Listening to Business Titans on the Economy
The titans of the business world continue to express their thoughts on the economy and interest rates. In a previous article, I emphasized the importance of heeding their advice.
Julie Hyman’s Contrarian Perspective
My esteemed colleague, Julie Hyman, presented a contrarian view to my assertion that it is essential to carefully consider the comments of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. I value this alternative perspective.
My Respectful Disagreement
However, I respectfully disagree, and here’s my rationale.
Caution Flags in a Volatile Landscape
These influential figures persistently signal caution during a period of escalating geopolitical tensions and soaring interest rates. They possess the most up-to-date information, including real-time data on the demand for $100,000 cars, $30 credit card purchases, and $75 pairs of shoes.
Relaying Real-Time Insights
These influential figures use this real-time information to inform their employees, shareholders, and the general public. I firmly believe that individuals of the stature of Dimon or Tesla CEO Elon Musk should be taken seriously when conveying their perspectives, appreciating the gravity of their statements. (Although, perhaps not so much in Musk’s case…)
The Timeliness of this Information
The fact that this fresh data is reaching us during a precarious period for the markets, the economy, and the world should not be underestimated.
New Insights from Prominent Figures
Elon Musk (from a recent earnings call) stated, “I am concerned about the high interest rate environment we find ourselves in. I cannot emphasize this enough – for the vast majority of car buyers, the monthly payment is paramount. As interest rates rise, the proportion of that payment attributed to interest naturally increases. So, if interest rates continue to climb or even spike further, it becomes much more challenging for people to afford a car. They simply can’t manage it.”
American Express CEO Stephen Squeri (in a conversation with me, 30 minutes after earnings were released on Friday) expressed, “I believe 2024 will be more of the same. There will be more uncertainty, but we should experience a relatively steady macroeconomic environment.”
Do comments like these suggest that the stock market is hurtling toward another Black Monday? Well, no. However, they do indicate increased market volatility as we approach the year’s end. And this volatility is justified.
A Snapshot of the Current Situation
Currently, I cannot secure a home mortgage for less than 8%, despite my excellent credit score. To finance that 476-horsepower Cadillac Blackwing I desire, I’m looking at an interest rate of approximately 7%. Meanwhile, my friends are revisiting their student loans and cutting back on discretionary spending. Even in a robust job market, people are struggling to afford a simple box of cereal.
It is imperative to listen attentively to the insights provided by figures such as Musk, Dimon, and Squeri, as well as other prominent voices set to speak on upcoming earnings calls.