Last week, the Commerce Department revised real GDP up to 3.1 percent for the fourth quarter of last year. That was some cause for joy in the stock market. But today we saw a poor consumer-spending report for the month of February, which is picking up the rise in gasoline prices and the decline in consumer sentiment.
Real income after-tax — known as real disposable income — actually fell in February. But the inflation rate jumped 0.4 percent, which is almost 5 percent annually. And while real consumer spending did rise, over the past three months it has gained by only 1.4 percent annually.