Consumers Back in the Saddle

J: In last month's blog on retail and food services sales, we wrote, "We expect to see significant increases in retail sales soon." As the data released by the Census Bureau on August 15 show, it was already happening then! (L: That's kinda cool, if I do say so myself.) The total for retail and food services sales rose to a record $478.9 billion in July, adjusted for trading days, holidays and seasonality, but not for inflation. This was a leap of 0.6 percent from June, which was itself revised from being down 0.2 percent to increasing by 0.3 percent from May. July posted the largest month-to-month increase since the 0.9 percent rate in December 2016. As shown in the chart, the 4.2 per

A Wondrous Tour of an Amazon Fulfillment Center

L: This is a photo showing the amazing way Amazon Fulfillment Centers work--especially the ones that ship out "small stuff." Jim and I are in Seattle for his quarterly NBEIC meeting (National Business Economic Issues Council). These meetings often include tours of a local area's business. In the past we've seen such places as the Port of Mobile, an Exxon refinery, the FedEx shipping facility in Memphis, a surgical procedure at the Cleveland Clinic and so much more! This meeting included a tour of an Amazon Fulfillment Center. In the photo is a shelving unit, showing cubbies of various sizes. All the inventory of the facility is stored in units (many, many, many units) just like this. T

Join the Mobs Getting Jobs

L: Be impressed. We are out and about, headed for an NBEIC meeting in Seattle and we still wrote a blog! It's a first! J: A key factor in the confidence levels of consumers and their spending patterns is how they feel their chances are for finding a job if they need or want one. Fortunately, the BLS gives us vital information on this every month, most recently on August 8 in their JOLTS report. (L: I just love that name.) As the chart shows, on June 30 there were a record 6,163,300 job openings in the US on a seasonally adjusted basis. Because the JOLTS report has data available one month later than the total employment report does, few people pay much attention to it. That is a big

Same Old, Same Old - Part 2

J: The second bit of good news in the latest BEA release is that real GDP picked up significantly in the second quarter of 2017 to 2.6 percent, to an actual level of $17.0 trillion. Real personal consumption expenditures (PCE) rose 2.8 percent, a nice increase from the 1.9 percent pace of the first quarter. They accounted for 1.93 percentage points of the growth in overall real GDP in the second quarter. Of course, most countries in the world, other than China or India, would love to have managed real GDP growth of 2.1 percent a year for the past eight years. Faster growth would be nice for many reasons, but we should be grateful we're not facing the economic travails of most of Europe,

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