American consumers on solid financial ground, in spite of the pandemic. Or because of it?

Earlier, we shared analysis from Washington Research Council economist Kriss Sjoblom that showed an increase in personal income and savings during the summer months. We commented,

It seems that the UI system and extraordinary federal aid achieved the goal of sustaining households through what we hope has been the worst part of the pandemic. The assistance also maintained a higher level of consumer spending than may have been anticipated in the gloomier government revenue forecasts. 

Bloomberg reports the trend continues.

Eight months into the pandemic, Americans’ household finances are in the best shape in decades.

It’s a seemingly incongruous thought, what with the widespread business lockdowns earlier in the year and coinciding surge in unemployment — and it certainly doesn’t apply to all families equally. But it points to just how strong the U.S. economy was going into the virus outbreak, and how powerful the combined monetary and fiscal response was from the Federal Reserve, Congress and the Trump administration.

Record-low mortgage rates, reflecting the ultra-easy Fed policy, have prompted a steady wave of refinancing and allowed homeowners to reduce monthly payments or tap equity. Americans are also holding more cash, helped in part by stimulus from the government.

A lot of discretionary spending has also been taken off the board as travel, dining and entertainment have been shut down during the pandemic. More from the Bloomberg story:

“The consumer here in the U.S. is relatively stable and, honestly, somewhat relatively better than we might have feared back in the height of the pandemic in the second quarter of 2020,” Marianne Lake, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s chief executive officer for consumer lending, said Nov. 9 at a virtual investor conference. “The consumer’s willingness to carry on spending is a pretty positive sign for sort of a broader economic recovery.”

Contrary to what we’ve read elsewhere,

And despite the surge in covid-19 cases, economists project a 4% annualized rate of U.S. economic growth this quarter, unchanged from the October forecast — though down from the prior period’s record gain, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Something to watch, as the surge has prompted lockdowns across the nation. Yet, the economists interviewed by Bloomberg sound optimistic.

While “cash buffers” of those who benefited from fiscal stimulus are starting to weaken, their financial positions remain elevated compared with pre-pandemic levels, JPMorgan’s Lake said. “I think there’s enough juice to get people to year-end.”

It’s likely that “year-end” isn’t long enough. But we can hope.