Alliance Data Systems CEO Ed Heffernan is upbeat about the economy and the outlook for 2018.
He can back up that forecast with reams of data. After all, Texas-based Alliance Data is in the business of gathering data on consumer spending. The giant enterprise keeps tabs on the buying habits of 26 million American households through more than 100 private label credit cards that it administers. If you have a credit card from American Express, Pottery Barn, J. Crew, or just about any loyalty program, every time you swipe it, chances are pretty good that Alliance Data has a record of it.
From analyzing all that information, Heffernan says he is "fairly bullish" about 2018. Speaking with Fortune, he ticks off the reasons: the "economy has picked up a bit"; earnings should "do decently for companies"; "good jobs growth"; and businesses are more confident about expanding.
But one of the most significant data points, says Heffernan, is that consumers are once again more comfortable about spending. "What we're seeing across the board is that the consumer is finally beginning to open up a little bit, whereas post Great Recession, for years, it was sort of 'is this for real or not for real'?" explains Heffernan. "It looks like this one's for real."
Watch the video above to hear more of my conversation with Heffernan.