Christmas in August

August 27, 2019
Personal spending and jobs reports, due out soon, should shed additional light onto the state of the economy.


With the Chinese/American trade war carrying over, the markets were encouraged for at least a period of time with the Administration's decision to delay additional tariffs on certain goods until December 15. This decision was announced so that consumers were not hurt during the Christmas shopping season. Apparently, the season is ending a few weeks early this year. We won't quibble with the date, since we know the news on tariffs is likely to change plenty of times between now and then. 

While the trade war news definitely is affecting the markets, which are embroiled in extreme volatility -- we don't have evidence that the war is actually affecting our economy as of yet. This week and next we will be seeing the release of data which might help give us some clarity in this regard. This data will include a revision of the measure of economic growth for the second quarter, personal spending and the August jobs report. 

We must also consider whether the volatility in the markets might affect consumer confidence. Though stocks are not owned by much more than 50% of Americans, the majority of the country is aware when stocks are skyrocketing upward or diving downward. On the other hand, it is possible that all these headlines about trade wars and the markets are getting stale, as our population does not have a long-attention span. Either way, the data we see over the next several days may help us answer the key question of the connection between the headlines and consumer behavior, as well as the direction of the economy.