The recent jubilance among economic forecasters is enough to make even weather forecasters blush. “Just look at the bull market! Look at home prices! Look at consumer confidence!” I can understand the jubilation in the narrow sense that we’ve been down so long everything looks up. But prophecies can’t be self-fulfilling if they’re based on wishful thinking.
The Conference Board reported Tuesday that the preliminary January figure for consumer confidence in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in more than a year. So why are consumers so glum? Because they’re deeply worried about their jobs and their incomes—as they have every right to be.
A survey released Friday showed that U.S. consumer confidence has fallen to the lowest point since the “stagflation” of the early 1980s. According to the survey, lower-income households, citing rising food and fuel prices, were the main source of the drop in confidence.