Santelli Exchange: Consumer Spending

November 13, 2015

Chip Dickson: I thought the day’s data points were on the disappointing side in terms of retail sales, a modest disappointment for a consumer I think that’s still struggling and I think the PPI numbers show that there’s not much inflationary pressure in the system. So I don’t think the Fed has a lot of pressure on it and I think monetary policy will remain accommodative.

Rick Santelli: Alright, now let’s dig down a bit into this morning’s lack of inflation data. You see what’s going on with commodities. It’s the number one story on CNBC and deservedly so. But what are you going to do with commodities? At end of the super-cycle, we saw copper used everything from stockpiling to collateral loans, specifically in places like China. Doesn’t this market need to find a price to be able to move some of the residual commodities out there and re-price future supply with the new growth numbers that we are framing for the global economy? Isn’t that normal? Isn’t that something that shouldn’t be fought, but should be welcomed? Your thoughts?

Chip Dickson: Yeah, we do need to get it to a price point but I think we are still struggling to figure out just what the growth is outside of the United States. Europe is talking about even more aggressive monetary policies. Japan could do the same. And we are trying to figure out just how fast China is growing, and clearly they were one of the major reasons we had a commodity super-cycle.

Rick Santelli: You know, listen, in your writings it seems as though you have a different opinion than the state of the consumer. You say they’re still highly leveraged, most other research says they’re getting in better shape, and you had one chart in particular that I really liked. It was consumer credit versus disposable personal income and it’s basically very close to 26 or the cycle high. In the final time we have left, explain what that’s telling us and why you look at the situation differently.

Chip Dickson: So consumer credit to disposable personal income right now is almost 26%, that’s an all time high. One of the main drivers of it is student loans, which represent about 10% of the 26%. But for that we would be closer to 15, and I think the number should be under 20. To me, that means that the consumer has to make its credit payments and is being forced to reallocate their spending. I think the gas savings are going into other spending, not just savings. I think the consumer is still just trying to get by and needs a stronger economy and higher wages to really lift them up now.

Rick Santelli: Now one thing we all seem to agree on is that the auto sector may be the new mortgage, and the reason is that there’s accessibility to the masses unlike in many other forms of credit. But the duration of those loans is very telling. Finish off with our last 10 seconds maybe talking about loan duration.

Chip Dickson: Sure. So, the consumer credit that people are using are auto loans and student loans. Those are longer duration loans, and that means they are building up a pile of credit and they are going to pay it down over a longer period of time, and that means that household deleveraging takes longer.

Rick Santelli: I got you. Chip, it’s always a pleasure, I hope you have a great weekend.

Chip Dickson: Same to you, Rick