After Huge Spike in Prior Month, “Real” Spending by Americans Dips to Second Highest Ever. But Income Walloped by Inflation

Spending shifts slowly back to services. But spending on goods still massively above trend, despite supply shortages.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

What happened is that income growth has been getting eaten up by inflation for months, but inflation-adjusted spending jumped by a huge and upwardly revised amount in January from December (+2.1%), and then dipped a little in February from that record (-0.4%), but was still the second highest ever, and up by a huge 6.9%, adjusted for inflation, from a year ago.

Inflation is a massive problem and is eating up the substantial growth in income. But for now, consumers are still making heroic efforts to out-spend inflation, with many of them spending money they’d extracted from their homes through cash-out refis, brokerage accounts, and from other assets they could leverage, and from running up their credit card balances.

Spending shifting back from durable goods to services, gradually.

The long-awaited shift from pandemic-crazed spending on durable goods to services is now taking place. Services include lodging, air fares, rental cars, insurance, healthcare, repairs, haircuts, sports and entertainment venues, rents, etc. During the pandemic, spending on services collapsed.

Adjusted for inflation, spending on services in February rose by 0.6% from January and by 7.4% from a year ago, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis today. But it still remains way below the long-term trend (green line) and was down by 0.3% from February 2020, and still accounted for only 61.2% of total consumer spending, down from 64.3% pre-Covid.

Spending on durable goods continues to be handicapped by large-scale supply issues, particularly with new vehicles, where global production continues to get hit by semiconductor shortages. Spending on motor vehicles is by far the largest category of durable goods spending. But demand exceeds supply by a wide margin as dealers have been desperately low on inventories since early 2021. Consumers, frustrated by nearly empty lots, have switched to ordering new vehicles, and then are waiting patiently.

New vehicle supply at dealers should be about 60 days. In 2019, it was 90 days, which was a sign of too much inventory. Last year, supply collapsed below the 30-day line, and in February was still only at 34 days. Consumers cannot spend money on stuff they cannot get:

Durable goods inflation, given the blistering overstimulated demand that triggered the shortages, has been gigantic. The durable goods CPI spiked by 18.7% in February, by far the highest in the monthly CPI data going back to the 1950s.

Adjusted for inflation, “real” spending on durable goods fell by 2.5% in February from January, but was still up by 5.2% from a year ago, and up by a blistering 23.0% from two years ago. Americans are still spending a gigantic amount on durable goods, and this spending remains way above trend (green line), and shortages keep them from spending even more:

“Real” spending on nondurable goods – mostly food, beverages, household supplies, and energy – had spiked during the pandemic in part because spending shifted from the office (paid for by companies and not part of consumer spending) to the home, as more people were working from home.

“Real” spending on nondurable goods fell 1.9% in February from January, but was still up 6.4% from a year ago and by 11.8% from two years ago, and remains way above trend. All this is adjusted for inflation, and inflation has been huge in nondurable goods, with the nondurable goods CPI reaching 10.7% in February.

Incomes fail to keep up with inflation.

“Real” personal income without transfer payments – income from wages, salaries, rents, farms, businesses, etc., but not from government transfer payments, such as stimulus, unemployment, welfare, Social Security, etc. – edged up by just 0.1% in February from January, and was up just 1.0% from February two years ago. It peaked in October and November last year and has since declined by 2.3% and remains substantially below trend, as inflation is starting to eat everyone’s lunch:

Per-capita “real” disposable income gives a broader picture. This is income from all sources combined, including income from wages, salaries, rents, farms, businesses, and transfer payments, minus income-based taxes, and then adjusted for inflation, and then figured on a per-capita basis.

This per-capita “real” disposable income declined by 0.2% in February from January, the seventh month in a row of month-to-month declines, down 1.9% from a year ago, and at the lowest level since March 2020, and heading further below pre-pandemic trend:

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  172 comments for “After Huge Spike in Prior Month, “Real” Spending by Americans Dips to Second Highest Ever. But Income Walloped by Inflation

  1. cas127 says:

    “income growth has been getting eaten up by inflation for months, but inflation-adjusted spending jumped by a huge and upwardly revised amount in January from December (+2.1%)”

    If spending was up that much net of inflation, how much did nominal spending go up?

    And thus can a deterioration in the ntl standard of living be made to look like an advance…especially when run through the traditional MSM nozzles (CNN+ for life!!! Now half off!!!)

    • Wolf Richter says:

      From December to January, nominal spending (not adjusted for inflation) was up 2.7%.

      PCE inflation (which is used to adjust consumer spending) was up 0.6% over the same period.

      • Harry Houndstooth says:

        You probably want to own some SQQQ
        looks like the peak of the dead cat bounce

        PCE inflation (apparently the Fed’s preferred) is going up.

        Uncle Joe might have bought himself a second term for calling for Putin’s removal. He might ride on Zelenskyy’s coat tails.

        Trump’s calling Putin a genius might ensure his Republicans fail.

        The Russians rockets are hitting Dnipro and surrounding areas. In a small village between Karkiv and Dnipro my wife’s mother, siblings and family are hiding in a root cellar. Her best friend friend from high school in the village is not afraid of dying, she goes to sleep with clothes on in case she is killed in her sleep, and she sleeps well.
        What is most afraid of is Russian occupation. The women in Mariupol are being raped to death.

        • Marcus Aurelius says:

          Inflation will go up, but, again, it will be temporary.

          The FED spoke the truth. 2% was temporary. The present 7.9 % (notice how they avoided “8%”) is also temporary.

          Even when we get to 15%, rest assured, it too is temporary.

        • cas127 says:

          “He might ride on Zelenskyy’s coat tails.”

          The US should fire its 900 or so Lear Jet Generals (see Afghanistan and Iraq Redux) and hire Ukranian military leadership once they are done with Russia.

          (Only half kidding…or less).

          The only high ranking US officer who lost his job due to the 20 yr Bungle in the Jungle (er, Desert) was the one officer who publicly pointed out that no high ranking officers ever lost their jobs.

          Meanwhile, the Russians hold their Generals to a standard where 7 of them have been killed on the front lines in a month.

          I don’t think a single US General (out of 900 annually) got a paper cut over 20 years in 2 wars.

  2. Ervin says:

    Into which category do RMD withdrawals fall?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Into none. They’re not part of this. Withdrawals of any kind, whether RMD or from savings or from whatever are not part of the income data here. The income tracked here is from wages, salaries, rents, farms, businesses, transfer payments, interest income, dividend income, etc.

      • cb says:

        I am surprised RMD’s aren’t counted. They are income. They are taxable. They are just deferred, previously untaxed income.

        Wondering if the money that was contributed to the accounts counted as income when contributed.

  3. The Colorado Kid says:

    Yeah, I spent a lot recently on a nice tent and gear to go live in the wilds because I’m tired of paying rent. My stats help with the curve but don’t tell the real story.

    • Gen Z says:

      A YouTuber got evicted from the land by armed thugs in Canada, alleging that he was squatting on Crown land; land that is actually Native American territory.

      Go back and pay rent to enrich Adam Vaughan’s political friends!

    • MiTurn says:

      “tent and gear to go live in the wilds”

      Colorado Kid, I live in the mountains of North Idaho. On one of the federal forest access roads I use (to get firewood) has a guy in an Audi TT (!) camping out. He parks about a mile up the road to not be disturbed.

      Camping out here is a common phenomenon, but normally associated with beaters not nice German cars.

      • Anthony A. says:

        Audi TT is kind of small to camp, or even sleep, in. Cars were kind of hard to get during the pandemic though.

        • Lone Coyote says:

          I have a pretty old Subaru hatchback, I’ve slept in it with the back seats folded down and it wasn’t ideal but it was doable. The TT looks smaller than my car, so I can’t imagine it would be fun especially if you’re remotely tall (unlike me).

        • Anthony A. says:

          Lone, the TT is a small two seater. No back seats.

  4. phleep says:

    Wow, these folks seem to be getting into precarious-land. I’m still “locked down,” scrimping and saving and investing like crazy to brace for the next shoe to drop. I’ve been gaining in every sense, but it has been uphill every inch.

    • Harrold says:

      Nobody seems to be explaining this disconnect. The stats say the economy is roaring. Consumer spending is way up and 11 million jobs are on offer. But comments on blogs like this seem to universally pessimistic. What gives?

      I’ll take a guess. Gov’t deficit spending. What is it now, $1.5 trillion a year? That is on top of the trillions spent in stimulus programs going all the way back to 2009. Let’s call it $2 trillion a year, which is 10% of the economy. Borrowed and mostly printed in unbacked paper!

      So, roughly 10% of the economy is jobs and spending that wouldn’t exist if not for inflationary fiscal and monetary policy. And I’ll bet if I really dug in it’s a lot more. Especially if state and local borrowing is added. Balance budgets and AT LEAST 10% of the economy just disappears. But also so would inflation and asset bubbles.

      • COWG says:

        Harrold,

        I think a lot of the pessimistic comments are basically a result of the feelings you expressed…

        Basically, I’m the same as you… where is all this money coming from…

        The only thing I can think of is we’re getting a lesson in how much 5 trillion really is and how long it takes to work its way through the system…

        • Jake W says:

          what we’re basically doing is spending all of the political and economic capital america spent a century building up. that’s the reason we can borrow and print as much as we have without causing a collapse, at least right away.

          but the fact that we have more runway doesn’t mean we have unlimited runway. that’s why so many of us are pessimistic.

      • Hal says:

        Harrold,

        “But comments on blogs like this seem to universally pessimistic. What gives?”

        My guess is that while many folks are feeling “rich” due to asset bubbles, most of the folks reading this blog want to build or preserve wealth, and that is really difficult in this environment. Purchasing overpriced equities or RE or tulips is quite risky but cash gets killed by inflation. So, what are we left with? Pessimism.

        • Bob Prechter would say this is part of the collective mindset and its cyclical. (Socionomics). I disagree with him that people buy stocks when they are feeling optimistic. When the rent is due and you have only half of it the only choice is to double down at the casino. Inflation reflects a surge in optimism. The labor market is historically tight, workers have choices. No rise in foreclosures or bankruptcies, the housing bubble is expanding. The nation has been in a funk since 9/11. Pessimism is programmed into our brains, and that will take some time to work through. The Cal Indian tribes are complaining about the internet sports books, which has nothing to do with their business. When you have the rent and a good job the casino is a second thought. Not everybody is there yet, they will be.

        • LK says:

          The nation has been in a funk since Vietnam, with the Cocaine 80s, Acid 90s, Meth 00’s, and Weed/Opiod 10’s keeping us distracted from that funk and keep noses to the grindstone without asking who we are and what we’re about.

      • Old School says:

        As Hussman says a government deficit is someone’s surplus (think Tesla or Pfizer or Boeing). Long-term it depends on is the government deficit spending being able to generate the income to pay the debt service with some left over.

    • Marcus Aurelius says:

      One doesn’t choose the “Time”.

      The “Time” chooses you.

  5. Matthew Scott says:

    How much of this is the “better off” spending like crazy while the masses cut back in the face of falling real wages?

    • Twinkytwonk says:

      Here in the UK we are going to have increases in electricity 40% and gas 80% over the weekend. The whole country has gone mad trying to submit their meter readings before the increases come into force. This has crashed the system.

      On top of petrol and groceries the poorest in society are getting destroyed by the transitionary inflation

      • Gen Z says:

        There is also rent, and also the neo-liberal shoebox living lifestyle where the condo fees are like paying another rent to the Board of feudal directors these days.

        Here in Canada, a minimum wage worker works for C$2,000 a month net of taxes, yet rent for a 1-bedroom anywhere is at least C$1,800. America is also following that route of rent serfdom.

        • Anon1970 says:

          You probably should have said “Here in Toronto” . I did a quick google search for Regina, Saskatchewan and there are plenty of modern apartments available there for under C$1,000 per month e.g. 2br 1 bath at C$951.

    • RH says:

      The Bilderbergs better meet ASAP before the hoi polloi start building their guillotines. Their man, Manchin, is the only one standing up admittedly with their other servants, to save them from having to pay US taxes.

      • roddy6667 says:

        At some the Great Unwashed will get tired of being told to eat cake.

        • RedRaider says:

          Don’t exaggerate. You’re not being told to eat cake; you’re being told to eat bugs!

        • Marcus Aurelius says:

          Let them eat Twinkies.

        • Old Ghost says:

          “Don’t exaggerate. You’re not being told to eat cake; you’re being told to eat bugs!”

          People in the state where I was born used to be called the “bugeaters”.

          Now they call themselves “The Cornhuskers”.

          I guess what goes around comes around.

        • NBay says:

          Ghost-
          We were caught in a gnat swarm at a roadside rest on 80 in Nebraska, and believe me, I ate and inhaled bugs….the swarm was so big and so thick it was unreal.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Matt’s right. The economy is great if you own a house and a good job in a hot field where you can negotiate salary increases. Otherwise it sucks because groceries, gas and rent increases are eating your paycheck.

      So for most folks, it’s going to be “bi-flation” soon:

      Biflation is “Inflation in the things people need, and Deflation in the things people want but can no longer afford.”

      • Old School says:

        There is a giant house being constructed near me. It is on a multi acre lot in best location in town. Probably 7500 sq ft. Is it being built by doctor or lawyer?. No it’s being built by owner of mom and pop financial adviser firm.

        When you skim 1% of assets off your clients Fed policy has been your friend since 2009. I bet most clients think he is smart and made them a lot of money.

  6. phleep says:

    The last (post-2008) recovery was very slow in spending and employment recovery. This one has jobs on offer (for now), but different problems.

    I’ll bet the cry for bailouts will come fast and hard if things slow down. “I have no money, I spent heroically!” cries the grasshopper.

    • sunny129 says:

      Considering the humongous DEBTs, private & Public all over the world, along with leverage-bets, the GFC will look like a walk in the park!

      The inflation remains ‘sticky’ and not transient! FED is cornered by their own karma!

      • phleep says:

        In the GFC, I didn’t miss a minute of sleep, and I am more ready now. It was an evolution accelerant. I and the radioactive cockroaches will be dancing ’till dawn and playing fiddle! (This 4:00 a.m. I was up, weighted, on steep trails.)

        I see regular consumers and feel almost like a different species. I don’t stream, I don’t FB, I don’t drink, I detest pop music and fashion, I don’t run around leashed to a locator beacon. Get pure and strong, I say. A walk in the park, indeed, bring it!

  7. unamused says:

    The Plague was clearly very disruptive, and yet, not disruptive enough to crash the financial markets or the economy. Which just goes to show that even severe disruptions can be papered over if you can get run up enough debt.

    So far. Rolling over that debt is going to be a problem. Any guesses as to how much road is left to kick the can down?

    I myself never guess. Instead, I make estimates.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      To the extent it was done, the decision to close down parts of the economy was a political one.

      I still expect this financial house of cards to come crashing down at some point, but if it had happened in March 2020, it would have been self-inflicted.

      • unamused says:

        “the decision to close down parts of the economy was a political one.”

        Right. Nearly a million deaths, tens of millions of hospitalizations, and millions of permanent disabilities had nothing to do with it.

        • phillip jeffreys says:

          Irrelevant and evasive.

          The issue isn’t responding: it is the whether the correct responses wee adopted on the base of a comprehensive risk analysis.

          Tik Tok.

        • Lk says:

          Because if the administration tasked with responding to the pandemic was known for anything, it was quality comprehensive risk analysis.

          To be fair, any public health action would be a political action.

        • Jake W says:

          please can the histrionics.

        • Hal says:

          unamused – here’s why it was political: Walmart was open. Mom and Pop were shut down.

        • Marcus Aurelius says:

          That is why I followed the “Science”.

          The Political Science.

        • NBay says:

          So how does bleach taste, MA?

        • Happy1 says:

          The initial closure was clearly the correct decision, as were other public policies with regard to vaccine development and many mandates limiting public indoor gatherings during the various peak periods of the pandemic.

          But there were many aspects of government closures and mandates that were clearly motivated by factors related to political factors and favored classes that had little to do with science.

          A full year of no public schooling in CA and NY is one such shameful and extremely harmful example. There was no data to support this, and clear recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggesting long-term educational and mental health harm from elementary school closures which outweighed any pandemic related concerns, particularly in the elementary school setting. The elites continued their private school for their own children and abandoned the poor. The teachers unions were accommodated at the expense of poor families and their children.

      • OutsideTheBox says:

        AF

        Amusing how the world refuses to live up to your expectations, no ?

        You ole Calvinist rascal !

    • sunny129 says:

      unamused

      ‘Rolling over that debt’ was easy under ZRP or NIRP but NOT rising rate environment, coming ahead!
      Will there be enough ‘revenue’ or free cash flow to service that debt?

    • Brent says:

      =Any guesses as to how much road is left to kick the can down ?=

      Well,it was a VERY long road.I still remember Ronnie Reagan $150B budget deficits which were proclaimed unsustainable 40 f… years ago.

      As to predicting anything it is completely meaningless.Take the cheapest kaleidoscope sold at Amazon for $9.99. Cardboard tube,2 small mirrors and 20 colored glass shards-but even the most powerful computer can’t predict the next view.

      Anyway,no harm in trying.Tomorrow stock market will shrug off all worries real or imagined and starts soaring.

      • John H. says:

        Brent-
        You said “no harm in trying,” concerning predicting the future. True enough for individuals.

        Not so true for public institutions though. When the Fed PhD’s make their (frequently wrong) predictions, and then craft interest rate policies, then there is MUCH harm.

        Interest rate “setting” is best left to free markets, rather than governmental units.

        • Brent says:

          John;

          One guy is 2 steps ahead of you 😀

          Richard Bookstaber (formerly risk manager at Morgan Stanley & Solomon Brothers) wrote quite interesting book:

          “The End of Theory: Financial Crises, the Failure of Economics, and the Sweep of Human Interaction”

          He proposed, among other things, to chuck Fed models and create the new,agent-based models.

          Then look in utter amazement at how Economic & Financial Agents interact on computer screen.

          F… them all.I am waiting for Amazon to deliver my kaleidoscope.Based on my childhood experiences it is much much more fun to watch than meaningless meanderings of DJIA or S&P.

        • John H. says:

          I have a slightly higher end kaleidoscope as wedding present, and still prize it. It has a glass globe at one end, so whatever you view is reflected and angled off into infinite directions.

          Viewing Wolfs charts is endless fun and offers countless conclusions!!

        • NBay says:

          Brent,
          Two excellent posts….guess that means I agree with them……

    • NBay says:

      I’m still on the “original unamused” problem.
      He never would have blurted out that first paragraph.
      So you are back to a 2% or less chance of being him.
      Why don’t you just tell us the truth and end this mystery?
      Most of your stuff IS pretty good, anyway…….
      Yes I read the articles and carefully…..I always do…….and usually avoid the front like the plague…..no pun intended…..

      • VintageVNvet says:

        agree nb,,, said so after the first few comments from this latest dude or dudette claiming the ”handle” of Una
        asked Wolf to let us know, but no response from him, so far???
        seemed fairly clear when the original Una stopped that he or she was done,,,
        ( that might just be some ”projection” from an old guy probably not to far away from that last bucket kick, so definitely NOT anything to hang your hat on…)

        • Wolf Richter says:

          I verify: original unamused = current unamused. Same email.

        • unamused says:

          I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.

          Won’t be quoting Byron today, thanks.

        • NBay says:

          Thank you Wolf.

          A slight style change and getting back up to speed.

          Glad to have you back, you are not only a commenter but an institution here.

        • NBay says:

          Una-
          BTW, “the can” is now nothing but tiny pieces and dust, so a leaf blower has been in use since you took your sabbatical.

        • NBay says:

          I just hit the 3/4 century mark….senility gets nobody off the hook….but I wish more people would explain more of their backgrounds and status. Like learning we had a guy here with $20M was a shocker….I never thought this blog would appeal to that kind of person……maybe a Lotto winner……

        • Wolf Richter says:

          NBay,

          Happy birthday!

          You have to differentiate between the commenters (only about 100-200 active) and the readers. A large number of articles here are read 15,000 – 100,000 times. But the percentages of readers who comment is minuscule. I know from the contacts I have that many financial industry insiders use this site as free research. Quite a few donate (thank you!).

          When you look at the commenters, from what they say, there are many retired folks among them. And that makes sense because retired people tend to have more time to comment than people who are busy working all day.

        • NBay says:

          To be clear (I gotta start using names) that was for VVV…who must be 64-65 or so….I was 67-68 and even though it’s only a few years, the term “vintage” DOES apply…..a lot more kids.

    • Marcus Aurelius says:

      The “Plague” did crash the financial markets, but it was delayed and “avoided” by the Multi-Trillion creation of credit.

      Today, we use counterfeit “money”. If we were on the Gold Standard, this could not be done and the truth would be most obvious.

      There are a few flaws with the Gold Standard, but just about none of the games being played, since 1913, cold be played if we were on the Gold Standard rather than the Board of Governors Standard.

      • NBay says:

        MA,

        I recall reading about using a copper standard, (suggested maybe 150 or so years ago?)

        It makes more sense, but there would be a storage problem, especially with our ridiculous inequality due to free running and out of control CLASS WARFARE. Which I know doesn’t bother you much at all.

        ENERGY is the REAL money, everything else is just a derivative….although water and air are sadly catching up. Sunlight futures are still just fine.

  8. Gen Z says:

    The real inflating is where 300 sq foot micro studio condos are being advertised for more than C$400,000 in a faraway suburb of Toronto, with condo fees that start from C$500 a month.

    Maybe I should cut back on my ramen noodels.

    • unamused says:

      “Maybe I should cut back on my ramen noodels.”

      Maybe switch from the premium cat food to a generic brand.

      • Dan Romig says:

        Hey man, cat food is hard to find these days.

        My male Seal Point Siamese roommate turns 19 years-old in a couple weeks. Cub Foods and Target are both down on stock of canned 3 oz wet cat food, and have been for weeks.

        He’s glad it’s spring too.

        • LK says:

          Chewy has offered me great service for pet supplies. There, I paid them back for giving me extra cat food for free.

      • Gen Z says:

        Cat food is already being horded by the low-income retirees. I got to pull myself up by the bootstraps and search for roadkill in the middle of the Highway 401 and one day I will own a home like Adam Vaughan’s generation.

    • goomee says:

      The price of beer is hitting me hard. Modelo Negra @ $20 a 12 pack? I need to get the thermostat down to 65 degrees.

      • Flea says:

        My thermostat has been at 64 degrees my whole lifetime

      • Seen it all before, Bob says:

        Saves on refrigeration costs also. If you set the thermostat to 38 and put a Wolf Street Mug in the freezer, that would be ideal for Modelo.

        • Hal says:

          If the $20 for beer is a squeeze, how the heck is he gonna raise $3,600 for the mug? Prolly be $5,600 tomorrow.

        • LK says:

          Yeah ever since Wolf switched to an NFT model, it’s been get a mug for beer drinking. People keep buying them as investment vehicles.

          And this new Wolf$treet cryptocurrency, and the minting of algo-generated economic charts? Don’t get me started.

        • LK says:

          * been get > been tough getting

    • Anon1970 says:

      Maybe you should consider moving to a less expensive area.

    • Nathan Dumbrowski says:

      The $500 USD/CA condo costs are part of living in a community who manages the cost of all the services in bulk versus individually. Just like a home owner the costs are surging to record levels for every service. The pool maintenance, landscaping, insurance, building maintenance, garbage, HOA company, utilities etc… I was on the board at my HOA. The fees are not a profit and the board members serves for free. I dislike the costs as much as everybody but the blame isn’t solely on greed.

    • Depth Charge says:

      “Maybe I should cut back on my ramen noodels.”

      Start eating central bankers instead.

  9. Hal says:

    Real disposable income is about 46k PER CAPITA? Am I reading that right? So, a family of four has 184k DI?

    Is that based on an average? Can’t be median.. what am I missing? Did I read that completely wrong?

    • Augustus Frost says:

      The median household income is about $67K to my recollection. This is pre-tax, it doesn’t include transfer payments, and it isn’t per capita either.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Hal,

      That’s in “2012 dollars” used for inflation adjustment purposes. In “current dollars,” disposable income per capita was $55,700 in 2021 (I only have annual figures, not monthly for this metric).

      Note that disposable income is after income-based taxes.

      • Hal says:

        Still confused. I always thought “disposable” meant “after paying the nut”. Or, what’s “leftover”. And, that ain’t much for most folks.

        • COWG says:

          Hal,

          Look at it this way…

          Disposable income is what’s left over after all your deductions…

          Discretionary income is after you pay the bills…

          I would suspect the 2021 number would be juiced from all the freebies, unemployment payments greater than what they were making before, etc…

          Double whammy time coming with what I suspect will be a a reduction in disposal income per capital and high inflation…

        • Hal says:

          COWG — Yes, thanks, that’s it. I was confusing “disposable” with “discretionary”. It still seems high per capita (not per household), but maybe that’s an average skewed by the 1% ???

        • Wolf Richter says:

          per capita means per person in that specific group. In this case, per person who is working.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        $55.7K ”per capita” seems way too much Wolf.
        Some way to confirm it’s per capita and not per household?
        thanks again for all your educational works

      • NBay says:

        $55,700 after taxes? Damn! I AM downsized! My take-home is now $21,613 (Pay no tax….sorry, I am one of…..”those”) and I’m doing just FINE. I was lucky enough to get into a cheap hotel style low income 500 sq ft over 55 apartment complex, though….$1258/mo. No granite counter tops here, though….paper wood veneer on cabinets, indoor-outdoor carpets, cheap linoleum, and 4″ plastic baseboard….that silverfish live in….but they don’t eat much paper, and I can test my aging reflexes by seeing if I can step on them….the little shits are fast and have a LOT of moves!
        And NO, I don’t eat cat food, just lots of Skippy on Double Fiber plus milk. (multi vit and 1000mg C…my “fruit”) Healthy as hell except for trashed back, and not an “investor”, unless CDs count.

        • NBay says:

          And I count as a (happy) “Household”.

        • NBay says:

          And my furniture is what I have had all my life, what friends in the same boat always called “Contemporary American Destitute”……haven’t found or been given a bed yet, but back is REALLY bad in the am, (or pee trips) so rolling off futon and hand over hand up wall is best way to stand up, anyway.
          And like I’ve said before, thanks to the internet I have a library Carnegie and Rockefeller would envy.
          So how about the rest of you?

  10. DR DOOM says:

    The govt has been cooking the books for so long on inflation and spending which are tightly connected it can not figure out for itself what is the reality. If something goes up 20% due to actual inflation and the Gov’t only accepts 10% of that increased something as inflation then the remaining 10% is added to increased spending. Eating marinated cardboard could replace beef scraps and hair in the “inflation basket” of goods and inflation would drop. I do not want to eat marinated cardboard or beef scraps with hair. No one would. The “basket” and all the bull-shit manipulation of the basket eventually delivers an un-usable basket.

  11. InLimbo says:

    The FED is targeting 2% inflation; but is getting 8% or so (many would say more than 8%).
    Near as I can tell, 2% was pulled out of their… air.
    Seems a target of 1/2% inflation would be better. Pulled that number out of my…air.
    Inflation seems to help very few.
    Your assets go up say 8%. So do your expenses.
    You might get a raise, after being behind due to inflation, then you’re behind beginning next month. Raises are behind the curve.
    If you bought a house and stayed in it forever, you’d be ahead.
    Most people buy three homes in their lifetime. Each home costs more.
    63% of the US pop is getting wages. They might get a raise.
    16% of the US population is over 65, Mostly retired, some retired sooner.
    The last large cost of living increase for Social Security barely covers the increased cost of quarterly Medicare payments.
    Those on fixed incomes, retired, living on savings, are being savaged.
    Those people are least able to adjust to high inflation.
    You might make more money if you are getting an inflation raise, but everything costs more.
    NOT seeing an advantage to inflation.
    Am I missing something? Don’t know why FED is targeting 2% inflation as opposed to 1/2%. Something stable.

    • phleep says:

      Per the recent book Trillion Dollar Triage, the Fed was discussing a “flexible” inflation target in late 2019 (meaning to now “average” around 2% but intentionally allowed to range ABOVE 2%). The acronym I think was FAIT (Flexible Average Inflation Target). The discussion was tabled during the quick, huge dip of March 2020, but adopted as the new regime, I think starting in August or September of that year.

      • COWG says:

        phleep,

        I think the entire program was known as Fait Accompli…

        They just couldn’t figure out something cute for the second part…

  12. THEWILLMAN says:

    I wish I could adequately express how sad it makes me that the second regular people finally get a decent break (via transfer payments) after 50 years of being sold out for the benefit of corporate profits that they turn around and spend all of their excess money on stupid shit sold by the same corporations that have been screwing them over for generations.

    • Gen Z says:

      TikTok created some millionaires during the pandemic. Buying a sub on a adult website is celebrated.

      The grifters from both sides of the political spectrum also made a profit. A fool and their money is soon parted.

      Unproductivity is rewarded while labour is punished.

      • Dan Romig says:

        I bought two subs last March. They serve me well, and I enjoying playing with them.

        Yesterday I bought three more pieces of Schiit to go with the subs. Freya +, Vidar and Modius are their names.

    • NBay says:

      Willman,
      Not nearly as sad as corporate and concentrated wealth driven PR teaching people that they should hate their OWN government….the one institution that HAD the power to reign in corporate greed…(the main source of wealth concentration into the hands of the few, as Lincoln said)…..

      Well, for about 20-30 years after the country was formed, that is.

      (Calvinism makes the problem even worse….it makes becoming rich “a calling”, in the religious sense…..damned preachers)

  13. Boomer says:

    How about those Washington State (Texas?) property taxes? Pretty tough on Seniors. Been a lot of 2x reassessments in the family. Add that to the crushing “transitory” inflation. Sorry, you can’t come back to California to your Prop 13 protection. I can deal with Navy Showers but wouldn’t want to share Fluffy’s Fancy Feast.

  14. John Apostolatos says:

    It seems actual inflation is much much higher than what the Fed admits. So all this higher spending could be due to stuff just being more expensive until savings and borrowing run out.

    Case in point, a business dinner at a top restaurant for 7 people cost a little over 1k. I was just shocked.

    • phleep says:

      The Fortune 500 corporate class people live in a different economy than I do. It is all overblown there.

    • Gen Z says:

      I have to work 3 weeks in a factory to earn the US$1,000 equivalent here in Canada. Despite being in my 20s, my back is already starting to pain me.

      • RemoteWorks says:

        > Despite being in my 20s, my back is already starting to pain me.

        The only form of wealth that really matters is health (not to be confused with bloated and low ROI US healthcare spending which should be avoided). Real health status.

        Working remotely works great when it comes to increasing quality of life, maybe you can find a way to shift in the future to remote work.

      • Hal says:

        You need a new income plan; the current one ain’t working. If you learn a skilled trade (plumbing, electrical, whatever) you will be much better off. Alternatively, if you acquire IT certifications, you can get a good job that won’t break your back (and earn good money) — no college degree required. You’re in your 20s. You can work all day and study all night. You won’t be able to do that in your later years. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is today.

  15. Lone Coyote says:

    How much of this is demand being pulled forward in expectation of higher prices? I spent a couple hundred bucks on food last weekend, mostly stocking up on non-perishable stuff in case it costs twice as much for a bag of rice by summer.

  16. Prophet says:

    “Spending shifting back from durable goods to services, gradually.”

    Portland has the highest number of tiddy bars, per capita, of all cities in the United States.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      LOL. The kinda stuff you learn here is just amazing.

      • NBay says:

        And you aren’t far from where IT ALL STARTED….Carol Doda ville.

        • NBay says:

          Went down there with another couple to watch some shows, ’70 or so, and there was this old lady who could throw them over her shoulder and they stayed! Don’t say yuck, as she had a whole comic routine worked out and was pretty damn funny. Worth seeing. Went to Sally Stamford’s, too, on that trip.

          SF has a VERY rich cultural history….many “firsts”.

    • Hal says:

      Any quality stats on that?

  17. AJ says:

    Great work but can I ask what is “BEA” you keep referring to as your source?

    • AJ says:

      Ahhh, never mind …Google to the rescue … US Bureau or economic analysis (BEA)

      Love the insights – cheers!

  18. Zark Muckerberg says:

    Things are getting back to normal and we’ll learn nothing from the past two years 😝😝😝

  19. Argus says:

    The IRS is radically short of auditors and clerks.
    This spring might be a good time for a refuse to file tax strike to protest inflation.

    First one needs to file an exemption from withholding, form W4, so you don’t have to file to get your own money back.

    • DawnsEarlyLight says:

      I hear IRS agents are down south, helping the Border Patrol. They are frisking down all the ‘visitors’, trying to keep US dollars from coming ‘back’ into the US.

    • Anon1970 says:

      The $1.5 trillion Omnibus Spending Bill recently passed by Congress included a big increase for the IRS, its largest budget increase since 2001. So they will be hiring more auditors and clerks and catching up on their processing of paper tax returns from 2021 and now 2022.

      • Depth Charge says:

        They need way more manpower to make sure all those billionaires are reporting their $600 Venmo and Zelle transactions because they’re the ones who were going to pay for everything. Oh, wait….

    • RemoteWorks says:

      > to protest inflation.

      Isn’t it better to try to benefit from it?

  20. Beardawg says:

    Stupid question here. Inflation = price is now higher for (fill in the blank). Borrowing costs do increase (agreed), but if companies can charge more for the same thing after building in a higher profit after COGS, why don’t stocks go up during inflationary times ? Is the debt load really that big of a deal?

    • Gomp says:

      Stupid answer. Yes

    • Bobber says:

      In theory, if inflation goes up, interest go up as well, so the increased profits get discounted at a higher interest rate. Stock price goes nowhere if based on PV of cash flows.

    • COWG says:

      “ but if companies can charge more for the same thing after building in a higher profit after COGS”

      Dawg,

      Consumers are very fickle…

      Companies have to be very, very careful with price increases…

      That’s why you had the CEOs on tv telling everybody they had to increase their prices but only as little as they could…

      Market share is their holy grail….

  21. OutWest says:

    Americans never seem to run out of money….I don’t get…

    • Depth Charge says:

      We are in the biggest housing bubble in the history of the world, and prices just increased over 30% in a year in some places. This is 2006 on massive steroids. And Jerome Powell’s face is all over it. What a scvmbag.

      • SoCalBeachDude says:

        Blame MANIC SPECULATORS and not the Federal Reserve for the wild and inane price increases in housing assets. That has nothing at all to do with the Federal Reserve.

        • Flea says:

          There are 8 trillion reasons housing is crazy

        • Kurtismayfield says:

          How would the manic speculation occur without the insane liquidity that we have had for decades? There is so much money sloshing around out there that it is desperately looking for yield.

          This is a total failure of Fed policy.

        • Depth Charge says:

          “That has nothing at all to do with the Federal Reserve.”

          This is embarrassingly naive.

        • LK says:

          “This has nothing at all to do with the Federal Reserve.”

          That echo y’all hear is from the thundering sound of my facepalm.

        • Happy1 says:

          Sounds like someone skipped Econ 101.

          Why do you think speculators can borrow money 7% below the rate of inflation? The bank fairy?

    • Marcus Aurelius says:

      Because we don’t use “money”.

      The US Constitution clearly defines Money as Coin. Not any paper. Coin. And, the Coin is to be made from Silver and/or Gold.

      Today, we use “notes”, “letters of credit”, etc. We don’t have ,nor use, money.

      Take a look at the “money” in your wallet. Nowhere does it say it is American Money. It is called a “Federal Reserve Note”. The word “Dollar” is meaningless as well. It is the most amazing scam ever.

      What is called “Junk Silver” is our actual money. It isn’t Junk. It is the real thing and, in my unhumble opinion, will be unavailable soon, when it is all bought up. It is getting harder and harder to find “Junk Silver”. The premium, over “spot”, is around $10.

      When you read or hear that Junk Silver is no longer available, those who have it are holding it, then, you have a 100% “clue”……. it is over.

      The collapse is going to be horrible , fast, and amazing.

      • SoCalBeachDude says:

        The US Constitutions says nothing whatsoever as to ‘money as coin’ as you falsely assert in regards to federal money of the USA and the very notion of tying money to something as silly and anachronistic and irrelevant as thingies whether that be metals, bird feathers, glass beads, beaver pelts or other thingy is beyond just plan ludicrous.

        • Brent says:

          U.S. Code Title 31— MONEY AND FINANCE

          Can be found at every library. USD is STILL defined as particular amount of Ag.

          There is an expanded version of USC called “USC Lawyers Edition Annotated” with detailed explanations and references to the Constitution.

        • SoCalBeachDude says:

          Brent, Your assertions are totally and laughably false.

        • LK says:

          Dangerous thing, toying with the legitimacy of the currency. Might be better to just go with the consensus on this one that I can pay my dollar-denominated taxes with dollars.

      • rick m says:

        Junk silver is going for 24 times face value locally, selling okay, my coin guy can’t find much replacement at his usual suppliers though, people are not bringing any in to sell. Plenty of overpriced American Silver Eagles. They’re toughest to counterfeit, and as spot rises their premiums are retreating percentage-wise. Small silver bars and rounds are selling the best. Five years ago junk was unloved at half today’s price. Still reasonable today, if you don’t have some already. There’s many things more important to have at home than precious metals, obviously. But it’s reassuring to have a kind of money that doesn’t need somebody’s permission to be valuable.

        • SoCalBeachDude says:

          The total value of all silver ever mined is worth less at current prices than less than half-of-one-percent of global assets and is a totally irrelevant asset financially.

  22. SoCalBeachDude says:

    TheTechnicalTraders: Yield Curve 101 – Steep, Flat, Inverted – What’s The Difference?

    The yield curve plots the current yield of a range of government notes and bonds in the “primary market.” The worldwide bond market – including private and government debt — currently represents about $120 trillion in outstanding obligations. The United States accounts for roughly $46 trillion (39%).

    The U.S. government finances its spending by collecting taxes and issuing debt. More specifically, the U.S. Treasury funds deficit spending by issuing debt instruments with a range of maturities.

    Treasury Bills have maturities from one month to one year.
    Treasury Notes have maturities from two to ten years.
    Very long-term debt is issued as Treasury Bonds with 20- and 30-year maturities.

    Treasury yields rise and fall depending on demand and expectations for the economy over various timeframes. Competitive bidders set yields in a “primary market” auction process with an inverse relationship between prices and yield. Note that market participants, not the U.S. Federal Reserve (a.k.a. Fed), determine these prices and yields. The Fed sets a target for a very short-term (overnight) Fed Funds Rate and a Discount Rate. Their policy of lowering or raising those rates holds significant influence but does not have direct control over the debt auctioning process.

    The yield curve is typically described as steepening, flattening, or inverting.

    A steep curve reflects expectations of higher inflation and interest rates that come with a more robust economy.

    The curve typically flattens or even inverts when Fed policy is in a tightening cycle of raising rates in the near term. That implies that investors have less confidence in the longer-term economic outlook and expect that the Fed may have to cut rates at some point in the future to stimulate the economy.

    In the past 60 years, every U.S recession has been preceded by at least a partially inverted yield curve. That delay has ranged between 6 and 36 months with an average of 22 months.

    But every yield curve inversion has not been followed by a recession. As a predictor of a recession, an inverted yield curve suggests but does not guarantee a recession.

    Remember that a recession is technically defined as two successive quarters of negative GDP growth. There can undoubtedly be economic slowdowns that are shallow and temporary that do not qualify as a full-blown recession.

    Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that an inverted yield curve is a relatively reliable predictor of an economic slowdown but not necessarily a recession.

  23. DR DOOM says:

    How’s that Coyote howling thing work with the blue boomer boner pill?.

    • kitten lopez says:

      you are so FUN, Michael Gorback. i so wish you lived HERE!

      i think many of us wimmins have a hard time getting off because we’re bred to be passive and to behave– now more than ever even with all this “now give me THAT!” feminizm, and you men are now, too, so you’ve got obligatory bureaucratic fxcking instead of howling. those of us who’re “bad” are this way because it’s a turn on to be evil or let go every once in awhile. clears the sinuses blows out the chakras pulls the zip tie on a string of multiple orgasms. sometimes all it takes is the first one to get the rest out in front of the audience.

      but no one’s having any FUN anymore. how can you with headlines like here? if i had someone howling like a coyote between my legs i’d fall on the floor so no one gets hurt falling off the edge of anything and that’d be FUN and no one would need those boring endless jackhammer blue pills within shouting distance if they were a little more coyote or even just more like regular dogs in bed.

      i can’t believe you don’t have many takers. / especially now.

      when i used to still have sex with James, missionary was my favorite (guys with strong arms are THE BEST because you can RELAX and not worry about having an orgasm fast to be polite and keep him from getting BORED) and if it was getting tedious for me, i’d play dead by making my eyes stare blankly at the ceiling, and if he pretended he didn’t NOTICE so i wouldn’t ruin his vibe/rhythm, i’d interrupt and ask, “hey! see? i’m DEAD! how you like that?” and start giggling and then he’d cover my mouth

      —and WOW! i was OFF and running and there was much happy gnashing of teeth because wrong sex seems a prerequisite for the best sex.

      (yes, mine still has her baby teeth)

      x

    • Anthony A. says:

      Michael: Asking for a friend who has an “uninterested” 76 year old wife. Where do you get the small dose Testosterone you mentioned? (Male friend needs no blue pills)

    • LK says:

      An orgasm is more art than science anyway.

  24. Flea says:

    Hey wolf good article material,why is United States selling parts of Hawaii and cacois -Turks to Canada

  25. SoCalBeachDude says:

    MARKETS CONTINUE TO SEE VERY SUBSTANTIAL DEFLATION…

    US MARKET UPDATES – 7:46 AM PDT 04/01/2022

    Dow 34,628.85 -49.50 -0.14%
    S&P 500 4,529.89 -0.52 -0.01%
    Nasdaq 14,257.21 36.69 0.26%
    GlobalDow 4,098.32 -55.08 -1.33%
    Gold 1,925.10 -28.90 -1.48%
    Oil 99.68 -0.60 -0.60%

  26. Marcus Aurelius says:

    I am close to your age.

    I have absolutely no need, nor desire, for the “Blue” pill since I have absolutely no desire for the “dates” in my age bracket.

    A bottle of Johnny Walker “Blu” Label, and a good YouTube from Joe Bloggs, iAlledgedly, or Patrick Boyle is all I need.

  27. RemoteWorks says:

    > Inflation is a massive problem and is eating up the substantial growth in income.

    In preparation for this, I managed to bring housing + transportation + healthcare down from the typical 60% of income in the US to under 15% of income.

    It’s not only protective, it generates opportunity as inflation starts to hit asset owners who didn’t prepare for this inflationary scenario.

  28. kitten lopez says:

    Wolf i have a question that i wanted to ask last week when i read chapter 5 (“This is the End of the World”: The Black Death) in Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century”—

    is all this on purpose? because for YEARS we’ve been screeching about how untenable this all is and now there’s no coming down to earth. it seemed like it was an accident of hubris or stupidity or greed.

    however in the middle ages the black plague was used as an excuse to get away with inflating away their monies, doing new wars, and as mentioned– enclosure of the commons, making them poorer.

    you don’t even need WEF conspiracies as it’s HISTORY.

    but assuming all that is true possible or likely, Wolf– how can you run the future economy on Modern Monetary theories or an all service or rentier economy???

    is this too big a question to answer? because i don’t see WHERE THIS CAN GO. or HOW.

    because there’s no “get up and go” in america anymore. it’s been bred out of us.

    even if this is about 5 americans owning everything, nothing can or will RUN.

    the past two years the only people actually outside working were delivery people, plumbers, garbage men, first responders. if even they can’t afford their own homes or have no reason…?

    i’m lost regarding any vision of where/how this is supposed to land, Wolf. what it would LOOK like because i can’t even imagine the powers turning things around so’s the populace can rent or buy or afford anything.

    please answer something relevant in one of your comforting bordered box answers because with each new day each new ridiculous news story all i see now is blood instead of options.

    x

    • VintageVNvet says:

      Wonder FULL KL,,,
      and only can hope the Wolfster has at least SOME answers to your inquiries,,,
      wish I could have some answers for you, but getting to the place of ”SO many possibilities” that there are, in fact,,, NO answers, yet…
      only thing for me at this time is to ”cultivate non attachment” as the best response to every challenge
      and those challenges keep on keeping on,,,
      SO, maybe that’s IT at least for those willing, able, and ready to understand and accept challenges

      • kitten lopez says:

        ‘wish I could have some answers for you, but getting to the place of ”SO many possibilities” that there are, in fact,,, NO answers, yet…
        only thing for me at this time is to ”cultivate non attachment” as the best response to every challenge’

        dear Vintage Viet Nam Vet–
        i told Wolf off-side to not worry about answering because it’s too big– it’s an article a book a podcast, and i’m going to start saving my questions for when he does the podcast with us. James said we’re not ready yet. / i agree.

        i like what you said about so many possibilities but no answers yet… YES! i get it. i feel similarly, but have not even begun to learn how to detach! on the contrary, i feel like i’m cleaving to this country like never before.

        how did you go off to war and not hate humanity for protesting you on your way there and forgetting you on the way back???

        that’s what i wanna know, Vintage Viet Nam vet. if i could get true real answers from veterans and service members i’d ask how you prepare to die for an ideal in a cynical world.

        this is what i mean when i say the abused or those who’ve died or had deep pain, you find god where the pampered see nothing.

        how did you or DO you go off to serve and not hate everyone???

        i’ll let you off the hook too, if you want. it’s a bit deep for this today but i’m thinking of Everything and How We Got Here and Where We’re Going.

        i see blood but i know blood is necessary for life, too.

        just thinking, Vintage Viet Nam Vet. it’s been a little while:

        thank you for your service.

        x

        • Dan Romig says:

          Fittingly, from one of my favorite albums: ‘It’s Hard’ by The Who

          “I have known no war
          And if I ever do I won’t know for sure
          Who will be fighting whom
          For the soldier’s lonely tomb
          Now opens as soon as the referee’s gun starts to roar
          I will know no war”

          Same album, different song:
          “The drinks flow
          People forget
          That big wheel spins, the hair thins
          People forget
          Forget they’re hiding
          The news slows
          People forget
          The shares crash, hopes are dashed
          People forget
          Forget they’re hiding”

          “All things considered, life is good in Minneapolis.” -DanBob

          All the best to you kitten.

        • kitten lopez says:

          thanks, Dan.
          xx

        • VintageVNvet says:

          KL, In answer to “how did you go off to war and not hate humanity for protesting you on your way there and forgetting you on the way back???

          ”that’s what i wanna know, Vintage Viet Nam vet. if i could get true real answers from veterans and service members i’d ask how you prepare to die for an ideal in a cynical world. ”

          Never any hate for humanity involved, though there were a few moments in boot camp where that was likely the emotion intended.
          Never considered the possibility of dying at all at that age, usually cited as one reason late teen folks do some of the crazy things they do. LOL
          At my age now, it seems very clear that is why military, in general, prefer to recruit young folks with no or very little consciousness of world.
          As first person of my family to be in military, I received then and still do, support/appreciation for my service, and an older cousin who served in WW2 was especially forthcoming when my GI Bill education benefits ran out before I finished CAL.
          I was in US Navy, as I had been sailing ”rag tops” since single digits, loved the ocean, and likely would have stayed in Navy except they wanted me to go to school and then be ”supply” ossifer and sail a desk because of strong glasses, which was of zero interest.
          A book recently showed up ( for 50 cents ), ”Spontaneous Happiness” by Andrew Weil, written in his early ’70s, is very helpful and does seem to have some ”general” answers.
          ”Keep on Keeping On” may be more useful than ”cultivating non-attachment” ???
          Certainly seems to be THE answer some times!!
          🥰

        • kitten lopez says:

          thank you, Vintage Viet Nam Vet.
          i didn’t think you’d answer.
          i hadn’t figured the age thing about not dying.
          i suppose it’s also one of those lessons that teaches you retroactively because i see what you all do in the servie now as a Jesus thing.

          but i’m not so sure we’re worth saving except i guess i don’t know. what else you gonna do?

          and you vets, like my pops, have this sense of honor that makes the rest of us look like cartoon characters not worth doing anything for.

          i was thinking of that Lionel Shriver piece about how most americans admit they’d turn tail and get on out of here if WE were attacked.

          thank you. for everything. for having heart.

          x

    • Wolf Richter says:

      kitten lopez,

      As you know, I’m worried about you. I’m worried about a lot of people. This world can be a very dark place. I’ve been there too. And I’m worried.

      I cannot really answer your questions. But here are some thoughts.

      “is all this on purpose?”

      That’s a religious question. For people who so believe, everything is on purpose, though humans may not always understand that purpose.

      In the everyday reality I live in, what I see are a gazillion decisions made by billions of people more or less “on purpose” every minute of every day, big and small decisions from “which apple should I buy” to “which country should I bomb.” And it all gets thrown together in this chaotic way. Humans can be truly evil and they can be truly wonderful, sometimes in the same person on different occasions, and their decisions vary just as widely.

      “the past two years the only people actually outside working were delivery people, plumbers, garbage men, first responders.”

      The past two years, my wife has been going to the office every day, as has everyone else at her office. In the US, the vast majority of people continued to work, some of them from home, but most of them by going to their work sites. No one in manufacturing, oil and gas drilling, farming, in the auto repair business, etc. worked from home. Most smaller companies, even those with office activities, never had the ability to allow people to work from home. Some of them switched to hybrid. My neighbor, who is an architect, worked at home for part of the time. But she also went to the office to work with the samples and other resources they have, and she met with clients, and with colleagues, and went to sites. They’re busier than ever (they do commercial buildings).

      Many people here on the commenting board went to work every day. The big companies that occupy much of the office space in San Francisco’s Financial District had the ability to switch to working from home. But that’s just a small part of the economy.

      Manufacturers are booming and cannot hire enough people. The US is the second largest manufacturing country in the world, behind China, and produces more than the next three countries (Japan, Germany, India) combined. Go have a look at the Tesla factory, about 30 minutes by car from your place.

      Oil-and-gas drilling is booming and cannot hire enough people. The US is the biggest producer of crude oil & petroleum products, and of natural gas in the world. Construction is booming and cannot hire enough workers. Then there’s farming – go check out the Central Valley, just 1.5 hours by car from your place. They grow nearly everything there. In the Salinas area, there are the leafy-greens growers. This is amazing stuff. Go there and have a look.

      People are working and doing stuff and creating things. And they’re making money doing it; many of them don’t make enough money doing it, but many of them make more than enough.

      Don’t let that previously unknown moron from the WEF, who became famous for one patently idiotic line, cloud your thinking and spirit.

      There are huge problems in this country. I point at a only small number of these problems on my site.

      I cannot have the world that I want, and other people wouldn’t want my world. We all just live here. But I try to contribute in the little irrelevant ways that I have access to, such as with this site. I’m not sure it’s helping, but I’m doing it. Your art and writing is the same way.

      I think it would be a good idea for you to check out other parts of San Francisco to see the beauty and the activity and the people. Go to Aquatic Park for sunset or on a sunny weekend day, and see all the people enjoying themselves. Sit down on the bleachers and do likewise! Maybe you and James can take a day or two off and drive around in the Bay Area and the ag areas further out to look at the activity everywhere. A change of scenery during dark moments is always good.

      Just to remind everyone, by Kitten (Erika) Lopez:

      • kitten lopez says:

        oh! you wrote back! i missed this until i refreshed the page!
        thanks Wolf.
        i’ve got tears streaming down my face and i haven’t even read all you wrote yet!

        streeeeeaming! and it’s okay. it’s a good cry. hardly salty because there are so many of them.

        thank you. Wolf between you and James i’ll be okay.

        x

      • kitten lopez says:

        Dear Wolf-

        i’m touched you wrote all you wrote back as busy as you are but you didn’t answer a THING! future podcast it’ll have to be.

        i’m reiterating what others have here for years: this is unsustainable as well as illogical. i feel like this is a controlled burn that’s getting out of control every time.

        so it’s not a god question about is this planned. if this is unsustainable and you’re not doing debt jubilees anymore you’re releasing pressure somewhere onto someone.

        yes you’re right about living in paradise and i’m holding on, but boarded up stores, broken glass, robberies, homelessness and filth and random fires and ..

        still $20k commercial rent minimum for a place here in the mission for our little library to relocate during retrofitting?

        it’s non sensical.

        well i’m not seeing a contented populace. / that’s an understatement.

        we live in san francisco but even here i can feel the rumblings of revolt. rage is already popping up everywhere and i’m catching new bouts from others even as i’m suddenly The Pretty One for singing on my bicycle and cheering folks up.

        i started doing that so drivers texting would see me and wouldn’t run me over.

        i say i’ll be okay because i AM. this is how it’s supposed to go, i guess. but i’ve been here on this planet about 25 years longer than i figured i’d be so this is all …extra.

        i wasn’t here ever to be comfortable.

        i’m less afraid of dying than i am of going to jail. so you won’t catch me yelling “i’m not suicidal!” over and over in any courtroom, although i might say “i’m not suicidal anymore but who’s to say about tonight…?”

        gotta be realistic.

        as for the original WEF, i still think we’d do well to have Wolf’s Economic Forum.

        i’m back to thinking about how the Jews developed trade that traveled because they couldn’t afford land or were booted out. maybe there’s all this manufacturing and work but i for one feel discarded and see others my age (gen X) discarded in our 30s and 40s.

        blah blah blah you say “tomayto” i say “tomahto”…

        but i’m an artist and my job is to undermine the current story and pitch new better stories that avoid blood and just go more towards Bartleby’s “i prefer not to.”

        instead of being homeless like Petunia alludes to for the future of the nation’s citizens sooner or later, i hope to start a parallel kinda economy speakeasy that is legal up front unhidden but as defiant as Martin Luther King Jr’s bus boycott.

        it seems impossible. but in my biggest Twilight Zone fantasies it is a philosophical approach that evolves and spreads and most importantly DEFIES.

        because i think the original STORY is in worse tatters than i realized also because of the mindset that caused the original problem not only cannot solve it, to crib Einstein, but the consciousness has deteriorated into the kind of mind that can contemplate / understand The Fed and allow it to remain fxcking all our faces like that alien thing.

        so i’m fine, dear Wolf. / i’m fighting for the kids like others fought for me. who knew i could belittle patriotism into paying it forward like dropping a found wallet into the mailbox so it happens to you later.

        thanks for taking the time to answer. i know i’ve used up my percentage of time being here. i’ll hush now. i was having fun from being done with the podcast thing. now time to go out into the sun and get tan!

        much love my dear friend-

        x

      • Jake W says:

        i assume the line you’re referring to it the “you’ll own nothing and be happy?” i haven’t been able to find any credible evidence that anyone actually said it.

        • Ryan says:

          My understanding is that it’s from a piece written by Danish politician Ida Auken. In 2016, she wrote a piece for the World Economic Forum (WEF) titled “Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better”. FWIW, Forbes ran the piece.

        • NBay says:

          This kid doesn’t know he doesn’t own anything, he doesn’t even know he is unhappy. He is just curious about the cameraman. He was curious about something else before, and will be curious about something else after the guy leaves.

          Our fragile species “made it” because we were curious, and gradually got better at sharing what we discovered over thousands of years of trial and error….knowledge driven by curiosity, not owning or having power over others……life evolved over 3 billion years of trial and error….it has no “purpose” overall, and don’t let any “leader” tell you it does, or worse, what it “wants”.

        • NBay says:

          Theology-
          The intense study of the current disposition of the diety.

  29. Took delivery on my new truck, Ford Maverick, and 40+ MPG is just in time. Been on order since last summer. My thought in buying something sight unseen (pictures only) was confidence that I would get quality relative to the price, (and actually I got more because the electronics are what changes the most). I also think the old brand wars, coke-pepsi ford-chevy, are cliches. So far very happy with my purchase. Added the maintenance plan, because who knows what repairs and maintenance will cost in five years?

    • Anthony A. says:

      Sounds nice. That’s a smart idea by Ford to make a really small, by today’s standards, truck at a reasonable price. I’ve read a few reviews on the truck and it been all good news.

  30. Jared Goodman says:

    I was wondering, do the net wealth numbers include the value of social security and Medicare?

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