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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Consumer Spending Up, Everything Else Down

6.1%: That's the amount by which the U.S. GDP shrank and China's GDP grew in Q1 2009. Economists consider neither number good (remember, China scored double-digit growth for much of this decade, and they need high GDP growth to keep their burgeoning population employed and content enough to not remember Tiananmen Square).

There's an odd twist in the numbers. I keep seeing a silver lining in the recession as a healthy retreat from excessive consumption. But consumer spending actually rose 2.2% during Q1: We evidently all went out and bought more stuff this winter, but exports dropped even more (30%!), as did business spending and (check this out, tea partiers) government spending.

Come on: if the recession is going to last, I'd like to at least see the benefits of folks buying less and saving more.

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