Despite some continued weakness, the economy actually looked a little better during the month than it did in May and June
If the U.S. is headed for a double dip, it didn't appear to get there in July. Although the economy remained weak, it actually performed better during the month than it did in June or May. You can see this fairly clearly by considering a broad cross-section of economic reports for July. Unfortunately, not all sectors are expanding together, so we'll likely continue to see sideways motion, instead of positive momentum propelling the recovery confidently forward.
The Basic Analysis
For some time now, I have used the chart below to help provide a qualitative and somewhat quantitative picture of how the economy is performing each month. I have boiled it down to 15 key indicators that help to evaluate several of the most significant sectors of the economy. This month, I expand the analysis broadly. It will now also include a section of additional indicators as well as two quarterly charts that provide some more stats as well as performance for major firms.
But let's start with the usual chart (click on it, and the others, to enlarge):
The U.S. Consumer
From April through June we saw consumer spending decline, if adjusted for inflation. But in July that changed significantly. The increase was the largest since 2009. Retail sales also grew more rapidly. With spending rising, it should come as no surprise that consumer confidence had also improved. Unfortunately, we know that the modest increase in confidence didn't hold up in August. Instead, it plummeted. This might mean that spending declined again last month, but in July consumers appeared to feel a little better about the economy.