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Snyder: The “Tapped Out” American Consumer



Recently we wrote about the latest decline in consumer confidence, but the real story here is what Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog refers to as the “tapped out” American consumer.

He’s right …

“The center cannot hold,” we often say – referring to a shrinking pool of working and middle class Americans forced to subsidize handouts to the non-working poor and super rich (while simultaneously sustaining bloated bureaucracies at all levels of government). The smaller this pool of working and middle class Americans becomes – and the less spending power it has – the more the consumer economy will contract.

Anyway Snyder did a great post recently on this subject – and as with all of his pieces it was chock full of facts to support his conclusions.

Entitled “19 Signs That The U.S. Consumer Is Tapped Out,” Snyder’s column notes that “years of declining incomes and rising debts” are finally beginning to adversely impact the American economy.

“In order to have an economy that is dependent on consumer spending, you need to have a large middle class,” he writes. “Unfortunately, the U.S. middle class is steadily shrinking, and unless that trend is reversed we are going to see massive economic changes in this country.”

Here are Snyder’s nineteen signs … 

#1 Real disposable income per capita continues to fall.  In the fourth quarter of 2012, it was sitting at $37,265.  By the time that the fourth quarter of 2013 had come around, it had dropped to $36,941.  That means that average Americans have less money to go shopping with than they did previously.

#2 In January, real disposable income in the U.S. experienced the largest year over year decline that we have seen since 1974.

#3 As disposable income decreases, major retailers are closing thousands of stores all over the country.  Some are even calling this “a retail apocalypse“.

#4 From September 2013 to January 2014, the personal saving rate in the United States dropped by a staggering 16 percent.

#5 During the fourth quarter of 2013, we witnessed the largest increase in consumer debt in this country that we have seen since 2007.

#6 Fewer Americans are applying for mortgages these days.  In fact, the MBA Purchase Applications Index is now the lowest that it has beensince 1995.

#7 Overall, the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.

#8 Many Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to afford a new car or truck.  The following comes from a recent CNBC article

A new study shows the average household in 24 of America’s 25 largest metropolitan areas cannot afford to pay for the average priced new car or truck.

“Just because you can manage the monthly payment doesn’t mean you should let a $30,000 or $40,000 ride gobble up such a huge share of your paycheck,” said Mike Sante, managing editor of “Many people are spending money on a car payment that they could be saving.”

#9 Incredibly, 56 percent of all Americans now have “subprime credit” at this point.

#10 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.

#11 In the third quarter of 2007, the student loan delinquency rate was7.6 percent.  Today, it is up to 11.5 percent.

#12 Overall, U.S. consumers are $11,360,000,000,000 in debt.

#13 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

#14 U.S. workers are taking home the smallest share of the income piethat has ever been recorded.

#15 One recent study found that about 60 percent of the jobs that have been “created” since the end of the last recession pay $13.83 or less an hour.

#16 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22 percent of the jobs created since then.

#17 According to one recent survey, only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

#18 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.  In 2014, an astounding 49 percent of them do.

#19 The poverty rate in America has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years.  That is the first time that has happened since 1965.

Yeah … depressing huh?

Indeed. We shared this list with a friend of ours whose only response was “now I feel like I should go slit my wrists.”

A more productive response? Identifying the government policies responsible for producing these abysmal outcomes – and reversing them.

Like Snyder’s website, FITS has often been labeled a source of “doom and gloom.” Maybe so … but that’s only because the numbers are truly gloomy, and government’s only response is to exacerbate its doomed policies.

We’re not “doom and gloom” then … we’re just telling the truth.

Anyway, we have faith that people will eventually figure out what’s happening …  hopefully before it’s too late. Perhaps that faith is misplaced, but it sure beats the alternative.

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