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IPFS News Link • Economy - Economics USA

David Stockman on Why the Excess "Savings" Ice Cube Is Coming Out of Cold Storage

•, by David Stockman

The allegedly resilient US economy, which is purportedly defying the Fed's interest raising campaign, isn't nearly what it's cracked up to be.

There was a hint of this in Walmart's Q4 earnings announcement yesterday in which it noted a "choiceful consumer" was spending less per trip and curtailing outlays for discretionary items in favor of low-cost necessities. And that admission was more than evident in the steady deflation of its USA comp store sales trend.

The figures in the chart are in nominal dollars, which declined by more than 50% between Q4 2023 (+8.3%) and Q4 2024 (+4.0%). Admittedly, inflation has been coming down too, as reflected in our trusty 16% trimmed mean CPI. The latter posted at +6.6% on a Y/Y basis in Q4 2023 and +3.8% in Q4 2024.

Still, the math says constant dollar sales have slipped even more than the reported nominal figures. The inflation-adjusted Y/Y gain in Q4 2023 was +1.7% compared to just +0.2% in the period just ended (Q4 2024).

Both figures are on the punk side, but there is "no way, no how" that the core main street consumer, who is a Walmart shopper by necessity, is in the pink of health as the stock peddlers of Wall Street and the "Joe Biden" puppeteers of the White House would have you believe.

Moreover, for want of doubt it should be noted that these marginal real sales gains were not due to the mighty Walmart loosing market share, either. The company reported that its surging eCommerce sales passed the $100 billion mark last year and that consequently Walmart "is gaining share in nearly every category", according to CFO John Rainey.