2020. There were 41.1 million Black Americans living in the United States in 2020, making up 12.4% of the U.S. population and generating $1.6 trillion in buying power. Finally, the 9.7 million Native Americans made up 2.9% of the U.S. population and generated $140 billion in U.S. purchasing power in 2020.
Putting the previous data on a global scale would have borne the following results in 2020: If Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native Americans were a separate country, their purchasing power would be slightly larger than the GDP of Japan, making it the third-largest economy in the world, only behind the United States and China. Equally impressive, if Hispanic Americans were a country in 2020, they would be the eighth largest economy in the world, behind France, whose GDP was $2.55 trillion; and slightly ahead of Italy, whose GDP was $1.85 trillion. If Black American purchasing power were a country, it would be 9th, the size of Canada, whose GDP in 2020 totaled $1.6 trillion. Asian American GDP would rank 14th in the world, just ahead of Spain, whose GDP measured $1.25 trillion in 2020. Native American GDP would have ranked in the top 100 countries of the world based on buying power GDP in 2020.
The United States has never been and will never be a perfect country. However, what is most beautiful and must always be remembered is that America is a legal, political and economic system structured to do good and resolve its problems with built-in self-correcting mechanisms. When measured over time, America has delivered more to its citizenry in terms of individual freedom, security, and prosperity than any other country in the history of the world. All Americans must strive to treat each other with dignity, kindness, and grace at every opportunity and celebrate the successes of a job well done, a job never finished … like that depicted by the results reflected in the good work of the Selig Center.