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Consumer income rising, but spending flat

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WASHINGTON (6/27/14)--Income growth climbed 0.4% and wage growth ticked up as well, according to numbers released by the Commerce Department Thursday.

But Americans appear to be stashing away the extra cash, as consumer spending fell 0.1%, after adjusting for inflation, and the savings rate jumped to 4.8%.

The savings rate, up from 4.5% in April, reached its highest mark since August ( Economy.com June 26).

Rising prices may also have tamped down spending, as consumer costs climbed 0.2%, with energy goods and services rising 0.8%.

"Weakness in real spending is likely in part a consequence of a recent pickup in inflation," BNP Paribas said in a research note ( MarketWatch June 26).

Income growth was driven by dividend income, while no other segment stood out, according to Moody's.

The modest increase in consumer spending, meanwhile, was fueled by purchases of durable goods, such as new cars and trucks, while service spending stagnated with a 0.1% upturn.

Further, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced Wednesday--in its second revision of the numbers--that the economy severely contracted by 2.9% in the first quarter, with healthcare spending plunging considerably.

Moody's analyst Scott Hoyt said Thursday: "The revision puts spending on a weaker trajectory, but also means that saving is higher than previously thought, potentially allowing for more growth."

Still, the recent spending data have led forecasters to revise their expectations for the economy in the second quarter. Analysts now expect the economy to expand 3.6% from April to June, down from 3.8%, according to a survey conducted by MarketWatch.

Others, however, have predicted that the economy will not even reach 3% growth.

News of the Competition (06/27/2014)

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  • WASHINGTON (6/27/14)-- Information to evaluate the "individual systemic footprint" of 33 large U.S. bank holding companies is now available from the Federal Reserve Board. In announcing the availability Thursday, the Fed said the year-end 2013 data cover five categories often used when considering the potential systemic risk of a banking organization: size; interconnectedness; complexity; substitutability, which is a measure of how easily a firm's activities can be replaced by another firm; and cross-jurisdictional activity, which includes foreign liabilities and claims. Going forward, this information will be published on an annual basis, always reflecting the previous calendar year. The Fed instructs: To access the data, search for an individual holding company on the National Information Center website, www.ffiec.gov/nicpubweb/nicweb/nichome.aspx , recall its regulatory reporting forms, and download the Banking Organization Systemic Risk Report (FR Y-15)...
  • WASHINGTON (6/27/14)--Banks have taken on greater lending risk of late, and the trend has one top U.S. regulator concerned. In a report released Wednesday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) pinpointed high-yield loans to speculative borrowers and indirect auto loans as the two places where banks have lowered their lending standards ( The Wall Street Journal June 25). Calling it an "erosion in underwriting standards," the office said that credit risk is again mounting on the heels of improved credit quality nationwide. Further, covenant-lite leveraged loans that give banks very little protection grew to $258 billion last year, which nearly surpasses the total amount issued between 1997 and 2012. The concern is that the previous crisis is not always the best indicator of what issues may happen next, Darrin Benhart, deputy comptroller for credit and market risk, told reporters during a conference call ( The Wall Street Journal ). Benhart added that the OCC will ratchet up scrutiny of bank activity in these areas...