Couple Observations About the Economy (and Media)

Here’s the lead from a recent AP article
via The Washington Post:

WASHINGTON — Shoppers took a break in June, boosting their spending at the slowest pace in nine months as high gasoline prices and fallout from the housing slump made people think twice about buying.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that consumer spending edged up by just 0.1 percent. That marked a pullback from May’s brisk 0.6 percent rise and was the smallest increase since last September.

That reads as if the June figures were an anomaly. Not so. Here’s the big picture:

The overall pace of consumer spending has declined significantly for almost four years, and much more so in the past nine months.

The next paragraph in the same AP article:

However, a more forward-looking report suggested that consumers were in a much better frame of mind in July. Their confidence shot up to a six-year high.

Yesterday’s NBC/WSJ poll tells an entirely different story. (May require subscription.) For example, over two-thirds of the respondents felt we were either already in a recession or will be within a year. It was a pretty dark poll, not like something that portrays a “better frame of mind.”

Related, here’s an updated chart of the payroll numbers relative to population.

Here too the trend is down. If we just focus on July and use the 60-year average JCI of 1, we’d expect 190,000 jobs, not 92,000.