At the beginning of the summer, polls suggested that Americans were almost starting to feel better about the economy. But as back-to-school season picks up, consumer confidence in the economy remains stuck in the negatives — and it’s heading further south.
Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index registered minus 14 last week. In late May and early June, the index registered an all-time weekly high of minus 3, it but hasn’t gone above minus 10 since mid-July.
Forty-two percent of Americans say the economy is improving, while 54 percent say it’s getting worse. Twenty percent rated current economic conditions “excellent” or “good,” and 35 percent called them “poor.”
The Gallup Poll attributes the results to discouraging employment news, rising mortgage rates, and other factors. While the unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent in July when the economy added 162,000 jobs, the numbers were fewer than expected. At that rate of job growth, it would take about seven years to close the job gap created by the recession, The New York Times reported. Also in July, the rate at which new homes were sold fell 13.4 percent compared with June. Mortgage rates, however, have been steadily rising since May.
As the U.S. approaches the debt ceiling, moving ever closer toward default, more dips in confidence should be expected in the fall. Americans’ outlook on the economy has shown a tendency to coincide with such political events. Confidence plummeted in the summer of 2011 when Congress agreed to a deal at the last minute to raise the debt ceiling, which led to a downgrade of the country’s credit rating. Gallup also registered decreases at the end of last year during the fiscal-cliff debate and in early March when sequestration went into effect.
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner on Monday, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew projected that the department’s “extraordinary measures” currently being undertaken to avoid default will be “exhausted in the middle of October.” If history has a way of repeating itself, the prediction does not bode well for Americans’ feelings about the recovering economy.
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."