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300 Million Of Us, 12000 DJIA, Yet Why Are We So Darn Unhappy?

Records are abound lately:

Yesterday at 7:46am EST, the U.S. POPClock Projection [1] reached 300,000,000 as the estimated US population.

(in fact 12 new borns just now started screaming)

200,000,000 was passed in 1967 – population doubled in 39 years. I find it amazing that the population was 76,000,000 in 1900 – seems huge to me for that period of time.

Hospitals were having fun with the 300M stat [Chicago Trib] [2] as well.

The idea of a growing population seems to be favorable, especially with growing immigration and their influence on the demand for housing. Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies released their seminal The State of the Nation’s Housing 2006 [JCHS] [3] early this year which projected favorable demand for housing over the next 10 years.

Over the longer term, household growth is expected to accelerate from about 12.6 million over the past ten years to 14.6 million over the next ten. When combined with projected income gains and a rising tide of wealth, strengthening demand should lift housing production and investment to new highs.

In combination with the 300,00,000 number, Forbes did a study on The Average American: 1967 And Today [Forbes] [4] referring to Mr. & Mrs. Median. The Median’s can’t be seen as average can they?

Mr. and Mrs. Median’s $46,326 in annual income is 32% more than their mid-’60s counterparts, even when adjusted for inflation, and 13% more than those at the median in the economic boom year of 1985. And thanks to ballooning real estate values, average household net worth has increased even faster. The typical American household has a net worth of $465,970, up 83% from 1965, 60% from 1985 and 35% from 1995.

Here’s a great summary of the Forbes article stats in Big Picture [5] by Barry Ritholtz who also comments below.

Although we have more, apparently we are not very happy about it. We suffer from Permanent Income Theory.

Milton Friedman dubbed “Permanent Income Theory,” which assumes that people measure where they are relative to where they expected to be a few years ago. They don’t care a bit what the average income was four decades ago.

“If you expect a 3% rise in income and you get 2.5%, you’re disappointed,” says Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board, a private research group in New York.

And today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average exceeded 12,000 for the first time [6] breaking the October Jinx of 1929, 1987, 1978, 1979, 1989 and 1997.

However, the new high-water mark also was achieved at a time when many economic reports have pointed to slower growth, and suggested to some analysts that a market correction might be more appropriate. For Barry Ritholtz, president of Ritholtz Capital Partners, the market has been on “a mission to get to 12,000 no matter what the data has been saying.” “But I think there is a disconnect between the market and economic reality,” when you bear in mind that earnings are at their cyclical peak and the economy is slowing.

A recap: There are a lot of us, we are making more money, the stock market is active yet we are unhappy. I must need to buy a new house.