This week’s news headlines were undoubtedly fixated on the first presidential debate of the election season, where the consensus says Obama suffered the first blow from a confident Romney. As the American people keep a close watch on the performances of their presidential hopefuls, the U.S. economy exhibits conflicting outlooks — drawing even more focus to the people’s task of choosing the person who will lead the nation for the next four years.
On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the unemployment rate fell 0.3 percent to 7.8 percent in September, the first time it has been below 8 percent since January 2009. Every drop in the unemployment rate returns us closer to the days when we didn’t wake up to a contracting economy, when we didn’t worry about the ability to make the mortgage payment, when Wall Street wasn’t evil.
Much of the presidential debate centered on disagreements over whether anyone was actually calling for a a $5 trillion tax cut for the rich. Our suggestion: How about a tax break on rising bank fees, instead?
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve’s latest announcement on monetary-policy actions breeds a gloomier sentiment. The central bank’s decision to initiate a third round of quantitative easing indicates lower interest rates in the near future. Savers can expect a lower return on their cash, especially if it’s in long-term CDs.
So is the economy getting better or worse? That’s up for debate.
Fortunately, some things are not debatable. Mobile devices, for example, are sure to become a crucial part of our financial future. Old-time personal financial management tool Quicken accepted that fact and introduced itself in mobile-app stores. And, the platform behind the Isis mobile wallet made its first appearance in New Jersey (though we still don’t know when the actual app will launch).
Despite the tarnished reputation at the biggest banks, they do tend to surprise customers from time to time. For instance, Citibank recently started testing personalized deals for credit-card customers. And, it instituted a new layer of security for online banking, which has become the mainstream method of keeping bank accounts in check.
But, before we enter the next few weeks of political back-and-forth (filled with fat-cat bankers, taxes, the economy and the jobs market), let’s use Columbus Day for some quiet time. We wonder what Christopher would think of today’s political climate and craze for the mobile wallet.