Consumer spending is on the rise and taking its toll on saving rates. How does this affect the household bottom line?
Consumer spending is on the rise despite declining income, and that’s just fine with MasterCard Inc. The global credit company today reported $1.8 billion in net revenue for the third quarter, a 27.3 percent year-over-year increase.
Third-quarter net income rose 38.4 percent year-over year to $717 million, and earnings per diluted share rose 42.9 percent to $5.63 over the same time period. The company attributed its strong growth to a 20.5 percent increase in transactions, particularly in Brazil and the Netherlands, and an 18.1 percent increase in dollar amounts transacted. Conversions to MasterCard debit cards in the United States also contributed to growth.
“Economic indicators across the world remain mixed, with the uncertainties in Europe and the United States weighing on sentiment and dominating headlines,” said Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer for MasterCard. “Nonetheless, we continue to focus on displacing cash and winning share across markets.”
The company’s growing fortunes are tied to an increase in consumer spending. The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) show that personal spending rose faster than income in September. Consumption was up .6 percent, despite a slight 0.1 percent drop in real disposable income, which reflects adjustments for inflation.
The spending trend began with early back-to-school spending in July, which saw a 0.9 percent increase in consumer spending. Spending cooled in August, but still grew at a rate of 0.2 percent. Pent-up demand appears to be the most likely explanation for the spending revival, which has taken place despite declining wealth and recession-era lows in consumer confidence.
The bulk of investors surveyed by Millionaire Corner in September said they would not be spending more money during the upcoming holidays that last year. Investors with a net worth of $1 million or more are far more likely (48 percent) to spend the same or less as they did during the last holiday season. Slightly over 11 percent plan to spend more.
The increase in consumer spending has cut into U.S. savings rate, eroding a trend to increased savings that has taken place since the recession. Americans saved at a rate of 3.6 percent in September, compared to 4.1 percent in August. Government data shows that consumer spending has steadily grown since the first quarter of 2009, when Americans spent about $9.8 billion dollars on goods at services. Consumer spending rose to $10.8 billion in the third quarter of 2011, according to the BEA.
Declining incomes and property values, combined with higher food and energy costs, have contributed to a decline in household net worth in the United States, according to the latest flow of funds report from the Federal Reserve. Net worth – defined as the difference between assets and liabilities fell about $150 billion in the second quarter to $58.5 trillion.
Americans are continuing to reduce their overall household debt, a trend that began in the first quarter of 2008, according to the Federal Reserve. While household mortgage debt fell at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the second quarter, consumer credit card debt rose 3.5 percent in the second quarter, the third consecutive quarter of increase.