A Disturbing Crisis Of Confidence

The data on consumer confidence in the United States is very discouraging indeed.  Americans are, by nature, optimists.  In past recessions American consumers have spent and borrowed with complete confidence that things were going to get better and have thereby helped to pull the economy into recovery.  That doesn’t seem to be happening in this latest recession.

The statistics reported today are amazing.  For example, the percentage of people who said they were going to buy a car dropped to the lowest level since records began being kept in 1967.  Imagine — Americans not buying cars, or even thinking about buying cars!  What could be more compelling evidence of significant changes in the outlook of American consumers?

In addition, the linked article notes that one of the groups that experienced the biggest drop in consumer confidence was Americans under age 35.  That result, at least, is not hard to understand.  We have seen several years of college students and masters’ candidates unable to find or keep work after graduation.  If you were an unemployed college graduate who was being strangled by enormous student loan debt, your outlook probably would be bleak, too.

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