Are Americans abandoning consumption? (no)

Posted by: Paul Donovan

15 Feb 2019
  • US retail sales were weak in December. Have Americans abandoned the national pastime of spending money they do not have on things they do not need? Probably not. US retailer employment in January was the second strongest since 1990 – odd behavior if retail sales had collapsed in January. Other retail surveys showed record highs.
  • US President Trump wants to use personal authority (NB not personal money) to build a wall on the Mexican border. Should markets care? The deficit does not grow as the money is diverted. Diverting money from drug enforcement may be negative (the US drug problem hurts growth). Some Republican opposition to the plan may hit consumer confidence – which has been politically skewed by Republicans' political optimism.
  • Spain is likely to have a general election following the government's failure to pass a budget (Spain's government does not shut down in the meantime). Opinion polls indicate a fragmented outcome, but without a more extreme "anti-party" being in a position of power. Markets are likely to be fairly calm.
  • The UK Parliament did stuff in the interminably tedious UK exit from the EU. UK consumers still do not care. That disinterest should be visible in the retail sales data released today.

Explore more CIO Daily Updates