Regarding the economy, it’s all a matterof how you look at it:
- Consumer confidence rebounded over the past month as Americans felt better about their current financial situations as well as the economy’s prospects in the months ahead.
The AP-Ipsos consumer confidence index rose to 97.7 this week. That’s an improvement from a reading of 91.7 in early February when consumer confidence took a hit, weighed down particularly by concerns about economic conditions down the road.
The early March reading of 97.7, when compared to the same month a year ago, highlights just how far consumers have come. A year ago, as the war in Iraq broke out, consumer confidence sank to 61.4, the lowest reading recorded since Ipsos started the index in January 2002. The AP-Ipsos confidence index is benchmarked to a 100 reading.
….Economists believe the economy in the current January-to-March quarter as well as the following quarter will grow at a healthy rate of at least 4.5 percent.
“The March confidence number is well above where it was a year ago and suggests that consumers are much more content about their own finances and broader economic conditions,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com, a research and analysis firm.
That’s encouraging news because consumers play a major role in shaping the economy. Their spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of all economic activity.
….Slow job growth has been a sore spot for President Bush (news – web sites) as Democrats have seized upon it this election year as evidence of what they believe to be Bush’s poor handling of the economy.
But Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is optimistic that job growth, which has been poking along, will speed up. “We could get a pop in employment at any time,” Greenspan said last week. [AP]
Jobs are lagging, but I think you have to try pretty hard to see the economy as a whole in a negative light.