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Expand chart
Data: The Conference Board and University of Michigan; Chart: Axios Visuals

The continued bright spot in global economic data has been the solid state of U.S. consumers. Unemployment is low, and consumers are confident and continue to spend freely, providing a major buoy for the rest of the economy.

What they're saying: "Trade, as important as it is, and as many headlines as it engenders, is 3-4% of GDP. Personal consumption is closer to 70% of GDP. And as long as the labor market is strong, wages are OK, and we’re in a non-inflationary environment, the consumer keeps spending," Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman, says in an email.

  • “It’s good to remind one’s self about what the fundamental, underlying drivers of the economy are," Clemons said.

Of note: Both major readings of U.S. consumer confidence remain at elevated levels.

  • However, the University of Michigan survey has been trending lower since May when the U.S.-China trade war began to escalate.
  • The Conference Board's survey has remained near historic highs, with a measure of how consumers view their present situation at the highest since just before the 2000 dot-com bubble crash.

The bottom line: “The trade disputes are like waves crashing on the shore. The economic tide, driven by personal consumption, is still coming in," Clemons adds. "The risks of recession are way overstated, given the strength of the consumer."

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The winners and losers of the pandemic holiday season

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has upended Thanksgiving and the shopping season that the holiday kicks off, creating a new crop of economic winners and losers.

The big picture: Just as it has exacerbated inequality in every other facet of American life, the coronavirus pandemic is deepening inequities in the business world, with the biggest and most powerful companies rapidly outpacing the smaller players.

Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10 percent in the final week before Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.

Why it matters: Travel and large holiday celebrations are most dangerous in places where the virus is spreading widely — and right now, that includes the entire U.S.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.