Biderman: "We Are In The First Quarter Of The Next Recession"
Rick Davis of The Consumer Metrics Institute plays Clark Kent to Charles Biderman's Superman as the two dig into just how manipulated and misreported the latest GDP data from the government was. Critically, they break down the components and using inflation levels (CPI-U or The BPP) that make some sense when considered with energy price movements during this quarter (as opposed to the deflator that was 'selected' by the BEA) Davis and Biderman are "really worried" that the real economy appears to be in a contractionary state if inflation is adjusted for correctly. Even the anemic 1.88% growth rate is 'very very poor' for an economy that is supposed to be 3 years into a recovery. The per-capita income (the money available to all households to spend) actually shrank - even using the BEA's inflation data. This juxtaposes shrinking household disposable income with a real economy supposedly growing (though slowly) which was driven almost exclusively by consumer spending - leaving Davis and Biderman questioning 'where this money is coming from?'. The simple answer is the savings rate has plunged, freeing up over $200bn in annual spending (and student loans have added another $100bn, refis $50bn, and strategic defaults $80bn) - all unsustainable one-time increases. This is what is really scary behind the GDP numbers. Spending is not coming from income. While much is made of the drop in spending driven by the fall in oil prices, Davis points out that the consumer is hitting a wall with his savings and concludes that the BEA is notoriously bad at calling turning points (only getting the Great Recession 'direction' correct after 16 months and magnitude after 40 months) - leaving him of the opinion that we may well be in the first quarter of the next recession.