Doug Short just updated his Big Four Economic Indicators report with July retail sales. Doug’s report is one of the easiest ways to get a feel for broad economic activity in the U.S. After a bit of a slowdown scare as we left 2015 and entered 2016, numbers have stabilized and even improved in the case of industrial production, which has contracted in 7 of the last 12 months. Retail sales came in flat for the month.
It is worth scrolling through the first few pages of the report where lots of graphs and grids are illustrated. For example, the data grid under the graph of all 4 data economic categories (Employment, Industrial Production, Real Sales, Real Income) shows a continued choppy environment. The biggest issue lies at the feet of industrial production so it was nice to see some improvement their but it remains well off of recent highs.
Overall, the U.S. economic picture continues to produce slow growth and low inflation. On the inflation note, individuals experience different impacts from price increases from different goods and services depending on their current expenditures which is very evident in the breakdown of inflation in this article by Jill Mislinski.
One of the few pillars of economic activity that continues to provide hope for the future is residential real estate activity but it is starting to look like housing permits peaked at the end of 2015. This could be an important development to keep an eye on. Jill Mislinski provides more detail in this short report.
As we move into Q3 not much has changed in U.S. economic activity. As long as real estate markets remain healthy we should be able to maintain the path we are currently on.