The year 2017 saw a burst of optimism among American investors and consumers, despite the turmoil sparked by President Trump’s first year in office.
The President strode from one political storm to the next as he took an axe to many of the policies of the Obama administration, but – on the economic front – the waters could hardly have been smoother.
Annual economic growth has been a healthy 3% while the United States stock market is up around 25% on the year. It is true that the dollar is down roughly 10%, which makes the real rise in share prices a little less impressive, but the improved confidence of many Americans is impossible to deny.
According to the US economist Irwin Stelzer of the Hudson Institute, it is the low unemployment rate of 4.1% that is the key factor. “There are six million unfilled jobs in the United States at the moment,” he says. “There are labour shortages, wages have started to creep up a little bit after a long period of being flat; and that makes people cheerful, makes consumers cheerful, makes consumers confident.” Continue reading “The year in business: A review of 2017”