Personal Income

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Americans Burned Through $46 Billion In Savings To Fund December Purchases: Savings Rate Lowest Since January 2013





If there was any confusion where the funding for what little shopping spree Americans engaged in during December, it should all go away now. While the street was expecting a 0.2% increase in both personal income and personal spending in the month of December, what it got instead was a flat print in income (i.e. unchanged from November) while spending (mostly for non-durable goods) spiked by 0.4% meaning there was a 0.4% funding hold that had to be filled somehow. That somehow we now know is personal savings, which tumbled from a revised 4.3% to 3.9% - the lowest since January 2013, only back then incomes would rise for the rest of the year driven by the 30% increase in the S&P "wealth effect." This time, with the Fed now tapering QE, the only way is down for both the "wealth effect" and Personal Incomes... and thus Personal spending, that majority component of US GDP. Finally, this data means that according to the BEA in December US consumers funded some $46 billion in spending through burning down their savings.

 
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Frontrunning: January 31





  • Even Obama's fans has turning on him: "The Decline and Fall of 'Hope and Change'"
  • European Stocks Drop, Head for Worst January Since 2009 (BBG)
  • Euro-Area Inflation at 0.7% Builds Rate Pressure on ECB (BBG)
  • Japan’s Inflation Accelerates as Abe Seeks Wage Gains (BBG)
  • Unpossible - this is the USSA: Detroit Debt Proposal Favors Pension Funds (WSJ)
  • Keystone Report Said Likely to Disappoint Pipeline Foes (BBG)
  • YHOO still pretending someone cares about it: Yahoo says detected hacking attempt on email accounts (Reuters)
  • How Google's Costly Motorola Maneuver May Pay Off (WSJ)
  • Mexico Surpassing Japan as No. 2 Auto Exporter to U.S.  (BBG)
 
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Futures Tumble As "Deflation Monster" Rages In Europe; EMs Continue To Rumble





The wild volatility continues, with markets set to open well in the negative wiping out all of yesterday's gains and then some, only this time the catalyst is not emerging market crashing and burning (at least not yet even though moments ago the ZAR weakened to a new 5 year low against the USD and the USDTRY is reaching back for the 2.30 level) but European inflation, where the CPI printed at 0.70%, dropping once again from 0.8%, remaining under 1% for the fourth straight month and missing estimates of a pick up to 0.9%. Perhaps only economists are surprised at this reading considering last night Japan reported its highest (energy and food-driven) inflation print in years: so to explain it once again for the cheap seats - Japan is exporting its "deflation monster", Europe is importing it. It also means Mario Draghi is again in a corner and this time will probably have to come up with some emergency tool to boost European inflation or otherwise the ECB will promptly start to lose credibility - is the long awaited unsterilized QE from the ECB finally imminent?

 
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Key Events In The Coming Week





This week, much of the market focus will remain on the policymakers' responses to the challenges emerging out of the, well, emerging markets. In particular, the response of the Turkish Central bank will be key. This week we also have eight MPC meetings, with the US FOMC on Wednesday standing out. Consensus expects the continuation of the tapering of asset purchases – by another USD10bn, split equally between Treasuries and MBS. Other than that, the announcement should be fairly uneventful. In India GS forecasts an out-of-consensus hike of the repo rate to 8.00% after the central bank published a report on suggested changes to the monetary policy framework. In New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, Mexico, Malaysia and Colombia, consensus expects no change in the monetary policy stance. Among economic data releases, the focus will be on consumer surveys, as well as business surveys (US, Germany and Italy). There are also inflation numbers from the US, Euro Area, Japan and Brazil. Advanced Q4 GDP data prints will come out for the US and the UK. US consumption and production numbers are due at the end of the week.

 
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Alan Greenspan's Modest Proposal: Fix Broken Economic Models By... Modeling Irrational "Animal Spirits"





We leave it to everyone's supreme amusement to enjoy the Maestro's full non-mea culpa essay, but we will highlight Greenspan's two most amusing incosistencies contained in the span of a few hundred words. On one hand the former Chairman admits that "The financial crisis [...] represented an existential crisis for economic forecasting. The conventional method of predicting macroeconomic developments -- econometric modeling, the roots of which lie in the work of John Maynard Keynes -- had failed when it was needed most, much to the chagrin of economists." On the other, his solution is to do... more of the same: "if economists better integrate animal spirits into our models, we can improve our forecasting accuracy. Economic models should, when possible, measure and forecast systematic human behavior and the tendencies of corporate culture.... Forecasters may never approach the fantasy success of the Oracle of Delphi or Nostradamus, but we can surely improve on the discouraging performance of the past." So, Greenspan's solution to the failure of linear models is to... model animal spirits, or said otherwise human irrationality. Brilliant.

 
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Will The Consumer Rise In 2014?





While some would argue (as they always do) that there are good reasons to be bullish going into 2014 (central bank liquidity provision being an obvious one); there are ample reasons to remain vigilant with respect to your investments. The stagnation of wage growth combined with higher costs leaves an already cash strapped consumer with few options.  It is likely that we will see a push by consumers to re-leverage their household balance sheet which will be hailed by the media as a return of consumer confidence.  However, one should not forget the last time a highly levered consumer ran into problems. Furthermore, there are three potential headwinds that are likely to weigh on the economy and the markets which are potentially being overlooked.

 
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US Savings Rate Slides As Personal Incomes Below Expectations; Real Disposable Income Growth Tumbles





Moments ago the BEA reported the latest, November, data on Personal Income and Spending. For the second month in a row, Income, which rose a modest 0.2%, missed expectations of a 0.5% rise for the month, even as Personal Spending rose by 0.5% - driven by a 2.2% increase in spending on Durable Goods while Non-durable expenditures were unchanged on the month, in line with expectations. As a result, the US consumers dug even deeper into their meager savings, and in November the savings rate dropped once more, sliding from 4.5% to 4.2%, the lowest since January 2013, after hitting a high of 5.2% in September on "government shutdown uncertainty."

 
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Is The Deficit Reduction Just A Mirage?





There has been quite a bit of discussion lately over the rapid reduction in the government's budget deficit as it relates to economic growth going forward. There are 3 issues that will likely impede further progress on the deficit reduction in the months ahead; 1) lower rates of tax revenue, 2) weaker economic growth and 3) greater levels of spending. The good news for stock market bulls is that deepening budget deficits increase the amount of bonds that the Treasury will need to issue to cover the shortfall in spending.  This will give the Federal Reserve more room to continue their current monetary interventions which have inflated asset prices sharply over the last year. Creating financial instability to gain economic stability has been an elusive dream of the Federal Reserve since the turn of the century; yet someday it is hoped that they may just be able to "catch their own tail."

 
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Treasury "Out" Of GM For $10.5 Billion Loss (Claims 768% ROI)





The spin does not get any better than this... As they reported they would,

  • *LEW SAYS U.S. SOLD ALL REMAINING SHARES OF GENERAL MOTORS RECOUPING $39 BLN OF ORIGINAL GM INVESTMENT

That is a $10.5 Billion loss! But, The Center for Automotive Research, a Michigan nonprofit organization that analyzes auto industry issues, those funds saved or avoided the loss of $105.3 billion in transfer payments and the loss of personal and social insurance tax collections -- or 768% of the net investment.” We can't wait to hear how much Bill Ackman made or saved on his Herbalife investment...

 
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Biggest Drop In Personal Income Since Feb 2010 Can't Stop Borrowers Spending, While Savings Rate Plunges





US personal income fell 0.1% MoM - missing the +0.3% expectations by the most since September 2011 - but that didn't stop spending which modestly beat expectations at +0.3%. The drop in incomes is the largest (absent the 2012 year-end debacle) since February 2010. Given the disparity, it is hardly surprising that the savigs rate dropped to its lowest since June. So unsaving is the route to freedom once again as borrowing helps drive durable good spending up 0.77%

 
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Futures Pushed Higher On Weaker Yen, But All Could Change With Today's "Most Important Ever" Jobs Number





The latest "most important payrolls day of all time" day is finally upon us. Of course, this is a ridiculous statement: considering that the average December seasonal adjustment to the actual, unadjusted number is 824K jobs, it will once again be up to the BLS' Arima X 13 goal-seeking, seasonal adjusting software to determine whether the momentum ignition algos send stocks soaring or plunging, especially since the difference between up and down could be as small as 30K jobs. As Deutsche Bank explains: " today's number is probably one where anything above +200k (net of revisions) will lead to a further dip in risk as taper fears intensify and anything less than say +170k will probably see a decent relief rally after a tricky week for markets. Indeed yesterday saw the S&P500 (-0.43%) down for a fifth day - extending a sequence last seen in September." And then consider that nearly 30 times that difference comes from seasonal adjustments and it becomes clear why "farcial" is a far better definition of labor Friday.

 
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Key Events And Issues In The Coming Week





Previewing the rest of this week’s events, we have a bumper week of US data over the next five days, in part making up for two days of blackout last week for Thanksgiving. Aside from Friday’s nonfarm payroll report, the key releases to look for are manufacturing ISM and construction spending (today), unit motor vehicle sales (tomorrow), non-manufacturing ISM (Wednesday), preliminary Q3 real GDP and initial jobless claims (Thursday), as well as personal income/consumption and consumer sentiment (Friday). Wednesday’s ADP employment report will, as usual, provide a preamble for Friday’s payrolls.

 
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Overnight Carry Currency Weakness Has Yet To Translate Into Futures Ramp





Asian equities have gotten off to a rocky start to the week despite some initial optimism around the twin-Chinese PMI beats at the start of the session. That optimism has been replaced by selling in Chinese equities, particularly small-cap Chinese stocks and A-shares after the Chinese security regulator issued a reform plan for domestic IPOs over the weekend. The market is expecting the reforms to lead to a higher number of IPOs in the coming quarters, and the fear is that this will bring a wave of new supply of stock to an already-underperforming market. Indeed, the Chinese securities regulator expects about 50 firms to complete IPOs by January 2014 – and another 763 firms have already submitted their IPO applications and are currently awaiting approval. A large number of small cap stocks listed on Hong Kong’s Growth Enterprise Market were down by more than 5% this morning, while the Shanghai Composite is down by 0.9%. The Hang Seng (+0.4%), Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (+0.8%) are performing better on a relative basis, and other China-growth assets including the AUDUSD is up 0.5%. The Nikkei (-0.1%) is also a touch weaker after Japan’s Q3 capital expenditure numbers came in well below estimates (1.5% YoY vs 3.6% forecast). Elsewhere Sterling continues to forge new multi-year highs against the USD (+0.3% overnight).

 
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10 Clues About 2013 Holiday Spending





From consumer and retailer surveys to quantitative data such as household spending and private jet bookings, ConvergEx's Nick Colas has amassed a collection of 10 clues about this year's holiday shopping season. On the plus side, disposable personal income and consumer spending on discretionary items are rising, and travel to Palm Beach via private jet is quite popular this Christmas season. However, consumer confidence surveys are particularly weak, and consumer debt has ballooned to a 5-year high. Roughly equal parts good and bad, Colas' collection of holiday spending indicators points to a mediocre (at best) 2013 shopping season (as we noted earlier).

 
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