For three and a half years, growth in U.S. consumer spending has averaged 0.2% above inflation, the lowest figure since the end of World War II, according to Morgan Stanley.
If the situation is improving on the employment front, it is completely different wages, which weighs on spending. Over the past year, the average wage of workers and employees has sustained, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, its biggest drop since the period of stagflation in 1980.
The purchasing power is further constrained by a high private debt: U.S. household debt as a percentage of disposable income has certainly receded from a peak of 130% in 2007 but 75%, it remains higher than its average the period 1970-2000.
Stephen Roach, non-executive chairman of Morgan Stanley therefore expected that consumption in the United States remains anemic for several years, weighing on global growth, particularly in Asia.
In the third quarter, household consumption, which depends on more than 70% of U.S. growth, increased 1.7%, growth much lower than that of 3.6% in average over the decade prior to the recession of 2007-2008.
Other factors tend to curb spending by Americans: the Federal Reserve reported last week the beginning of a tightening of lending, the government stimulus measures coming to an end and uncertainty persists Some tax breaks are supposed to expire in February.