In every major market, the business media generally live and work in the city which acts as the country's financial capital. As a result, it's easy to misinterpret choppiness in financial markets as real weakness in the broader economy. I'm not saying that the U.S. economy isn't weak - but that's the the implication of a long FT piece yesterday, headlined "Full steam ahead?", which features no fewer than seven bylines, and which kicks off "on the placid banks of the Mississippi".
To be sure, the anecdotal evidence from corporate executives does seem to fly in the face of hard statistical data about the U.S. economy. And it's easy to come up with reasons why the statistics might be right and the executives wrong: they're relying on overseas sales, for instance, or they're always the last to know when their businesses turn south, due to the dynamics of pyramid-shaped management structures. Or they made a bet on continued expansion, so now they're invested in that thesis.
All the same, it can be instructive to leave New York or London or Frankfurt occasionally and talk to large businesses based in the rest of the country. Right now, they do seem to be more upbeat than their financial-center counterparts.