Thursday, August 2, 2007

Americans are in a Gloomy Economic Mood

Below are excerpts from a WSJ article that deals in large part with the 2008 elections. Most of the parts about politics have been removed, however, the entire article is worth a read.

The real shocker is the last paragraph in the article (see below). Looks like Americans don’t care much for their political, religious, and journalist institutions.

More than two-thirds of Americans believe the U.S. economy is either in recession now or will be in the next year, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows. That assessment comes despite the fact the economy has experienced sustained growth with low inflation and unemployment and generally rising stock values ever since the recession that ended early in President Bush's tenure.

In addition, the poll shows a lack of confidence in economic leaders. That includes not just Mr. Bush and Congress, both of whom have the approval of fewer than one-third of all Americans, but the financial industry, large corporations in general and energy, drug and insurance companies in particular.

"They're ambivalent about the current economy but pessimistic about the future," said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, who conducts the Journal/NBC survey with Democratic counterpart Peter Hart. One consequence is anger at leading economic actors, who respondents believe are failing to protect ordinary Americans' interests.

"There's a combination of anxiety and loathing," Mr. Hart said. "There's a sense that every single one of these institutions is totally out for their own betterment, versus the public they serve." (my emphasis)

The biggest drag on Republican fortunes remains the Iraq war, which has depressed the nation's mood across the board. Just 19% of Americans say things in the nation are headed in the right direction, while 67% say the country is off on the wrong track. (my emphasis)

When those who expressed pessimism were asked to identify a reason, the Iraq war was cited by the highest proportion, 56%. For the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a plurality of Americans say the U.S. is less safe than before the attacks.

Failures in the health-care system are next on the list at 31%, as Americans continue to struggle with rising costs and coverage gaps. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine of New Jersey, in Washington yesterday to lobby for higher federal health-care spending, argues that the two concerns feed on each other since Americans "think the war is pre-empting our ability to deal with health care and other issues."

"The macroeconomy is reasonably healthy," said Mr. Corzine, former chief executive of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. "But the reality for the majority of America is they're lucky if they hold on....The numbers are different from what the feel is on Wall Street."

Poll respondents expressed limited anxiety about the effects of either the housing-market decline or stock-market turbulence on their personal circumstances. Just 20% said shifting stock values lately have had a negative impact on their finances, while 17% said the same about home price declines.

The poll shows Wall Street itself is a target of public ire. Just 16% expressed substantial confidence in the financial industry, slightly below those expressing confidence in the energy industry (18%) or the pharmaceutical industry (17%). Large corporations (11%) and health-insurance companies in particular (10%) fared even worse.

One bright spot for the world of commerce: 54% of Americans expressed high confidence in small businesses, which tied with law-enforcement agencies for the second ranking behind the U.S. military among institutions rated by respondents.

About 67% of Americans expressed high confidence in the military.

Why do you think that is? Because it is an American institution that is willing to serve the US people (as opposed to take from) similar to policemen and firemen?

By comparison, local governments drew expressions of high confidence from 34%, public schools 32%, religious leaders 27%, the national news media 18% and the federal government 16%. (my emphasis)

I have seen these types of numbers before, but I am always shocked by the low rating our institutions get. Please do not include my humble blog in with the national news media.

No comments:

Post a Comment