Monday, February 1, 2016

Consumers have spent about 20% of their gas savings

 - by New Deal democrat

Real personal consumption expenditures rose 0.1% in December, positive but something of a disappointment  compared with the big YoY increase evident in Gallup's consumer spending measure:

This means that personal spending slowed down considerably in the 3rd and 4th quarters compared with the previous 4 quarters (blue in the graph below), particularly as compared with the increase in real personal income (red):

But a longer term comparison shows that it has been the first 3 quarters of 2015 which were the exception:

Over the last 10 years, real personal spending increased on average about 0.15% monthly.  In the first 3 quarters of 2015, it increased by closer to 0.3% monthly.  This was one of the best rates in the entire 10 year period:

Real personal income (red in the above graph) also was above average throughout 2015.

So how much of their gas savings have consumers been spending?  The big decline in gas prices began in summer 2014.  If we norm both spending and income to 100 just prior to that decline, we can compare how much each has increased:

Real income has grown by 6%, while real spending has grown by 4.5%.  In other words, consumers have spent about 3/4 of their increase in income.

But how much of that is gas savings?  In the bar graph above, we can see that in the 12 months before the big decline in gas prices, real income increased by 2.4%, and real spending by 2.7%.  The average annual increase in income has been 3.9%, while spending has averaged 3.0% annualized.  This means that consumers have spent about 20% of their gas savings (+0.3% vs. +1.5%), relatively more in the first half of 2015 vs. the last half.