Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Consumer Confidence?

Today we got the official report that consumer confidence has reached a 'historic low'. This bit of news would seem rather obvious to anyone out in the 'real' world. There is no confidence; it would be much easier to measure "public panic" although that's not a topic with a historic standard. The forecast is bleak, and getting darker, and "consuming" is becoming a luxury that only the rich can afford. Buying the basic necessities is about all that people are willing to do, as the clouds of uncertainty blanket the future as far as the eye can see.
Over the past few decades America has built it's business system based on a "consumer economy" that depends on the public to buy more stuff, rather than the development or manufacture of real material goods that people need. Our jobs declined as we stopped making things and instead focused on consuming them. An intangible model at best, it's now facing a catastrophic failure.
As we count down the last days of 2008 (and get to my birthday), the prevailing mood is one of "oh, shit, what's next?" Despite the optimism of a new president, the outlook is gloomy.

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