U.S. consumer confidence declined in April, dropping to its lowest level since last summer. According to a senior economist at The Conference Board, “Consumers became more pessimistic about the outlook for both business conditions and labor markets.” Banking failures, higher borrowing costs, a government impasse over the debt ceiling, and a softening labor market have everyone worried about recession.
Investors are worried. According to the AAII Investor Sentiment Survey, 39 percent of respondents are bearish (thinking the stock market is headed down) while only 24 percent are bullish (thinking the stock market is headed up). The remaining 37 percent are neutral. Bears have outnumbered bulls most of this year and last.
Pessimists are everywhere. The reality, however, is that it is impossible to predict the direction of the stock market, especially in the near term. Instead of fretting over everything that might go wrong, why not take a step back and look at long-term societal progress? Let’s approach the world while setting our emotions aside.
Bad things happen all the time throughout history, but economic progress prevails over the long run. Economist Deirdre McCloskey estimates that over the last 250 years, the “well-being” of humankind
has increased by 100 times. Adjusting for inflation, income is about 30 times higher than it was two centuries ago. That represents exponential growth as compared with the previous 40,000 years of modern human existence. Health, wealth, education, and well-being have all experienced extraordinary long-term improvement.
In 1930, U.S. life expectancy at birth was 58 for men and 62 for women. Influenza, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and infant death were among the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States 100 years ago. Penicillin did not exist until 1929. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, polio paralyzed or killed over a half million people per year. The life expectancy in the U.S. is nearing 80 today. Reaching age 100 will be common by the year 2050, according to demographers at the Stanford Center on Longevity.
Also In This Issue
Social Science: Doing It Right
From Skynet To ChatGPT: AI And Its Investment Implications
Changing Jobs? Don’t Forget About Your 401(K)
What To Do If You Missed The Tax Filing Deadline
A Reader Inquires
The High-Yield Dow Investment Strategy
Recent Market Statistics
The Dow Jones Industrials Ranked By Yield
Asset Class Investment Vehicles