Nothing to See Here, Folks. I Mean, Literally, NOTHING
Nothing to See Here, Folks. I Mean, Literally, NOTHING by David Haggith for for The Great Recession
Every couple of months, I bring us up to date on how the economy has changed, and the last couple of month have taken us predictably back into economic decline, following a summer burst of subnormal passableness that never got us out of the crater we fell into last spring.
Retail sales circled the drain like a dead bug for the third month in a row after having fully recovered from their initial COVIDcrash. Of course, sales in brick-and-mortar stores remained below their pre-covid levels all year. The odd factor in December’s plunge, however, was that online sales were down almost 6%, month on month.
New vehicle sales put the brakes on, re-establishing a steepening descent that set in on November 2017:
Consumer spending fell 0.4% in November, its first drop since the April when the Coronacrisis was about at its worst. That’s not surprising since personal incomes dropped an average of 1.1% in November, the third drop in four months as a result of various government relief programs being allowed to expire.
US industrial production still looks like we’re tunneling our way up out of deep coal shaft. It now matches up to what would have been a declining trend line for production that began in 2018, due in good part to the Trump Trade Wars.
And where did those trade wars leave us? With a Chinese trade deficit that is now the worst it has ever been! The conclusion of the trade war is that it brought a big improvement … for one nation:
For the full year, the Chinese trade surplus with the U.S. was $317 billion, 7% higher than in 2019: not exactly what Trump had in mind when he started his fight with Beijing.
The best part is that, in the final analysis, analysis shows that Chinese companies offset almost none of the US tariffs by reducing the price of their products, which means Americans paid for almost all of the tariffs (just as they did with Mexico). The repeated claim that China was paying this tax was just one more Trump lie among thousands of big lies. I noted that likelihood along the way, and now we know it turned out as I said. But, hey, “trade wars are easy … so easy, just you wait and see …” and wait and wait and wait.