Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Consumer Confidence Expectations hits the lowest level since 1973

The Consumer Confidence Expectations measure by the Conference Board dropped to 47.9 from 58.0. This is the lowest reading since 1973. Many will remember that 1974 was a very painful downside year for the U.S economy.

Consumer confidence crumpling proclaims the headlines in many papers across the U.S. today. The commentary from analysts adds a sense of despair to most of the press.

"Yes, weaker than in the last four downturns," BMO Capital Markets analyst Sal Guatieri said of the latest expectations number. "Ouch!"

Consumer confidence, he said, is "now buried deep in recession territory" and it is now "only a matter of time before personal consumption follows suit."

Of all the headwinds facing the economy -- faltering consumer confidence, which will drive a drop in retail sales representing two-thirds of the overall economy, is the largest threat. This has driven the federal government to take tax rebate measures to boost the consumer. However in an environment with a credit crunch, falling home prices, rising unemployment, high fuel prices, and increasing necessity costs --- it is not likely the government action can stop the downward spiral.