We’re told we’re on the road to economic recovery. The $1.9 trillion stimulus is all we need to get us over the hump. But the truth is, Americans started spending like they were over the hump months ago. In fact, American consumers high on stimulus have been on a spending spree since last summer. The Federal Reserve printed money. Uncle Sam handed it out. American consumers spent it on imported goods.
This isn’t the formula for a genuine economy. It’s the formula for a giant bubble.
America’s economy is built on consumption. Average Americans have been pushing the US economy along, spending money they don’t have. But as we’ve reported, there are signals that the credit cards might be close to maxed out. Now there appears to be another warning sign – the wealthy are reining in their spending.
Americans continue to drive the economy along spending money they don’t have. Consumer debt increased yet again in July, setting another record, according to the latest data released by the Federal Reserve.
Total consumer debt surged $23.4 billion in July, driven by a huge jump in credit card balances. The big rise in consumer indebtedness took analysts by surprise. Bloomberg said the increase “exceeded all estimates” in a survey of economists. Overall, consumer debt increased by an annual rate of 6.8% after a 4% increase the previous month.
Gold has had a pretty solid month, but silver has been going up like it’s on rocket fuel.
In this episode of the Friday Gold Wrap, host Mike Maharrey takes a close look at the silver market and what’s going on there. He talks a little trade war, saying that maybe we shouldn’t be talking so much about the trade war. And he also touches on some economic news that came out the week.
Earlier this week, Spencer Schiff wrote an article noting the importance of consumer spending to the US economy and the consequences that will follow if Americans suddenly tighten up their wallets. Schiff isn’t alone in his concern. A mainstream economist sounded a similar warning during a recent CNBC interview.
Climbing interest rates are putting the squeeze on the mortgage refi market. Applications to refinance home mortgages fell 5% last week, dropping to an 18-year low.
According to CNBC, mortgage application volume was nearly 27% lower than a year ago when rates were lower. The refinance share of total mortgage application volume fell to its lowest level since August 2008, at just 35.3%.
As Peter Schiff pointed out in a recent podcast, this is a bad sign for the broader economy. With rising rates, US consumers will no longer have the option of using their house as an ATM.
Expectations that the Fed will continue and perhaps even quicken the pace of interest rates hikes have created headwinds for gold. But there another side to the rising interest rate phenomenon that a lot of people in the mainstream seem to be missing. According to a recent Bloomberg report, the prospect of a higher interest rate environment is feeding signs of financial stress among debt-laden consumers.
This doesn’t bode well for the US economy and could spur safe-haven demand for gold.
Americans are spending money, but it appears they are dipping into their savings to do it.
According to data released by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, savings last month fell to a level not seen since 2007. The 3.1% rate in September was the lowest since it dipped to 3.0% in December 2007.
In his most recent podcast, Peter Schiff reminded us of what was going on in late 2007.