Consumers remain wary

Though consumer confidence is higher than its lowest points, in 2008 and early 2009, it's still lower than any point in the decade before this recession.

This graph shows consumer confidence (blue line) and compares it to the same time last year (orange area) over the past 11 years. For the orange, the line across the middle represents the same attitude as last year. If the orange line is higher, it means attitudes are better than one year before. If below the line - like now - it means they are worse. At this point, the blue line shows that consumer confidence now is lower than at any point before this recession.

Today's release of the Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers for September showed a decline in consumer sentiment with a reading of 68.2 dropping 7.21% below the level seen last year.

The Index of Consumer Expectations (a component of the Index of Leading Economic Indicators) also dropped to 60.9, and the Current Economic Conditions Index climbed to 79.6.

It's important to recognize that while consumer sentiment is still higher than the panic laden trough level seen in late 2008, the current sentiment level is far lower than any level seen during the 2001 tech recession and roughly equivalent to the worst seen during the early 1990s and second dip 1982 recessions.

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