Retail sales were so bad, it’s either suspect data or a recession warning

by MR Magazine Staff

The sudden and unexpected plunge in December’s retail sales data raised new concerns about a recession, but economists also say the biggest drop in nine years clashes with other data and may be suspect. But nonetheless, Wall Street still took the data seriously and economists slashed fourth-quarter GDP forecasts. JP Morgan cut its growth estimate to 2 percent from 2.6 percent. “This literally came from out of left field… I thought January would have been bad,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank. “All our reports earlier were that holiday sales were sparkling.” The Commerce Department said retail sales for December fell 1.2 percent, the largest decline since September 2009 when the economy was exiting recession and shaking off the financial crisis. The report was delayed due to the government shutdown, and there is no release date for January sales data. Read more at CNBC.