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Strong retail sales





No matter how you look at the numbers, retail sales continue to rise at an impressive rate; there is absolutely no sign of any weakness here. March sales were up much more than expected, and they have posted a 6.5% gain over the past year. The top chart shows the retail sales "control group," which subtracts autos, building materials, and gasoline: it is up 5% in the past year, and is up by an even stronger 8% annualized over the past three months. The bottom chart looks at total retail sales adjusted for inflation; this measure is up 4% over the past year and has now reached a post-recession high.

Very impressive gains here, especially considering there are some 5 million fewer people working today than at the peak of the last business cycle. I'm not worried that the U.S. economy is vulnerable to a slowdown.

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