Cash for Clunky Appliances?

Amazing. A few weeks of “Cash for Clunkers”…700,000 new cars off the lot…et voila: Retail sales jumped in August by the most in three years! Wee-hoo!

This morning’s Commerce Department release of +2.7% places August retail sales well ahead of the 1.9% “expert” consensus.

Dramatic Change in Retail Sales

Great. Now that they’ve “pulled forward” car sales for the next 12 months…what’s next? How about… Appliances!?

Later this fall, Uncle Sam will being doling out up to $200 a pop (in borrowed money) to anyone who wants to replace an old appliance. Yeah, that’ll keep retail and GDP stats humming along.

Wholesales prices rose last month twice as much as forecast…thanks largely to rising gasoline prices. The 1.7% jump in August followed a 0.9% decline in July.

“Core” PPI excluding food and energy rose a more modest 0.2%. But that was also double analysts’ expectations. Turns out a good amount of that was driven by higher prices for cars and trucks, too. Whaddya know… “Cash for Clunkers” gave automakers an excuse to cut back on factory-to-dealer incentives.

Dealers don’t experience a squeeze without passing the costs along to customers. Which should make tomorrow’s release of the consumer price index (CPI), well, interesting too. The consensus says a 0.3% increase. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

The Daily Reckoning