What Next for the Markets?

In a recent post, I presented evidence that there is in many circles a great deal of optimism about the future for the U.S. economy.  Evidence for the extent of this optimism continues to accumulate, and not only for the U.S.  Bloomberg.com reports with a headline that is a bit ironic, in that 18 months [...]

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Retail Sales Decline, As Expected

The two most interesting words coming from the media about the drop in retail sales were, “unexpected” and “unexpected.” Today’s Census Bureau report said that retail sales were down 0.5% in June, and even ex-autos, was down 0.4%. Why this should be “unexpected” reveals more about contemporary economics than anything else. After all, economists are [...]

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The Real Story Behind Consumer Credit

Last week we heard that consumer credit (consumer borrowing) had “improved” substantially in May, which was said to be a very positive economic indicator. Overall, the Fed reported, such credit increased 8.0% overall on an annualized basis.

The “news” out of this report was about revolving (mostly credit card) debt which increased 11.2% on an annualized basis. [...]

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Two Different Stories About The Economy

Guest Post

As you may know I am a big fan of Cafe Hayek, the blog of Russ Roberts and Don Boudreaux, professors of economics at George Mason. Both write clearly and logically, often with a touch of humor and a bite of sarcasm. I always learn something from them. Here [...]

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Are People Really As Confident As The Polls Show?

Despite recent polls that show confidence is at a seven-month high, I get the feeling that many Americans are actually worried about their future. When I say most Americans I am talking about solid middle-class folks who are earning median or above-median incomes. Gallup showed in a recent poll that the people’s top concerns were still, [...]

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Q3 GDP Revised Down—Again

I have written several articles on the GDP revisions, and now the “final” revision for Q3 comes, knocking it down to 1.8% from 2.0%. Recall that we started at 2.5%. The difference was mainly a downward revision in consumer spending on services (to 1.9% from 2.9%).

Here is what it looks like:

As I [...]

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The Consumer Recovery Deception

The report on November retail sales today was disappointing for those expecting headline increases after all the hype from Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On an annual basis retail sales were up 6.7%, but was relatively flat month-over-month at +0.2%.

Once again, the strongest component was for electronics & appliance stores which jumped 2.1 percent [...]

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Holiday Shopping: Black Friday Results Are In

Now that the headlines have died down about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, reality has set in and it appears that sales were only slightly better than before, and certainly not the huge “the consumer is back” hype that most of the MSM published.

I wrote about this on November 28 and my comments appear to [...]

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Was Black Friday A Bust?

The chain store sales results for Black Friday week came out and as Econoday reports, where is the beef?

Today’s chain-store results do not confirm the enormous strength of anecdotal reports for the Black Friday weekend. Almost as many chains are posting softer results for November than they did for October with most reporting little [...]

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Black Friday: It’s Not What You Think

Black Friday sales and spending were up a very robust 6.6% over last year. But it doesn’t represent an economic recovery or a sustainable trend.

With consumer sentiment about the economy mostly negative1, with employee wages and earnings falling, one would expect a mediocre, if not negative, shopping report. But regardless of the gloom sales [...]

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Retail Sales Went DOWN In September, Not Up

Last week the markets reacted very strongly to the retail services report from the Census Bureau that said they went up 1.1%. The only problem with that conclusion is that they didn’t go up.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for September, adjusted for seasonal [...]

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