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Episode #27

Consumers and Corporations Hold Clashing Views of Economy

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Friday, October 26, 2012

When it comes to the economy, corporations see the glass as half-empty, while consumers see it as half-full.

By just about every measure, U.S. consumers are feeling more positive about the direction the economy is headed.

Home sales are up, with new home sales increasing 27.1 percent in September compared to a year ago. Consumers are also out shopping and eating in restaurants: retail sales are up 5.4 percent year over year, according to the Commerce Department.

Consumer sentiment — which tracks people's expectations about future economic conditions — is at its highest level in five years, according to Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary October survey.

Corporations, however, are not nearly as optimistic about the economy. Investments are down, the outlook for future economic growth is negative, and CEO confidence is at its lowest level since 2009.  

Recent less-than-stellar sales numbers from companies ranging from IBM to Google to McDonald’s only reinforce the pessimistic outlook of chief executives.

This week on WNYC's Money Talking, contributors Rana Foroohar of Time magazine and Joe Nocera of The New York Times weigh in on who has more sway in driving the economy: consumers or corporations.

Plus, a discussion about the incoming CEO of The New York Times Company, Mark Thompson. There are more questions being asked about what he knew as head of the BBC when allegations of child sexual abuse emerged about one of the broadcaster’s biggest stars. 

Hosted by:

Jeff Greenfield

Produced by:

Daniel P. Tucker

Editors:

Charlie Herman

Contributors:

Rana Foroohar and Joe Nocera
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