Broken Record: Personal Savings Negative Again

From the BEA:


Personal income increased $38.4 billion, or 0.3 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $38.8 billion, or 0.4 percent, in August, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $10.5 billion, or 0.1 percent. In July, personal income increased $57.2 billion, or 0.5 percent, DPI increased $62.0 billion, or 0.6 percent, and PCE increased $75.9 billion, or 0.8 percent, based on revised estimates.

Personal saving — DPI less personal outlays — was a negative $45.0 billion in August, compared with a negative $70.1 billion in July. Personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income was a negative 0.5 percent in August, compared with a negative 0.7 percent in July. Negative personal saving reflects personal outlays that exceed disposable personal income. Saving from current income may be near zero or negative when outlays are financed by borrowing (including borrowing financed through credit cards or home equity loans), by selling investments or other assets, or by using savings from previous periods.

From Marketwatch:

Treasurys lose strength after core inflation taps 11-yr high

Treasury prices turned slightly lower early Friday, pushing yields up a bit, after the Commerce Department said core inflation rose to an 11-year high last month. The core personal consumption expenditure price index — the key inflation gauge followed by the Federal Reserve — has gained 2.5% in the past 12 months, the most since January 1995. The news brought back to life concerns that the Federal Reserve may have to keep raising rates. Consumer prices rose 0.2% in August, and core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy, also rose 0.2%. Personal incomes grew 0.3% as expected in August after rising 0.5% in July. Consumer spending increased 0.1% in August after rising 0.8% in July; economists expected a 0.2% rise.

This entry was posted in Economics. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Broken Record: Personal Savings Negative Again

  1. James Bednar says:

    From Reuters:

    Core inflation up 0.2 percent in August

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Core U.S. consumer prices rose 0.2 percent as expected in August, but the year-on-year rate of nonfood, nonenergy inflation rose to 2.5 percent, the highest level in more than eleven years, a Commerce Department report showed on Friday.

    It was the biggest year-on-year gain since a matching 2.5 percent climb in April 1995.

    Wage and salary income edged up 0.1 percent. The personal saving rate improved to a negative 0.5 percent, but was nevertheless the 17 consecutive negative reading in that category.

  2. James Bednar says:

    From Marketwatch:


  3. Seneca says:

    Looks like its “NJ Sucks” Day on the NJRE Report! Wow, I hope some of you plan on sticking around to work with your fellow Jerseyans to find a way out of this mess.

    Meanwhile, we don’t have the Great Depression to explain the negative savings rate like they had in the 30’s, the last time Americans had a full year of negative savings. I don’t think the huge job layoffs are just around the corner so I guess a lot of folks are going to have to pay the piper pretty soon.

    I am going to start selling mattresses so the smart folks have someplace to put their cash.

  4. James Bednar says:

    We’re hardest on the things we love.


  5. metroplexual says:


    I notice you don’t use “grim” anymore. Given up the moniker?

  6. James Bednar says:

    Only partially.

    Received a few emails telling me that I was “hiding behind it”, or something to that effect. Ironically, most of those comments came from individuals who never bothered to identify themselves using anything other than their cryptic email address (usually via an anonymous mail service like Yahoo or Gmail).


  7. Richie says:

    Grim means James Bednar in latin.


  8. BC Bob says:


    I’ll place an order for one of those.

    The fed has told us their range for acceptable cpi, core, is 1-2%. If the #’s continually come in outside this band and the fed ignores, to support housing, watch out. There will be turmoil in the markets!!!

  9. James Bednar says:

    From the Street:

    Housing Headed to the Woodshed

    “We do expect an adjustment in home prices to last several months, as we work through a buildup in the inventory of homes on the market. …This is the price correction we’ve been expecting — with sales stabilizing, we should go back to positive price growth early next year.”
    – David Lereah, economist, National Association of Realtors

    The New York Times, September 2006


    Lereah, whom I debated on CNBC’s “Town Hall Special: The Real Estate Boom,” in April 2005, is a very nice man and a capable economist. I recently had a most pleasant conversation with him at CNBC studios two months ago prior to a CNBC Survival special on housing hosted by Bill Griffeth.

    Lereah is also the author of the book Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom? Why Home Values and Other Real Estate Investment Will Climb Through The End of the Decade — And How to Profit From Them.

    Not the most timely publication, Lereah’s book was published within four months of the statistical peak in housing activity and prices in 2005. In fact, the paperback version came out in February 2006, when the down cycle was beginning to escalate.

    I am in no way trying to embarrass Lereah. I am just stating the facts and my opinions, like I try to do when I admit my (many) views and mistakes on Street Insight. Don’t think for a minute that the National Association of Realtors’ Lereah was expecting a price correction last year, as stated in this month’s New York Times interview above.

    Back in April 2005 (on the CNBC special), Lereah and the managements of Hovnavian (HOV) , Prudential Realty and LendingTree were fully convinced (you might say glib) that the housing market was destined for a long boom. They saw a new paradigm of uninterrupted, noncyclical growth. One month later, Lereah was quoted as saying, “We simply don’t have enough homes on the market to meet demand.”

    That was then, and it doesn’t pay to dwell on the past. So let’s look into the future. Unfortunately, many within the homebuilding business continue to talk their book despite clear trends that do not support their bullish view.

    Forgive my preoccupation with the housing markets, but it has had a disproportionate role in economic growth since 2000 (and maybe before). This merits a continued discussion as to the possible slope of the decline, and the nature of the inevitable recovery. The housing cycle, among other variables, is a key influence on aggregate economic activity.

    I expect a hard landing, and I have roughly quantified my expectations as to when the housing market will bottom (2009). It is folly to think that an unprecedented rise in home prices (in real and nominal terms) will be over in relatively short order. Yet this has been suggested by Lereah and others.

    Housing cycles are long, and they play out over many years. We have learned that the peaks are surprisingly high and the up cycles unexpectedly long. Unfortunately, so too are the depth and duration of the down cycles.

    Days/months inventory have only begun to rise as the glut of homes will be exacerbated by continued overbuilding, disposition of land, and the selloff of homes by flippers. And, as discussed previously, the consumer enters the current downturn in a weak position. Consumers are highly leveraged after the overconsumption binge of the last decade and after massive cashouts of home equity.

    Consider the dramatic sale of D.R. Horton (DHI) homes in the Daytona Beach market in Florida. Please note the message at the bottom of this advertisement: “Realtors Warmly Welcomed!” That’s never a good sign.

    These discounts include up to $90,000 a unit or as much as 30% (plus a free washer/dryer and refrigerator). This is not unusual: Most homebuilders have offered large price discounts and/or large incentives (vacations, car leases, reduced mortgage rates, etc.) for several months.

    For a moment, let’s suppose that you were a flipper in the Daytona Beach D.R. Horton community who owned and speculated on a few homes without the intention of moving in. You just took a 30% haircut on your inventory, not to mention carrying costs of a mortgage, real estate taxes and expenses to keep up the property (landscaping, utilities, etc.).

    And when the unit is finally sold, you have to pay a real estate agent a 6% commission. That speculator likely put up less than 20% up front (probably far less), and is now out, by my calculation about 50%. But making the situation worse is this: Who wants to buy a used home when you can get a new one like one in the advertisement above?

    The ramifications of an extended housing downturn are broad — far broader than many realize. For example, the apartment REITS, a sector I am short, argue that there has been no new construction, so supply/demand favors an escalation in rents. But just wait until speculators, unable to sell their condominiums and homes, resort to renting the units.

    Or consider the implications for building materials companies like Eagle Materials (EXP) , which warned on Tuesday. What about the sale of pickup trucks, which are often used on the construction trade? What does an extended downturn portend for carpet, gypsum, lumber and appliance manufacturers? Or for subprime and some prime lenders? And what do you suppose happens to the plethora of real estate agents and mortgage brokers? (Do they become daytraders again?)

    You get the point: The housing decline is just beginning to be felt. The fixed-income market recognizes this. But for now, equity market participants don’t. Common sense has taken a sabbatical.

    Don’t believe the housing soft-landing advocates, and do recognize the broad economic impact that a protracted downturn will have on our economy.

    The worst is yet to come.

  10. chicagofinance says:

    “metroplexual Says:
    September 29th, 2006 at 12:15 pm
    I notice you don’t use “grim” anymore. Given up the moniker? ”

    What is with this James Bednar crap?

    Stop masquerading as a person. Everyone knows you are an etherial Internet cyborg – haven’t you ever seen the Matrix and Lawnmower Man?

    Give it a rest techno-grimmy.

  11. metroplexual says:

    I knew it. He is a robot but is name is not Bednar but Bender! Hence his fondness for high proof scotch.

  12. chicagofinance says:


  13. James Bednar says:

    Is that a bottle of Johnnie Blue?


  14. metroplexual says:

    I think it is JD.

  15. metroplexual says:

    But then again it is 1000 years in the future.

Comments are closed.