Retail Sales Were Down in May. Time to Panic?

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The Commerce Department reported today that retail sales in May were down 0.3 percent. But not really. Inflation was actually negative last month, so in real terms the decline was only 0.1 percent. It also means the decline wasn’t “the sharpest since a 1% decrease in January 2016.” There have been five declines in the past two years bigger than May’s, including a drop of 0.32 percent just three months ago.

So should we just relax about last month’s weak retail figures? I’ll let you decide. For the affirmative, there’s this chart:

Nothing much there, really. But for the negative, there’s this chart:

The trendline is pretty steadily down. Roughly speaking, this confirms my current belief that the economy is still doing OK, but a little less OK as time goes on. It seems like our nine-year expansion may be slowly running out of steam.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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