After a huge gain in the first quarter of 2021, consumer spending rose even further in the second quarter. In each quarter, in fact, spending rose at an annualized rate of about 12% quarter over quarter. A dramatic increase in real disposable income at the beginning of the year helped drive this increase. Stimulus checks hit bank accounts and the government reinstated unemployment insurance top-ups. But consumers spent only a small portion of this windfall, leading to a spike in personal saving rates.
In the second quarter, these trends partly reversed. Real disposable income was down by an annualized rate of 30% quarter over quarter as the short-term boost from fiscal stimulus dried up. This pushed savings rates to the lowest point since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
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