Goods Versus Services

Goods Versus Services 1

Goods Versus Services 2Goods Versus Services 3


I cannot recall a parallel era to this in terms of economic cross-currents. There are credible arguments on a lot of key data: Inflation, retail sales, NFP, JOLTs, and NILF. It’s almost as if you are not confused about the economy, then you probably are not paying attention.

I wanted to briefly highlight a fascinating chart courtesy of Invictus that I suspect might explain some of the underlying confusion and challenge in understanding the current state of the economy.

The chart above shows both Goods (blue line) and Services (red line) relative to total personal consumption expenditures. Its priced in billions and shows the past 10 years (Jan 2012=100). If you want to play with the chart yourself, just click the image above and have at it.

Think about this even in light of the inventory shortfall of single-family homes, and the difficulty in finding new cars (or getting used cars at reasonable prices). And still, we see elevated Goods consumption and reduced Services. Note the peak in Goods came long before the current inflation spike.

If we zoom in, you can get a sense of how spending habits have changed post-pandemic:

Goods Versus Services 4Goods Versus Services 5


Let’s look at this in one last context: Percentages of Goods and Services consumption:

Goods Versus Services 6Goods Versus Services 7


That’s the past 5 years (the 10-year version is similar but more difficult to see the changes). As you can see, the economy is still nearly 5% below the pre-pandemic levels of Services, and almost 5% above the pre-pandemic levels of Goods.

As offices re-open, people go on vacations, and life begins to normalize, we should see these lines begin to head back toward their prior levels. But I have strong reservations about If & When we are heading all the back soon. There is a substantial percentage of people who are never going back to a 9-to-5, Monday to Friday office gig, and think about what that might mean to the balance of consumption.

This is just another one of many cross-currents making it a challenge to understand the cureent U.S. economy…



Hat tip on the charts to Invictus!



Are We in a Recession? (No) (June 1, 2022)

The Post-Normal Economy (January 7, 2022)

“Unprecedented” Is 2020 Word of the Year (December 6, 2020)


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