Wall Street Journal staffer Nick Timiraos reasons his way through one of the current economy's bigger conundrums: why haven't low gas prices goosed consumer spending, and brought growth to the economy overall?
Part of it, Timiraos notes, is that savings at the gas pump has fueled, um, more driving, which uses more gas, and doesn't go into consumer expenditures on packaged goods and durables. Another big cost suck for households are spiraling rents, skyrocketing medical costs, and soaring costs for college and graduate studies. He writes:
The muted response may also reflect a middle class that hasn’t fully healed from the last recession. Debt burdens have fallen, but they’re still high. And while energy costs are down, other big household costs—health care, education and rent—are climbing.
This could change, but it will likely do so based on confidence in jobs and wages.