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Tag Archives: consumer spending

Personal Income and Spending: The Other Side

The missing piece so far is consumers. We’ve gotten a glimpse at how businesses are taking in the shock, both shocks, actually, in that corporations are battening down the liquidity hatches at all possible speed and excess. Not a good sign, especially as it provides some insight into why jobless claims (as the only employment data we have for beyond March) have kept up at a 2mm pace. These are second order effects. In terms of consumer spending, it’s, as always,...

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We All Know Who’s On First, But What’s On Second?

It wasn’t entirely unexpected, though when it was announced it was still quite a lot to take in. On September 1, 2005, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that the nation’s personal savings rate had turned negative during the month of July. The press release announcing the number, in trying to explain the result was reduced instead to a tautology, “The negative personal saving reflects personal outlays that exceed disposable personal income.” Why had it...

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US Sales and Production Remain Virus-Free, But Still Aren’t Headwind-Free

The lull in US consumer spending on goods has reached a fifth month. The annual comparisons aren’t good, yet they somewhat mask the more recent problems appearing in the figures. According to the Census Bureau, total retail sales in January rose 4.58% year-over-year (unadjusted). Not a good number, but better, seemingly, than early on in 2019 when the series was putting out 3s and 2s. As has been the pattern in these things, global synchronized downturns, the...

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Three Straight Quarters of 2 percent, And Yet Each One Very Different

Headline GDP growth during the fourth quarter of 2019 was 2.05849% (continuously compounded annual rate), slightly lower than the (revised) 2.08169% during Q3. For the year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) puts total real output at $19.07 trillion, or annual growth of 2.33% and down from 2.93% in 2018. Last year was weaker than 2017, the second lowest out of the six since 2013. And that’s where the good news ends. Eurodollar Disruption, Peaks &...

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China Enters 2020 Still (Intent On) Managing Its Decline

Chinese Industrial Production accelerated further in December 2019, rising 6.9% year-over-year according to today’s estimates from China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). That was a full percentage point above consensus. IP had bottomed out right in August at a record low 4.4%, and then, just as this wave of renewed optimism swept the world, it has rebounded alongside it. Rather than suggest the global economy is picking up, or ended last year in a “good...

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China Data: Something New, or Just The Latest Scheduled Acceleration?

The Chinese government was serious about imposing pollution controls on its vast stock of automobiles. The largest market in the world for cars and trucks, the net result of China’s “miracle” years of eurodollar-financed modernization, for the Chinese people living in its huge cities the non-economic costs are, unlike the air, immediately clear each and every day. A new set of relatively strict pollution controls was added in the second half of this year. As is...

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If The Best Case For Consumer Christmas Is That It Started Off In The Wrong Month…

Gone are the days when Black Friday dominated the retail calendar. While it used to be a somewhat fun way to kick off the holiday shopping season, it had morphed into something else entirely in later years. Scenes of angry shoppers smashing each other over the few big deals stores would truly offer, internet clips of crying children watching in horror as their parents transformed their local Walmart into Thunderdome. Two shoppers enter, one shopper leaves…with the...

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Three (Rate Cuts) And GDP, Where (How) Does It End?

The Federal Reserve has indicated that it will now pause – for a second time, supposedly. Remember the first: after raising its benchmark rates apparatus in December while still talking about an inflationary growth acceleration requiring even more hikes throughout 2019, in a matter of weeks that was transformed into a temporary suspension of them. Expecting the easy disappearance of “transitory” factors, that Fed pause was to be followed by the second half rebound...

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Retail Sales’ Amazon Pick Up

The rules of interpretation that apply to the payroll reports also apply to other data series like retail sales. The monthly changes tend to be noisy. Even during the best of times there might be a month way off trend. On the other end, during the worst of times there will be the stray good month. What matters is the balance continuing in each direction – more of the good vs. more of the bad. Or when what seems to be a good month is less good than it used to be....

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Globally Synchronized, After All

For there to be a second half rebound, there has to be some established baseline growth. Whatever might have happened, if it was due to “transitory” factors temporarily interrupting the economic track then once those dissipate the economy easily gets back on track because the track itself was never bothered. More and more, though, it appears at least elsewhere that the track was bothered. Whether China, Singapore, or...

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