Confidence could take another year
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Scott Jagow: To paraphrase Yogi Berra: 90 percent of the economy is half mental. So much of the fallout we’ve seen is driven by psychology. Investors are afraid to buy stocks because they fear things will only get worse. Businesses and consumers are worried about spending for the exact same reason. Today, we get the latest consumer confidence numbers. They have to turn around at some point, but as Yogi said: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Here’s our Senior Business Correspondent Bob Moon.
Bob Moon: Forget the old saying, “Wait ’til next year.” We may have another year of waiting before consumer confidence makes any real turnaround.
Bernard Baumohl heads the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, New Jersey. He says mounting job losses and relentless housing-market worries are accentuating the negative for American consumers:
Bernard Baumohl: Even though gasoline prices have fallen significantly, it’s just not enough to really offset some of the other major problems that households are facing on a daily basis.
Baumohl hopes the new president’s stimulus package will improve consumer attitudes, but he cautions there’s no quick fix:
Baumohl: Even the second half of the year is not a time when I think households are going to uncork champagne bottles and start throwing confetti in the belief that the worst is over.
Don’t figure Baumohl for a complete pessimist. He does see a brighter New Year — a year from now:
Baumohl: 2009 is going to be a year of recovery, of recuperation. It sort of sets the stage for a much better economy in 2010.
Which raises the question of what kind of psychological impact a prediction like that has on consumer confidence.
I’m Bob Moon for Marketplace.
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