3 Charts On The US Consumption Crash Dead-Ahead

Average US gas prices are over 13% higher since late December 2011, back at June 2011 levels, and do not look set to drop any time soon. The anecdotal impact of this rise in a significant segment of the real US consumer's spending habits is unmistakable, as we discussed earlier, but it is more important to note where we have come from when considering the macro impact. Q4 macro data was 'juiced' by the significant drop in the price of energy as the 4-5pt drop in Energy-and-Utilities spend enabled 'visible' consumption to rise during that time (obviously helped by government handouts also). Just as occurred in the latter part of 2008, as the consumer was forced to spend more on Energy, so the visible consumption dropped notably and given the significance of the current data 'drop' in energy spending, when the current gas prices filter into this data, we would expect, as Credit Suisse points out, consumption on more discretionary spending will drop significantly.

Gas prices are up very significantly (both absolutely and on average)...


but the 'forced' rise in Energy spending has not filtered into the data yet...



...and just as in late 2008, as the spend of Energy and Utilities rises, so discretionary spending will drop significantly and given the huge divergence in the last quarter or two, the reaction could be very significant.



Perhaps this is just the 'crash' that Bernanke needs to run-the-presses again as conditionality will increasingly force investors to reject the 'optimal' buy-and-keep-buying trend as they recognize that QE3 can't start until things get worse, and buying in anticipation of QE3 means it will never happen?

Charts: Bloomberg