Reuters/Zogby Poll Finds Dampened Mood

The overall mood of Americans has taken a sharp turn for

the worse, according to a recent Reuters/Zogby index,

with recession fears intensifying. Houston Public Radio’s

Ed Mayberry has more.

American confidence has fallen to a new low of 87.7

from last month’s 99.3, according to John Zogby. The

poll follows several days of dramatic economic headlines

about investment bank bailouts, weeks of news concerning

the credit crunch and months of coverage about escalating

prices at the pump. Zogby says public confidence in the

economy is eroding.

“And perceptions are very, very important. And

what you have is this relationship between the news

agenda, which of course is dominated by economic

news–and not simply by numbers and indicators, but

real-life stories of home mortgages and denials of loans

and inabilities to get loans and so on. And then

meanwhile, you also have people’s lives. I mean, if

people were watching this on the news and saying, ‘well,

you know, that’s other people, but things are fine with

me,’ this was the month when the two converged, that ‘bad

news is here and it’s not so good for me,


Escalating gasoline prices are hitting consumers

personally, and often–whenever they pay at the pump.

“You know, and over the last few years, we’ve

asked Americans what the watershed is, you know, ‘what is

the threshold level for you, as far as prices at the pump

are concerned, that might make you change your behavior?’

And generally what we would get is $4 a gallon. Well,

let’s call it close enough this month.”

As worries about personal finances grow, families are

rethinking the budget, spending less, making fewer trips

to restaurants. The poll shows that most Americans

believe the recession is here.

“Seventy-four per cent is the number–20 points

higher in one month. To give a plug to my colleagues at

Gallup and Ipsos, we all seem to have come up with that

same 74 percent, not 72, 73 or 76. So that number seems

pretty hard and fast. About three out of four people say

we’re in a recession.”

Despite the run of bad economic news, Zogby says he’s

an optimistic person.

“By nature, I am, as a matter of fact. And sure,

we will get out of this. We’ll get out of this funk, and

then we will also get out of the economic straits. I’m

not an economist, but I think we have, you know, six or

seven months of negative feelings. They may go up or down

a little bit, but they’ll be with us for a while, it

looks like.”

Ed Mayberry, Houston Public Radio News.

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