The business world, the financial markets, and the overall economy were hardly short of headlines in 2017. Suffice to say a lot happened. A digital currency skyrocketed, a stock market roared, a labor market advanced, and a president made his mark on the economy with tax reform. Despite doom and gloom prognostications from leftists and globalists that the economy would crash because of President Donald Trump and Brexit, the world did not come to an end. What’s a word to describe 2017? Fun.
Let’s take a look at the top U.S. economic stories in 2017:
The Never-Ending Rise of Bitcoin
If you haven’t heard about the peer-to-peer decentralized virtual currency bitcoin, then you have probably been living under a rock for most of 2017. Bitcoinmania has swept America – and the rest of the world – with the price of the digital currency reaching $19,000. A bitcoin futures contract is being sold on the New York Stock Exchange, homeowners are selling their properties in bitcoin, grandmothers are giving bitcoin advice, and some of the top Internet searches are bitcoin-related.
Despite this likely being the mother of all bubbles a la Tulipmania or the dot-com boom, it has been a roller coaster ride, to say the least.
Stock Market Milestones
The sugar high continued, as the Dow Jones added more than 5,000 points in a single year. It took a mere 30 trading sessions to climb from 23,000 to above 24,000 – the Dow Jones is inching towards 25,000. The S&P 500 has added $2 trillion in valuations, while the Nasdaq Composite Index has surged about 23%. How many other milestones will the stock market hit?
GOP Pushes Tax Plan
One of President Trump’s biggest campaign promises was tax reform. Although it wasn’t the dream tax plan that libertarians or fiscal conservatives wanted, the market was still pleased when it was approved in the Senate. The corporate tax rate was slashed to 20%, the Obamacare mandate was repealed, and income taxes came down.
As Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said just before the vote, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act is not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction for a low-tax environment.
Trump Taps Powell for Top Fed Role
After what seemed like some flip-flopping, the president decided against nominating Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to a second four-year term. Instead, Trump tapped longtime Fed Governor Jerome Powell to the top position at the U.S. central bank.
The consensus is that he is similar to Yellen, but with a tie.
U.S. Debt Surpasses $20 Trillion
For the first time in the nation’s history, the U.S. debt surpassed the $20 trillion mark, which is equal to $170,436 per taxpayer. To service the debt, the U.S. government is spending $250 billion a year on interest payments. With a balanced budget nowhere in sight, the national debt will only grow.
Shale Revolution Nears 10 Million
The U.S. shale-oil revolution persists. And there is no end in sight! Thanks to the free market and technological innovations, the U.S. is set to overtake Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s top oil producers with an output of 10 million barrels per day (bpd). This has some in the industry referring to the U.S. as “Saudi America.”
Since the 1970s, administrations have warned about dependence on foreign oil and presented initiatives for energy independence. From President Jimmy Carter to President George W. Bush, nothing ever seemed to work. The lesson? Let capitalism do its thing.
How many corporate acquisitions and takeovers were there in 2017? Many.
Amazon purchased Whole Foods Market in a whopping $13.4 billion deal. United Technologies acquired Rockwell Collins for $30 billion in the largest aerospace transaction in history. Disney is set to buy 21st Century Fox assets for $52.4 billion in stock. Cisco bought AppDynamics for $3.7 billion. Target got its hands on grocery-delivery firm Shipt in a $550 million cash deal. And AT&T is still attempting to nab Time Warner for $85 billion.
Anti-Speech Universities Reeling Financially
Universities and college campuses are doing their very best to quash free speech, especially those from the conservative or libertarian persuasion. The rest of the country is not happy with this trend – including both past and future students.
Case in point, the University of Missouri is suffering from a $32 million budget shortfall, stemming from the lowest enrollment since 2008. This is causing the post-secondary institution to impose budget cuts, shut down programs, and rent vacant dorm rooms.
Many places of higher learning that have embraced censorship and the suppression of free speech have quickly learned that social justice hasn’t infected the entire country. The free market strikes again!
Household Debt Surges, Savings Rate Dips
The Great Recession has not taught the consuming public anything. This is evident in the data: U.S. household debt reached an all-time high of $13 trillion in 2017. What’s the biggest threat to the national economy again? Like it was in 2007: subprime loans.
Americans are also returning to their poor saving habits. The U.S. savings rate plummeted to a 10-year low of a tepid 3%.
One Million Jobs, And Beyond
During the 2016 election campaign, Trump’s focus was all about jobs, jobs, jobs. Well, that is precisely what happened in 2017: in his first six months in the Oval Office, one million jobs were created. Just last month, the national economy added a better-than-expected 228,000 jobs.
What’s in Store for 2018?
We can only imagine how 2018 will look.
Will the Fed-induced sugar high come to an end? Will the bitcoin bubble pop? Will another bubble form, potentially in commodities? How much higher will the nation’s debt – public and private – climb? Will another mega-corporation come to fruition?
We’ll just have to wait and see. Until then, grab your popcorn, check @realDonaldTrump’s Twitter feed, and rejoice in the craziness on the left.
What were some of your favorite economic news stories in 2017? Give us a call on our LIVE Author chat line to ask us a question or tell us what you think!