As the frenzy in IPOs and the overall stock market continues, data show overall consumer confidence is languishing and concern about income inequality is rising.
Driving the news: A new survey from research and data firm CivicScience provided exclusively to Axios shows 78% of Americans are at least somewhat concerned about the rising level of inequality in the U.S. and 48% are very concerned.
Why it matters: Economists and social scientists worry about income inequality because it tends to be followed by societal and geopolitical upheaval.
What we're hearing: "Typically rising markets are accompanied by societal trends that mirror rising confidence," Peter Atwater, an economics lecturer at William & Mary, tells me on Twitter.
- "People should be more generous and peaceful. Unity and agreement should rise and politics should moderate and become more centrist."
The big picture: "People worry about the markets decoupling from the economy. Me, I am much more worried about how decoupled the markets have become from society," Atwater adds.
- "I think it speaks to how unrepresentative the financial markets have become of social mood more broadly. The markets now reflect the Downton Abbey Economy/K-Shaped Recovery in action."
Watch this space: The Conference Board's latest surveys of CEOs' and consumers' confidence show a yawning divide.
- CEOs in Q3 were the most confident they have been since early 2018, with confidence levels 48% higher than at the beginning of 2019.
- Conversely, the Conference Board's commensurate readings on consumer confidence are near their lowest in four years and 16% lower than in January 2019.
Between the lines: Confidence within consumers is also telling the story of inequality. Data provider Morning Consult's daily consumer confidence index showed those earning more than $100,000 a year saw confidence levels increase last week to the highest in a month.
- Those earning 50,000-$100,000 saw their confidence levels fall by nearly twice as much to the lowest in a month.
The bottom line: "The recent divergence across the income spectrum reflects drastically different realities," Morning Consult economist John Leer said in a release, "in terms of the personal financial conditions of these two groups heading into the winter months as the spread of the virus drives additional restrictions on economic activities."
Chart: Even big business CEOs are worried about inequality
While CEOs of large companies are doing well, they too are worried about rising inequality and the K-shaped recovery, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Suzanne Clark says.
What we're hearing: "I’ve had a lot of CEOs tell me they’re actually worried about it because of the impact on the economy and the impact on their business," she tells Axios.
- "They just talk about the economic ecosystem and that you can’t survive on the top of the K with the bottom of the K the way that it is. It’s not sustainable. They talk about it as a real business and economic issue."
By the numbers: The Chamber's latest survey of U.S. small businesses found that 62% fear the worst is still to come with COVID-19’s economic impact and 74% say they need further government assistance.
- Half of small businesses surveyed say their operations can continue for a year or less in the current business climate before having to permanently close.
Where it stands: "Nearly 100,000 small businesses have already closed permanently due to COVID-19," the Business Roundtable said in a statement Monday night calling for Congress "to take urgent action to protect small businesses" with new spending.
- "Those that remain, along with millions of families and individuals, are struggling to stay afloat."
The bottom line: "If you’re a big business and you need those customers or you need that supply chain you’re really worried about what’s happening to small business," Clark says.
- "I’ve heard that a lot — from almost every industry. "