business news in context, analysis with attitude

•  From Axios:

"The U.S. economy grew faster than any other advanced economy last year — by a wide margin — and is on track to do so again in 2024 … America's outperformance is rooted in its distinctive structural strengths, policy choices and some luck. It reflects a fundamental resilience in the world's largest economy that's easy to overlook with the nation's problems.

"All countries dealt with the same problems of post-pandemic inflation and high interest rates. But the U.S. managed to achieve solid growth despite those headwinds.

"Strong growth in the U.S. labor force was one factor: More Americans chose to enter the workforce, and immigration surged.   The U.S. also experienced strong productivity growth fueled by an innovative corporate sector and … big federal investments in infrastructure and manufacturing capacity."

Axios also offers a reality check:  "It's not just that the U.S. is doing well. It's that other major economies have distinctive problems holding back growth.

Japan has a shrinking population and low immigration rates. So even when its economy is doing well, growth is lower than in the U.S."  And, "The U.K. is still working through the supply disruptions triggered by Brexit."

At the same time, consumer sentiment seems to be in synch with the improving economy.

The Washington Post recently noted that "consumer sentiment, a window into the nation’s financial mood, jumped 13 percent in January to its highest level since mid-2021, reflecting optimism that inflation is easing and incomes are rising, according to a closely watched survey by the University of Michigan. Since November, consumer sentiment has risen 29 percent, marking the largest two-month increase in more than 30 years."

•  From MediaPost:

In the latest sign that consumers' financial fears are fading, the National Retail Federation predicts a record $14.2 billion on significant others this Valentine’s Day. It forecasts total spending for the holiday, once you factor in other family members, galantines and classmates, to reach $25.8 billion, on par with 2023.

"That is the third-highest amount in the survey’s history.

"Candy, as always, is the top gift, with 57% saying they’ll buy something sweet for someone. Greeting cards are next, at 40%, followed by flowers at 39%; jewelry at 22%; clothing at 21% and gift cards at 19%. The survey also finds a continuing interest in gifts of experience, such as a spa certificate or concert ticket, with about one-third of consumers saying they’re planning to give such a present.

"If those predictions hold, spending is likely to hit new records for jewelry, at $6.4 billion; flowers, $2.6 billion; clothing, $3 billion; and an evening out, $4.9 billion."