Yesterday I wrote >http://jubakpicks.com/what-me-worry/ that the combination of slower GDP growth (1.2%) in the second quarter plus declining consumer sentiment worried me. Continued strong consumer spending–household consumption grew at a 4.2% rate–in the quarter added 2.8 percentage points to GDP growth in the period. In other words without the consumer stepping up big, growth in the quarter would have been negative.
Today more grist for the ol’ worry mill.
Consumer purchases rose 0.4% in June, according to a report from the Commerce Department this morning. That was ahead of the 0.3% increase forecast by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The 0.4% gain in June followed a 0.4% increase in consumer spending in May.
That’s all good news.
It’s the implications for continued consumer spending in this morning’s income figures that concerns me. Incomes rose by a lower than expected 0.2% in June. And, no, your math isn’t crazy: Consumers spent more by putting less into savings. The savings rate dropped to 5.3% from 5.5%. That takes the savings rate to the lowest level sine March 2015.
Nothing here to indicate the immediate end of the world–for U.S. savers a 5.3% savings rate is very healthy. But consumers won’t dip into savings to fuel consumption indefinitely. It would be great news for the economy if business spending picked up and took up some of the burden now carried by consumers. Given forecasts for global growth, however, that seems unlikely in the near term.