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Conference Board reports fall in consumer confidence

Mitchell Hartman Sep 27, 2023
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One thing consumers are worried about, and think could signal an oncoming recession, is high food prices. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Conference Board reports fall in consumer confidence

Mitchell Hartman Sep 27, 2023
Heard on:
One thing consumers are worried about, and think could signal an oncoming recession, is high food prices. Mario Tama/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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We got some downbeat news on the economy — and consumers’ view thereof — this week. 

The Conference Board, a nonprofit business research group, reported that its Consumer Confidence Index fell for a second straight month in September. It’s now signaling that consumers think a recession is on the way.

Earlier this year, consumers were getting gradually more upbeat with the job market really hot, and inflation cooling.

But in late summer, a ‘bum-out’ started building, said Dana Peterson at The Conference Board: especially in the index for consumers’ ‘future expectations,’ which fell below 80.

“Any number below 80 typically signals that consumers think a recession is going to happen at some point within the next six months,” said Peterson. “They’re very concerned about inflation — especially food and energy prices; interest rates being elevated; and the political situation.”

Right now, that political situation is dominated by Congress lurching toward a possible government shutdown. 

We’ve seen this consumer confidence movie before, with past shutdowns, said Chris Jackson at public-opinion firm Ipsos.

“I think it’s definitely on people’s minds,” he said. “That can have a very negative effect on Americans’ confidence in the economy.”

All in all, said Jackson, these are neither the best of times, nor the worst of times, but something mediocrely in-between.

“There is sort-of this lingering malaise, where people are not terrible but not great,” he said.

Which is not great news for the economy as we head into the holiday shopping season. 

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