The fascinating chart above from Dave Rosenberg at Gluskin Sieff confirms the blog’s fears above the impact of today’s high oil prices on US consumer spending.
It shows that consumers in the world’s wealthiest econony have very low expectations for their real income. These are now at the 4th lowest level since the survey began. And all 3 previous troughs – in 1979-80, 1990, and 2008, coincided with spikes in the oil price. Today’s low expectations fit this trend.
Consumers have no real choice about their spend on gasoline and energy bills. And its only after these have been paid, that they decide whether they can afford the discretionary spending that drives chemical and polymer sales.
Of course, sentiment indicators, even well-established ones like this from the University of Michigan can be wrong. But it just adds to the blog’s sense of uncertainty about what is really happening to end-user demand, and to inventories down the value chain.