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Recession, Energy Worries Turn Americans Gloomier, Poll Finds

by : Matthew Benjamin
Wednesday December 5, 2007 - 19:01
4 comments

By Matthew Benjamin

Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) — Confidence in the economy continues to erode, with expectations of a recession growing and a solid majority of Americans now saying the economy is doing poorly, according to a Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times survey.

The growing pessimism is being driven by higher energy costs, the weakening dollar and fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis. To stem foreclosures, most Americans want the government to require lenders to freeze interest rates on adjustable-rate loans in danger of default.

The gloom is pervasive, with poll respondents saying by a margin of 71 percent to 23 percent that they expect a recession within a year. That percentage has risen steadily over the course of 2007. Over half of those surveyed — 56 percent — say the economy is doing badly, six weeks after a poll in which Americans were divided on the economic outlook. In June, a majority said the economy was doing well.

``The housing market’s only going to get worse,’’ said Sherry Bossie, 46, an accountant from Dunbar, West Virginia, and a participant in the survey. ``Put that together with escalating oil prices, and we’re at great risk.’’

The negative sentiment also reflects broader dissatisfaction among Americans, almost two-thirds of whom say the nation is seriously off on the wrong track.

Reflecting the rising economic anxiety, almost four in ten Americans plan to spend less this holiday season on presents for friends and family, according to the poll. Only 15 percent plan to spend more.

Energy Prices

The belt-tighteners most often cite higher energy prices as the reason for their caution. Among households earning more than $100,000, three in 10 say they will spend less and 13 percent say more.

The subprime crisis and the weakening dollar have Martha Goodman, a 58-year-old homemaker from Virginia Beach, Virginia, worried about the national economy and her own budget. ``I probably will spend less this year because I think it’s a good time to be conservative,’’ said Goodman.

Concerns about a slump aside, 66 percent of those in the survey call their personal finances very or fairly secure, versus 30 percent who say they’re shaky.

The Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 poll of 1,467 adults had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

A plurality of poll respondents — 36 percent — cite rising energy prices as the leading threat to growth.

Triple Whammy

Oil prices topped $98 a barrel in late November, before settling back below $90, and the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. rose above $3, up from $2.76 in mid-October. Existing home sales fell to the lowest level in eight years in October, and banks announced billions of dollars in mortgage-related losses. The dollar, meanwhile, has dropped about 11 percent this year against the euro.

Some 45 percent of those surveyed say the increase in foreclosures and subprime mortgage defaults is hurting their community, versus 24 percent who say there’s been no impact.

Subprime loans, given to people with poor or incomplete credit histories, typically offer a low introductory rate for the first two or three years. The rate then resets for the duration of the mortgage. About 100,000 such loans will reset each month over the next two years, according to research by UBS AG, which many economists say could help trigger a recession.

Almost six in 10 poll respondents say lenders should be required to freeze interest rates to subprime borrowers who can’t make higher monthly payments.

Bailout Plans

That lends support to a proposal by New York senator Hillary Clinton for a mandatory five-year freeze on subprime rates. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has proposed a milder solution through an agreement among lenders to fix some subprime mortgage rates before they reset to higher rates.

A mandatory freeze ``would be good idea,’’ says Carlo Scuderi, 57, an auto-industry worker in Washington Township, Michigan, where he says foreclosures are rampant. ``Lenders brainwashed some of these people into loans they knew that they wouldn’t be able to afford after a few years, so now they should pay the price,’’ said Scuderi, a self-described independent.

More than seven in 10 Democrats in the poll have a downbeat view of the economy, versus 33 percent of Republicans. Independents, by a margin of 58 percent to 40 percent, say the economy is doing badly. Even with their guarded optimism about the economy, almost two-thirds of Republicans call a recession likely in 2008.

Gloomy Perceptions

A majority of Americans in all income groups surveyed, including 56 percent of those with household incomes above $100,000, say the economy is doing badly. That group was the lone holdout in an October poll, when only 37 percent of respondents in the bracket felt that way.

While recession risks are rising, many economists still say a 2008 slump can be averted. Economic growth will average 2.4 percent next year, according to a Bloomberg survey of 70 economists.

Americans continue to view free trade with suspicion, with 44 percent saying it has hurt growth and 27 percent saying it has helped. Growing U.S. exports this year have partially offset a slowdown in consumer spending.

Should public expectations of a 2008 slump come to pass, the Democratic Party would be better at jump-starting economic growth than the Republican Party, respondents say by a margin of 45 percent to 30 percent.

Tiffany Baker, 28, an at-home mother in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said she’s lost confidence in Republican economic stewardship under President George W. Bush. ``If Bush is a Republican, then I trust the Democrats to get the economy going,’’ said Baker, 28, who plans to vote for the first time next year.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?...



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Recession, Energy Worries Turn Americans Gloomier, Poll Finds
Wednesday December 5 - 19:39 - Posted by c13146236b38f888...

Yes, and with the US’ ’feast of Materialism’ fast approaching, merchants will be wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth because Americans are less likely to piss away needless money on a meaningless ritual of spending - " for Jesus".




Recession, Energy Worries Turn Americans Gloomier, Poll Finds
Wednesday December 5 - 19:50 - Posted by c13146236b38f888...

"....Tiffany Baker, 28, an at-home mother in Minneapolis, Minnesota,...."
is a fool if she believes the current economic conditions are only the result of republicans. Dear little Tiffany and her 28 years of experience in predicting economic trends is by no means an informed word on this situation. And of course citing her opinion of ’economic stewardship’ is just window dressing and a push for the democratic-side of the party.

There is only ONE party in the US now and they have been dumping jobs out of the country for longer than dear little Tiffany has been alive. The manufacturing sector of the US is gone - for GOOD. It’s no mistake. The middle class is being systematically eliminated from the fabric of the US economy. There will soon be the ’haves’ and the ’have-nots’. Tiffany will likely find herself in search of employment in the coming years in order to keep her family fed, or rather to keep from freezing - considering she lives in MN.




Recession, Energy Worries Turn Americans Gloomier, Poll Finds
Thursday December 6 - 03:02 - Posted by af9fae58a9982a48...

I’ll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. "I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs." "I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking"’ "Hey, wait a minute, there’s one guy holding out both puppets!"
BILL HICKS (December 16, 1961 - February 26, 1994)




Recession, Energy Worries Turn Americans Gloomier, Poll Finds
Saturday December 8 - 17:38 - Posted by a035018bae50cde9...

Confidence in the economy continues to erode! WOW! Makes me think about when I was little and I didn’t get what I wanted. On occasion the seemingly endless supply of toys and fun stuff would dry up. Then I would feel bad!
However, although the resulting effect seems to be the same, my parents didn’t steal the money from my inheritance to pay for the fun stuff as the leaders in Washington have so skillfully and systematically done. Over the years our leaders have borrowed more and more from the future to pay for the good life now. They even created a different retirement plan for themselves. Ever hear about that one running out of money?
About the “last straw” is the creation of the housing boom. What a scam! Starting with the realtors for which incidentally, “has to do with is reality” and in the face of abundant credit, did what ever they had to do to “SELL” people homes. As you can probably already tell, I have no respect for that out dated work. Next, a fraudulent system passed the money along and presto, the poor sucker was immediately “on the hook” for 30 years of payments. Meanwhile the realtors, appraisers, fat bankers, developers, land speculators, got their money immediately. Again, money that the poor slob at the end of the chain would have to pay back over his life time. Now it is over, the fat cats have spent their money, are feel bad and the economy is languishing.
The only way out of this mess is that the Federal Reserve will promote inflation. By doing so, the cost of the original debt will be written down. Well, that old scheme doesn’t seem to be working either.
It looks to me like there is going to be quite a dry spell where the seemingly endless supply of toys is going to go away for a while and people are going to feel about as badly as they have ever felt (perhaps, even since 1929).







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