MONTHLY BAROMETER – WELLNESS EDITION
A growing sense of uncertainty about what is coming next is affecting the global economy. It is further entrenched by (1) trade wars being waged on multiple fronts; (2) greater political and geopolitical instability around the world; and (3) mounting policy concerns about big macro issues, such as the effectiveness of monetary policy or impending regulatory backlashes related to tech and climate change. By unsettling us, all of these put a brake on economic activity—uncertainty engenders uneasiness and ambiguity, and as we seek clarity, we tend to delay our consumption and investment decisions.
In such circumstances, it should be obvious why the issue of financial wellness is becoming increasingly visible and relevant. According to Salary Finance (a digital platform that provides financial wellbeing solutions (such as advice and a low-cost loan or a salary advance), 48 percent of US workers and 36 percent of British workers have “impaired finances,” that is: having no or very little savings and regularly running out of money before their salary is paid.
This problem is, therefore, widespread and acute, so much so that observational evidence shows that an increasing number of companies (particularly in the US and the UK) now offer courses of financial literacy to their employees—as do more colleges. In addition, more and more for-profit and nonprofit organizations enter into the business of educating employees about financial wellness and of eradicating payday lenders—having to borrow at an extortionate rate (sometimes in the hundreds of percent) constitutes a major source of financial anxiety and outright misery for it sets into motion a vicious downward spiral to financial hell. The bottom line: It’s hard, if not impossible, to be well and enjoy life without a modicum of financial security.