2016 Q3/Q4 Economic Indicators Snapshot

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As I do at the end of each quarter, let’s take a look at how the markets are faring. What could be on tap as we close out the year? How might we want to structure our B2B and B2C marketing efforts?


First, let’s check the broad markets.


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S&P 500:

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All three major markets tell a similar tale: other than a brief system shock from Brexit, 2016 has been a banner year, and no signals from the markets indicate serious issues.


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We see this sentiment reflected in the CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX. Brexit threw everyone for a loop, but even at its peak, it was nowhere near as volatile as 2008-2009. Uncertainty at the beginning of the year has evened out, and investors see little reason for panic at the moment.


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Aligned with the markets above, gold has generally gone up this year, increasing in price by 30%; after Brexit, overseas investors have taken to gold in a flight to quality.


Our next checkup is on the availability of credit, on the state of borrowing.

30 Day LIBOR:

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90 Day LIBOR:

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It’s worth noting that the London Inter-Bank Offering Rate, or LIBOR, has gone up steadily since Brexit. The banks overseas are seeing increasing rates to borrow money, now that Brexit is on the books. Loans which are indexed to LIBOR are likely to continue becoming more expensive in the months to come.

30 Year Fixed Mortgage:

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Pressures overseas are not reflected for consumers in the US; 30 year fixed mortgages are as inexpensive as they’ve ever been.

Business Indicators


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If we examine the pricing of the Baltic Dry Index, the cost of renting container ships, we see a steady increase since mid-year, along with the Hanjin bankruptcy in the last month. The mid-year increase is due to Brexit; BDI’s usefulness as an economic indicator is somewhat skewed by events specific to the shipping industry, but overall as BDI increases, business confidence tends to increase.

OECD Business Confidence:

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More broadly, overall business confidence has remained level for the OECD, the US, and China. The above is a picture of what stability looks like.

Corporate Profits:

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2016 corporate profits look strong; the year has been excellent for overall corporate profits.

Consumer Indicators

OECD Consumer Confidence:

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Consumer confidence has wavered some this year, especially in the second half of the year.


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U6, the total measure of underemployment, has sunk to below 10%. This is an excellent number – it means that fewer people are unemployed, fewer people are underemployed (full time working part time), and fewer people are discouraged from looking for work.

Personal Disposable Income:

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We see the reflection of employment gains in per capita disposable income: at an individual level, disposable income has risen throughout the year.

What does it all mean?

When we sum up all the economic indicators together, what do we see? For consumers in the United States, the job market is probably as good as it can get while being sustainable. Life isn’t bad, though there are certainly industries and sectors with long term structural problems. On average, the state of the consumer is good and strong; for those banking on a big holiday season, consumers have jobs and money in their pockets.

For businesses in the United States, corporate profits have been strong and confidence is steady. As 2017 marketing plans are designed, companies should have more cash in the till to put towards growth.

Internationally, Brexit has had a lasting impact on borrowing as well as flight to safety. International businesses looking for a safe haven will continue to turn to the United States as a bastion of strength.

Everything above is, of course, subject to the uncertainty that is US politics; once the decision of the nation is made in November, businesses will have the last major stumbling block of uncertainty removed and will be able to make firm plans for the coming year.

What should you be doing as a marketer? Plan to be more aggressive. Right now, consumers and businesses have money, have work, and conditions are good for growth. Go chase the growth!

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