Some weeks I don’t get to choose what I write about. This is one of those weeks.
Thanks to the now-resolved screenwriter’s strike, I’m three seasons into The Crown on Netflix. Tara and the girls have watched the whole series multiple times without me. All I heard was “British royalty” and that was my cue to practice guitar. I had no interest.
But a few weeks ago, I was lamenting to my brother-in-law about the desert of original content we were in and he sold me on The Crown. Now, I’m hooked. It’s more history, less princesses and princes, than I assumed. And John Lithgow, as Churchill, turned in one of the finest acting performances ever put on screen.
If you’ve seen the show, you’ll recall an episode where the dude from Dexter plays JFK – if a bit unconvincingly. In one scene, he gives an impassioned speech at a state dinner, talking about how politics were ripping the country apart, and how things were hurtling towards doom. He was assassinated weeks later.
As I watched that scene, I remember wanting to write about it. We often hyperbolize and catastrophize the current state of things, forgetting that our country and our world have often seen similar, if not far worse, moments than whatever we’re living through right now. It was going to be an uplifting message.
But I can’t write about that today. I’m not feeling very uplifted.
Watching the terrorist attack in Israel this week was one of the most horrific, helpless experiences of my lifetime. It’s like 9/11, but at least then our country united. Today, there are cracks. On Twitter. On college campuses. In Washington.
And, with 9/11, our fears were universal. All Americans were under attack. We could relate, commiserate.
Today, I can’t even comprehend how my Jewish brothers and sisters must feel. Not only are they fearing for friends and family in Israel, but they’re worrying about their own safety here. That even a single American isn’t outraged, isn’t going out of their way to comfort and protect our Jewish neighbors, is disgraceful. Nothing justifies the nature of what happened.
The fact that history has witnessed times like these is no consolation. We’re supposed to be more evolved, more enlightened, more civilized. We have no excuse.
We’re supposed to be better than this.
Here’s what we’re seeing:
Consumer confidence keeps sliding. Our Economic Sentiment Index hit its lowest point in a year this week, as long-term optimism for the U.S. economy continued its downward spiral. Four of the five main indicators declined – the lone exception being Americans’ outlook on their personal finances, which is a non-trivial bright spot going into the holiday retail season. Confidence (or lack thereof) in the housing market seems to have bottomed out.
As for the housing market, it’s definitely deterring people from moving. After a surge of people relocating in 2021, the percentage of Americans who say they’re staying put in their current digs has stabilized, whether they like it or not. Just over 30% of U.S. adults say they plan to move in the next 12 months, but the largest number of those folks are renters. Of people who are interested in buying a home, barely 1 in 4 still plan to do so – 73% say they will be renting or not moving at all due to the current market. The impact is even bigger on potential first-time home buyers.
U.S. workers have lost a ton of friends since the pandemic. In our 3 Things to Know this week, we looked at the demise of work friendships since the onset of COVID. Twenty-eight percent of employed Americans say they have fewer work friends, compared to just 10% who say they have more. Interestingly, remote workers are the most likely to say they have a “work best friend.” In other news, we found that a minority of U.S. adults – across all parties – supported the ousting of Kevin McCarthy and that people are planning to wait longer to buy their holiday decorations this year.
Netflix could be playing with fire by raising prices again. For the past couple years, companies across categories from retail to restaurants have been able to safely “take price” with little to no negative consequence, as consumers either sat on a stockpile of extra cash or simply became numb to rising costs. But at some point, businesses’ hands will get too close to the stove. As Netflix signals another price increase for its ad-free subscription tier in the coming months, current subscribers are throwing a fit. Thirty-five percent say they’ll cancel their subscription, while another 17% say they’ll move to an ad-supported tier. We know that 35% number is nonsense…people always overstate this stuff. But more people are threatening this time around than when we studied pending Netflix price increases in 2011 and 2019.
Federal approval of Bitcoin ETFs could change the game. As the Sam Bankman-Fried trial gets underway, investors seem to be gaining more, not less, confidence in the crypto market (the government finally cracking down on fraud is a good thing). Meanwhile, as federal courts opened the door for federally regulated Bitcoin funds to be traded on the stock exchange, nearly 1 in 5 Americans say they would be very or somewhat likely to invest. Likelihood jumps to well over 50% among past crypto investors. With blue chip firms like BlackRock throwing their hats in the ring, the crypto market could be coming back with a vengeance.
More awesomeness from the InsightStore this week:
- The Lululemon/Peloton partnership is an absolute no-brainer;
- Intent to shop at Halloween pop-up stores is down significantly this year, while big box, discount retailers, and online are up – along with other Halloween retail insights;
- Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour movie will bring a bunch of valuable, infrequent movie-goers into the theater;
- Here are 5 things you would never guess about people who eat frozen entrees;
The most popular questions this week:
Answer Key: No, don’t mess with perfection; Also no, but you should get relief when your ball lands in a fairway divot; Definitely not; Real; Oppose, if only because the debate would be intolerable.
Hoping you’re well,
P.S. If you’re so inclined, there are a number of great humanitarian organizations providing aid to the victims of the attacks in Israel. Here are two good ones you might consider.