Millennials Making More Happen With Less [Chart]
Recent survey sheds light on millennial spending habits
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
Despite the Western world’s general shift towards healthier eating, it may surprise you to learn that McDonald’s shares traded at all-time highs just days ago.
How is this possible?
Part of the reason is that although millennials will tell you otherwise, the name of the game for courting many millennials is still convenience. Price points at a restaurant such as McDonald’s still have wide appeal to a cash-strapped generation.
Based on a recent survey by TD Bank, the convenience trend is still on track. Here’s what we learned on millennial spending habits from the results.
Getting More out of Less
A major finding of the survey was that although millennials “go out” twice as often as Generation X and three times as often as Baby Boomers, they spend less per month on purchases than their older cohorts.
Millennials made more purchases on retail goods and dining than other generations, but spent less money overall. In fact, the only category where Millennials spent more than Gen X and Boomers is on coffee and fast food – demonstrating a need for food on the run and frequent doses of caffeine.
The average millennial went out 13 times each month, spending $103 for an average of $7.90 per transaction. This compares with nine trips with $122 of spend ($17 per transaction) for the average consumer.
The same was the case for grabbing “coffee and food on-the-go”, where millennials said that they went on more trips than the average consumer. Millennials also spent a higher total than others, spending $80 over 11 trips (compared with $67 over eight for the average consumer).
Experiences vs. Material Items
While the survey paints a picture of millennial thriftiness, we also think that there is another lens that can be used to shed light on the results. In particular, we believe this shows that the value that millennials place on having experiences.
To many millennials, “going out” is as much about the experience as the material food itself. Whether it is connecting with old friends at a new thin-crust pizzeria or trying a locally-roasted single-origin coffee with a significant other, it’s often more about sharing an experience with good company. It doesn’t have to be a fancy dinner or involve a $100 bottle of wine purchase to count as quality time.
This could be a partial reason behind a higher frequency of trips out, even though less money gets spent overall.
Cash vs. Credit
A final point of interest from the survey lies in the difference in how millennials make discretionary purchases.
On average, Americans spend $4,700 per year with a credit card, and $2,400 with cash, a debit card and checks for discretionary purchases. Millennials tend to use cash, a debit card and checks more often ($5,200) and charge 22% less ($3,300) than the average consumer
Millennials, many of whom grew up during the Financial Crisis, are more averse to debt. This is corroborated by the results of a different survey showing that seven out of 10 millennials say they would prefer to use a debit card, rather than a credit card, for their purchases.
It’s also an attitude that we’ve covered in a previous chart of the week, where we showed that only 37% of millennials were confident in managing their credit, while 70% of millennials hold their savings and investments in cash.
Mapped: The Countries With the Highest Housing Bubble Risks
Which real estate markets have the highest risk of seeing a correction? These maps highlight housing bubble risks using data from four key indicators.
Mapped: Countries With the Highest Housing Bubble Risks
With a decade-long bull market and an ultra low interest rate environment globally, it’s not surprising to see capital flock to housing assets.
For many investors, real estate is considered as good of a place as any to park money—but what happens when things get a little too frothy, and the fundamentals begin to slip away?
In recent years, experts have been closely watching several indicators that point to rising bubble risks in some housing markets. Further, they are also warning that countries like Canada and New Zealand may be overdue for a correction in housing prices.
Key Housing Market Indicators
Earlier this week, Bloomberg published results from a new study by economist Niraj Shah as he aimed to build a housing bubble dashboard.
It tracks four key metrics:
- House Price-Rent Ratio
The ratio of house prices to the annualized cost of rent
- House Price-Income Ratio
The ratio of house prices to household income
- Real House Prices
Housing prices adjusted for inflation
- Credit to Households (% of GDP)
Amount of debt held by households, compared to total economic output
Ranking high on just one of these metrics is a warning sign for a country’s housing market, while ranking high on multiple measures signals even greater fragility.
Housing Bubble Risks, by Indicator
Let’s look at each bubble risk indicator, and see how they apply to the 22 countries covered by the housing dashboard.
It should be noted that most of the measures here are shown in an index form, using the year 2015 as a base year. In other words, the data is not representative of the ratio itself—but instead, how much the ratio has risen or fallen since 2015.
1. House Price-Rent Ratio
When looking at housing prices in comparison to rents, there are four countries that stand out.
New Zealand (196.8) and Canada (195.9) have seen ratios of housing prices to rents nearly double since 2015. Meanwhile, Sweden (172.8) and Norway (168.2) are not far behind.
Elsewhere in the world, this ratio is much more in line with expectations. For example, in Portugal—where house prices have skyrocketed over recent years—rents have increased at nearly the same rate, giving the country a 99.2 score.
2. House Price-Income Ratio
There are three familiar names at the top of this bubble indicator: New Zealand (156.8), Canada (155.3), and Sweden (145.7).
In places where rents are lagging housing prices, so are the levels of household income. For how long will people afford to buy increasingly expensive houses, if their incomes continue to lag?
3. Real House Prices
Real house prices have increased in all of the 22 markets, with the exception of Italy (95.5).
For this indicator, there are five markets that stand out as having fast-rising prices: Portugal (131.8), Ireland (127.6), Netherlands (121.9), Canada (124.1), and New Zealand (121.9). The latter two (Canada/New Zealand) have appeared near the top of all three bubble indicators, so far.
4. Credit to Households (% of GDP)
Exceedingly high debt ratios point to a strain on consumer finances – and when finances are strained, the chance of a default increases.
Switzerland (128.7%), Australia (120.3%), and Denmark (115.4%) top the list here with consumer debt far exceeding country GDP levels. However, Canada still makes an appearance in the top five with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 100.7%.
Trump’s Relationship with the Price of Oil
What goes through the head of a U.S. president? The tweets of U.S. President Donald Trump reveal a contentious relationship with the price of oil and OPEC.
Visualizing Trump’s Relationship with the Price of Oil
What goes through the head of a U.S. president?
That is a question that both voters and leaders alike would love to know the answer to. As it stands, scores of pundits and analysts already dissect everything from the choice of a tie, to whom a leader sits next to at a state dinner, to glean the potential direction of government policy.
Financial markets rely on the accurate interpretation of government policy to guide investment decisions. But what happens when you’re faced with a world leader who broadcasts his unfiltered thoughts instantaneously and globally? It’s sure to stir up international attention.
This week’s chart is inspired by work done by John Kemp, an energy reporter for Reuters. Kemp tracked all instances of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweets mentioning oil and OPEC, against the shifting price of oil.
Where’s Your Head At?
U.S. President Donald Trump has actively worked to tie the success of his administration to the fortune of the economy and stock market.
If the economy does well, Trump hopes cheap gas at the pump will help translate into votes at the ballot box in 2020.
Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 21, 2018
The key to keeping the economy growing is access to cheap energy, and oil is the critical commodity that’ll keep a fragile economy on the road. This is a line of thinking that can be seen throughout Trump’s tweets on the subject.
Tracking Trump’s Tweets
This week’s chart tracks President Donald Trump’s tweets from April 2018 to March 2019 that mention oil and OPEC.
The tweets start five months before the deadline of sanctions on Iran. During this timeframe, speculation that Trump would place sanctions on the oil-producing nation drove up the price with the prospect of a restricted supply of oil and increased tensions in the Middle East.
Despite the implications of U.S.-imposed sanctions, Trump squarely put the blame on OPEC for this period of rising oil prices. Tweets such as “OPEC is at it again. Not Good!” or “The OPEC monopoly must get price down now!” can be seen in this period.
Whether these tweets had any influence on oil producers is unclear, but they certainly outline a policy preference for cheap oil and a general animosity towards OPEC.
On Nov. 4, 2018, Trump did impose sanctions but excluded Iranian oil exports, deflating a speculative bubble around the price of oil, and the president’s ire towards the region.
In the aftermath of sanctions, repeated news of record oil production and growing energy independence in the U.S. helped drive the price of oil back down. Though the president’s mood lightened, he still persisted in his accusations of OPEC manipulating the price.
Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted. The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 5, 2018
Prices continued to fall, plummeting to nearly $50 per barrel by the end of 2018. Cheap oil is a direct threat to the profits of OPEC nations, but higher prices can create an array of challenges for the U.S. economy.
So despite a U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia, this is a natural tension baked into the relationship.
We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2018
So, what would a U.S. foreign policy look like without dependence on the Middle East?
The Middle East has had a considerable influence on U.S. foreign policy since the harsh lessons of 1970s energy crisis. Multiple wars of intervention to protect Saudi oil interests—and in turn, ensuring continued American access to oil—have ravished the region and led to a state of dysfunction and constant tension.
However, with the recent declaration of American energy independence, this relationship may change with a renewed prospect for peace. Trump may work to further undermine the power of OPEC to control oil prices, as well as the Middle East’s influence on U.S. foreign policy.
American energy independence is already challenging established relationships around the world. For example, Ukraine just recently accepted its first shipment of American oil in a move to counter Russia’s influence in the region.
A New Era
Diplomacy by Twitter has yet to prove to be an effective bridge in sustaining good international relations. That said, charting the tweets of world leaders is a unique way to interpret government policy and energy economics in this new era of social media.
It seems that the next time you want to know what is going through a leader’s head, you can simply try checking their tweets.
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