“We’ll slog our way through,” Thomas Hoenig, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City noted of the world economy at this weekend’s annual retreat for the Federal Reserve in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The retreat gathered bank officials and economists from across the world to discuss global financial prospects, especially in light of uncertain recovery in the United States.
Ultimately, the consensus was that Ben Bernanke’s prediction of sluggish U.S. economic growth through the end of 2010 and moderate U.S. growth in 2011 was accurate, and more importantly, was a bellwether for the rest of the planet. Meanwhile, American consumers reflect a more schizophrenic view, with there being two distinct groups – people who are already enjoying better times and spending like it, and people who are pinching pennies. On a wider scale, U.S. unemployment is pushing 10%, growth is in the very low single-digits, and the fears of a double-dip recession have yet to dissipate entirely.
Throughout the week, crucial federal data will be released that will point to economic behavior for the near future, and whatever the data contains, the markets will surely reflect it with spasm-like speed and efficiency, at least on the day the data is released. Of top interest for this particular blog is how this data will affect the saleability of various financial planning products. When meeting with my financial planner earlier this year, market volatility was touted as a primary reason for investing in a variable annuity. What will it mean for VA sales is there isn’t a gloomy market situation for clients to be reminded of? Probably not a whole heck of a lot; the latest numbers for VAs show they are the financial product of choice to sell, at least for the near future. In the meantime, grab a bowl of popcorn and keep your eyes on the financial wires this week.