Love him or hate him...
...Donald Trump's rise from ribald real estate developer and reality TV star to Republican presidential nominee is remarkable. He has clearly tapped into a growing and gnawing feeling of economic and political insecurity.
The table was arguably set:
- 46 Million Americans on Food Stamps…
- Over 94 million Americans outside the Labor Force…
- Average college tuition costs up 180% in past 20 years…
- U.S. national debt approaching $20 Trillion…
- Etc Etc Etc
Anxious Americans are also concerned about the widening income gap (partly as result of Federal Reserve financial asset inflation). It doesn't help that the top 20% of U.S. households account for almost two-fifths of consumer spending with the top 10% possessing 84.5% of U.S. financial assets.
Contributing to this insecurity are effects of slowing U.S. economic growth.
- Job growth slowing: The top was 2.3% in February 2015 and the September jobs report came in at 1.7%.
- Aggregate hours worked slowing: Year-over-year growth in aggregate hours worked continues to decline from the 2015 peak near 3.5% to today's 1.05%
- Productivity slowing: Just hit a 40-year low.
As you can see in the chart below, this is a domino effect, with the cascade of negative data hurting U.S. growth. Gross domestic product (GDP) continues to decline from its peak of 3.3% in March 2015. It’s just 1.2% today.
Meanwhile, there's a growing distrust of America's institutions.
From politicians to the mainstream media, confidence is withering. Take a look at the Gallup polling data below. People were asked "how much confidence" do you have in each of the following institutions. Respondents answering "a great deal" or "quite a lot" has been slipping across the board for two decades.
As our Demography Sector Head Neil Howe points out, this is a decisive shift in the national mood. It will have a lasting impact:
"Trump’s candidacy thus becomes more plausible if one believes, as I do, that the prevailing social mood in America is rapidly changing. Donald Trump (and Bernie Sanders) are “pre-seasonal,” to use a term I sometimes give to public figures who anticipate the new direction. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, is “post-seasonal,” her outlook firmly rooted in the old regime while struggling gamely to adapt.”
The shift is real. And whether or not Trump is elected (we're not so quick to declare his campaign dead) doesn't necessarily matter.
The winds of the national mood are shifting. A lasting and profound realignment of the old order of things may be coming.