Stories by Courtenay Brown

America's consumers are happy but its CEOs are scared

Illustration of market chart with chasm in the middle
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Business Roundtable on Wednesday announced that CEO confidence fell to the lowest level in 3 years — a doom-and-gloom indicator that contrasts the high levels of consumer optimism.

Why it matters: Top executives are feeling the pain from the trade war, prompting them to hold off on spending decisions that propel economic growth. Consumers, so far unshaken by tariffs and similar threats, could be the economy's saving grace.

United Cheapskates of America

Illustration of a hundred dollar bill with duct tape over Benjamin Franklin's mouth
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Retailers are under pressure to raise prices on a slew of everyday products. The problem: Americans have become too cheap to let them.

Why it matters: Our obsession with cheap stuff is tying the hands of some of the nation's biggest corporations — like Target, Macy's and Walmart — at a time when they're grappling with new tariffs and can't risk offending shoppers during the all-important holiday season.

Federal Reserve announces 2nd consecutive rate cut

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference in July
Fed chairman Jerome Powell. Photo: Mark Wilson via Getty Images

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates by a quarter point on Wednesday, bringing the target range for the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 1.75%–2%.

Why it matters: The Fed's 2nd consecutive rate cut reflects worries about the U.S. economy. The trade war and slowing growth around the world have made corporate executives more worried than they've been in years.