[Trying to Understand] The Current State of the Economy

From THE BIG PICTURE, Barry Ritholtz’ blog

I cannot recall a parallel era to this in terms of economic cross-currents. There are credible arguments on a lot of key data: Inflation, retail sales, NFP, JOLTs, and NILF. It’s almost as if you are not confused about the economy, then you probably are not paying attention…

The chart above shows both Goods (blue line) and Services (red line) relative to total personal consumption expenditures. Its priced in billions and shows the past 10 years (Jan 2012=100)…

Think about this even in light of the inventory shortfall of single-family homes, and the difficulty in finding new cars (or getting used cars at reasonable prices). And still, we see elevated Goods consumption and reduced Services. Note the peak in Goods came long before the current inflation spike.

…You can get a sense of how spending habits have changed post-pandemic…

As offices re-open, people go on vacations, and life begins to normalize, we should see these lines begin to head back toward their prior levels. But I have strong reservations about If & When we are heading all the way back. There is a substantial percentage of people who are never going back to a 9-to-5, Monday to Friday office gig; consider what this might mean to the balance of consumption.

This is just another one of many cross-currents making it a challenge to understand the current U.S. economy…

And, yet, I still enjoy being a student of modern economics – personal class identity and all. We can still find sharp-eyed analysts around who are capable of clarifying the bit they’re examining. It all helps.

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