Friday, July 30, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Consumer confidence dipped again in July, landing at its lowest point since February. Two key factors took the hardest hit: The index of consumer attitudes fell even lower than analysts had forecast, and the number of people reporting that jobs are hard to get rose sharply. One in six Americans now expect their income to be lower six months from now.
These kinds of consumer surveys aren’t just a temperature-taking; they have a solid effect on the economy we can expect in the months ahead. Consumers who have a hard time finding work or who expect their incomes to drop aren’t going to be spending a lot of money, and consumer spending constitutes 70 percent of our economy.
Friday of this week will see the release of an even more important figure: the first estimate of GDP for the second quarter. The consensus expectation is that it will be 2.5 percent, down slightly from 2.7 percent in the first quarter. Among other reasons, this number will be important for its effect on consumer attitudes. A stronger-than-expected number can help shore up confidence; a lower one will probably bring it down even further.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
The bad news: Interest rates continued to rise, as did the fees for cash advances and balance transfers. More than 90 percent of bank cards still impose penalty fees, and what's most troubling is that many issuers have stopped informing their customers what those fees are.
There's one provision yet to take hold - next month, the rule kicks in requiring all credit card issuers to make "any penalty fee or charge" to be "reasonabe and proportional." We'll have to wait and see what kind of effect that has.