I’ve made the case before that Real Retail and Food Services Sales were flatlining, about the best that could be said for the metrics that matter to the NBER. With this week’s release, here’s an update:
Verdict: Still flatlining. The headline print was down 0.1 percent, but ex-autos it was down a hefty 0.6 percent, much worse than expected.
HOWEVER, if we look at Year-Over-Year (YoY) percent change ex-autos, we see a bit of a different story:
The Cash for Clunkers program, aside from pulling forward sales from future quarters, may have also had the unintended consequence of sapping consumer spending that might have gone
elsewhere. Not sure we could quantify that, but it’s a possibility.
In any event, I am still not sold on this recession’s end, much as I’d like to be. We will get (or may have already gotten, depending on when this post goes up) some additional economic data today. Here’s hoping for the best, but certainly not expecting it.