US Income and Spending Diverge as Savings Climbs

Morning releases for US personal income and spending came in with divergence as the saving rate climbed. Personal income beat bearish expectations with a rise of 0.5% while spending fell slightly at 0.1%. Disposable income gained 1.1% in April following a small 0.1% improvement in March and a fall of 0.4% in February. The rise in disposable income may be largely attributed to the $787 billion stimulus package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) which includes provisions that would save individuals as much as $237 billion from taxes. Quarterly data however is less optimistic as personal income fell 1.9% in the first quarter following a smaller 1.7% loss in the fourth. Real disposable income meanwhile gained for the second time at a greater pace of 6.5% from 2.9% in the fourth quarter. Of particular note in the releases was a rise in the savings rate which rose the most in at least seven month to 5.7% in April from 4.5%. Quarterly improvement came in at 4.4% compared to 3.2% in the fourth quarter. Historically, the US savings rate generally stayed close to 10% between the 1950s and early 1980s but fell significantly as markets saw the greatest bull run in a generation following the savings and loan crisis. The rate will likely continue to climb as consumers retrench and pay off accumulated debts. The banking industry is likely to see a benefit in the form of higher deposits as a result of this trend which will lead to increased stability in the sector.