The More Depressed And Broke US Consumers Are, The More Worthless Trinkets They Buy

Tyler Durden's picture

We last presented the chart below following the most recent UMichigan consumer confidence data. We update it for today's Conference Board update, which regardless of how one looks at the data, confirms that either consumer confidence, or retail data is being either massively manipulated, or there has been a revolution in mass psychology whereby the more depressed and hence broke a US consumer is, the more they shop. But going back to reality, this divergence is absolutely unsustainable, and we are certain that any and all calls by fly-by-night journalism majors calling for an end to the US recession, driven purely by an overhyped short covering rally in the stock market, will shortly, and mercifully, cease.

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tmosley's picture

Shopping for bug-out bags, bitchez.

Divided States of America's picture

Like I said, the US consumers have no money so they have to get cheaper and cheaper graded junk made in China. But for the overseas consumers, its heaven coming over here to shop with the weak USD to buy truckloads of high end stuff. Goes to show the divergence of the living standards and lifestyles between Americans and Chinese.

idea_hamster's picture

this divergence is absolutely unsustainable

Au contraire: this type of divergence is what we see prior to currency collapse -- everyone knows worse times are coming but they don't trust cash to help.

As long as the graph is US$-denominated, it could continue to diverge.

dearth vader's picture

I think you've a point. People who are depressed buy more stuff to console themselves and, of course, they'll spend more today, if they expect their money to be worth less, if not worthless, by tomorrow. There were no savers on the Titanic, neither teetotalers. I guess, they tried to clean out the bar before the waves closed above them.

It's time to max out the old credit card. Paying back debt? Who cares?

Don Birnam's picture

Worthless trinkets, thy name is...

Home Shopping Club ! Slice of low socioeconomic Americana, bitchez !

trav7777's picture

i bought one of my gfs a tiffany necklace, so I did my part to hold up the economy, bitchez

Troll Magnet's picture

I bought some weed, does that count?

ResFam's picture

Best Gewgaws of all:

1) Rejuvenique Electric Facial Mask

2) Facial Flex

3) Mobile treadmill (Jogging on a treadmill... with wheels... that propels you forward... just like jogging)

Gewgaws & Debt Pushers:


Let them all fail's picture

Most people don't think their money will be worthless, only those few which have paid close enough attention to realize the inflationary risks of printing, people spend because they can, so that makes no sense.

vast-dom's picture

Makes perfect sense. Booze and entertainment expenditures go up historically during times like these. So do suicide rates and invsolvency. The US consumer will shop well past their debt limits and will stop only when credit is completely cut off. This consumer mirrors the way the gov and the fed are living today -- the collective is diseased and insane and one of the main traits of this BPD is blaming the other for your disease/problems/extreme narcissism/etc. It all makes perfect sense. And the shit will hit the fan, as it always invariably does when structural issues are ignored for quick fixes and FOSness, guaranteed.


Solutions and well-being involve no drama and require intelligent discourse. When you are drowning in debt while exhibiting insane behavior of continuous shopping, you are drowning in drama, and vice-versa. When you are not addressing structural issues you are essentially exhibiting fucktard behaviour, and vice-versa. When sinking is confused for treading, there is, best case, a massive disaster on the horizon. 

billsykes's picture

No it doesn't. Check all the major liquor brands and casino stock during the 08 depression- they went down.Everything went down, nothing is immune except black market goods and even they slowed.


But- having recently quit smoking and looking at recovering lost capital I checked out a couple of tobacco stocks- I like this one.-

Lorillard Inc.



HungrySeagull's picture

Area is being over run by pawnshops and antique shops selling stuff at 1 dollar versus 30 in walmart.


I see it as a great dumping of the good stuff by those who are "Weak Hands" I buy only what we need and store what we can use later.


Depressed? Hell no. Materialistic? Finished.


(As Rodney Dangerfield) Pass the Silver please.

MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

The concept of HARP is truly genius, but if our government officials are serious about boosting aggregate demand they need to introduce similar programs for other consumer goods. One idea would be to allow Americans to pledge any goods in their possession as collateral for low interest consumer loans from our government. Americans can then use these loans to finance further consumption, boosting retail sales and stimulating the economy. These new goods can then be used as further collateral to borrow even more money from the government. Of course this will require further monetary easing and bond purchases by our Federal Reserve to accommodate the increased spending, but I believe Dr Bernanke is up to the task. The end result will produce just enough of a boost to aggregate demand to finally kick start our consumer economy.

spiral_eyes's picture

Absolutely M$B — the only true recovery is a consumption led one.

Unfortunately, America will be the thing consumed — by its creditors. 

I sense aggregate demand for a bloodbath.

Zero Debt's picture

Comrade, your plan is excellent yet it has a fundamental flaw, what if consumers decide not to take out these loans generously offered? They may be making decisions on the margin based on their own individual egoistic circumstances rather than the common good of the nation. Also, you assume that products are to be produced according to market demand. Market forces are inherently irrational and the "animal spirits" consistently leads to booms and busts. The solution must be to decide an appropriate level of aggregate demand and stick to it. Such conviction will increase economic confidence. The government should forcefully lead the way and pick the winners of the future with grand schemes, a close and intimate relationship with business leaders without scrutiny that may hinder quick implementation. You may for example set a production target of 5,000 steel bars per day, 10,000 tonnes of coal, 200 m2 of solar cells, whichever level is deemed to create sustainable employment in different glorious base industries for the sake of the nation. In this way you eliminate the uncertainty introduced by credit markets, consumer decisions and local leaders by creating a permanent level of aggregate demand. A stable production level will stabilize prices and lower unemployment. Therefore, federal intervention is not only desirable but essential to reinforce the dual mandate in the context of price stability. The central bank in each district may convene as deemed appropriate with industry leaders and production planners using operations research models to optimize the plans. The media plays the essential role of disseminating the plans promptly and frame the decisions in a positive and forward-looking manner to spur credit growth, purchasing decisions, housing purchases and lower inflation expectations across the bord so as to relieve us from transitory spikes induced by short-term speculation.</sarc>

trav7777's picture

MiniTruth said we hit all of those production figures...exceeded them even

Stax Edwards's picture

This is pure genius.  

You know, our friends over at 33 Liberty could use someone with your keen insight.  You should really consider employment there, you would be hugely successful.

HardwoodAg's picture

You're either one funny f**ker or the end product of the shallowest gene pool on the planet??

slaughterer's picture

Same thought as ZH, but expressed in Bloombergese: "Today's report shows surprising weakness with the index reading of 39.8 well under Econoday's consensus for 46.0. But weak consumer spirits haven't held back retail sales in the least, at least not in August and September."

Maybe the back-to-school season stimulated parents to actually spend a little on the little ones. 

Gully Foyle's picture



Why the fuck shop? Just get the fuck gone now.

I always find a certain level of preparedness silly. No one can prepare for the future, all you can do is react. When the shit hits the fan you best be ready to walk with whats in your pockets and the clothes on your back. You better have the kill or be killed mindset, cause ain't no one gonna wait for anyone to run home for their big ol bag of undies.

poor fella's picture

B.O.B.'s little sibling has to have a seat in the back, although, you might be fine with NOTHING to take except for the chonies you're wearing.

The 'Minimalist Survivor' technique - when the SHTF, nobody messes with a pissed off guy in his underwear looking for a fight.

Andre's picture

You will be a cannibal in two weeks, if not dead before then.

slaughterer's picture

OT: It feels sleazy and dishonest to admit it here, but I bought 39,500 shares of NFLX at $73.89 in pre-market today.  The NFLX Schadenfreude yesterday on ZH was a little OTT, and I felt like joining Robo-trader for a day. 

Stax Edwards's picture

Excellent.  You sell today also?

LawsofPhysics's picture

I disagree.  Look at the major brewing companies.  The more depressed and broke they are, the more alcohol they consume.  Drinking is the curse of the working class after all.

CClarity's picture

And designer coffees and tea.

But today, they're also buying gold - trinkets, coins, ETFs, etc..

Shvanztanz's picture

That's just another form of short covering. As soon as I have to choose between booze and food, I'm going long on copper and building a still and boiling rice. 

Ruffcut's picture

I would drink to that assumption. Is it beer thirty yet?

NotApplicable's picture

One man's curse is another man's coping skill. If it wasn't for alcohol, and all the other diversions, society would be at each other's throats in times like these.

Instead, each of us hunker down knowing that ultimately, we're fucked, but at least it's not today. Besides, you may not even live that long.

tahoebumsmith's picture

And when they run out of Buds to keep the depression at ease, Benocide always seems to roll in on his horse just in the nick of time to bail everybody out and keep the party going.. Who needs trinkets just as long as we still got our Buds...

Gully Foyle's picture


Dude do you know what Vice investing is?

s2man's picture

Give wine to the poor, strong drink to the dying.

CClarity's picture

Double post. Apologies. A different vice ; )

GeneMarchbanks's picture

Paradox of Trinkets?

“The money complex is the demonic, and the demonic is God's ape; the money complex is therefore the heir to and substitute for the religious complex, an attempt to find God in things.” Norman O. Brown

Syrin's picture

US consumers put Snooki into the celebrity category.   Seriously, what else would you expect?

dwdollar's picture

Only one thing comes to mind... WTF?!?

mr_sandman's picture

80/20 rule on the distribution of income and spending.  If you make a large wealth transfer to those with the highest marginal propensity to consume (hint: the rich) and they normally make up 80% of the aggregate number, it doesn't take much more to compensate for the lower spending in the 20%.

Basically, these spending numbers are naturally weighted by wealth.  However consumer sentiment is not-weighted, but a strict 1-person/1-vote polling mean over the population.

Village Smithy's picture

Bingo, and that has been the bernak's plan all along. What he didn't account for is the increasing level of social unrest that this inequality is creating. He will continue with this plan unless the social unrest gets to unaccepable levels.

NotApplicable's picture

He didn't account for it, only because he doesn't care.  Also, he will continue with his plan (print more) until he steps down from power, regardless of social unreast (which is actually a benefit, as it creates a mandate for change).

Kreditanstalt's picture

But marginal consumption drives things!  We HAVE to buy "worthless trinkets": NetFlix, Little Debbie, CROX and Cheetos.  The economy won't run on people buying cabbage, heating oil and firewood.  Or gold...


Dr. No's picture

We will not transition to a savings based economy until the economy breaks. it is unavoidable at this point in time.  The paradigm of live for today will be broken and then things can rebuild from more solid foundation.  A foundation which was learn by direct experience, rather than from old stories taught by our dying grandmothers generation.

Kreditanstalt's picture

Well said!  Got gold? 

Have you ever wondered why Ebay, etcetera, pump, pump and promote pulp paperback fiction, automotive, CDs and DvDs to the skies?  Every prompt is to buy those!  Every discount applies only to those categories.

No encouragement to buy precious metals, valued collectables, tents, tools or used stuff of good quality...


NotApplicable's picture

And for a brief moment in time, people will once again realize that Keynes' "Paradox of Thrift" is a completely asinine concept on its face, as they watch their savings build along with their society. But the likely remaining legal tender laws will undo this education over time, yet again, unless fractional-reserve debt-money schemes are finally allowed to die.

eBuddha's picture

Hey Here's an idea -- because CRAZY seems to be all the rage now:

why don't we just figure out the average amount of money that would make everyone in the country whole and just give EVERYONE that amount of money.

i was appalled while the bubble was building to see everyone getting bigger houses, new appliances, etc and now they're all getting bailed out. meanwhile, i'm not getting any funds from anyone and my taxes and future debt interest payments via inevitably increasing taxes will go towards all this bailing out.

if we're going to go into debt to literally give idiots free cash - why not just give everyone free cash.

optimator's picture

"Give everyone free cash".  Whaaaaaa, and cut out the middle man (Bankster)?

NotApplicable's picture

What he meant was, give everyone free credit from a bank. Because, as we all know, only banks can create money from credit.

FinHits's picture

Maybe Ben's Friendly Bank could branch out to mainstreet?

As a bonus, customers could opt for the modern classic: helicopter delivery?

trav7777's picture

well you know that such a plan would be administered to give anyone prudent $0, because they don't need it, and the "disadvantaged" would be made nigga rich only to blow it overnight making it rain on strippers and buying LV and purple sizzurp.  I mean didn't we learn our lesson with FEMA cards?

slaughterer's picture

Desire circles around "worthless trinkets" to better avoid the thought of dying.

NotApplicable's picture

And/or to avoid wasting precious money to pay off dead-beat lenders.