Econintersect (January 12): The Consumer Metric Institute reports that their index, which is based on on-line purchases of discretionary durable consumer goods, is indicating weakness in the economy. The segment of the economy that this indicator tracks is "much weaker than many would like to think", according to report conclusions. Follow up:
Follow up:The report states:
The last of the BEA GDP reports issued during 2010 indicated that the "real final sales of domestic product" were growing at an anemic 0.9% rate during both the second and third quarters of 2010. This number is calculated by reducing the headline GDP number by the net amount of goods being added to manufacturing inventories (and therefore not being sold to end consumers). Their characterization of the number as the "real final sales" within the economy is telling, and a 0.9% annualized growth rate over the course of the six middle months of the year is statistically indistinguishable from a dead flat economy.
However mediocre that growth may have been, at the end of 2010 the data that we track was materially weaker. The on-line consumers that we track still appear to be reluctant to take on new debt, and they remain cautious in their expectations for the economy in 2011. The heavily reported increases in holiday spending came primarily from reductions in personal savings rates, and that holiday "feel-good" spending may ultimately turn out to be merely brought forward from the first quarter of 2011 -- similar to holiday dietary indulgences preceding fervently resolved first quarter diets. In any event, the consumers that we track are still contracting their year-over-year discretionary durable goods purchases at levels that indicate that something is still seriously amiss in this economy.
Source: Consumer Metric Institute report.