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  Personal Income Rose 0.3% in August
Posted Under: Data Watch • GDP • Government • Inflation • Markets • PIC • Fed Reserve • Interest Rates • Spending • Bonds • Stocks • COVID-19
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Implications:  Income, spending, and inflation all rose in August, as the U.S. economy continues the transition from a stimulus-fueled misadventure toward a slower path of growth.  Today’s report gives a great example of the shift taking place from the shutdown-induced measures that mainly supported the goods side of the economy, back to the service side, which was discouraged (or outright prohibited) during the pandemic.  Consider for a moment that from February 2020 to December of that year, spending on goods rose by more than $300 billion, while spending on services fell by over $500 billion.  This government-induced shift caused a massive reallocation of resources – employees, consumer dollars, and investment – that will be felt for years to come.  As we return to more “normal” spending patterns, the goods side of the economy is feeling the pain.  While consumer spending rose 0.4% in August, spending on goods fell 0.5% following a 0.7% drop in July.  This shift will eventually bring with it layoffs, inventory issues, and a host of other economic ills.  Meanwhile the services side of the economy is feeling the benefit, with services spending up a hearty 0.8% in August.  In addition to shifting what we could do and where we could do it, the stimulus checks, PPP loans, and extra unemployment benefits of 2020 and 2021 dramatically boosted consumer spending power, more than replacing lost wages.  That economic morphine, which was meant to dull the pain of shutdowns, has led to a multi-decade high in inflation and the economic pain that now comes with trying to get said inflation in check.  PCE prices – the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation – rose 0.3% in August and are up 6.2% from a year ago.  Core prices, which exclude food and energy, rose 0.6% in August and are up 4.9% from a year ago.  While energy prices will ebb and flow, core inflation is likely to remain higher for longer than most anticipate. No, we are not in a recession yet, but the Fed is almost very likely to cause one as they try to undue the effects of the policy decisions made over the last two and a half years.  

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Posted on Friday, September 30, 2022 @ 10:40 AM • Post Link Share: 
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