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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Endless American Consumption Is A Crowded Trade

How many times have the talking heads told us not to bet against the American consumer? Too many times to count. It's gotten to the point that many investors believe that the US consumption machine will never stumble. Sounds like a crowded to trade to me.

Economic activity is either rising or falling at an increasing rate. Real and gold adjusted retail sales have been contracting since early 2011. The trends are becoming difficult to ignore now as the public feels the grip of the Great Recession tightening once again.

Consumption is a key driver of economic growth in the US. If the negative consumption trend extends into 2012, it will become both a political and social hot potato.

Real or CPI-Adjusted Retail Sales (RRS) and YOY Change

Gold-Adjusted Retail Sales (RSGLDR) and YOY Change

Headline: Retail sales rise less than expected in November

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Retail sales rose less than expected in November as a drop in receipts for food and beverages weighed against stronger sales of motor vehicles, tempering some of the expectations of a strong holiday shopping season.

Total retail sales increased 0.2 percent after rising by an upwardly revised 0.6 percent in October, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales climbing 0.6 percent last month.

"It's fairly disappointing given that all the evidence was pointing to fairly strong gains during the month," said Millan Mulraine a macro strategist at TD Securities in New York.

Consumer spending - which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity - rose sharply in the third quarter but November's retail sales growth was the weakest in any month since June.

However, shoppers flocked to stores over the Thanksgiving weekend, traditionally retail's biggest sales period.


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