Jul 25, 2023 - Economy

This economy runs on Girl Power

Illustration of a woman flexing her bicep featuring a dollar sign tattoo

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The blowout success of Taylor Swift's "Eras" tour, combined with the record box office juice of the "Barbie" movie, is helping to buoy the economy and prevent a recession.

Why it matters: Beyoncé should have been an economist — her 2011 observation that it's girls who run the world is now showing up in microeconomic aggregates.

  • A not-too-hot, not-too-cold economy like the one we're seeing is known as a "Goldilocks economy." (The term was coined 30 years ago by David Shulman, then an economist at Salomon Brothers.)
  • And there's a new formula driving the U.S. economy: Taylor Swift + Barbie = Goldilocks.

What's happening: Consumers are prioritizing experiences and entertainment over buying things, as fresh economic data for July shows.

  • They're scooping up "Barbie" tickets, and spending on all that related merch.
  • They're shelling out top dollar for tickets to Swift's "Eras" tour and turning a one-night concert into a fabulous two-day event.

Between the lines: The post-pandemic economy laid the ground for Swift-onomics — the economic turbocharge Taylor Swift's "Eras" tour brings to each city she's performed in.

  • The rise of hybrid work means that more folks are willing to travel out of town to see Swift and book a longer stay, per a recent note from Moody's Analytics.
  • Traveling to a Taylor Swift concert is much easier when you can work from your hotel room. "The constraints of work are taken away, at least partially," says Thomas LaSalvia, head of commercial real estate economics at Moody's Analytics.

Zoom in: Local consumer spending tied to the tour could go as high as $4.6 billion, per one estimate.

  • Swift tourists aren't just spending on hotel rooms and merch, they're dining out, hiring designers, and hitting local museums, a recent WSJ story highlighted. Businesses are creating special stuff just for Swifties to buy.

By the numbers: Of the 69 markets where Moody's tracks hotel performance, the ones that included a stop on the "Eras" tour all posted an increase in revenue per available room from the same month last year.

Meanwhile: "Barbie" is the biggest movie of the year so far, and nothing in the pipeline for the rest of the year is likely to top the $162 million it grossed in its opening weekend. It's also the biggest movie opening in history for a woman director.

  • The shares of Mattel, maker of the iconic doll that serves as the movie’s inspiration, have risen by 25% in the past month.

What's next: Beyoncé's "Renaissance" tour just hit the U.S. in July, so we're watching to see whether an economic boost shows up in the data.

  • The increased spending linked to Bey's debut performances in Sweden may have caused an uptick in the country's inflation rate.

The big picture: The Federal Reserve's historic rate hikes haven't (yet) brought on a recession, and Americans are still spending.

  • Women, who make up a big portion of both "Barbie" ticket buyers and Swift concertgoers, are also doing great right now.
  • A record number of working-age women are employed, the gender wage gap is at its narrowest point ever, and the widely predicted "she-cession" never materialized.

Reality check: Girls do not, in fact, rule the world.

The bottom line: Forget the girl boss, this is the girl economy. Come on, Barbie, let's go party!

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