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Consumers are optimistic about the future of the economy since Donald Trump was elected president. December's Consumer Sentiment Index was the highest in more than 12 years.
The Index, which reports the results of a University of Michigan survey, has been trending sharply higher since the election. A record 18 percent of unprompted respondents mentioned that they anticipated favorable economic impacts from his policies. The previous record was 9 percent held by Ronald Reagan shortly after his first presidential election win in 1981. Gallup's Index of U.S. Economic Confidence, at +10, is also at a record high. Consumers are expecting lower taxes and an infrastructure program to stimulate the economy.
Since the election, stock market investors are also optimistic. The Dow Jones Industrial Index has increased more than 8 percent and the S&P 500 Index has risen more than 6 percent since the election. Numerous all-time price records have been established. Profits have increased, but have not recovered sufficiently to account for the record price of U.S. stocks. Falling bond prices account for some of the demand for stocks, but optimism about a President Trump's economy is a major factor.
The U.S. dollar is also stronger since Mr. Trump was elected. The U.S. Trade-Weighted Dollar Index has risen nearly 3 percent post-election. Many expect a stronger economy. A stronger economy would allow the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to proactively fight inflation. Tighter monetary policy translates into a stronger dollar. A stronger dollar encourages imports and discourages exports, but other policies may offset some of this negative influence.
Many appear to view Mr. Trump's election as a new beginning for America. The president-elect is not beholden to special interests, contributors or party loyalists. He won the election, against all odds, with 17 experienced Republican primary opponents and a well-connected, experienced Democratic opponent.
Mr. Trump was out-spent at all levels. The mainstream media was against him. At times, Republican Party leadership was against him. His comments were straightforward but often brash or even crude. He gained strong support among the evangelical community. His support among blacks, Hispanics and women was stronger than anticipated. Trump won 2,623 counties compared to Clinton's 489. His election is also creating fear, anxiety and trepidation among some. Time will ultimately judge the effectiveness of a President Trump.
New Year's resolutions are the world's attempt at a new beginning. Although many resolutions are made with high expectations, less than 10 percent will be successful. Statistics show that about one-third of resolution makers will set unrealistic goals, one-third don't track their progress, and one-fourth forget about it.
As Christians, we should be in the regular habit of declaring new beginnings. Spiritual growth requires renewal. The challenges we face and our environment is less important than our desire. We have supernatural help. Jesus has paid the price on the cross and is constantly with us. We have the Word of God which will never fail and provides us with sure guidance, direction, hope and assurance. We have been given the Spirit of love, power and self-discipline. We have the ability, means and capacity to move from glory to glory in a never-ending quest to know more of Him. All we need is the desire.
As we enter the new year, let us each day strive to:
- Show more gratitude to God and others.
- Study the Bible with more faith and expectation.
- Pray more consistently while expecting results.
- Be a giver.
- Be a doer.
- Be an example.
- Demonstrate the kingdom of God on Earth.
The Russell family is grateful for you. May the Lord bless you and prosper you and keep you safe from all harm.
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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