Get into Recession Mode
While the data may not say that we are officially in a recession, the markets and components like gasoline demand say that we are already in one. In fact if you really want to get an idea of real consumer confidence, it is in the gasoline numbers that tell you the real story.
Yesterday the MasterCard Spending Pulse reports laid some numbers on us that was even more, perhaps, disturbing than any of the other data that we have seen so far. The report showed that gasoline demand had the largest year over year drop since last April as the economy seemed to grind to a halt. Now some may want to blame the extremely hot weather but the truth of the matter is that gasoline demand, as judged by a moving 4 week average, has fallen a whopping 19 weeks in a row. In fact if you chart this drop it almost reflects the way the US economy has fallen off a cliff. Well maybe not a cliff, perhaps just a hill. MasterCard said that weekly gas demand hit a very weak 9.274 million barrels a day and fell a whopping 3.1% from a year ago. Demand on a four week moving average is down 1.9% from a year ago. These are facts that reflect a new round of economic misery for many red-blooded, gas-guzzling Americans.
That misery may be showing up in the supply numbers as well as the API that reported a big build in crude oil supply. The API reported a sizable build in crude stocks of 3.3 million barrels and an increase in gas stocks of 2.5 million barrels and distillates makes it a clean sweep with an increase of 1.4 million barrels. Supplies in Cushing, Oklahoma also rose in a market that was supposed to be impacted by tropical storm Don. All this data points towards a recession and the trade went in risk-averse mode. Despite the fact that two credit agencies put the US debt outlook on a negative watch, bonds soared and so did gold to record highs. Money ran to the safe haven currencies and the Swiss franc hit a new post Euro high against the Euro and the yen soared as well. Overnight the Swiss and Japanese warned of intervention and there is word that the Swiss followed through. Obviously there are risks of more intervention by those banks that are fearful of what a strong currency may do to their respective economies.
All the while this is going on, Obama and Tim Geithner have the audacity to blame our current problems on the recent debate over the debt ceiling. The President said that this debate was not what the economy needed. No, it is exactly what it needed! He said, "Our economy didn't need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse. That was in our hands. It's pretty likely that the uncertainty surrounding the raising of the debt ceiling for both businesses and consumers has been unsettling and just one more impediment to the full recovery that we need and it's something we could have avoided entirely. So, voters may have chosen a divided government but they sure didn't vote for dysfunctional government. They want us to solve problems, they want us to get this economy growing and adding jobs".