It’s Not How You Feel, It’s How You Look

It’s Not How You Feel, It’s How You Look – Billy Crystal

Darling, You Look Marvelous

When I was a young 7-year-old boy, my mother decided it was time to teach me an important lesson. Women care about the way they look.  (My first lesson about girls was getting kicked in the shin meant they liked you). As I recall, I had a lot of bruises back then. My mother advised me to tell women they look 22 whenever age came up. Imagine the response I got from the girls in my second-grade class when I told them they looked 22.  Let the kicking begin!

Fast forward to the present day of glamorous women, and men with bruise-less shins. We dress to impress on job interviews where appearances matter more than how we feel. On the other hand, the U.S. economy does care how we feel! – Sometimes.

Feeling Sentimental

Perception is reality. I have heard it said that you know it’s a recession when your neighbor loses their house, but it’s a depression when you lose yours. “Your economy” is not the same as your neighbor but you both are living in the same “real economy”. The real economy measures activities related to the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The real economy doesn’t care how you feel. Its data is used to measure GDP, employment rates, and trade balances amongst other things. It also doesn’t go shopping with you when you are buying eggs or paying for gas. That is when your economy kicks in. Prices for goods and services go up during inflation and rarely come back down when inflation is over. They simply return to a normal inflation rate of around 3%.  We don’t feel better until our wages catch up. The reporter on your favorite financial news network may report that inflation is better (the real economy), and you say it is not as you continue paying $100 per bag at the grocery store (your economy). You may both be right!

The Consumer Sentiment Index, also known as consumer confidence, reflects how U.S. consumers feel about the current and future state of the economy. One day you may get a call from someone asking how you feel. Fear not if the call is from the University of Michigan, they are not trying to sell you a timeshare. The monthly survey they conduct is part of an index used to spot certain economic trends.

Get My Vibe

In recent years, the concept of the “vibe economy” has altered how we perceive value and influence. This relatively new measure of how people feel is driven by social media, influencers, and trends that capture public attention. The “vibe” is based on emotional and cultural impact rather than CPI and other traditional measures of the economy. A product or brand’s success in the vibe economy might be measured by social media engagement and viral trends.

And I thought it meant how a group of hippies leaving a Grateful Dead concert feel.  What do I know?

The Vibe Economy – read “In This Economy” by Kyla Scanlon

Consumer Confidence – www.conference-board.og

Real Economy Data –


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