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KAI RYSSDAL: Every day in this crisis brings some new tidbit of information. And today didn’t disappoint. After wallowing at record lows for months now, consumer confidence actually bumped up last month. Do you suppose it’s a coincidence that gas is $1.65? We asked Sally Herships whether cheap prices at the pump are really enough to put smiles on back on shopper’s faces.
SALLY HERSHIPS: Brooklyn taxi dispatcher Yesenia Gonzalez is a confident consumer. On a scale of 1 to 10, she says she’s at 9 1/2.
YESENIA GONZALEZ: My gas tank was 50 bucks. Now it’s $30. So I feel happy that I’m spending less on gas. I’m gonna spend somewhere else. Absolutely.
A few blocks away Carolina Perry says she’s from Venezuela. She knows her oil. The low prices make her pocket feel good. But she’s still concerned.
CAROLINA PERRY: This could be a long-term recession, and I myself don’t feel any more confident then I was back in September.
So one consumer is confident, the other not so much. What’s going on?
Economist Gary Shilling says last month’s uptick in consumer sentiment is small. Consumers are still down in the dumps.
GARY SHILLING: Even when they’re paying less at the gasoline station they’re not turning around and spending that like drunken sailors on Christmas goodies.
Shilling says America has been on a buying and borrowing binge for 25 years, and now the tide has turned.
I’m Sally Herships for Marketplace.
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