Laura Alix

“Economic Misery on the Rise, According to C6 Real Misery Index,” the press release shouted at my bleary, caffeine-deprived brain earlier this week.

“Well, happy freakin’ Monday to you, too,” I mumbled at my monitor.

It’s not enough to have a fear index – we now must have a misery index, too?

Nevertheless, I read past the subject line to find out just what was pitching me and, as I should have expected all along, it comes back down to consumer confidence and uncertainty. That seems to be the new normal nowadays, but “misery” is certainly a little extreme.

I suppose it’s a matter of perspective, though. If you live in or near the city of Boston, then things are probably looking pretty good. I spent the early part of this week writing our annual “Top Lenders” feature, and more than one banker told me he was feeling “cautiously optimistic” about the year ahead. I heard about consumer confidence on the mend, rising hotel occupancy rates (thus spurring borrowing) and generally strong market fundamentals.

Notably, many of those banks and mortgage companies are clustered in and around Eastern Massachusetts.

On the other hand, my own personal peer group (older, educated and gainfully employed Millennials) can’t help but feel the pinch of rising rents and not-so-rising wages. We know that we’re generally on an upward trajectory in life, but it’s difficult not to give a hard side-eye to marketers who convene conferences to find out why we aren’t buying more cars or to brainstorm how to get us into houses. “It’s the economy, stupid,” one might want to shout.

Again, a matter of perspective.

Citizens Bank sent me a largely positive statement in reaction to last week’s jobs report, quoting Tony Bedikian, their head of global markets, as saying: “This jobs report shows that U.S. businesses are continuing to grow and hire despite headwinds in the global economy. It means another Fed rate hike could happen sooner rather than later, especially if we keep posting strong payroll numbers.”

But then the Globe reported that maybe Massachusetts’ economy wasn’t in as great shape as we thought it was last year.

The credit card market expanded last year, but the American Bankers Association praised consumers for their discipline, while CardHub warned that “2016 is the next 2008.”

Misery index or not, though, I’m willing to chalk this week up as a win. I met all my deadlines, and we finally got to shed the peacoats and scarves this week. Plus, I got a free bagel this morning.

Then again, I can only speak for myself.


Misery Loves Company

by Laura Alix time to read: 2 min