Sentiment surveys are sending the all-clear; the US Consumer (that 72% of all economic activity in the US) is as happy as they were five years ago (pre-crash) and American Idol is due to start again soon. However, recency-biased surveys apart, the reality in the data is far more dismal. The Philly Fed's ADS business conditions index is back at its worst since the crisis and decidedly recessionary (critical since it tracks many of the same indicators as the recession-confirming NBER).
Even more concerning, as Bloomberg Briefs notes, the stagnancy of real disposable income and contraction of revolving credit has led to a disaster-prone drop in industrial production of consumer goods (-0.9% in October) and a significant slide in the all-important retail sales data.
Once adjusted for inflation, retail sales fell to a lowly 1.7% YoY gain and while Sandy's effect is tough to discern, it seems anecdotally to be a net positive due to home supply stores sales - offering little real hope of a surge.
Of course with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Terrific Tuesday (we made that up) around the corner, we are sure the media will trot out as many CEOs and store-owners to explain how great things are - we will wait for the data.
Charts: Bloomberg Briefs