Consumer Confidence Numbers Harken Back to 2009 Levels

Is it 2009?  US consumer confidence has fallen to its lowest since April 2009.  The Conference Board of Consumer Confidence index fell to 44.5 from a revised July reading of 59.2.  In April 2009, consumer confidence was a measly 39.2.  The new numbers also show the biggest points-drop since October of 2008.

The drop in confidence also caused a drop in treasury yields.  A low confidence rate suggests consumers will be stingier about the spending that makes up around 70% of the entire economy – and an increase in the likelihood of a recession.

Still other factors such as an unemployment rate of over nine percent, continuous partisan fighting over the budget deficit and the extreme volatility of the stock market all affect how consumers feel.  Employers added just 75,000 jobs in August, compared to the 117,000 added in July.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index for property values showed values in 20 cities fell by 4.5% in June year-over-year, with Minneapolis, Minnesota leading with a drop of 11%.  That’s after a 4.6% drop in the year that ended in May that was the largest since 2009.

The grim outlook isn’t confined to the US.  European consumer confidence also saw its biggest dip in August – the worst score since December 2008.  Experts blame the persistent debt crisis for clouding growth prospects.  An index for consumer and executive confidence in the single0currency region fell from the revised July number of 103 to 98.3 in August.

Experts are encouraging more accommodations, including easier monetary policy to keep the recovery going – especially after August 9, when the central bank promised to keep its benchmark interest rate close to zero at least through the middle of 2013.

The number of consumers who said jobs are hard to get right now rose from 44.8% in July to 49.1% – the highest since November 2009.  Overall confidence has dropped in all nine US regions.

The Conference Board’s index isn’t the only set of numbers showing consumer un-confidence.  The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index dropped as well in August to its lowest level since November 2008.  Added to that, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index has been hovering at recession-like levels

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