Economic Indicators Suggest Current Expansion “Has Run Out Of Gas”


The U.S. economy is still growing but in the late stages of the current cycle. Workers are quitting their jobs like it’s the peak of labor market cycle. Also, consumers register confidence more typical of peaks than troughs for this measure. Full sized pickup truck sales are running in line with prior periods of high demand.

Used car prices are stable, but have not increased in 5 years. Food stamp enrollment hasn’t declined since May 2016. Gallup’s take on consumers’ daily cash spend is modestly higher than last year, but largely in line with the average of the last 3 years.

It comes from a 1925 speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington DC. Unlike now, however, the newspaper business of that day was extremely profitable. Coolidge opined that such commercial success contributes to the quality of the news industry, because “a press which maintains an intimate touch with the business currents of the nation is likely to be more reliable than it would be if it were a stranger to these influences.” That, in fact, is the line right before “After all, the chief business…”


  • Real GDP growth from 1922 – 1926 averaged 4.5%. Income taxes fell throughout the decade, having peaked at the end of World War I.
  • The percent of US households with electricity went from 34% in 1920 to close to 70% by the end of the decade.
  • Regulation and a dysfunctional legal system means companies routinely choose other countries when making investment decisions.

“The auto industry is always a useful “Tell” about the state of the U.S. economy, so we included used car prices and large pickup trucks sales”.

“After all, the chief business of the American people is business.” That quote is not from President-Elect Donald Trump, but rather former President Calvin Coolidge. It is certainly his best known public statement and still cited to this day, a rare acknowledgment of a man whose nickname was “Silent Cal”

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