Following the drastically revised-away surge in spending in January, and the savings rate surge to 2012 highs in Feb, March's income and spending data released today showed more problems for The Fed. While income grew 0.4% MoM (more than the 0.3% expectations), spending disappointed with a mere 0.1% rise (against +0.2% MoM expectations). Year-over-year spending growth slowed to 3.5% - the weakest since December and income growth slowed to 4.0% YoY leaving the savings rate at its highest since December 2012.
Like the “little Dutch boy,” the Fed currently has a finger stuck in every hole of the dike. The only question is how long is it before the Federal Reserve runs out of “fingers” to plug the next leak?
While the February personal consumption expenditures (aka personal spending) - that all important data about the well-being of the US consumer - was in line with expectations rising 0.1%, it was the January revision that was striking. From a 0.5% increase reported a month ago, it was now revised to a paltry 0.1%. In nominal dollar terms, this means that instead of US consumer spending a whopping $67.5 billion more in January, the increase was a paltry $14.7 billion, a delta of $52.8 billion!
January Spending Surge "Revised" Away, Pushing Savings Rate To Highest Since 2012; Personal Income SlidesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/28/2016 08:46 -0400
Headline data for income modestly beat expectations (+0.2% MoM vs +0.1% MoM) and spending met expectations at +0.1% MoM respectively. Income growth YoY slowed to 4.0% however - near its weakest since Nov 2013. Spending growth also slowed to +3.8% YoY (from 2.9% in Jan) but the big story is the major downward revisions in spending. January's +0.5% 'surge' in spending was revised to a mere +0.1% trickle - the weakest in over a year.
"...markets have essentially lost confidence in the ability for central banks to stoke growth and inflation... we see very few reasons to be excited by today’s action or any development since the February 11th market lows."
Just look at it as a repo for everyday depositors: post your €500 notes as collateral, take the haircut, get smaller bills in return.
If central bankers think that "helicopter money" might be an option to combat deflationary pressures and sluggish economies, the right time to launch the choppers is before consumers realize they need them. As history shows, after that, it is too late.
Janet Yellen's last "data-dependent" loophole to delay a rate hike in the coming months was just revised away.
Amid the collapse of PMIs, regional Fed surveys, and surging inventories, personal income and spending both surged 0.5% MoM in January - both better than expected. This is the best monthly gain since May 2015 as a drastically-revised data series notches the savings rate lower historically, but rose MoM. It seems Mester's comments this morning that a March hike is still on the table just got further support... time for another market crash to nsure that doesn't happen.
"... the average Joe isn’t as gullible as he once was and the personal savings rate remains high and is rising. Get out and buy something you don’t need, your kids can pay for their own education. If you really want to see people spend and invest there has to be some belief this won’t all end in tears."
The Keynesians will not be pleased. Despite the holiday season, December spending disappointed with no change MoM (0.0% vs +0.1% exp). This is further sentiment-destructivbe as income data rose more than expected MoM (+0.3% vs +0.2% exp) even as income growth YoY slipped to its weakest in 9 months. This of course means the personal savings rate rose, pushing to 5.5% - the highest since 2012.
By surprising markets with a move to a negative deposit rate, the Bank of Japan gave investors temporary reprieve, providing a much needed opportunity to pare portfolio risk at better prices. Unfortunately, the improvement in financial asset prices will be short-lived; except, of course, for long-maturity Treasuries.
"Before investors sell 10s, they need the Fed to pause... The curve flattens into March 2s10s with risk off market dynamics and an increasing probability of relent, followed by bear steepening after a Fed pause. Rates could then stabilize or decline, depending on whether recession is avoided or at least postponed."
The end result was that in November personal savings was $748 billion, a $9.4 billion decline from the $757 billion a month ago, which translates into a 5.5% savings rate, down from last month's 5.6%, however well above the average rate seen over the past 12 months as consumers continue to be unwilling to dip into their savings despite the so-called "gas" tax cut.
It's official: the start to the holiday shopping has been a disaster, and it's not simply due to a shift to online spending.