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Don't Expect Consumers to Drive a Strong Recovery

Greg Ip sends us to Julie Coronado:

Consumer spending: No pent up demand around here: As Ms Coronado nicely puts it:

While consumers are spending, as shown in the chart above, there has been no sign of pent up demand. Real consumer spending on goods fell off its pre-2008 trend line during the recession and has since resumed its former pace with no indications that a surge in spending to make up for lost time is imminent.The burst of spending in Q4 was bound to be followed by some moderation with or without higher food and energy prices. The tax of higher inflation robbed consumers of the benefits of the payroll tax cut and has left their confidence shaken, which appears to be producing a greater than anticipated moderation. If firms keep adding jobs, this will prove to be a nothing more than a slow patch.Nonetheless rising headline inflation has naturally put central bankers a little on the defensive, and they are vulnerable to seeming out of touch by citing abstract measures of core inflation or the lack of higher prices on Ipads. Yet it is relatively straightforward that a burst of headline inflation that does not emanate from wages is likely to be self-destructive.

In other words, don't worry about inflation until you see it in wages. With unemployment around 9%, I'm not holding my breath.