If, despite my warnings, you allowed yesterday’s upward GDP revision to kindle a tiny spark of excitement about the economy, today’s news should bring you right back down to earth:
Household spending fell in July, a sign that cautious consumers could hold back economic growth in the second half of the year….Personal income, reflecting income from wages, investment, and government aid, rose 0.2% in July—the smallest monthly increase of the year….Meanwhile, the report showed a key measure of inflation—the personal consumption expenditures price index—rose 1.6% in July from a year earlier. That matched the prior month’s annual gain, and is below the Federal Reserve’s 2% long-run target for the 27th straight month.
Spending is down, which is no surprise since personal income is pretty much flat. This suggests that perhaps we could tolerate a wee bit higher inflation as a way of getting the economy moving, but of course we can’t do that. Sure, inflation has been below its target for 27 months, but you never know. The 28th month might be different! And even the prospect of a single month of moderate inflation runs the risk of turning us into Zimbabwe.
So instead we just sit and stagnate.