March 15, 2014
You can't get blood out of a rock. Traditionally the United States has had a consumer-driven economy, but now years of declining incomes and rising debts are really starting to catch up with us. In order to have an economy that is dependent on consumer spending, you need to have a large middle class. Unfortunately, the U.S. middle class is steadily shrinking, and unless that trend is reversed we are going to see massive economic changes in this country. For example, in poor neighborhoods all over America we are seeing bank branches, car dealerships and retail stores close down at an alarming rate. If you didn't know better, you might be tempted to think that "Space Available" was the hottest new retailer in some areas of the nation. On the other hand, if you live in San Francisco, New York City or Washington D.C., things are pretty good for the moment. But as a whole, the condition of the U.S. consumer continues to decline. Incomes are going down, the cost of living is going up, and debts are skyrocketing. The following are 19 signs that the U.S. consumer is tapped out...
#1 Real disposable income per capita continues to fall. In the fourth quarter of 2012, it was sitting at $37,265. By the time that the fourth quarter of 2013 had come around, it had dropped to $36,941. That means that average Americans have less money to go shopping with than they did previously.
#2 In January, real disposable income in the U.S. experienced the largest year over year decline that we have seen since 1974.
#3 As disposable income decreases, major retailers are closing thousands of stores all over the country. Some are even calling this "a retail apocalypse".
#4 From September 2013 to January 2014, the personal saving rate in the United States dropped by a staggering 16 percent.
#5 During the fourth quarter of 2013, we witnessed the largest increase in consumer debt in this country that we have seen since 2007.
#6 Fewer Americans are applying for mortgages these days. In fact, the MBA Purchase Applications Index is now the lowest that it has beensince 1995.
#7 Overall, the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallenfor eight years in a row.