Disruption! Women, Music, Presidents — The Music Indicator – the Boomers Going Full Cycle?

James Corden: “Your music is so full of positivity, joy and love and togetherness, I feel like it is more relevant today than it has ever been.”

Paul McCartney: “…. we expected it to last maybe 10years and it goes on and on and on. It keeps being relevant.”

Source: The Late Late Show with James Corden and Paul McCartney  (Daily Beast Link)

Food for Thought – Music as an Economic/Market Indicator? Together with the “aging” Baby Boomers, we go full circle – returning to our youth!

“Youth is the time to go flashing from one end of the world to the other both in mind and body, to try the manners of different nations, to hear the chimes at midnight.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

A few articles or links, which appear unrelated as well, inspired me to wonder if there is an underlying message that might personify true sentiment esp. in the USA. The links are: one on “cool” women over 60 in the form of Instagram from the NY Times (see excerpts below). Baby Boomers are all pretty much over 60 and in many ways personify what is and has been “COOL” over the decades esp. since the ’60s. The ’60s and ’70s was a time of revolution, social change, emancipation of exploration, even experimentation of the spirit. Women over 60 were certainly influenced by these radical times and are embracing their free spirit and attractiveness learned in the ’60s – their inner rebel and freedom and also their economic value—a huge purchasing power! The ’60s were the psychedelic age— now we get the flashbacks!

Americans over 60 are Boomers and the founders, heroes and victims of disruption and the call for change in the ’60s and ’70s. Social and political change was expressed in music, fashion, hair, drugs, literature and activism to name just a few influences. The ’60s and ’70s were a time of not only change, but challenge taking on the establishment. This romantic notion dissipated as Baby Boomers got into the full swing of making money. The ‘New Age’ today is represented in StartUps, innovation and sharing, still change and challenge in the way of disruption, but as it is so business oriented, could we say it is the new establishment?!? Being “boxed” so that you fit or fuel an algorithm?

Markets and Economies under the influence

The following charts show Bull and Bear Markets measured by the ratio the Dow Jones / Gold 1929-2005 (Source: Ritzhold.com) and the S&P500 / Gold 1992-2018 (Source: Bloomberg)
The Bear Market starting according to the charts in 2000 bottomed in 2011. The Bull Market could still have some legs according to this ratio!




Talking about algorithms, well it seems life, history and markets move in cycles, short and long term. The current market cycle has been a very long bull market with some corrections in between. This cycle started with Reaganomics stimulating growth and opportunity and eventually the falling of the Berlin Wall, opening up the world to more growth and opportunity. Some say with Trump and his determination to build walls and barriers to trade is the other bookend to this cycle. Keep in mind, Reagan’s election was the bookend of the market-negative, disruptive and experimental cycle that started in the ’60s and carried on through the ’70s.

So are we about enter a negative disruptive cycle… maybe the popular music trend will tell us…

That’s when the second article caught my eye. The second article is from Vanity Fair: Has 2018 Killed the Pop Star? It’s all about how the digital world has disrupted the music industry.

“There are still pop stars, and there is still popular music—but they don’t overlap nearly as often as they used to.”

The Pop Star as we know it is a product of the ’80s. If 2018 is on the verge of killing the Pop Star as we know it, does that mean the cycle of growth and opportunity is waning as well?

Charts: Every Picture Tells a Story!

“The ratio of household net worth to disposable income has risen sharply over the past five years. Soaring home and stock prices have been the driver of these increases. Is the ratio about to peak? If so, we could be nearing the end of the economic cycle.” WSJ-The Daily Shot
Source: Natixis / WSJ-The Daily Shot

If Consumer Confidence is used as a market and economic indicator, we should see continuous strength in the stock market and a significant GDP recovery

and to get a better view of the same thing between 1960 and the beginning of the current prolonged bull market (1982), the market was highly correlated with Consumer Confidence (blue) and GDP (orange), but continued to rally as the economy sank into recession–celebrating Reagan’s victory?

How did the previous Fed tightening cycles end? Is the current one about to end? Hey, it seems to soon, but why not? Unimaginable?
Source: BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research / WSJ-The Daily Shot

The Music Indicator

The popular music of the ’60s and ’70s is still popular today with an uncanny influence reflecting not only its endurance but its reflection of change. These aging stars are monetizing their talent and fame through live concerts. Actually selling records doesn’t work as effectively for artists.

It is often said that the ruling President often influences popular music during their terms as a reflection of sentiment. (From Billboard.com)

The ’60s were very political and volatile economically. The ’80s and ’90s with Reagan and Clinton in particular brought in growth and economic opportunities, also in wealth and innovation until the 2000 dot-com bust and 9/11 instigating economic and financial volatility and political anger calling for change, first Obama after Bush and now Trump after Obama. If 2018 marks the death of the Pop Star, what does it mean for Trump, also a product of the ’80s and a baby boomer?  Back to the 60s?

More from Billboard.com (2017):

“A researcher at New York University compiling decades of data discovered (2009) that a better economy, as indicated by a higher stock market, correlates with Billboard high-charting songs displaying slower average tempos and minor chords typically considered “sadder.” And vice versa: a worse economy correlates with faster average tempos and major chords. So according to this researcher, when times are economically bad, people want to hear speedier songs with “happier” chords; but when times are economically good, people are more willing to tolerate sadder or slower songs.”

2010-2018 has been a time of economic recovery buried in uncertainty and disruption. Top hits are romantic, love songs from Ed Sheeran, John Legend, Adele, Rihanna with some have a dance beat from Drake, LMFAO, Justin Bieber, Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake to name just a few.

“While it’s too early to determine conclusively how the economy will perform for the majority of the Trump presidency, early signs have been positive, as the stock market improved and unemployment remains low. If this holds up, expect sadder and slower hit songs under Trump.” (Billboard.com, 2017)

Charts: Every Picture Tells a Story, part II!

The Presidents‘ Economic Picture since JFK

Economic Indicators under Presidents from 1956-now (Dow, US GDP yoy, Oil, US CPI, US Unemployment)
Source: Bloomberg

The ’60s and ’70s: Boom-Bust in Stocks, Oil prices and the Economies

“A decline, then possible resurgence, of protest and “message” songs. (Billboard.com, 2017)
“The 1960s and 1970s famously produced a catalog of iconic songs of protest with political or social messages. That trend even continued, albeit significantly diminished, into the mid-2000s: “American Idiot” by Green Day, “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer, “Not Ready to Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks. Yet Obama’s era produced virtually no high-charting songs of the sort.

“Why not? Perhaps it’s a reflection of an increasingly corporatized music business hesitant to stick its neck out absent mass public support. Maybe the vast majority within a left-leaning arts community supported the Democratic president, almost eliminating a desire for rebellious songs. And at least during 2015-16, many dismissed Trump — a possible inspiration for protest or message songs — as a fringe anomaly destined to fail, right up until Election Day.”

The ’60s -Jazzy & Upbeat changing to Hard Rock Introspective: JFK had Chubby Checkers, Frank Sinatra, the Four Seasons, Ray Charles and Lyndon Johnson had Louis Armstrong, Herb Alpert, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Cream, Jimi Hendrix +++

The ’70s-Something for Everyone: Nixon “inspired” Led Zeppelin, Carly Simon, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby-Stills-Nash and Young, The Kinks, The Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Steve Miller, and many more, then came with Gerald Ford/Jimmy Carter, Chicago, Jackson 5, Disco w/ Donna Summer et al, the Eagles, Steely Dan, Queen, and Pink Floyd, oh and of course, the Bee Gees.

The ’80s – Reaganomics, Falling Interest Rates, Rising Markets and Debt, the Berlin Wall falls

The ’80s: Under Reagan, Bruce Springstein sang “Born in the USA”–seem familiar? — Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Police, U2, Billy Joel and so many greats (see the link under Reagan). Then came Bush Sr. with a mixed array: Sinead O’Connor, Paula Abdul, Boyz II Men, Bryan Adams, had the greatest hits.

The ’90s – Economic Recovery, Strong Stock Market, Developing Markets and Globalization — Overall Confidence!

Women Disrupt! …again! From The Vanity Fair Diaries (1983-1992) by Tina Brown, Henry Holt and Company, NYC, NY, 2017, page 400

” We have wanted so much to do a story that moved Vanity Fair decisively on from the eighties, that made a statement of modernity, progressiveness, freshness, openness, after the heavy Trumpy glitz of that decade. I have been beating my brains out looking for the social commentary that would achieve it. And now, in one simple, dazzling image, Annie (Liebowitz) has the home run. This is it. This is what a celebrity looks like in the nineties. Not just natural but au naturel! and it’s a wonderful feminist statement at the same time.”

Visible Confidence!

Source: VanityFair.com archives

The ’90s: Clinton popularized Country, but also Guns ‘N Roses, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Genesis, Nirvana.

The ’00s – 9/11, Bear Market to Economic Boom, Iraq, Low Interest Rates and Unemployment = Property Boom to Bust

The ’00s: Rap and Social Issues prevailed under George W. Bush: most popular songs were from Alicia Keys, Nickelback, Flo Rida, Usher, Mariah Carey, along with Green Day, Coldplay, Linkin Park, Radiohead, AC/DC.

The 10s – Financial Crisis and Recovery, Stock Market and Tech Boom, Social Media, Disruption

With Obama came Beyoncé, Rihanna, Black Eyed Peas, Taylor Swift, Kate Perry, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Ed Sheeran. With Trump, we are trying to figure it out–his favorites are said to be Paul McCartney, Elton John (back to the 70s) which is what this report is all about. This is a great link with the lists of the top 5 hits under each President since JFK to Obama from Billboard.

Conclusion(!) What does the Music Indicator tell us — Full Cycle back to the ’60s or ’80s or ’90s?

Somehow I thought there was a connection as the Boomers personify change, even disruption. Music has played an important role in defining culture and sentiment. Pop Stars appealing mostly to the young as the antithesis of cool women over 60 relishing their either new found or never lost freedom — experiencing a full cycle and the return of the 60s and 70s when social change was the beginning of real social disruption? Then I discovered this: The Late Late Show with James Corden and Paul McCartney (Daily Beast Link). Paul McCartney is over 70 year old Pop Star. The major difference regarding Pop Stars today and those over 70 now is that Pop Stars were bands or groups back then and through the late 80s until now, they are mostly individuals. This link mentioned above from Billboard lists the 5 top hits under Presidents since JFK through Obama. I’m sure when you look at it, it will explain a lot, but there are many influential and popular artists not mentioned: Cream, the Doors, ELP, Elton John, the Eagles, Country and Western took off in the popular sense esp. in the 80s and under Clinton. It seems the BeeGees were dominant under Bush Sr.

Music starts to be recognized more and more in the media as a telling indicator. What if it is also a financial one reflecting confidence or fear in sentiment. In the ’60s, America experienced high GDP growth coupled with high confidence and rallying equities. Music of the ’60s featured dancing and fun Rock N’Roll leading into Hard Rock and Psychedelia, intense, mind bending, rebellion. This all got challenged in the ’70s with oil crisis with more economic and confidence volatility much like today–music was introspective and critical of the establishment. Since the ’80s and the birth of the Pop Star, consumer confidence has correlated more with the stock market and less with economic growth even though consumption is the major factor for economic growth. With growth and disruption associated with high tech and the internet, one might have to question economic measurement tools not reflecting the shortening attention span.

The Music Indicator it seems is flashing back to the ’60s and ’70s when new music forms took over. Streaming has opened up the market to experimenting again and giving stage to new potential rising stars. The most popular are sentimental and romantic (Ed Sheeran) as The Rolling Stones explore the blues. Music is noted from bringing people together and if it works, you can imagine positive growth and confidence.

The Presidents‘ Economic Picture since JFK (again)

Economic Indicators under Presidents from 1956-now (Dow, US GDP yoy, Oil, US CPI, US Unemployment)Source: Bloomberg

Food for Thought: Flashback to the ’70s when disruption and volatility (oil), inflation and job uncertainty took precedence might be a warning for Trump as it was also a time for short term presidencies. Listen to the music…


Women Disrupt! Quite a few referrals to the economic value of “older” women! Eternal youth with fire power-also economically!

“The idea of what these older women look like has changed,” Mr. Cohen said. “If they were stylish in their youth, they will still be stylish now. They continue to be who they were.”

That observation is echoed in the Elastic Generation, a 2018 J. Walter Thomson survey of 55- to 72-year-old women in England. “Our collective understanding of what later life looks like remains woefully outdated,” Marie Stafford, the European director of the JWT Innovation Group, wrote in her introduction. “Age no longer dictates the way we live. Physical capacity, financial circumstances and mind-set arguably have far greater influence.”

A woman in her 50s, then, “might be a grandmother or a new mother,” the study goes on to say. “She might be an entrepreneur, a wild motorcyclist or a multi-marathon runner. Her lifestyle is not governed by her age but by her values and the things she cares about.” Some of these women and their counterparts abroad are still subscribing to the counterculture values and maverick stance they adopted in the 1960s and ’70s.

“We are not going to be little old ladies sitting in a nursing home with blue-rinsed hair,” said Jenny Kee, @Jennykeeoz, a 71-year-old Australian artist and knitwear designer.  “Or if we are going to be in a nursing home, we’ll be there with our marijuana, our health foods and our great sense of style.”


3 Replies to “Disruption! Women, Music, Presidents — The Music Indicator – the Boomers Going Full Cycle?”

  1. […] is not current, but music from the ’70s and all the upheaval of the times. The conclusion of initial IAV Music Indicator Report hints that we may be heading for or even in similar times! Most importantly, Baby Boomers are used […]

  2. […] from the Republicans who were victorious. Early this year in July, IAV published a piece on The Music Indicator (link) wondering if we can tell which way politics is going by the reigning popular music. It toyed with […]

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