Economic Update Part 1: The Consumer

This week we’re focusing on the economy. In that we track too many data points to bury you with one blog post, we’ll break it up. I’ll summarize at the end of the week.

Today we’ll highlight a few of the key indicators that speak to the health of the consumer (consumption btw is 2/3rds of the U.S. economy):

The following charts (click to enlarge) go back as far as the data allow. Note the trends leading into past recessions (red-shaded bars) and compare to the present. I highlight each title green, yellow or red to reflect my view of the prevailing trend.

RETAIL SALES
Brick and Mortar 
Online



Clearly, Amazon is changing the retail dynamic!

AUTO SALES  



Auto sales look to be peaking, although that was the look exactly a year ago before surging to multi-year highs. Time will tell…


HOUSEHOLD NET WORTH



The consumer’s balance sheet has rebounded beautifully from the 2008 recession.

CONSUMER DEBT SERVICE RATIO 



The consumer’s debt service to income ratio is remarkably low. That speaks volumes about his/her financial health.

MORTGAGE PURCHASE APPLICATIONS


Trending higher.


HOUSING STARTS


Trending higher.


HOUSING PERMITS


Trending higher.


CONSUMER CONFIDENCE


Coming off a bit from recent cycle highs, but, still, the consumer is feeling very good about his/her prospects.

HOME BUILDER OPTIMISM


Off of recent cycle high, but still very bullish. Above 50 denotes net optimism.

WEEKLY JOBLESS CLAIMS


The phenomenal run of below 300k weekly claims continues.

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