The news came out this last week that the crucial U.S. consumer confidence measure is still in trouble (once again). For February, the fourth month in five, this important confidence measure declined yet again. Even economists were surprised as they had anticipated a rise in the consumer optimism number.
The Conference Board reported that U.S. consumer confidence declined to 124.1 from 131.4. This deplorable drop missed all estimates from every economist surveyed by Bloomberg. They had an average expectation for a rise up to 132.5. Worse still, the views of consumers on the current national economic situation declined to its lowest point in nearly a year. The expectations index also weakened.
This is the latest economic data on top of recession warnings that began sounding the week before. Just last week, the all-important (and highly accurate) yield curve of U.S. Treasuries inverted. This means that the yield for the 10 year Treasuries dropped under that of the three year bonds. This had not happened since (you guessed it) 2007 on the veritable eve of the Great Recession. This chart tells the sad tale:
Some economists like Peter Schiff have expected a recession to be inevitable for some months now. He and another economist Marc Faber debate between the idea of an imminent recession and the possibility that we are already in the early stages of one. Even Bloomberg admits that:
“Dimmer assessments of present conditions suggest that weak first quarter growth and slower job gains in February are weighing on attitudes and potentially spending.”
Bloomberg goes further to state that this pitiful February jobs report has further shaken consumer confidence. For the past month, the economy only added 20,000 jobs. On top of this, gasoline prices have been rising, “leaving Americans with less power to spend on other goods and services.”
Now this is only the latest in a series of bad economic numbers. Wholesale inventories are rising, the federal budget deficit is exploding, and consumer debt levels are out of control.
But Bloomberg economists still tried to find a silver lining to the deteriorating economic picture, blaming an overreacting consumer for the problems, with:
“While economic conditions are likely to moderate this year — meaning we’ve passed peak confidence for the cycle — this month’s slump is too severe when measured against underlying conditions.”
But as Peter Schiff has warned, the markets and economists still have not figured out what is happening. The Fed knows, and it has made a full about face on its monetary policy. Yet it is not being honest why. The Fed is putting out excuses about low inflation and a rest of the world in slowdown.
Yet in reality, the out of control debt and runaway deficits have left the Federal Reserve with no choices. They had to stop the tightening cycle or destroy their own government’s finances in the end.
Is Your Retirement Portfolio Protected from the Plunging Consumer Confidence Levels?
As the Fed knows all too well, it is next to impossible to increase interest rates in economies that are constructed atop debt piles. The Fed can not admit this to markets though. So far, markets have not acknowledged it either. The latest decline in consumer confidence shows that Americans understand the economic challenges better than markets do. Gold is where you can find shelter from the coming storm. As the best proven safe haven on earth, it has a track record in the thousands of years. When you put gold in your IRA, you will have the peace you need to sleep at night instead of tossing and turning, wondering what to do when the markets tank.
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