The Labor Department said Tuesday that wholesale prices rose 1 percent last month, more than double the 0.4 percent increase that economists had been expecting. The January surge left wholesale prices rising by 7.5 percent over the past 12 months, the fastest pace in more than 26 years, since prices had risen at a 7.5 percent pace in the 12 months ending in October 1981.
And of course, there's an inverse relationship between inflation (way up) and consumer confidence (way down):
Consumer confidence weakened significantly as Americans worry about less-favorable business conditions and job prospects. The New York-based Conference Board says in a report released on Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index plunged in February to 75.0 from a revised 87.3 in January. The reading — the lowest since the index registered 64.8 in February 2003 — is far below the 83.0 analysts expected. The index measures how consumers feel now about the economy. It has been weakening since July, suggesting that wary consumers may retrench financially, which could fatigue the economy further.
These are numbers that affect all Americans directly, as opposed to the foreclosure and housing numbers, which affect some folks directly but affect the larger nation only through the general fallout. (Such numbers, btw, also continue to worsen.) Ok, I'm now willing to believe we are in, or will soon be in, a recession, and that some sort of economic stimulus package may indeed be needed. Still, I don't believe the package that actually did pass was a good one.
Wow, this is bad.