Financial Outlook

The U.S. boasts the strongest economy of any developed country. Americans happily shelled out more money than ever on holiday gifts. The much-feared 2023 recession failed to appear.

Employment remains incredibly strong. Real wages for all workers have been rising, and the outlook for 2024 is similarly healthy.

The S&P 500 index returned 26% including dividends in 2023, more than 2x the average annual return of 12% since 1986. Crime is also down substantiallywith homicides falling at a near-record rate in 2023. Americans are already showing signs of confidence and prosperity in their spending.

More than 20 million people have signed up for plans on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces during the annual open enrollment period, far surpassing last year’s record of more than 16 million enrollments.

“The marketplaces are getting stronger and more embedded into the fabric of U.S. health care,” said Adrianna McIntyre, a health policy expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The more the marketplaces grow, the more it enhances their stability.”