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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

(Wince) Retail Sales

I expected this, but the total retail (not adjusted for price increases) for August is at 0.0. Now, the error bar here is 0.5, so take that with a grain of salt, okay? July was revised down to 0.3. There is considerable fluctuation in seasonal adjustments for retail sales, and that is having some influence on these numbers also.

Back-to-school starts earlier in hard times and starts earlier in much of the south, where school resumes in August. Also more children live down in the south, so back-to-school probably had something to do with a decent July.

Motor vehicle sales -0.3 in August. Electronics & sporting/hobby did okay, probably due to BTS impetus, but the other discretionary categories slumped again (restaurant/bar, clothing stores, dept stores, furniture).

Adjusted for pricing changes, of course this is worse. The YoY accumulated is now dropping quite significantly; in August only 7.2%.

The producer price index for August stalled out. On the month, that is. The exception is the price of finished foods, which were up 1.1% in August.

Might as well get the uglies out of the way - the September Rail report (for August) showed pretty much a complete stall in YoY growth. Let's do the bar graphs for variety:

If Mozart were alive, he could maybe make this into a symphony. Requiem for an Expansion?

Intermodal has been the strong point in 2011, but that dropped out this summer.

If you're wondering, the long stall prior to the 2008 crash derived from credit-fueled spending and cash floating around the economy. This is not (cough) going to happen again (choke).

The rail reports are really worth reading. There's a graph in there regarding US carloads, which in August 2011 were down 13.7% from August 2006.

Canst thou say "depression" - in iambic pentameter? We need a Shakespeare to do justice to this.

One point I'd like to make - the "Panic of 2008" was a very traditional affair. There is no question that the financial hijinks had reached a ridiculous level, but as with historical panics, a downturn in the real economy caused a weakening in credit/financial asset prices that precipitated a dire financial crash. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

We have a little oomph left from a bit of an increase in wages, although real wages for most of the working population are flat to declining. But still.... I'll do the Treasury stuff in a separate report. August was pretty good in the real economy due to autos, but I am afraid we are reaching the end of that. Ward's Auto publishes an inventory summary after the end of each month, and the big fall in inventories has been substantially redressed, so now it depends more on auto sales, which recursively brings us back to the retail report, where we started.

September will be okay, because you have broken-window action and the schools are back in session which provides a bit of a kick. After that it gets harder.

The thing is, Obama's jobs plan spends a great deal of money and cannot possibly deliver, so it is hard to justify spending the money. We need results, not hope. The reaction kind of shows the skepticism, and the quoted poll shows that Independents are the most skeptical, but Independents have a strong association with being in business, so this is not surprising. In general, it seems like the public has a better grasp of the economy than the administration.

If you are going to do it at all, do it so that it has a chance of making a real difference! It is not as if ROW is throwing an optimism party.

Canst thou say "depression" - in iambic pentameter? We need a Shakespeare to do justice to this.

Would you settle for a Koontz?

“The hands of every clock are shears, trimming us away scrap by scrap, and every time piece with a digital readout blinks us towards implosion.” - Dean Koontz

My WV is fuggen, as in fuggen ugly retail sales report. Sigh.
There is no money on Main Street. Some want to
believe that the poor and middle class have been
wastful. Well, the truth is that they have been systematically looted . Now the tea party wants to
slash the safety net and SS . Amazing how the outrage
Against TARP was turned against our neighbors.
Yeah, spork when it's not being turned against the Tea Party.

How long should someone expect to get unemployment compensation? Isn't 2 years enough? All of us know that SS is not viable without changes. Why is it that whenever anyone talks about changing it, it gets spun as "gutting" or "slashing" benefits?

We can't fix things if we aren't allow to talk about possible changes. What we could use, more than anything else, is an effort to get government out of our lives, on a lot of levels.

WV is subingic. It's a subingic kinda report.
I've updated the retail sales chart that compares restaurant sales to grocery store sales.

Ongoing Restaurant Pain

The pain continues, just like clockwork.
We could start saving SS by removing the cap on
FICA contiributions. My complaint is that our
Elected politicians had no problem going against
An overwhelming majority and funding TARP,
but when SS needs funding help alll we hear is
that it should be gutted and abandoned. You don't
think certain politicians aren't eager to drive us into
The ditch for ideology ? 700 billion for TARP but not
1cent fo SS.
Check out that August port traffic. Sigh.

We've fallen and we can't get up.
Spork - when our president is proposing cutting off the revenue flow to SS, you can't blame this on the Tea Party. Sorry, but that's just clueless.

That's why I am so opposed to his plan. I know we need to make some changes to keep SS staggering along, but we certainly can't keep it going by cutting the income flow to it. Obama just proposed junking SS, and anyone who's not paying attention should be.

We're out of money, and that's all there is to it. And we still haven't recovered from an economy that was structurally based not on fundamental real income increases, but rather on consumption based on ever-increasing household debt.

It is obvious that once people stopped borrowing, the government just can't take over and keep borrowing even more.

The real impetus for the Tea Party is maintaining the fiscal stability that will keep the basics of the government going - and we can't stabilize our economy by junking the primary retirement program for tens of millions of retirees. Nor can we save money that way!
The other problem is if you increase the contribution level, then you increase the future liability level.

If you want to increase the contribution level without increasing the liability, then just fund the shortfall out of general taxation and be done with it - making SS even more confusing is just plain stupid.

Oh wait, we were funding the general spending out of the SSA surplus and never bothered to make plans for the known methematical certainty of future SSA shortfalls.

This is the number one reason I am against government-run social safety nets - the lazy public believe the social safety net isn't used as a slush fund.

We've had 80 years to learn that we need to plan for bank and government fraud; instead the lazy public chose to believe in government safety nets. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. The only way we're going to get meaningful change is when we stop pretending the structural problems go away with another coat of whitewash.
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