Despite expectations that following several months of subpar income growth offset by rampaging spending and thus a plunging savings rate, March incomes would rise by 0.4%, while spending would be flat, this did not happen, and instead both spending and incomes rose by the same amount, or 0.2% in the past month. Worse, when adjusting for inflation, real disposable income rose just 1.1% compared to last March, and just barely above the 0% breakeven. On the other side, real spending was up 2.2% Y/Y just barely above the 2% recessionary threshold. And even that number is misleading as spending on Total Goods (including durable, already known as being quite abysmal, and non-durable), dropped by $32.8 billion in nominal dollars. What was the offset? Why a massive surge in consumption expenditures on services, which rose by $53.8 billion, which absent the spending aberation for September 11, 2001, which was reversed in the following month, was the biggest monthly increase on record! What drove this record services spending spree is anyone's guess.
Durable Goods spending- down:
Non-Durable spending- also down:
... but Services Spending- up, up, up... Record up in fact:
Real disposable income: oops.
Finally, since both spending and income rose at the same pace, the personal savings rate was flat from February, or at 2.7%: just barely higher than the 5 year low of 2.2% posted in January. In other words consumers continue to be tapped out, and it is unclear where the income spurt will come from to drive the much needed spending surge in the coming months. Oh yes, Bernanke's trickle down magic of course. How could we forget.
And if everything else fails, the Fed, tired of monetizing debt, can just step in and start buying goods and services. After all what better way to truly goose the US economy than by outright monetizing not securities but actual inputs into the GDP equation...