Quarterly GDP numbers? Whatever. For real insights into the American mindset, you need daily data from Starbucks stores.
Howard Schultz sees those numbers four times a day, and despite Starbucks’ strong financial results, the underlying patterns demonstrate a “fractured level of trust and confidence” in the country’s leadership, the Starbucks CEO tells TIME magazine in a new cover story. Here’s an excerpt from the story by Rana Foroohar.
Sales will rise and fall with the national mood, tanking quickly during events like the New York City police protests—or the 2013 government shutdown, just one of the recent moments when Schultz has worried about the effects of partisan politics on the economy. “I called the White House after the government shutdown and shared with them [figures showing] that leading into the shutdown and for weeks afterward, we saw a significant drop in consumer spending.” He spoke to people “at the very highest level on both sides of the aisle” to stress his feeling that this effect would be “lingering” and would result in a more skittish consumer. “And that’s exactly what’s happened,” he says.
For the record, Schultz says he’s not planning to run for U.S. President in 2016. “I don’t think that is a solution,” he tells TIME. “I don’t think it ends well.”
The full story, which also touches on Starbucks’ digital initiatives, is available here to TIME subscribers.