Return of the Consumer?

The Ahead of the Tape column today in the WSJ suggests that the consumer is “not quite dead.”

“Household net worth plummeted during the recession thanks to sharp declines in real estate and financial assets such as stocks, falling to a low of $48.5 trillion in the first quarter of 2009.

The massive decline knocked out a key support for consumer spending at a time when labor market and credit conditions were worsening rapidly. Monthly consumer spending fell as much as 2% last May compared with the prior year—the worst reading of the recession—after posting gains of more than 7% during the boom.

Spending growth has since resumed—a source of surprise and widespread skepticism given the steep contraction in consumer credit and the high 9.7% unemployment rate.”

I prefer to spend counter-cyclically, hence the posts regarding shopping for big ticket items during the recession (more on this later today). Anecdotally, the stores and malls seem busier, as the slowly recovering economy may be returning consumers — and their pent up demand — back to some of the prior consumption.

At least, that is what the data seems to be showing . . .


U.S. Consumer, the Sequel: Beaten but Not Out
WSJ, March 11, 2010

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