Affluent attitudes toward financial factors that impact their daily lives surged in September, but will October showdowns over the debt ceiling bring more tricks than treats for the economy?
The Spectrem Affluent Household Outlook surged 17.80 points to 18.50, the highest reading since January 2011 and the biggest month-to-month surge in more than five years. But recent developments do not bode well for October, as Americans brace for the prospect of the first government shut-down in almost 18 years with an escalating debt-ceiling battle looming before the government is scheduled to run out of money by mid-month.
The Outlook is a monthly survey of Affluent attitudes toward four financial factors that impact their daily lives. September saw escalating international tensions and partisan entrenchment. But the stock market was at unprecedented highs while the survey was fielded, which no doubt inspired double-digit gains in all four of the Outlook components.
Household Assets gained 20.54 points to 34.37, a four-month high. The Economy gained 19.23 points to 11.10, a gain of 19.23 points, the biggest month-over-month increase in a year. Company Health rose 15.29 points to 13.32, an almost four-month high. Household Income rose 14.22 points to 13.42, a 17-month high.
Millionaire confidence drove the surge in the Affluent Household Outlook. The Millionaire Household Outlook jumped 24.68 points to 35.19, the highest reading since April 2007. Millionaires expressed the most confidence in the Economy, which gained 28.82 points to 28.29, the highest reading since March 2011. Household Assets gained 28.25 points to 28.24, an almost six-year high. Household Income gained 22.34 points to reach 28.24, another near six-year high.
Company Health gained 19.30 points to 22.70, the highest reading since April 2011.
The Non-Millionaire Household Outlook expresses significantly more wariness. While it gained 4.28 points in September, that was not enough to bring it out of negative territory at -5.25. Company Health gained 8.19 points to 0.57, while Household Assets increased 4 points to -2.58, a three-month high. The Economy gained 3.83 points to -12.29 and Household Income ticked upward 1.11 points to -6.73.
The Non-Millionaire Household Outlook and its components have been in simultaneous positive territory since last May.
It remains to be seen how the most recent developments will impact the Affluent Household Outlook. Even if the debt ceiling is raised, the U.S. economy could take a hit. The stock market suffered a 100-point drop in early trading Monday in the face of investor skittishness. In 2011, the debt ceiling was raised after a bruising down to the wire imbroglio. But the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s triggered market swings with its unprecedented lowering of the country’s credit rating. In the current debate, opponents to raising the debt ceiling are pushing for deeper spending cuts.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.