Published on: March 26, 2008The New York Times reports this morning that a Conference Board survey suggests that Americans are more pessimistic about the economy now than at any time since 1973.
“Americans are bracing for rising unemployment and shrinking salaries, a gloomy outlook that could translate into a serious cutback in consumer spending, the primary engine of the economy,” the Times writes, noting that while fears can be overblown, “expectations can often be self-fulfilling: worried consumers are less likely to make the big purchases that help keep the economy humming.”
The Times continues: “The gloom among consumers appeared widespread. A quarter of those surveyed said that businesses conditions would worsen in the next six months, and nearly a third said the economy would have fewer jobs. Fewer Americans plan to purchase big-ticket items like refrigerators, vehicles and television sets, and more than half said that jobs were currently ‘not so plentiful.’
“Responding to a question about income expectations, the proportion of Americans who said they expected their incomes to rise over the next six months dropped to 14.9 percent, the lowest level since the Conference Board began its survey in 1967.”
By the way, a new survey released by Citigroup Global Markets this week said that about a quarter of consumers would change their supermarket if 1) food prices continue to increase and 2) they find a place that sells groceries for less. And more than a third of consumers say they are spending less on indulgent food products.
- KC's View:
- It seems to me that we all make a big mistake if we spend a lot of time whining about the economy, whether the problem is a recession or a broader transformation.
We would all be better off – and by “we” I mean government, industry and personally – if we started trying to figure out where the country and private industry ought to be in 20 or 30 years, and then start moving in that direction…dealing with the short-term pain in search of long-term reward.
If we don't do that, if we focus more on short-term reward, then we probably are doomed to continue making the same mistakes over and over…with is the definition of insanity.