More bad economic news today, and as time passes people are more and more pessimistic about 2009. The last positive numbers in the consumer comfort index were recorded in December 2006. These range from -100 (awful) to +100 (wonderful). In 2008 a steep decline began and the latest number is -49. In fact the index has been either in the negatives or barely positive since 2002.
Asked if they are hopeful or fearful for 2009, national survey respondents were more negative about the state of the world then themselves personally, but even then the numbers weren't great. Personally, 35 percent were fearful, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll in December. In December 2004, 30 percent were fearful about their personal lives for the next calendar year.
One-third say it's "very likely" and another third say it's "somewhat likely" we'll see a depression. About half favor an economic stimulus. A third say no.
So what people know about the economy is in part what they see or read about, but more important is what happens to themselves, to family, to friends and neighbors and local businesses.
There is no mixed message here. The news media and the real world agree, it's damned ugly out there.