Dear American Consumer,
This is The Wall Street Journal. We’re writing to ask if something is bothering you.
The sun shined in April and you didn’t spend much money. The Commerce Department here in Washington says your spending didn’t increase at all adjusted for inflation last month compared to March. You appear to have mostly stayed home and watched television in December, January and February as well. We thought you would be out of your winter doldrums by now, but we don’t see much evidence that this is the case.
You have been saving more too. You socked away 5.6% of your income in April after taxes, even more than in March. This saving is not like you. What’s up?
We know you experienced a terrible shock when Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008 and your employer responded by firing you. We know stock prices collapsed and that was shocking too. We also know you shouldn’t have taken out that large second mortgage during the housing boom to fix up your kitchen with granite countertops. You’ve been working very hard to pay off this debt and we admire your fortitude. But these shocks seem like a long time ago to us in a newsroom. Is that still what’s holding you back?
Do you know the American economy is counting on you? We can’t count on the rest of the world to spend money on our stuff. The rest of the world is in an even worse mood than you are. You should feel lucky you’re not a Greek consumer. And China, well they’re truly struggling there just to reach the very modest goal of 7% growth.
The Federal Reserve is counting on you too. Fed officials want to start raising the cost of your borrowing because they worry they’ve been giving you a free ride for too long with zero interest rates. We listen to Fed officials all of the time here at The Wall Street Journal, and they just can’t figure you out.
Please let us know the problem. You can reach us at any of the emails below.
The Wall Street Journal’s Central Bank Team
-By Jon Hilsenrath
Dear Central Banker,
This is the productive American. We're writing to ask if something is wrong with you.
It has been 8 long years and you fuckers haven't been paying us any money on our deposits. Even your own economists say your interest payments don't even keep up with the meager inflation we're experiencing. You appear to have done nothing but fuck us over in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 as well. We wish you would have just stayed home. We thought we'd be getting some interest right now, but we don't see evidence that this is the case. In fact, in the back of our minds, we think you're lying when you say you'll raise rates.
We've been saving more lately. The American consumer has too, they saved 5.6% of their income in April after taxes, even more than in March. We heard you want to raise rates and even though we don't fully believe it, we're looking forward to earning interest again.
We know you experienced a terrible shock when Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008 and your patron responded by giving you trillions of dollars and more power over the economy. We know stock prices rebounded as a result and that did nothing to help us, and you seem to know that and not care. Frankly, we don't think you should have done that. But this all seems like a long time ago to us in America, but you're still refusing to hike those interest rates. What is holding you back?
Do you know the American producer and consumer are counting on you to raise rates? We can't count on the rest of the world to raise rates. The rest of the world is even more insane than you are. You should feel lucky we're not like Greek consumers who are ready to burn bankers at the stake. And China, well they're just getting started with QE as their own debt bubble implodes.
The whole world is counting on you to raise interest rates! Fed officials keep saying they'll raise rates, but never do it. We're starting to worry that you've been corrupted to the core and can't bring yourself to raise interest rates for fear of hurting your Wall Street friends. We listen to the American consumer all the time here and they think they've got you figured out.
For your sake and ours, I hope they're wrong.
America's Workers, Savers & Entrepreneurs