DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE
Because frankly, I don't really know what to make of these two "facts": On Tuesday, American Free Press reported that US Consumer Confidence slumped to a "year low" in August. "American cosmumers," the piece informed us, were "worried about sky-high energy prices, rising interest rates and lackluster jobs growth."
But then, this morning, I read from the "AP Economics Writer," that "consumer spending jumped in July," on the strength of the so-called "back-to-school shopping season" which "offer[ed] hope that the current economic slowdown may be less severe than some had feared."
Ok, so one story spoke of July, the other of August, right? Sounds odd, in that you'd think the month that lies closer to the return to school would see the increase in "back-to-school shopping." But this doesn't quite rise to the level of "fishy." But . . . the AP piece goes on to say that:
"A separate report indicated that consumers continued spending in August with the nation's big chain stores showing solid gains during the all-important back-to-school shopping period despite high energy prices and a cooling housing market."So, piecing together these two tales, we can conclude that Americans spent like meth-addled teenagers with daddy's over-extended credit card in July, proving that fears about energy prices and housing declines were so much Chicken Little worrying. This spending continued unabated into August despite high energy prices and the cooling real estate market. And, while the American consumer continued to spend and spend and spend, he "worried about sky-high energy prices, rising interest rates and lackluster jobs growth."
Schizophrenia? Misplaced faith? False data? Abject lies? Rank stupidity? Power of propaganda?
Is this a story of American consumer debt? Of the failure of The Press? Of an economic disaster lurking around the corner? Of a government peddling deliberately contradictory information? Of the chickens of a flawed education system coming home to roost?
What can we make of this?