What a year!
In some ways, it feels as though we lived through several years in 2022. The onslaught of events included, “The first major European war since the 1990s, unprecedented sanctions, energy-price mayhem, bail-outs, global interest rates rising at their fastest pace in four decades, a faltering Chinese economy, an overheating American one, housing markets looking peaky across the rich world, [and] a crypto blow-up for the ages…,” reported Hamish Birrell in The Economist’s Money Talks newsletter.1
The impact of these events was felt around the world. Global inflation averaged 10 percent, and global stock markets were down about 20 percent through November, reported The Economist. Yet, some countries showed remarkable economic resilience, performing far better than average. The Economist surveyed economic and financial data from 34 wealthy countries. The data included gross domestic product or GDP (which is the value of all goods and services produced in a nation), inflation, breadth of inflation, stock market performance and government debt.2
Many of the top performers were in the Mediterranean. They tended to have better-than-average stock market performance, declining debt-to-GDP ratios*, strong economic growth, and/or below average inflation. The top 10 included:
The United States ranked 20th, although its position may have skewed low. The author opined, “America’s GDP numbers are misleadingly weak: in recent quarters official statisticians have struggled to account for the impact of enormous stimulus packages.”2
Last week, major U.S. stock indices delivered mixed results as economic data, created uncertainty reported Nicholas Jasinski of Barron’s. Positive earnings news and strong labor market data were countered by cooling inflation and slower consumer spending. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and the Nasdaq Composite moved lower, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose. Treasury bond yields generally moved higher.3,4
*Debt as a percent of GDP measures a country’s ability to repay its debt.5 In addition, research from the World Bank found a high debt-to-GDP ratio may impede economic growth.6
OUT WITH THE OLD. IN WITH THE NEW.
Every new year brings new ways of doing things. Here are some of the trends and ideas that may shape 2023 (or not).
Challenging your taste buds. “Flavors that violate [consumers’] expectations are sure to be a hit…unexpected and unique flavor combinations will be in demand going into 2023.” Spoiler alert. If you want to be surprised by 2023’s new flavors stop reading here. If you want to warn your tongue what may be coming, prepare for dragon fruit and Vietnamese-Cajun.7
Traveling for inner growth. One of the top travel trends in 2023 will be transformation retreats, according to Sarah Allard of Condé Nast Traveler. “…2023 will be the year we travel for personal betterment. Whether you are seeking to overcome grief, identify your life’s mission, or discover what your body is physically capable of, there will be a transformation retreat that caters to it.” Another anticipated trend is “set-jetting,” visiting countries where your favorite movies and television shows are filmed.8
Dowsing for fresh water. 2023 may be the year that water-strapped cities and regions begin harvesting water vapor. That’s the suggestion offered by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who have been researching sources of fresh water. “A new study suggests an investment in new infrastructure capable of harvesting oceanic water vapor as a solution to limited supplies of fresh water in various locations around the world,” reported Science Daily.9
And now for something completely different. If you’re bored with your current exercise routine, you might consider the Ministry of Silly Walks workout. A tongue-in-cheek study published in the British Medical Journal found that inefficient walking (of the type seen in Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks skit) burns lots of calories. “Adults could achieve 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity per week by walking inefficiently for about 11 min/day. Had an initiative to promote inefficient movement been adopted in the early 1970s, we might now be living among a healthier society.”10
We hope you have a safe and happy New Year celebration.
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”11
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, philosopher