The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

2011: The Most Economically Disappointing Year in U.S. History?


A couple of folks are buzzing about this Zero Hedge post declaring that the double-dip recession has already begun, citing the year-over-year change in real GDP. The figure dropped to 1.5 percent; they note “since 1948, every time the four-quarter change has fallen below 2 percent, the economy has entered a recession.”

I’d note another interesting bit of analysis, perhaps a bit more useful for those of us watching the political world: The Conference Board’s assessment of consumer confidence has never fallen as far as it has, as quickly as it has, from February 2011 to August 2011.


The Consumer Confidence Index rose to a three-year high this month as consumers felt more positive about their income prospects and the direction the economy was headed. The Conference Board said Tuesday its Consumer Confidence Index climbed to 70.4 this month, up from a revised 64.8 in January, hitting its highest level since February 2008. It was the index’s fifth consecutive monthly increase and topped expectations of a reading of 65.0 among economists, according to FactSet.


The Conference Board’s index slumped to 44.5, the weakest since April 2009, from a revised 59.2 reading in July, figures from the New York-based research group showed today. It was the biggest point drop since October 2008.

Note that what this measures isn’t really current economic conditions but how consumers think they’ll be doing in the near future.

It has been lower, but it has never fallen as far as quickly as it has in the past six months. As “Tyler Durden” puts it at Zero Hedge, this data supports the shocking argument that, economically, at least, “2011 has been the most disappointing year for Americans in history.”  Not worst, but most disappointing. Of course, the political impact on an incumbent president may be indistinguishable.

Tags: Economy


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