“Bubble Watch” digs into trends that may indicate economic and/or housing market troubles ahead.
Buzz: California consumers’ optimism dramatically turned upbeat with the largest one-month bump since February 2021, according to one poll.
Source: My trusty spreadsheet analyzed The Conference Board’s monthly polling of shoppers that creates consumer confidence indexes, including one for California.
After falling in six of 2022’s first seven months, the overall statewide confidence index was 109.8 in August, up from a revised 89.8 a month earlier.
That’s a 22% one-month gain and the largest jump in 18 months. The surprising summertime strength of the job market seems to be boosting spirits that otherwise could sour due to high inflation rates and a Federal Reserve focused on cooling the overheated economy.
But the financial worries aren’t over. This confidence measure is still down 8% over 12 months and below the average 113 of the five years before the pandemic.
California consumers’ view of current conditions: Improved, with the index at 142.9 for the month, up from 125.6 a month earlier. Still, it’s below 144.5 a year earlier but it’s ahead of the average 141 in 2015-19.
Shoppers’ outlook: Upbeat, with the index at 87.8 for the month, up from 66 the previous month but far off 103.5 a year and an average 94 in 2015-19.
The Conference Board tracks the nation and seven other states: Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. How did California compare?
Overall confidence: Six increases among the seven states in a month; none up over the year. The nation was up 8% for the month; off 10% over 12 months.
Current conditions: Five increases in a month; one up in the year. US: up 4% for the month; off 2% over 12 months.
Outlook: Six increases in a month; none up in the year. US: up 14% for the month; off 19% over 12 months.
Economic arch-rivals? Texas’ overall confidence rose 6% in the month and decreased 13% in the year. Florida saw a 15% one-month gain vs. a 10% 12-month dip.
What’s driving swings in optimism? The Conference Board also asks consumers nationwide about the job market and their plans to make major purchases in the next six months …
More jobs? 17.4% said “yes” — up from 15.1% a month earlier but down from 23% a year earlier.
Buy a home? 5.4% said “yes” — up from 4.5% the previous month but down from 6.3% 12 months ago.
Buy a vehicle? 9.6% said “yes” — up from 9.5% a month earlier but down from 11.2% a year earlier.
Major appliance purchase? 46% said “yes” — up from 41% the previous month but down from 51% 12 months ago.
Then there’s the latest unnerving trend, inflation. Americans polled expect the cost of living to be 6.2% higher in a year, down from 6.5% a month earlier but up from 5.7% a year earlier.
And the stock market? 38% see it lower in 12 months, compared with 45% the previous month but up from 32% 12 months ago.
On a scale of zero bubbles (no bubble here) to five bubbles (five-alarm warning) … FOUR BUBBLES!
While it’s nearly impossible for the California economy to thrive without confident consumers, one wonders if August’s optimism — statewide and nationally — may further overheat the economy.
That could nudge the Fed to be even more aggressive in its inflation fight.
The pizza scene in Orange County has come a long way in the past 10 years. We’ve lost a few good ones along the way (thinking of Pizza e Vino, Jinny’s, Settebello and Ortica), but we’ve gained even more than what’s been lost. Every one of these pizzerias is excellent. It’s hard, and perhaps even foolish, to try to rank them. But I’ll attempt to do it anyway:
Salame, green olives and ricotta at 2145 Eats in Costa Mesa (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
1. 2145 Eats
The best pizza in OC: spicy salame, ricotta, green olives, pickled Fresno chilies, wood smoke. 2145 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, 949-873-5853, 2145eats.com
Pizza with pork sausage and serrano chiles at Kuro in Costa Mesa (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
2. Kuro Artisanal Pizza
Outdoor dining. Minimal service. Extraordinary pizzas. The Lab, 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-714-0909, instagram.com/kuropizza
Fennel sausage pizza at Folks in Costa Mesa (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
3. Folks Pizzeria
Beautiful crusts. Fantastic fennel sausage and salsa verde. Can’t go wrong. The Camp, 2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-617-4888, folkshospitality.com
New York style pizza at Loosie’s in downtown Santa Ana (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
4. Loosie’s Pizza
Game-changer for anyone who loves New York style pizza. 300 E. 4th St., Santa Ana, 714-760-4444, iloveloosies.com
Wood-fired pizza with pork sausage and spicy salame at Brick in San Clemente (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Fabulous wood-fire pizzas and incredibly affordable wines. Anything with pork, order it. 216 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, 949-429-1199, brickrestaurantgroup.com
Chicago deep dish from Rance’s in Costa Mesa (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Legit Chicago stuffed and pan pizzas. Even the wait times are authentic. Nobody does it better. 1420 Baker St., Costa Mesa, 714-708-2143, rancespizza.com
Spicy salame pizza at Bello in Newport Beach (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
When the diavola pizza arrives, you’ll think you’re in Italy. 1200 Bison Ave., Newport Beach, 949-520-7191, bellobysandronardone.com
Pepperoni pizza at Pizza X, at Brewery X, in Anaheim (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
8. Pizza X
Seriously great pepperoni pizza. Lots of beer. Outdoor dining. Brewery X, 3191 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, 657-999-1500, brewery-x.com
The ultimate Hawaiian pizza at Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
9. Pizzeria Mozza
I dare you to say pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza. Just try it. 800 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, 949-945-1126, newportbeach.pizzeriamozza.com
White pizza with fennel sausage at Pietrini in Los Alamitos (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Genuine Neapolitan crusts. Outstanding fennel sausage. 5262 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, 562-318-3050, pietrinipizza.com
Cracker-thin pepperoni, Chicago style, at TJ’s Woodfire Pizza in San Clemente (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
11. TJ’s Woodfire Pizza
The Neapolitan pizzas are great. The cracker-thin Chicago pizza is even better. 641 Camino de los Mares, San Clemente, 949-243-6433, www.tjswoodfirepizza.com
Detroit style pizza from Lunita’s in San Juan Capistrano (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
OC’s best Detroit-style pizza. No onsite dining. Takeout only. Order by text. 31481 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, 949-350-4670, instagram.com/lunitas_pizza
Marinara pizza at Pizzeria Sapori in Newport Beach (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
13. Pizzeria Sapori
Always a tough choice between the Margherita and the marinara, but the latter usually wins. 1080 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach, 949-644-4220, saporinb.com
Nduja pizza at Il Dolce in Costa Mesa (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
14. Il Dolce
Nduja is a word everyone should learn. And everyone should eat this wood-fired nduja pizza 1902 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, 949-200-9107, ildolceoc.com
Marinara pizza with cherry tomatoes at Fuoco in Fullerton (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Less is more. Get the marinara. You’ll go home very, very happy. 101 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton; 714-626-0727, fuocopizza.com
Pepperoni pizza at Naples Ristorante e Bar at Downtown Disney (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
16. Naples Ristorante e Bar
Wood-fired crusts. A Brinks truck worth of pepperoni. Downtown Disney, 1550 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, 714-776-6200, patinagroup.com
Margherita pizza at Foretti’s in Corona del Mar (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The name changed. The pizza did not. Still one of the most authentic Margheritas in OC. 2929 East Coast Highway, Corona del Mar; 949-497-8222, forettis.com
Spicy pepperoni at Filomena’s in Costa Mesa (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Some people say the pepperoni here is too spicy. Those people are dumb. 2400 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, 949-642-3810, filomenasoc.com
Spicy salame, pineapple and jalapeno pizza at Terra in Yorba Linda (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
A raging wood fire and another very strong argument for pineapple. Oh, shut up. Just trust me. 4884 Main St., Yorba Linda, 714-463-4424, terrawoodfiredkitchen.com
Burrata, arugula and hazelnuts at Pitfire in Costa Mesa (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Burrata, arugula, pesto and toasted hazelnuts, because sometimes it’s ok to put a salad on a pizza. 353 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa; 949-313-6333, pitfirepizza.com
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