Economic Indicators

ECONOMIC INDICATORS….Via Brad DeLong, Wal-Mart looks at its detailed sales data and provides a fascinating contrarian view on the economy:

Customers continue to buy the cheapest items in any given category ? a sign that household budgets remain tight, Lee Scott, Wal-Mart chief executive officer, said on a recorded message. Buyers are “timing their expenditures around the receipt of their paychecks, indicating liquidity issues,” Scott said. “I don’t think consumer spending is slowing, but I also don’t see the strength that many of you in the investment community appear to see,” Scott said.

This is fascinating because Wal-Mart is so big that it is, as the Reuters dispatch says, “an economic indicator by itself.” What’s more, it has access to detailed sales information that provides a view that aggregate data can’t. This isn’t conclusive evidence of anything, of course, but it’s worth a raised eyebrow or two.

And in other economic news, the youth of America seem to be having trouble grasping the intricacies of the Phillips curve….