In a disturbing (but unsurprising) trend, more than 1 out of 4 US consumers are throwing in the towel with defeatist “Doom Spending” sprees — despite already being saddled with crippling levels of debt. This behavior is akin to someone who, feeling overwhelmed, indulges excessively in a habit they know isn’t beneficial. In a similar vein, these Americans, perhaps feeling a sense of despair, are accumulating unprecedented levels of new debt through spending sprees that are beyond their financial means.
Peter Schiff recently appeared on Real America with Dan Ball to talk about the state of the US economy. He described it as a disaster and said Bidenomics consists of putting lipstick on a pig.
Holiday shoppers plan on cutting back on spending and piling on even more debt this year, and nearly a quarter of Americans still haven’t paid off their debt from last year’s holiday spending spree.
These were just a few revelations in a recent WalletHub survey that indicates American consumers aren’t quite as “resilient” as pundits and government people would have you believe.
Americans are worried about a looming credit crunch. That’s a big problem for an economy that runs on credit cards.
One of the reasons for economic optimism you’ll hear bandied about out there in the mainstream is “the American consumer is strong” and consumer spending is “holding up” despite price inflation. But nobody seems to ask an important question: how have Americans been able to continue spending?
One of the reasons Americans were able to continue spending even as price inflation raged was they saved a lot of money during the pandemic lockdowns. But those savings are nearly depleted, according to a study released by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
Aggregate savings peaked at $2.1 trillion in August 2021. As of June, the San Francisco Fed estimated that aggregate savings had dropped to $190 billion.
Americans continued to run up credit card debt in May, but borrowing for big-ticket items tanked. This could indicate that cash-strapped, over-leveraged consumers are reaching the end of the rope.
American consumers borrowed another $7.2 billion in May, increasing total consumer debt to a record $4.865 trillion, according to the latest data released by the Federal Reserve.
Credit card debt continues to spiral higher as consumers struggle with rising prices and depleted savings.
In August, revolving credit increased by a staggering 18.1% as total consumer debt surged to a record $4.68 trillion, according to the latest consumer credit data from the Federal Reserve.
Personal income from all sources adjusted for inflation — real income — fell for the second straight month in June and was down 1% on the year. But American consumers continue to spend. How can this be?
They’re running up debt at a dizzying pace.
This undercuts the narrative claiming the American consumer is “healthy.”
Americans are feeling the pinch of inflation. Wages are up but consumers are worse off. Average hourly earnings have risen by 5.5% over the last year. But factoring in rising costs, real earnings are down 2.6%. So, how are Americans making ends meet?
They’re charging it.
As we reported last week, consumer debt continues to break records month after month. Americans owe over $4.3 trillion dollars in revolving debt (primarily credit cards), student loans and auto loans. When you factor in mortgages, the number climbs to $13.54 trillion. That figure was $869 billion higher than the previous peak of $12.68 trillion in the third quarter of 2008 (right before the crash) and 21.4% above the post-financial-crisis trough reached in the second quarter of 2013.
But many mainstream analysts downplay this surge in debt. And on the surface, the numbers do seem to indicate the risk isn’t as big as it was prior to the 2008 financial crisis. But as Wolf Richter explains, the averages conceal a different reality.