Jeff Opdyke Blog | Breaking The American Consumer | Talkmarkets
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Globally minded investment analyst who has traveled to more than 60 countries to put geo-political and geo-economic events into an investment perspective. I serve as global investment consultant to 1291 Group of the Americas, a Bermuda-based asset-manager and wealth-consulting firm. My focus is ... more

Breaking The American Consumer

Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 11:27 PM EDT

A Young Turk on Wall Street gets the chance to learn the ways of investing at the feet of his idol.

That is a key plot point in the movie Wall Street, one of my favorite flicks. But it doesn’t really tell you very much about anything. Does the Young Turk go on to great success? Does he flame out spectacularly? Does he learn his idol is a sham or the greatest investor of all time?

So many unanswered questions just knowing one data point.

Which brings me to the single points of light that flood the business media these days…

They say nothing about the true state of the U.S. economy. It’s only when you connect these individual plot points do you see the real storyline taking shape. And based on some plot points I’ve just connected, I’m willing to bet that the American consumer is soon to surprise Wall Street with unexpected weakness.

Every bit of economic data is dished up these days for our consumption, and almost always as a one-off snapshot of all that is good, bad or indifferent in the economy.

Last week, for instance, the jobs number was, if you believe the media coverage, so exciting you’d think you were watching Meg Ryan’s famous Katz Deli scene from When Harry Met Sally. And, yet, just two months earlier, the number was so dismal you’d think you were reading in the media about Travis shooting Old Yeller.

The problem is that few in the mass media connect all these plot points into a cohesive narrative of our times. They don’t dig into the numbers anymore. They just tell you we created 255,000 jobs in July, and they write glad-handing headlines, as CNN did, telling you that “America’s job market remains one of the few bright spots in the economy.”

They don’t tell you that real estate, rental and leasing accounted for more than 7,000 jobs, that construction added 14,000, and we gained nearly 7,000 jobs selling cars and car parts — and that those jobs will all vanish in a blink in the downturn on the way.

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